The Issues Of Sexual Harassment And Assault Of Women In The Military In The United States

Both men and women in the military work hard and sacrifice a lot for the freedom of their countries. However, women in the military often have to fight two wars. Is there another, less discussed war within the military ranks? Women in the military have a significant chance of being sexually harassed or assaulted during their service than their male counterparts. When a woman experiences this, it impacts every facet of her service and life after leaving the military. Sexual harassment can be perpetrated by fellow soldiers or even commanding officers. Regardless of the perpetrator, women often struggle to prevent such incidents. This is just one of many issues women in the military must try to overcome in all branches of service. Women have been serving in the military since the early 1900s, yet even today, female soldiers grapple with significant challenges, including sexual harassment and assault, unequal health conditions, ill-fitted uniforms, and gaining respect from male soldiers on the battlefield.

Sexual harassment and assault are problems that are almost impossible to prevent. In recent years, the military has been putting more effort into combating issues. Both men and women can be victims of sexual harassment or assault, but because the military is male-dominated, women often find themselves easier targets. Crimes involving women occur far too frequently, as corroborated by the authors of “Off the Battlefield, Military Women Face Risks From Male Troops,” who state, “About 19,000 sex crimes take place in the military each year, according to the Pentagon’s most recent estimate. Women who join the military face a much higher risk of sexual assault than civilian women” (Lawrence). Since sexual harassment is so prevalent, it adds another layer of difficulty to the duties of women in the military, forcing them to constantly worry about potential harassment. One woman in the book Undaunted: The Real Story of America’s Servicewomen in Today’s Military, provides insights into how prevalent sexual harassment is, stating “it seemed like every five minutes, day and night, Navy and Marine males knocked on the door looking for one of the females” (Biank 19). This example illustrates the lack of respect and boundary understanding by male soldiers.

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Harassment does not exclusively come from soldiers of the same rank; it can be perpetrated by commanding officers as well. Women in the military often find themselves worrying about commanding officers threatening them to perform sexual favors under duress of facing consequent repercussions. Even if the female soldier did nothing wrong, commanding officers can resort to blackmail, forcing them to submit to their sexual demands. Beyond avoiding punishment, some commanding officers use their rank to secure sexual favors in exchange for promoting female soldiers. Certain women may not be granted promotions unless they submit to these demands. An article in POLITICO magazine shed light on a woman’s experience in the military, wherein she was sexually assaulted. She stated, “I had no faith in my chain of command as my first sergeant previously had sexual harassment accusations against him, and the unit climate was extremely sexist and hostile in nature towards women” (Benedict). This testimony indicates that sexual harassment is an ongoing issue and that it is challenging for women to report such incidents.

Why don’t women in the military report sexual harassment? If a woman is being harassed by a commanding officer, it is harder to report it. They have to report it to the person above their commanding officer, and at that level, the woman is often viewed as a liar. Commanding officers are well-respected, so it is assumed that the female soldier provoked him and is now regretting it. The slim chances of being believed by someone who can do something about the harassment or assault discourage women from even trying to report harassment from their commanding officers. Another reason female soldiers do not report sexual harassment is that fellow soldiers, both men, and women, often view the reporter differently once they file the report. They judge them and are less friendly, acting as though the reporter is the one in the wrong for reporting it.

Leadership Theories, Factors, And Qualities Of Effective Leaders In U.S. Army

Theories of Leadership

According to Bass’s theory of leadership, there are three ways a person could become a leader (Stogdil 1989; Bass 1990). The first two ways explain the leadership development for a small number of people. The first theory is that some personal traits in people may lead them naturally to assume leadership roles. This is the Trait Theory. The second theory indicates that a dilemma or crisis can cause a person to rise and deal with the situation, bringing out some extraordinary leadership qualities. This is called the Great Events Theory. The last theory states that people can choose to become leaders, and therefore, learn leadership skills. This is the Transformational Theory. In current times, it is the most widely accepted theory.

Main Factors of Leadership

There are four main factors in leadership (“U.S Army”, 1983).

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A leader must have an honest understanding of himself as an individual, what he knows, and what he is capable of doing. For the leader to be successful, he must inspire his followers and convince them that he is worthy of being followed.


