Morale: Sexual Activity in Wartime


December 26, 2005: Ever since American women were first recruited for regular military service 90 years ago, there were fears that sexual harassment would be a disruptive influence. Because the military is a very disciplined organization, this has proved not to be the case. There is sexual harassment, but much less than in civilian jobs. A recent Department of Defense survey of 76,000 members of the military reserves found that 53 percent of men and 33 percent of women believed there was less sexual harassment than in civilian jobs. In addition, 44 percent of the women saw no difference in the degree of sexual harassment at military and civilian workplaces.

The reservists make an ideal population to study, because they went straight from civilian jobs, to military ones, when they were activated for service in the war on terror. Moreover, 60 percent of men and 46 percent of women believed that sexual harassment had become less frequent, and less of a problem, since September 11, 2001. This is partly because the decrease in sexual harassment is the result of ongoing programs against it, and a wartime atmosphere in the military.

Because the troops are no longer allowed access to booze or prostitutes in the war zone, and about fifteen percent of the troops are female, there is a lot of sexual activity among the troops. This is largely against the regulations. But enforcing a ban on consensual sex is seen as counter-productive, and the hanky-panky is tolerated. For the moment.


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