Whenever news breaks about stolen or hacked photos finding their way onto the internet, two responses are immediate.  One camp, intent on defending the rights of the women who have had their privacy violated, will exclaim that this latest infraction is further evidence that we live in a patriarchal society where men continue to see women as objects – and as a result, continue to infringe on their rights as people.  Another, smaller but equally vocal, group will take on a defensive role – accusing the women involved of being complicit to the crime for having the bad sense to take the pictures (or allowing the pictures to be taken) in the first place and explaining away the sharing of the photos, and the awful comments that ensue, as “boys being boys.”

Let me be clear: I don’t speak for all Marines, nor am I the head of an organization that purports to do so.  I’m just a guy, a Marine, and a husband.  My opinions are entirely my own, and don’t necessarily reflect the views of SOFREP or any of the other writers on this site.  Again, I’m just a dude, talking about some dudes that did something awful to some other dudes.  “Dudes” in this case, being a non-gender specific term.

The Marines and Corpsman involved in Marines United Facebook page that were recently revealed to have been compiling and sharing inappropriate pictures of female service members were wrong, and deserve whatever punishment befalls them – but in order for me to be able to pass such a judgement, I must first differentiate myself from the type of guy that would do such a thing… and that’s where this story starts hitting Marines in the gut.  Ya see, the vast majority of Marines are guys in their late teens and early twenties.  Less than seven percent of the branch is female, which places them at under half the service wide average – meaning that Marines, by and large, interact with fewer female service members throughout their careers than those in most other branches.  That’s not an excuse or an explanation, it’s just groundwork that needs to be laid in order to gain perspective.

Although I worked with some incredible female Marines, for the most part, my work environment was primarily male, but not ‘cross section of American men’ male… more like thousands of alpha-male types that enlisted to either become a tough guy or prove to their ex-girlfriends that they already were one.  Marines tend to be aggressive, assertive, and even abrasive – these characteristics are pushed in recruiting (it’s how you sell a guy on passing up a $20k signing bonus offered by the Army) and encouraged in the culture of the fleet.  We’re a bunch of assholes, and we pride ourselves on that in a lot of ways.

While I was serving, there was a practice that was sort of similar to the Marines United’s method of sharing pictures of females in various states of undress called, “making her famous.” You’d receive a text message forwarded to you with pictures of a woman, clothed or not, along with a story entailing how she cheated on her husband while he was deployed, stole his money, or the like.  The practice started as a means for Marines to get back at their cheating spouses, but eventually became a way for jaded husbands to shame their cheating wives by sharing inappropriate pictures of them.  I never sent out such a text blast, but I certainly received them – often from phone numbers I didn’t even know.  Some people saw it as a public service, warning their Marine brothers about a newly single woman in town that wasn’t to be trusted, but the reality of it was, people are assholes – and Marines are no exception.

It’s important that I tell you that I was the recipient of these text messages, and that at the time, I didn’t raise the alarms and start shouting about equal respect for the genders.  It’s important that you know that I’ve objectified women, including service members.  While on one deployment, I got busted by a female corpsman for referring to her as “hot-doc” behind her back.  She had a good sense of humor about it and we even became friends – but it didn’t have to go that way.

My point is, I’m not some gender-equality warrior shouting from the roof tops.  I’ve gone to my fair share of strip clubs, I’ve made inappropriate jokes, and I’ve participated in “locker room talk” in real locker rooms for decades – and I find the behavior of the Marines on Marines United absolutely disgusting and reprehensible.  When news like this breaks, the two camps will post their think pieces, and the people who follow their ways of thinking will read and comment as they always do – but I’m not a part of those camps – I’m just some guy.

As “some guy,” I’m uniquely suited to be able to look at things like this objectively and make my own assessment.  I don’t have an existing political slant to argue, I don’t feel the need to defend men, and I’ve counseled female Marines before on the dangers of sharing such “private” pictures with guys, because, and this is a hard and gross reality about men, they’re probably going to show their buddies.  I honestly could even argue in the defense of some idiot that opened Facebook and clicked ‘like’ on a racy image without fully appreciating the reality of the situation that resulted in the picture being there –just as I can absolutely argue in favor of a young woman taking a topless selfie to send to whomever she pleases.  God help me, every time I hear someone blaming women for having the audacity to be naked I can’t help but liken it to Muslim extremists demanding women cover themselves with a hijab… after all, you can’t blame us men for failing to control our impulses, right?