American Rape of Vietnamese Women was Considered “Standard Operating Procedure”

Hits: 17801

Comparing testimony from Vietnamese women and American soldiers, Gina Marie Weaver, in her book Ideologies of Forgetting: Rape in The Vietnam War, finds that rape of Vietnamese women by American troops during the US invasion of Vietnam was a “widespread”, “everyday occurrence” that was essentially “condoned”, even encouraged, by the military, and had its foundation in military training and US culture.  She explores why US rape in Vietnam was so common, and why this aspect of US behavior has been virtually “erased” from “narratives of the war”.  She stresses the issue is also important as rape in the US military continues at a high level today, having been mostly transferred away from foreign populations and onto female American soldiers.

Rape of Vietnamese women by US troops “took place on such a large scale that many veterans considered it standard operating procedure.”  It was “systematic and collective”; an “unofficial military policy”.  One soldier termed it a “mass military policy.”  Indeed, rape followed by murder of Vietnamese women was “so common that American soldiers had a special term for the soldiers who committed the acts in conjunction: a double veteran”.  Examples of soldier testimony regarding rape include: “…they raped the girl, and then, the last man to make love to her, shot her in the head” (Weaver notes the phrase “make love” here speaks in part to the military and general culture’s conflation of love, sex, and violence); two US soldiers dragged a young, naked woman out of a “hootch”.  The reporting soldier said rape was “pretty SOP [Standard Operating Procedure]”.  The woman woman was then tossed onto a “pile” of “19 women and children”, and soldiers around the pile “opened up on full automatic on their M-16s, and that was the end of that”; soldiers pulled a girl out of a bomb shelter and raped her in front of her family.  The reporting soldier said he knew of “10 or 15 of such incidents at least.”  The platoon leader “condone[d] rape”; female prisoners were “raped, tortured, and then were completely destroyed – their bodies were destroyed”; one sergeant reportedly told his platoon, “if there’s a woman in a hootch … rape her.”

Weaver explores the military and civilian culture of the period that produced these behaviors.  Soldiers generally cited racism and sexism, noting these were “pre-existent” and then “heightened” in military training.  One soldier said “the military was just an exaggeration, a caricature, of all that had gone before”.  Weaver notes there was a conflation of “enemy” and “race”; the “enemy” – i.e. the population being invaded by foreigners and slaughtered – does not have uniforms, but is an entire race of “gooks”, or evil, sub-human “objects”.  US culture and military training also encouraged the idea that women were inferior and the feminine was something to be hated and violently rejected.  Masculinity was defined through violent hostility to femininity.  Women, like the Vietnamese people, were objects – in the case of women, detestable objects that existed to serve men sexually.  Thus, Vietnamese women, Weaver notes, were doubly inferior, doubly hated.  Training essentially demanded men become misogynist predators.  Further hostility towards the feminine arose due to the prominence of women in the Vietnamese forces; the idea of being killed by a woman made the threat of the feminine that much more potent, and aggression against the feminine that much more common and extreme.  There was also an idea in the culture that men simply “had” to have sex; that they could not abstain during their tours of duty.

Weaver further notes some of the aggression acted out in Vietnam arose from the “powerlessness” of the working class American family, a “powerless kin unit” that could not “really determine [its] own future”, causing “powerless” father figures often to lash out violently through “intense male chauvinism”.  US women’s movements of the sixties were “catalyzed by these very attitudes”.  A further “sense of sexual entitlement” was “linked to soldiers’ belief in American exceptionalism” – the belief that the US was doing Vietnam a favor by destroying the country and killing millions of people, so Vietnamese women thus owed something to American men.  Many soldiers also pointed to movies with violent caricatures of masculinity, particularly “cowboys and Indians” films, especially ones starring John Wayne, as inspiration for joining the military.  When film crews came to Vietnam, soldiers would often strike poses as if they were soldiers in a Hollywood movie, thus “pretending to be” what they were.  In 1968, to help propagandize Americans in favor of the war, John Wayne actually made a Western style film, The Green Berets, pitting US soldiers as “cowboys” against Vietnamese “Indians”.  The film was a box office success but panned critically.  Military recruiters claimed recruitment climbed whenever John Wayne films were shown on TV.

