Blog: Survivor Jenny McClendon responds to Invisible War review
Blog post submitted by survivor Jenny McClendon:
The statement that begins to raise doubt is this: “a legal mind, however, would raise some cautionary objections to such a hasty generalization based on extrapolated statistics.”
In this article a “legal mind” remains to be defined so it is hard to tell whether this is a red herring or a straw man. Some “legal minds” defend perpetrators and some “legal minds” might be perpetrators so that straw man measuring stick is flawed at conception.
The conviction statistics in The Invisible War are not extrapolated. The conviction rates are hard data that come from the Department of Defense. The low conviction rate points to a system of justice that is stacked against the victim.
The statistics that are “extrapolated” are the 19,000 assaults per year. Those rape victims are male and female. What is compelling about the extrapolated data is not the process of extrapolation. What is compelling about the 19,000 figure is the organization that uses the statistic over and over again.
The organization that is referred to above is the Department of Defense. The Department of Defense uses this data and is openly trying to address the problem that The Invisible War has exposed. The fact that all measures hitherto have fallen starkly short of even moderate success in curbing this problem is part of the purpose of the film.
Then the author states that, “These particular cases were enough to convince me, a skeptic of one-sided ‘activist’ documentaries, that the military has mishandled many cases of reported sexual abuse. I am less sure, however, how widespread this problem may be — that data is insufficient and tends to imply ‘guilty until proven innocent.’”
The problem is that the “innocent until proven guilty” mantra is not supported by the hard data. The hard data is the low conviction rate and those data also came from the Department of Defense.
After exploring doubt the author of the article revisits part of the purpose of the film when they say this, “having said that, however, the film does a convincing job of revisiting the specific claims of a group of specific women. Each woman recounts her life since the assault, including her quest for justice.”
This statement ignores the fact that male victims are portrayed in the film. Were the men missed? Did this journalist get up and use the restroom a few times? None of this can be known but it is interesting that men like Michael Mathews who was gang raped while serving in the Air Force were left out of this article. Military Sexual Trauma is not a women’s issue it is a human rights issue.
One final remark on this unsigned article is that the author makes this statement, Documentaries such as this one have to be viewed cautiously. Caution and skepticism is important in all reviews of any media. We should discuss “extrapolated statistics.” We should ask ourselves why we do not have hard data on military rape. We might have to rely on extrapolated data for the same reason that the conviction rate of sexual offenders is low.
Most people do not report rape because they will be treated like they are traitors. Most people do not report rape because the place where “innocent until proven guilty” is held most sacrosanct is when someone is accused of rape.
On a personal note I want to support this journalist’s skepticism. I want to say, “Yes we need to review everything critically.” Calling attention to extrapolated statistics is important but that is one sided when the source of the statistical extrapolation is not mentioned.
In summary, a teacher will give the author of ACompellingbutflawedlookatmilitaryrape a C+. The passing grade is for an attempt at balance. The fact that this grade is below a B is because the author failed to challenge their own assumptions while calling attention to their perception of The Invisible War.