‘The Invisible War’ sheds light on military assault
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013 09:02
Sexual assault in the military has long gone unaddressed, but Dr. Dana Cooper, history professor and gender studies coordinator, wants to bring the subject to students’ attention.
“The rape of men and women goes on in the military, but it is much more prevalent with women,” Cooper said.
As part of her initiative, Cooper arranged for the Gender Studies and Military Science programs, along with Student Activities, to screen the Oscar nominated documentary, The Invisible War, which investigates the tendency for military officials to protect rapists while silencing rape victims.
“When the people you have to report to are the ones doing it to you, there is something wrong with that,” Cooper said. “Because at this point, sexual assault isn’t about sex, it’s about power. It’s a situation of taking someone’s power from them.”
Coincidently, while planning the movie screening, Cooper’s attention was transfixed by an article in Rolling Stone magazine about the rape of Petty Officer Rebecca Blummer.
“With this particular woman, someone roofied her and in that half-conscious state she was driving to the hospital, and when she was two blocks away she was pulled over by the police for driving with her lights off,” Cooper said. “They took her out of the car because they thought she was drunk, they asked her the standard questions, went through the field sobriety test, and the moment they leaned her over the hood she went berserk, understandably because of what she had gone through. They took her to jail, and the next morning she woke and up and she told them she needed a doctor. They told her that was what she was screaming all night long. I understand why they thought it was just some drunk person, but the reality was very, very different. “
Cooper said her superiors’ actions were even more despicable.
“When they took her back to the base, they didn’t take her to the hospital, but instead they took her before a military panel that asked, ‘It was snowing last night, why were you out?’. They made it (sound like it was) her fault after what she had gone through.”
While part of a military family growing up, Cooper said she doesn’t have a hatred or a proverbial bone-to-pick with the armed services.
“I think with changing roles and expectations that people have of men and women, that is why were hearing more and more about rape in the military,” Cooper said. “This also might be an byproduct of social media where people are talking. Twenty years ago this topic was off limits. This may very well be a backlash against women in combat.”
Cooper said everyone is welcome to attend the screening of The Invisible War at 6 p.m., Monday, March 4, in the Baker Pattillo Student Center Theatre. In addition to the screening, Rebecca Blummer will be in attendance to discuss her story following the movie.
In addition to the documentary screening, Cooper is spearheading an initiative to help impoverished women in developing countries around the world escape sexual slavery by donating gently-used or new bras. The bras will be collected around town and campus in pink buckets.
“In planning all of this, I happened to see an article about freeing the girls, and I thought, ‘What is that?’,” Cooper said. “I thought that’s an amazing and wonderful way to help these women become entrepreneurs. It gives the women a way out of sex trafficking, and a way to make some money they can take care of themselves for the first times in their life.”