Make her famous

The Times on that secret Facebook group for male Marines to degrade women.

Now the Defense Department has opened a criminal investigation and the Marine Corps is facing its latest unwanted controversy after it was revealed over the weekend that a secret online Facebook group of active-duty and veteran Marines shared thousands of naked and private photos of Marine Corps women.

The invitation-only group, called Marines United and made up of more than 30,000 active duty Marines and veterans, built online dossiers on Marine women without their knowledge or consent, listing dozens of women’s names, ranks, social media handles and where they are stationed.

Several Marines said the Marines United postings are an evolution of a retaliatory practice called “make her famous.” Marines would share nude photographs of girlfriends or spouses they believed were cheating through text messages to a broad swath of people, encouraging them to forward the photos.

Wow. Men would do that to women they were close to, women they perhaps “loved.”

Jason Elsdon, a Marine in his early 40s, who said he was a member of Marines United and said he played no role in posting, organizing or disseminating the photographs, argued that people were overreacting. “It was just nudes,” he said. “I scrolled past it.” He added: “I don’t feel that it’s right, but I don’t feel that people should be utterly surprised that it is happening. There are other groups, and many are civilians, that are the same way.”

Well that’s easy for Jason Elsdon, isn’t it – that kind of thing doesn’t happen to him. You could say he has male privilege.

Though all military branches face problems with integrating women, the Marine Corps has perhaps the toughest challenge. Not only does it have the smallest proportion of women of all the services — 7 percent, compared with 14 percent in the Army — it also has the highest rate of sexual assault reports. Reforms also continually collide with a culture of ground-pounding infantry fighters that despite the efforts of some in the leadership, embrace a tradition of brawling, hard-drinking and sexual exploits.

Sexual “exploits” – which include violence and degradation, right? It’s not an exploit if there’s not a touch of sadism?

“That is absolute nonsense,” said Maj. Clark Carpenter, a Marine Corps spokesman. “A true warrior carries himself with a sense of decency and compassion, but is always ready for the fight,” he said. “Those who hide in the dark corners of the internet with a shield of anonymity and purport to be warriors are nothing of the sort — they are nothing more than cowards.”

Still, the Marine Corps leadership has never fully rid the Corps of its rough ethos, and in recent years it has been hit with a number of scandals when this mentality broke into the open, including allegations that commanders retaliated against women who reported sexual assaults and recent reports that drill instructors hazed recruits, especially Muslims.

Just Muslims? Not bad hombres from Mexico?

Women in the Marine Corps say the culture has been hostile to them for years.

“When I was in Iraq, I always carried a can of black spray paint to cover up what was written about me in the port-a-johns,” said Kate Hendricks Thomas, a Marine veteran who is now a professor of behavioral health at Charleston Southern University. “I tried to laugh it off, but the harassment is so pervasive that it can have a real effect.”

It’s hard to laugh off having to work among people who have active, expressed contempt for you.

In September, a Marine veteran named John Albert was invited to join the site, and, disgusted by what he found, alerted Facebook.

“I have tons of friends who got killed in Afghanistan and have died since they came home. These types of actions dishonor their names and the entire Marine Corps,” Mr. Albert said in an interview.

Facebook took down the page temporarily for violating a ban on nudity after the complaint, Mr. Albert said, but the group apparently got around restrictions on nudity by shifting photos to a shared Google file.

Then on Saturday, a Marine veteran named Thomas Brennan, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he was wounded by a rocket-propelled grenade, and later founded the nonprofit news site The War Horse, wrote about the group.

Marine Corps officials, alerted to the site by Mr. Brennan, contacted Google and had the files removed.

Since publishing the story, Mr. Brennan said he and his family had received death threats from members of the group. He charged that one member was offering “500 bucks for nudes” of Mr. Brennan’s wife and said he was “cooperating with multiple law enforcement agencies” regarding threats to him and his family.

I’m so sick of bullies. I feel so sick about having a noisy bully in the White House.

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