A true leader must know his followers well enough to understand the style of leadership that suits each of them. For example, a new employee will not be treated the same as an employee who has worked for the company for the last ten years. The newer employee requires more supervision than the veteran worker.


In leadership, communication is a two-way process, occurring between the leader and his followers. However, the majority of this process usually involves nonverbal communication. When a leader sets a standard with his own actions, and the followers align their behavior accordingly, this is an example of nonverbal communication. This demonstrates that the leader would not ask his followers to do something he himself would not do. Communication can either strengthen or completely destroy the relationship between the leader and his followers.


In leadership, a leader will encounter various situations that he or she will need to deal with or address. These situations will differ, and so too should the approach used in handling them. One method of dealing with a situation may not work as effectively when dealing with another. The onus falls on the leader to use proper judgment when determining the best course of action to handle various issues. It is crucial to note that the situation has a more significant effect on the leader’s actions than their inherent traits. Mischel (1968) observed that while some traits possess impressive stability over time, they display little consistency across different situations.

The next step is to examine the traits that make each leader outstanding or sets them apart from the crowd.

Qualities of a Good Leader

To be termed a good leader, it is necessary to possess most, if not all, of the traits listed below. These traits are what set a leader apart. Some people are fortunate to be born with them, while others develop them as they nurture their leadership skills. Ultimately, they are indispensable characteristics for a leader. Firstly, a leader should be a person of integrity, doing things because they believe it’s right and not merely for ego. They should be able to uphold promises made. Confidence is another trait of an effective leader. No one will follow a coward even if he is right. A confident person has a greater chance of being followed than someone who lacks confidence. The confidence of a leader serves to inspire followers, despite any challenges they may encounter. The confident leader will also assure and encourage his team to accomplish what seems impossible because they do not shrink back in the face of challenges.

It is vital for any leader to exude positive emotions. A positive person is far more preferable company than a negative one who constantly complains. Even the Bible suggests it is better to live on the roof of a house than to share the house with a contentious spouse. A positive person reassures others even in difficult circumstances. In any organization, this is beneficial, as employees will not be tempted to quit as soon as they encounter tough economic times. The positive leader focuses on the lessons learned from mistakes instead of wallowing in the errors. Moreover, a leader must be deeply committed to their work and their vision. Lack of commitment often results in unfinished projects. Commitment is crucial because it is the driving force that inspires one to achieve what others deem impossible. This commitment propels a leader to persevere even when on the brink of surrendering, as such leadership by example encourages the followers to do the same. Another key trait of an effective leader is wisdom.

A leader cannot be effective without wisdom. Leadership largely involves decision-making; therefore, a leader needs to be wise in order to avoid catastrophic decisions and the subsequent losses.

In addition, an exemplary leader must be passionate. This quality stimulates everyone to push themselves harder. When a leader is passionate about something, they will do it enthusiastically because it is something they love or enjoy doing. Lack of passion makes it even harder to inspire others. Passion, being a contagious trait, will likely be mirrored by the followers, making the environment conducive for progress.

The final, but not the least, trait is humility. An exceptional leader must be humble. Without humility, a leader cannot reach his full potential. This is because being open to correction when he makes a mistake requires humility. Humility resonates with those in the lower rungs of society. A humble leader does not find it difficult to interact with underprivileged individuals and social outcasts because he is able to align himself with their level. Therefore, they can engage in meaningful interactions.

All the above, along with many other qualities, are characteristics of an effective leader. People who possess these qualities naturally attract followers, because they inspire and motivate them.

These qualities result in a charismatic effect, leading to outstanding leadership. It was once said that a leader is not born, but made. Dr. Freda Turner echoes this sentiment by stating that leaders are not inherently born great; they are instead born as babies. In support of this idea, Jago (1982) posits that good leaders grow through a continuous process of self-reflection, education, training, and experience. They constantly work and study to improve their leadership skills rather than merely resting on their laurels. As John F. Kennedy said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable.”

For a person to improve their leadership effectiveness, they need to be focused and persistent. Leadership skills can be developed through classroom training and reading books. The success of leadership development efforts is associated with three factors: the individual learner’s characteristics, the quality and nature of the leadership program, and supervisory support for behavioral change. Leadership development programs could be tailored personally or collectively.

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