Friday, February 8, 2013

Rape in the Military: An Open Letter to Kirby Dick

February 7, 2013

Dear Mr. Dick,

As a longtime advocate for victims of sexual abuse and editor of a forthcoming book titled The Rape of Males in War and Genocide, I am writing to express my great concern over the apparent content of your film The Invisible War (which I have not yet seen), and the marketing and publicity campaign surrounding it.

You are aware that in absolute terms, more men than women are sexually assaulted each year in the U.S. military. As reported on, two of the male rape survivors interviewed for your film have accused you of marginalizing male victims by devoting less than five minutes of your documentary to their plight.

Moreover, according to the report, "The publicity campaign hawking the film -- and its Academy Award candidacy -- includes a website that shows the faces of six female victims of military sexual assault, and no male survivors of that crime, as well as formal screenings to which only female victims have been asked to attend." I find this extraordinary and frankly outrageous. It is a real slap in the face to thousands of victims, declared or hidden, who already confront enormous obstacles, as male victims of rape and sexual assault, to getting a hearing and redress. Your justification for "invisibilizing" these male victims -- that "We kind of felt women would get the discussion going and push the military to make the change for everyone" -- is truly lame. The reality is that you have chosen the easy path of generating concern and sympathy for female victims of sexual assault, and have deliberately avoided devoting meaningful attention to the inconvenient majority of victims.

Here are some steps I believe you can and should take immediately:

- Ensure that your film-publicity website is changed to represent male victims equally with female victims.
- Ensure that male victims are equally represented with women at all future invited screenings of the film, and issue an apology for having excluded them from past screenings.
- Ensure that the DVD of The Invisible War includes an additional special feature on male victims specifically, with discussion over the controversy surrounding the final cut of the film.

I look forward to seeing your documentary, Mr. Dick, and I am sure it has much to say about the important subject of female victimization. But as a treatment of the broad problem of sexual assault in the U.S. military, your approach to the subject seems manifestly limited and inadequate. I hope you will take the necessary steps, immediately, to address these oversights.


Adam Jones, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Political Science
University of British Columbia, Canada

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