Meghan O'Malley


Sexual assault has become pandemic and even a common occurrence among the ranks of all branches of the U.S. military. The Department of Defense estimates that in the year 2012 alone, 26,000 active duty soldiers were sexually assaulted. The military rape culture was thrust to the forefront of the media in 1991 as a result of the Tailhook Scandal. The military and Congress have not sat idly by, but twenty-three years and hundreds of thousands of assaults later, nothing has successfully alleviated the rates of sexual violence.

This paper explores why such efforts have failed to produce the desired results and what must be done moving forward. It cannot be that the military is simply stubbornly anti-feminist. I offer that such past efforts fall flat because they fail to permeate the hyper-masculine military culture. In order to make real change, the military must rebrand itself in a way that encourages female leadership and moves beyond the inhibitions imposed by “hyper-masculinity.”