Weaver, also a scholar of nationalism, then delves into how and why the history of rape has been “forgotten”, repressed, or erased.  She discusses the ways in which rape is generally used to “reinforce nationalism”: 1) men claim to defend the nation against enemies who would rape “their” women, and 2) rapes committed by one’s own nation are whitewashed, etc.  Thus, to bolster or “restore comfortable myths of American exceptionalism”, “producers of cultural narrative … forget” these and other aspects of US behavior that cause shame; owning up to them would debunk “the militarized … exceptionalism from which such behavior sprang”.  Even academics, “whose special job it is to remember such events”, “participate in this erasure.”  One reason it has occurred, says Weaver, is the nation’s re-positioning and re-imagining of the Vietnam veteran as pure victim.  This erases Vietnamese victims and allows the US nation, by extension, to become the war’s true victim.  This is in part a failure of trauma theory to provide a nuanced analysis wherein a veteran can be both victim and victimizer/war criminal (though it seems this “failure” may be a function of the ingrained nationalism, including in academia, that Weaver describes).  Weaver points out that many veterans are “victimized” by the memory of atrocities they have committed, but by committing them they are also victimizers.  Allowing them to admit what they have done (as many have tried to do) and accepting what they have to say, rather than whitewashing it, is thus, Weaver says, an important part of the healing process.

The “primary vehicle of forgetting violence against women in Vietnam” is “[v]isual media – specifically Hollywood films.”  Weaver looks in particular at some nominally “anti-war” films.  Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket,” based on Vietnam veteran Hasford’s novel The Short-Timers, erases Hasford’s depictions of rapes by US soldiers, as well as his illustration of the military conflation of rape and murder.  Hasford’s novel contains no Vietnamese prostitutes, but Kubrick’s film creates two.  Kubrick thus replaces women victimized by Americans with women who corrupt Americans (even though, Weaver notes, the US military was “almost solely responsible” for the proliferation of prostitution in Vietnam through the intentional destruction of the economy and agriculture, which forced people to turn to any means necessary to survive).

Oliver Stone’s “Platoon” depicts a rape about to take place but keeps it out of frame and has the “normative”, everyman American soldier intervene against the “bad seed” outcasts to stop it.  De Palma’s “Casualties of War” does largely the same thing, first bordering on justifying a rape by establishing that the soldiers expected to find prostitutes in the area but did not, then (contrary to its source material), while depicting the rape in frame (though without nudity), having the “normative”, middle-class everyman American (in reality all of the soldiers involved in this were “family men” of the same social class), played by Michael J. Fox, intervene against the lower class “bad seed” soldiers (an intervention that in reality did not occur), thus encouraging the interpretation that this was an atypical, essentially non-American occurrence.  The rapist/murderers were then, in reality, reported and tried.  De Palma includes their trial and sentencing, thus suggesting the problem was both limited and dealt with by the justice system, encouraging feelings of pride and closure.  However, Weaver notes, he erases that the already very short sentences were commuted to virtually nothing.

Weaver mentions that a later Stone film, Heaven and Earth, depicts the rape of a Vietnamese woman, Hayslip, by a North Vietnamese soldier (another rape that actually occurred in real life).  She does not delve into this scene at all, but I hypothesized that it would depict the rape more graphically and directly than any of the other films, would include no intervention to stop the rape, no justification, and no suggestion that the offender was either non-normative or was brought to justice.  I watched the scene, and my hypothesis was correct.  It is the most graphic of any of the rape scenes from the above films.  Stone shows the North Vietnamese soldier pushing Hayslip to the muddy ground in the rain, ripping her top open, starkly revealing her breasts, and then opening his pants and raping her, with medium shots showing the act, including multiple thrusts, and close up shots of both faces during the act: her tortured expression and his evil grimace.  There is no “normative”, everyman North Vietnamese savior to stop the act; the crime is not justified in any way; the rapist is depicted as a normative soldier, while another, a similar soldier stands guard.  A close comparison of Stone’s two rape scenes would have contributed to Weaver’s demonstration of how nationalism influences depiction of rape: as Weaver illustrates, rapes committed by members of one’s “own” country tend to be erased, hidden, disavowed, justified, or a “normative”, national everyman savior intervenes to stop the rapes, which are being committed by “non-normative” nationals.  Rape committed by a member of an outside, or especially a targeted nation, on the other hand, can be depicted in graphic and gruesome detail with no redeeming elements whatsoever.


