Active Duty Coast Guardsman: “Women are not treated equally in the Coast Guard.”

Non-rate, United States Coast Guard

I knew of the rape problems that the military has but my recruiter ensured me that it was all DoD problems and that the Coast Guard is the “most women-friendly” branch of service. My recruiter said that unlike the DoD all of the jobs in the Coast Guard are open to women which proves that the Coast Guard treats women fairly. He said that there might be stories out there but things has changed. It sounded convincing enough so I signed along the dotted lines. It did not take me long to find out that my recruiter was wrong.

At basic training my company commander brushed himself against my breasts.  After it happened many more times you must rule out that it was accidental. I spoke to the females in my company about it. Others experienced the same thing and felt it was creepy. Together we all went to our lead company commander to report it. Our lead company commander said that he’ll talk to the CC that did this to us. It stopped.

My unit is porno central. Every where you looked was porn. Every computer’s screensaver and desktop photo showed porn. I reported it. I was told that if I wanted butterflies and unicorns that I should have been a preschool teacher. I was told that this is the Coast Guard. Porn is harmless and needed to help the men. I worked in a professional setting prior to enlisting in the Coast Guard. Why are civilian men capable of doing their work without viewing porn but Coast Guardsmen are not?

Being raised in a Christian home I find pornography very offensive. I was able to track down the Coast Guard’s porn policy and showed it to my Chief. Porn in the workplace is against Coast Guard policy. Chief denied the policy and ignored my findings by saying that it is “just kiddie porn” that is not allowed.

Shortly after things went downhill. I was viewed as a trouble maker. You become the tattletale; the snitch. Not one person wants to include you in anything out of fear that I’ll be running to the Chief to report them.  I was also told that I am jealous of the women on the computer because I am not as pretty as they are. Instead of tackling the real issue I became the problem.

My sexual assault happened on December 22, 2012.  I was awaken by a Petty Officer first class with his hand down my pants. I screamed. He ran out. When I was asked about my scream I lied and said that I was having a bad dream.

Things have been getting considerably worst. When I see the PO1 he always tells: “bitch. make me a sandwich” jokes.  The men openly describe incidents that are by definition rape. The women laugh at their jokes. If you are familiar with Michael Nodianos and the Steubenville video you have some sort of idea of what Coast Guardsmen laugh about and what I have to listen to each and everyday.

We have at least two women here that are here because they have been raped. They are at different units but it is common knowledge that they been raped. Several often make fun of them. Even the women laugh at other women for reporting rape. The Chief and others often hear the jokes but not once put an end to them.

The other women here all laugh at rape jokes and partake in pornography. The most shocking of it all was when we were all at a bar two of the women were ordered to make out with each other. They did. They also flashed their breasts in the cab. A PO3 said “That is exactly why I love having women in the Coast Guard.” The women laughed. Both of these women are in heterosexual relationships. They only made out with each other because it turned the guys on.

We were ordered to move some furniture around. Two of the women sat there and said that it was too heavy for them. The men moved the furniture it for them. I am half their size and did the work for myself without any help. If you ask any of the women they would tell you that they are not treated any differently because they are women. It is sad that these women feel that showing their breasts or showing that they are weak, delicate creatures is the only way to get ahead in the US Coast Guard. Sadly, they are right. Their careers are flourishing. My career was threatened.

This leaves me to the last bit. I am always reminded that I might be kicked out for failure to adopt to military life. I have completed all of my qualifications. I have not had any disciplinary problems. Because I have a problem that others view porn and because I do not laugh at rape “jokes” I am the one that is allegedly not able to stay in the Coast Guard. As of now the threats of kicking me out within the 6-months mark has been action-less threats. It scares me though that I might be out of a career because others are breaking Coast Guard policies.

Women are not treated equally in the Coast Guard.

11 comments

  1. Hello,

    I blogged about my experiences in the Coast Guard several months ago. Our stories are so similar. If you need support PLEASE get in touch with me. I was harassed and nearly assaulted in bootcamp and faced many of the same “porno” issues at my first unit. My email is elishaxjoseph@hotmail.com … I really hope you’ll get in touch with me. Either way, God bless and you keep yourself safe.

    Elisha

  2. Hi,

    You are doing much better than me. You are so strong. Be nice. Say you do not want it and be nice. Be a lady. Girls can get graphic when necessary.

