There’s a story that’s been making the rounds this week from both West Point (the United States Military Academy) and Annapolis (the US Naval Academy) about women who were allegedly raped and then pushed out of their respective academies by a system that wants nothing to do with providing justice to women who might have been sexually abused by upperclass cadets and midshipmen. As someone who attended West Point back in the 1980s, all I can say is that I’m ashamed that such actions are taking place today and really wish I hadn’t read about such things.
You see, when I attended, women were just breaking ground at graduating from West Point, and it was not rare to see a lot of hostility waged against any woman that attempted to get through a very male-centered environment. My first squad leader in cadet basic training was a woman, and she instilled high standards in me that I never forgot. As the leader of our squad, she had several women in this squad, and all I kept thinking to myself during that first summer was how hard those women had it. The male cadets were complete assholes around them, yet they struggled through and somehow made it. Not all of them did, but they persevered. It was kind of an honor to see them go through the work they went through to make the inroads they did.
I’m sorry that there are men today who are still thinking of women in the Corps of Cadets as potential targets for doing things that men should have evolved way beyond. Especially at an esteemed institution like that. Over the years, I used to think that West Point was way above such things, and when the Citadel was going through its gender problems years later, all I could think was that West Point got through it before them, and it was only a matter of time before all the rest of the military institutions did as well. Turns out, I saw things to be better than they actually were. Apparently, we still have a long way to go.
Hopefully, we move forward. But I suspect that we still have a long way to go yet. And that just makes me sad. Especially when I saw the crap women had to go through over 20 years ago to make it easier for women who might come later. It’s like their sacrifices were for nothing.