Originally published on 2017-10-03

About the author: Robert J. Barsocchini is a graduate student in American Studies and a journalist. Years working as a cross-cultural intermediary for corporations in the film and Television industry sparked his interest in the often astounding discrepancy between Western self-image and reality.

Source: Counter Punch

Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection, Public Domain & Pinterest.

Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!

Donate to Support Us

We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.

[wpedon id=”4696″ align=”left”]

Save

Save 

READ MORE!
The Balkans today
Part IFrance’s Balkan policy of the status quo    The fundamental interest of France in the region of South-East Europe was of the economic nature but not fundamentally of the political one. The region was perceived by the French politicians as primarily significant in the following three points:As a well-suited area for the investment of the French financial capital.As the region which was the most appropriate overland traffic bond with the Ottoman Empire.As a foothold for the French economic domination over the East Mediterranean.[i]In this respect, the French economic penetration into the region, followed by an investment of the French financial ...
READ MORE
Americans have Forgotten What We did to North Korea
Perhaps no country on Earth is more misunderstood by Americans than North Korea. Though the country's leaders are typically portrayed as buffoonish, even silly, in fact they are deadly serious in their cruelty and skill at retaining power. Though the country is seen as Soviet-style communist, in fact it is better understood as a holdover of Japanese fascism. And there is another misconception, one that Americans might not want to hear but that is important for understanding the hermit kingdom: Yes, much of its anti-Americanism is cynically manufactured as a propaganda tool, and yes, it is often based on lies. But ...
READ MORE
Trolling Russia
The edifice of the post-1991 world order is collapsing right before our eyes. President Putin’s decision to give a miss to the Auschwitz pilgrimage, right after his absence in Paris at Charlie festival, gave it the last shove. It was good clean fun to troll Russia, as long as she stayed the course. Not anymore. Russia broke the rules.Until now, Russia, like a country bumpkin in Eton, tried to belong. It attended the gathering of the grandees where it was shunned, paid its dues to European bodies that condemned it, patiently suffered ceaseless hectoring of the great powers and irritating baiting of the East European small-timers alike. But something broke there. The lad does ...
READ MORE
Vietnam War Atrocities Committed by the US Army
Atrocities and war crimes are subjectively defined as acts of violence that exceed military necessity. All war includes atrocities. The stress of combat includes a build up of emotion during action that leads to vicious attacks on the enemy when the opportunity arises. American military units are trained and indoctrinated to avoid inhuman treatment of enemy combatants. Soldiers who violate the norms are prosecuted. This reduces but does not eliminate the problem. Photo of Vietnamese civilians killed by an American unit  Atrocities During the Vietnam War The actions of armies in war have seldom been as humane as the modern American military -- ...
READ MORE
Ukraine Commemorates V-Day by Waging War and Honoring Nazi Criminals
US-installed Ukrainian fascists commemorated Poroshenko’s established victory in Europe Day of Remembrance by vowing to “destroy Moscow,” free its people, and let them “shape their own future.”Ukrainian ultranationalists attending a May 8 commemoration included 14th SS Waffen Grenadier division veterans, Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) members, and Nazi-infested volunteer battalions involved in what they call “the Russian-Ukrainian war.”Svoboda party overt Nazis participated. Their slogan is “Ukraine for the Ukrainians” – meaning ethnically pure, free of Jews, Russians and others not wanted, by extermination or other means.Party member Yuri Sirotyuk called war on Russia Ukraine’s historic mission. “I believe that if we ...
READ MORE
Balkanisation, Myanmar and the US “Pivot to Asia” Directed against China
During the 1990s, the United States planned to break up Yugoslavia and build America’s largest military base in Kosovo (Camp Bondsteel) a strategic location giving the US access to the oil-rich Caspian Sea, which would also threaten Russia’s defence capabilities. In order to achieve their goals, the CIA imported fighters from Afghanistan who went on a rampage of killing and destruction. A mass media disinformation campaign blamed a proportion of the crimes of the CIA-backed fighters on their victims – mostly Serbs.Between 1992 and 1995, CIA terrorists murdered 2383 Serbs in Srebrenica. When the Bosnian Serb army finally arrived in ...
READ MORE
The U.S. Government’s Love of Foreign Dictatorships
