Air Force sex scandals a sign of larger problems in society

C.S. Lewis once said, “We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.”
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In a nation where sex has become ubiquitous entertainment and pornography continues to color how men view women, should it be a big surprise when the man who was put in charge of the air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response branch at the Pentagon is arrested and charged with sexual battery?

Actually, yes, it should. The arrest of Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski after he allegedly groped a woman in a parking lot, goes way beyond the pale. It also adds to the woes of the Air Force, which is still trying to emerge from a large sexual abuse scandal involving basic trainees at Lackland Air Force base in Texas.

It also comes a month after the release of a Pentagon health survey conducted in 2011, which found a growing percentage of women service members saying they were victims of unwanted sexual advances.

The survey identified the Marine Corps as having the biggest problem, followed by the Army and Navy. But the results of the survey were compromised by changes in the way questions were worded compared to earlier studies, and by the fact it was conducted online, rather than in person.

Fully 78 percent of troops declined to participate in the 2011 study, compared to only 28 percent in 2008.

This could be seen as further evidence that the military isn’t taking this problem seriously. With some members of Congress outraged and poised to take the reporting of such abuses away from the normal chain of command, changes may be coming.

But it will be difficult to deal with changes in the culture.

A lot of research is available on the way in which constant exposure to pornography affects how young men view women, as well as on how the cultural sexualization of girls affects the self-esteem and academic performance of young women. This recent story in the Toronto Star provides some interesting insights.

It notes that pornography alone cannot be blamed for any increase in rape or sexual assault. “However, academics, researchers and scientists say there is little doubt that the use of porn among teenagers is having a profound impact on their notions of normal sexual behaviour, their views on women and their ability to even identify what constitutes sexual violence.”

Sounds like Lt. Col Jeff Krusinski may have had trouble making that distinction, although that’s hard to believe considering his job was to write plans and programs that were supposed to help victims of sexual assault.

Whatever his story is, it’s safe to say the military has a job on its hands to impose a culture of honor and respect in an institution that gets its ranks from people who are part of a larger culture in which honor and respect is eroding.

About the Author

Jay Evensen

Jay Evensen is the Senior Editorial Columnist for the Deseret News. He has 32 years of journalism experience covering politics and a variety of other assignments at news organizations ranging from United Press International in New York City to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Deseret News, where he has worked since 1986. During that time, he has won numerous local, regional and national awards. Most recently, he was given the Cameron Duncan Media Award, given annually in Washington, D.C., by the advocacy group RESULTS, to the journalist judged to have done the most to further the cause of the world's poorest people.

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