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Porn, hormones, and 3 other crazy explanations for the military's sexual assault epidemic
Some are offering questionable theories to explain the root of the problem
U.S. military leaders testify on June 4 before the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding sexual assaults in the military.
U.S. military leaders testify on June 4 before the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding sexual assaults in the military. Win McNamee/Getty Images
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he U.S. military has been grappling with a sexual assault crisis this year, prompting lawmakers in Congress, who claim the Pentagon can't be trusted to take care of the issue itself, to look for ways to address the problem.

"If you judged all our commanders of today based on the occurrence of sexual assault and rape in the military, they would all be receiving a failing grade," Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said recently.

With Congress focused on how to curb sexual assaults, many lawmakers and commentators have proposed theories to explain why the military has such a problem in the first place. Here, some of the more puzzling explanations for what's to blame for the spike in sexual assaults, which by the Pentagon's own estimate totaled 26,000 in 2010 alone.

1. Women
Former Tea Party Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), a former lieutenant colonel in the Army, suggested last week that sexual assaults were the natural result of female integration into the military, and of progressives' efforts to let women serve in combat roles.

In a radio interview with Michael Savage, West claimed the military used to have stricter regulations on the interactions between male and female service members. Then President Clinton came along, and "they started to try to break down those separations," West said.

West went on:

But then ask yourself, now why would you want to put women into combat arms units, and the infantry units, and fighting units...

You know, unfortunately, there are some that believe G.I. Jane is not just a movie, it's something that could actually be implemented. And there may be exceptions to the rule, but you should not make a change in the standards, which I think is what you've heard General Martin Dempsey talk about doing, just so that they can meet some sort of socially engineering goal or egalitarian goal of the left, liberal progressives." [Media Matters]

West is hardly alone. On his radio program, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) suggested the problem was the result of "liberalized" military policies. His guest, Family Research Council Vice President Jerry Boykin, agreed with him.

"We have seen a sexualization of our military with this social engineering," he said. "We are trying to violate the laws of nature."

2. Gays
A related theory is that it's really all President Obama's fault for allowing gays to serve openly in the armed forces.

"President Obama is finally admitting that sexual assault is a serious problem in the military — but what he hasn't conceded is that his policy on homosexuality helped create it," Family Research Council President Tony Perkins wrote on his group's website in May.

"How could this happen?" he went on. "Well, for starters, the Obama administration ordered military leaders to embrace homosexuality — completely dismissing the concerns that it could be a problem to have people attracted to the same sex, living in close quarters."

3. Hormones
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) blamed nature itself for the sexual assaults, arguing that the "hormone level" of young recruits was leading them astray.

"The young folks who are coming into each of your services are anywhere from 17 to 22 or 23," he said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last week. "Gee whiz, the hormone level created by nature sets in place the possibility for these types of things to occur."

National Review's David French offered a similar take, saying that the military's sexual assault problem was a reflection of a sex crime wave in the nation at large.

"Since the military is recruiting from a youth population suffering from its own (worse) sexual-assault problem, it has a tremendous challenge in keeping offenders out," he wrote.

Even a top Air Force officer, Gen. Mark Welsh, told members of Congress that 20 percent of the women who enter the Air Force reported being sexually abused in the past. The reason, he said, was America's prevailing "hook-up" culture.

"So they come in from a society where this occurs," he said. "Some of it is the hook-up mentality of junior high even and high school students now, which my children can tell you about from watching their friends and being frustrated by it."

4. Porn
In that same hearing, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) suggested it wasn't hormones that were the problem, but nudie magazines that were driving the spate of sexual assaults. Here's an excerpt of his remarks:

Mr. Chairman, I'd just add a letter, a document here that was given to me from Morality in the Media. Pat Truman used to be in the Department of Justice. I knew him when he was there. He points out that, a picture here of a newsstand and an Air Force base exchange with, you know, sexually explicit magazines being sold. So, we live in a culture that's awash in sexual activity. If it's not sold on base, it's right off base. There are videos and so forth that can be obtained, and it creates some problems, I think. [YouTube]

Morality in the Media bills itself thusly: "The leading national organization opposing pornography and indecency through pubic education and the application of law."

5. Obama
This theory argues that the slew of awful headlines about sexual assaults in the military this year are a red herring meant to obfuscate the rest of the news out of Washington, specifically President Obama's supposed three-headed scandal.

Here's Daily Caller contributor Mickey Kaus:

Jon Terbush is a staff writer for TheWeek.com covering politics, sports, and other things he finds interesting. He has previously written for Talking Points Memo, Raw Story, and Business Insider.

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