    I was chaptered out and discharged from the Army for adjustment disorder in 2005. I was sexually assaulted on the Fort Jackson, SC Base by a Trainer and got a CID Police Report. I was an E-4 Specialist and going to be an Officer. The other girls retaliated against me too. My own Battle Buddy pushed me into a fire pole after I filed the report and to get in good with the high ranking soldiers. I was written up for rolling my eyes and not standing straight. I was in immense pain and they could care less. The Company Commander encouraged sexual harassment at her Company. Even upon discharge the JAG Attorney Officer said I was jealous of the little kid they had sex with in front of me. A JAG Officer! At the graduation ceremony I sat there while this little girl who was underage took my rank and pins. Do you think I was going to let her get away with that?!!! I caused a scene! This little girl and Officer who hated me and called me bitch had sex with each other as loud as they could and for several nights asking me what I like and putting me down. I was scared and turned off. I got accused of masturbation. I went with it. They are the perverts for thinking it. I ended up slapping some people across the face who grabbed me and tried to drag me off my bed. It got nasty. Like a bad divorce. I have no problems talking dirty and I knew I had a lawyer and so do you. You can still be Christian and tell people they make you feel uncomfortable and for what. Tell them what makes you uncomfortable. OK? I saw the Coast Guards “No Sexual Harassment” Policy. It is in every boat You are so strong for doing this. I felt all alone and was taken out of certain trainings and written up for it while other girls (nice girls) were allowed to get away with it. You are not alone. It is the highest honor to serve your Country. You need to tell them exactly what is making you uncomfortable as dirty as they sound. That is what people want to do to you in there, make you feel dirty. Then they have something to pay for. You can do it. I am on facebook. I have been contacted by people I trained with that I thought hated me including that JAG Officer who said I was jealous of the underage run-away who had sex in front of me with an Officer or the “slut horror.” Scary huh. Deal with it now. You can do it. You are a survivor!!!

    Marnie Blaine Golden

  3. Keep your head up, I am a male
    Nonrate in the coast guard and I know exactly what you are talking about. I ended up having to report a rape that occurred to a shipmate of mine and just seeing how it all went down, the coast guard had a long way to go before they should be patting themselves on the back in terms of being gender equal. If you would ever like to talk more or go into more details about my experience if you think it will help your situation just let me know.

  4. Pornography in the Coast Guard is common. Sadly unlike the DoD, the Coast Guard is not doing much to remove porn from its facilities.

    The United States Air Force due to pressure from MRCC recently did a sweep through on their work spaces for all porn. Inspectors went to 100 facilities and found 32.000 items that could be considered pornography or offensive. I am pretty sure that the Coast Guard would find roughly the same percentage of items if they were to do an inspection.

    Remember what someone might find to be pornography or offensive might not be what you find to be pornography or offensive. The rule of thumb is if one person find it offensive or it could be offensive for somebody it does not belong in the workplace.

    I do not really care if your desktop photo is a photo taken straight from the Swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated or something more hardcare-porn is porn and it has no place at work. We need to stop normalizing porn.

  5. There is a huge difference between what you find in Maxim and what you find on kinkdotcom. I do not see anything wrong with having a pretty girl on my computer if it is going to make me work better. If Maxim or Sports Illustrated Swimsuit is so bad wouldn’t you think they would ban our access to those websites? Seriously the military became way to PC.

    1. In response to Alan’s comment … No, the military has NOT become to PC, steps are being made toward making it a safe environment. The problem with “drawing the line” at Maxim or Sports Illustrated is that some people ARE uncomfortable with it (and on the flip side you won’t see me with shirtless men on my locker or elsewhere). The problem with things like these are that they objectify the opposite sex and promote a culture where harassment is more likely to be over looked and tolerated. Frankly, the military is your job. You work in a corporation, good luck getting pictures or posters like that to fly – why should the military be different? As for it being a “morale boost”? Give me a break. If you are inept to do your job without the presence of pornography than I doubt you were a good worker to begin with. The days of the “good ole boy” mentality must end. We must make the military a better place for everyone and begin the process of making a complete culture change.

  6. I am so sad listening to this story and my husband, who is a Chief in the Coast Guard is extremely upset for you! He begs you to please go to the Command Master Chief in your area and report this horrible behavior. The actions of your Chief are not the actions of a REAL Chief in the Coast Guard. He does not deserve to wear the anchor or to be in charge of anyone ever!!! You did nothing wrong and it’s woman like you, with standards that need to be involved in this organization. Please take care of yourself, and go above and beyond to report this horrible behavior that is happening to you.

  7. The Coast Guard is a very long way off from equality. In my personal experience, it really depends on the leadership to enforce things. I have had to rely on Command Master Chiefs that really did not care about real and serious issues, because they cared more about their guys. It is very much a good ol’ boy network. There seem to be few good leaders who genuinely care. The problem is too many leaders are career oriented. Afraid of standing up for what is right and making waves because it could affect them. As women in the USCG, we need to help make changes. It is only by speaking out can we have any impact on the future.

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