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The Marines’ Nude Photo Scandal and High Rate of Sexual Assault Are Connected

Ariana Klay, former Marine Officer, in Marine dress blues, from The Invisible War, a Cinedigm/Docurama Films release.

This week, we learned of a private Facebook group where male Marines secretly shared explicit photos of their female colleagues, without their consent.

Unfortunately, this incident is indicative of a larger culture where toxic masculinity is reinforced, and women are systematically demeaned and devalued. As I explored in my second directorial film, The Mask You Live In, we live in a culture where a man’s value lies in his dominance, aggression, and power over women, while a woman’s value lies in her youth, beauty, and sexuality. These limiting norms hurt all of us, creating a climate where violence against women is normalized, and otherwise good men stay silent.

The Facebook group and the military’s high rate of sexual assault are not unrelated. They are part of the same rape culture. Let us all — from the Commander in Chief, to the men in uniform, to us as private citizens — foster a community that teaches men to be whole and that values women for their full human potential.

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