Cadet Command says it is not to blame
Great strides, so to speak, are being made in the US military’s jihad against sexual assault.
Army ROTC cadets are complaining on message boards that they were pressured to walk in high heels on Monday for an Arizona State University campus event designed to raise awareness of sexual violence against women.This, to put it charitably, is freakin insane.
The Army openly encouraged participating in April’s “Walk A Mile in Her Shoes” events in 2014, but now it appears as though ROTC candidates at ASU were faced with a volunteer event that became mandatory.
This doesn’t appear to be some sort of rogue action. According to cadets commenting on the subject the order comes from the top: MG Peggy Combs, commanding general of US Army Cadet Command. And it is highly coercive:
A ding on an evaluation that you don’t support the command’s EO program is a guarantee that you won’t get promoted while on active duty. As a cadet it will probably prevent you from being selected to go on active duty rather than receiving a 90-day active duty for training billet and moved into the Guard or Reserve. It has also against Army Regulations to require soldiers to buy items of clothing for wear while on duty.
I contacted the US Army Cadet Command and asked them about this. I received a response from the command public affairs officer, Mister Mike Johnson. According to Mr. Johnson, ROTC detachments were directed to participate in university activities that focus on reducing sexual assault. No instructions were given on how they were to participate. Participation by cadets was not mandatory and no directive was given to penalize absent cadets. According to Mr. Johnson, only 15 or so cadets at Temple participated as the walk was held during class hours. The Army did not require the purchase of high heels and is looking into that question.
Clearly, the message Cadet Command tells me it sent is not the message that was received in the field. And unless there is a widespread conspiracy to lie about what happened, the Cadet Command needs to examine what the hell is going on and take a serious look at who it has running ROTC “battalions”. However, even in its best light this is a problematic exercise. Do ROTC cadets, in uniform, wearing red high heels really demonstrate anything about sexual assault? What lesson are these young men and women supposed to take away from this?How about pride in wearing the US Army uniform? How about the number of men that are coming forward with complaints of sexual assault ? Don’t men count?
More to the point, this is what we are training future commissioned officers: wearing heels lets you understand women. Can you think of anything more superficial?