No water well in sight

Last week, Col. Janis Karpinski told a panel of judges at the Commission of Inquiry for Crimes against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration in New York that several women had died of dehydration because they refused to drink liquids late in the day. They were afraid of being assaulted or even raped by male soldiers if they had to use the women’s latrine after dark. |AlterNet|

(Via Feministe)

Let's start with an obvious reason not to believe these accusations. Janis Karpinski was hung out to dry when the Abu Ghraib story broke. She's someone who has an axe to grind, and so isn't the most objective source imaginable.

That said, I find these allegations entirely believable. And, I mean, that's just my gut reaction. A story surfaces claiming that women are taking extreme precautions in order to avoid rape and I think, "Yep, that's pretty much the way the world is."

But I know perfectly well that lots of people, especially people who sport the same brand of dangly genitals that I do, don't have that reaction, and I wonder why. Is it just that, as luck would have it, none of the women those men know have been sexually assaulted? Or is it that the story wasn't told? Or wasn't believed?

Or is it -- and this is the theory that strikes me as most plausible -- that the assaults happened, that the stories were told and believed, but that the next intellectual step wasn't made? I'm talking about the step that moves from the concrete horror of the individual act to the realization that the problem here is systemic and has to do with the fact that our society's mating rituals begin with and require male sexual aggression.

Is that it?

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