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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Ilk that obstructs ERA plunders women

Perverts and predators in public office
Editing, re-reporting, comment by Carolyn Bennett

Violence in the character of Americans is endemic. A reckless impunity, it is reflected in every aspect of U.S. relations, civilian and military, domestic and international, against those considered American and those who are not considered American. The case of women in the military and veteran women is a sobering example of inordinate power’s perverse penchant for preying on women. A sick caricature of Americans’ throwaway line “thanks for your service.” Today a woman on Democracy Now! spoke to the rash of this curable malady.

“‘We’re all victims of military sexual assault,’” she said. It appears that current San Diego Mayor and former member of the U.S. Congress Bob Filner, in his assault on women, “was particularly targeting” members of the National Women Veterans Association of America, “hitting on them  because they were easy prey.” Many of these women veterans had already been sexually assaulted while on active duty. 

This public official, Eldonna Fernandez, said, “is part of an organization that’s (purportedly) against sexual assault and sexual violence toward women and sexual harassment (yet) he is doing the very thing that we are fighting to make stop in our service and in our country.”

Eldonna Lewis Fernandez is a retired Air Force Master Sergeant who is a negotiation specialist and performance expert for women who want to develop more influence, discipline and negotiation skills, professionally and personally.  Focusing on women's topics, personal growth, adventure, self esteem, and inspiration, she helps to empower women.

National Women Veterans Association of America

Its advocacy and mission statement says “We Served. You Served. Now We’re Serving Each Other.”

The National Women Veterans Association of America (NWVAA), according to the group’s website, “assists states, universities; private-sector and government agencies in several areas that are essential to the overall livelihood of military and veteran women.” Their work includes:

Assisting or referring women veterans in processing backlogged claims

Coordinating and/or providing affordable 24-hour to 6-month child care services for military women

Offering alternative mental health services to victims of post-traumatic stress disorder, military sexual trauma, and a variety of other military service-related mental disorders

Providing employment training, job placement, certification programs, healing; and hiring fair concepts, ‘hey, Sista, listen up series and training

Though women are serving in the U.S. military in greater numbers than in the past, the specific needs of military women are not being met by existing resources. Half of the women soldiers returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs data, have been “victims of sexual assault and/or sexual harassment.

NWVAA's resources provide consulting, funding, and referral services for transitional and permanent housing for homeless and at-risk military women, veterans, and their families; a bridge to help veterans transform the nation through innovative business leadership of the new millennium; aid companies with the program model ‘how to adjust with a military veteran in the workplace’; negotiate internships and job placement that meets the needs of high-demand jobs considered ‘non-traditional’ for women veterans; and offer supportive services for veteran children through teen summits, outside service organizations, and parenting classes.  

Perverts, predators in public office
Contemporary reports echo the performance of former public official, U.S. President William Jefferson Clinton.

In recent reports, a nurse caring for a wounded marine said the San Diego mayor and former member of the U.S. Congress tried to barter his official help for this wounded marine in exchange for sexual “favors” from Michelle Tyler, the nurse.

Eldonna Fernandez, who had been raped while on active military duty, said when Filner was in his official position as member of the U.S. Congress he had “made unwanted advances” toward her.

Veteran Gerri Tindley reported being accosted by Filner, a man who, according to Fernandez and Tindley, “posed as a champion of women in the military (and at the same time) abused his power and betrayed their trust by making unwanted sexual advances.”

Bob Filner is a politician who comes out and is associated with a number of U.S. states, apparently before settling in California: Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York (Queens and Ithaca) and Minnesota. He was even on the faculty of San Diego State University. Before entering the U.S. Congress, he had held public office in San Diego. His seat in Congress, where he also sat on the Veterans Affairs Committee, extended from 1993 until his resignation in December 2012; San Diegans elected him mayor in November 2012.

hirteen women have accused this dishonorable public official of sexual harassment, yet he continues to hold public office in California. 

Because of the rising number of sexual harassment allegations against Filner and his own admission of predatory behavior, the National Women Veterans Association of America rescinded an earlier intent to honor this official at their benefit in support of the Military Sexual Assault Community. The organization’s president called Filner a “keynote speaker on these injustices” and said the NWVAA does “not tolerate sexual discrimination at any level within our society.” Tara Jones said the group “encourages other women organizations and groups to

…join NWVAA’s efforts to end violence against women and children, eradicate sexual assault in military branches of service, and deter sexual harassment/discrimination within the overall society of the United States.

Obstructionists of ERA plunder women 
 would not have chosen military service as a career but I am forever supportive of women’s rights and it astonishes me that this predatory behavior is tolerated in the United States into the twenty-first century  ─ and too often tolerated by women and men.

The United States is wedged politically and socially; it is distracted and lacks the courage of its “convictions” ─ if indeed it holds “values” and “convictions” beyond empty rhetoric ─ thus in all these years America has been unwilling to grant women equal standing under law. The Equal Rights Amendment (the ERA) is the Constitution’s “unfinished business” ─ too simple to conceive:

Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

Because America is wedged into a selfish superficiality manifested in a preoccupation with gays, gods, guns, gimme; instead of a creative, productive, progressive, inclusive individualism, it is set on a course trending backward.

Almost a hundred years (1923-2013) since its initial introduction in the U.S. Congress, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) languishes. In 1972, Congress passed the ERA and sent it to the states with a seven-year deadline (1979) for ratification; later extended to June 30, 1982. Only 35 of the required 38 states ratified the Equal Rights Amendment.

Un-ratifying obstructionists
North Carolina
South Carolina

Conclude what you will.

The ERA has been introduced repeatedly in the U.S. Congress but it remains the Constitution’s unfinished
business and, indeed, America’s unfinished business.

In a country where men claim an inordinate hold on power; where too many people accept this condition as the birthright of men; where women are deemed inferior and are consigned to a permanent status of “less than” and are the “servicers” or “pleasurers” of men ─ women become the prey of perverts and predators.

Sources and notes

“Report: Bob Filner Targeted Military Sexual Assault Victims for Harassment”, August 8, 2013,
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is reportedly completing a number of new rules to address rampant sexual assault in the military after a Pentagon survey estimated 26,000 people in the armed forces were sexually assaulted last year, http://www.democracynow.org/2013/8/8/headlines#8814

National Women Veterans Association of America, http://www.nationalwomenveterans.us/national-women-veterans-association-of-america.html

“San Diego mayor faces fresh allegations of sexual harassment from two veterans ─ Accusations follow spate of others from former aides and acquaintances which have triggered a lawsuit against Bob Filner” (theguardian.com, Rory Carroll in Los Angeles), August 7, 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/07/san-diego-mayo-fresh-allegations-veterans



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