Lest anyone be tempted to believe that President Trump and other U.S. interventionists are intervening in Venezuela because of some purported concern for the Venezuelan people, let’s examine just a few examples that will bring a dose of reality to the situation. This latest intervention is nothing more than another interventionist power play, one intended to replace one dictatorial regime with another.Egypt comes to mind. It is ruled by one of the most brutal and tyrannical military dictatorships in the world. The U.S. government loves it, supports it, and partners with it. There is no concern for the Egyptian citizenry, ...
READ MORE
The Responsibility to Protect the World … from the United States
One of the most ingenious propaganda weapons ever developed is that the powerful nations of the West—led by the United States—have a moral responsibility to use military force to protect the rights of people being repressed by their governments. This “responsibility to protect” (R2P) always had a dubious legal standing, but its moral justification also required a psychological and historical disengagement from the bloody reality of the 500-hundred-year history of U.S. and European colonialism, slavery, genocide and torture that created the “West.”This violent, lawless Pan-European colonial/capitalist project continues today under the hegemony of the U.S. empire. This then begs the ...
READ MORE
The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!
Has your electric garage door stopped working? Does your dog wake up in the middle of the night and begin howling? Is the weather unseasonably hot, cold, windy, dry or wet? Has your television set (or refrigerator, or sound system or home alarm) inexplicably turned on, or off? If one uncritically viewed the corporate-controlled media and accepted at face value the statements of much of official Washington, especially the Democratic Party, one could easily draw the conclusion that the Russians did it. A paranoid frenzy is gripping the US political and media establishment. A ruling elite that commands the world’s largest economy ...
READ MORE
The ‘Post-Truth’ Mainstream Media
Exclusive: U.S. mainstream media sees itself as the definer of what’s true and what’s “propaganda,” but has gotten lost in a fog of self-delusion and is now the principal purveyor of “post-truth” news, writes Nicolas J S Davies. For several months, Western officials and media outlets repeated thousands of times that there were between 250,000 and 300,000 civilians trapped under Syrian and Russian bombardment in East Aleppo. Western reports rarely mentioned the Syrian government’s estimate that there were only one-third that number of civilians in the rebel-controlled enclave – nor that its estimates were solidly based on what it had found in Homs and other ...
READ MORE
Recognize the Genocide that Happened—And the One Now Beginning
The United States, Europe, and their partners must officially recognize the Mountainous Karabagh Republic within its constitutional frontiers.Stepanakert, Mountainous Karabagh — I no longer know what to do on April 24—or where to go. This is the day Armenians across the globe commemorate the genocide in 1915 that destroyed the Armenian people and its homeland of thousands of years.Those killing fields, the homes of my grandparents, are located in historic western Armenia—now eastern Turkey. But a century later, this very region has erupted in all-out war. Turkish forces are on the offensive again, this time, Armenians having been eliminated, against ...
READ MORE
The 6 Reasons China and Russia are Catching Up to the U.S. Military
Why the Gap In Military Superiority Is Closing? China and Russia are still behind the U.S. militarily. But they are both showing surprising breakthroughs that – sometime down the road in the future – could threaten U.S. hegemony. The Washington Times reported last month: Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Wednesday warned Russia and China are quickly closing the military technology gap with the U.S. as inconsistent military budgets and slower innovation threaten America’s lead in the military world. *** “It’s evident that nations like Russia and China have been pursuing military modernization programs to close the technology gap with the United States,” he continued. “They’re ...
READ MORE
The Unspoken Crimes of World War II: The Dresden Massacre of 1945
It is 70-years anniversary of the end of the WWII – the bloodiest and most horrible war ever fought in the human history. The war that caused creation of the UN in 1945 in order to protect the world from similar events in the future – a pan-global political-security organization of which first issued legal act was the UN Charter, which inspired the 1948 Geneva Conventions’ definition of genocide. The Nüremberg and Tokyo Trials were organized as “The Last Battles” for justice as the first ever global trials for the war criminals and mass murderers including and the top-hierarchy statesmen and ...
READ MORE
Poland and Lithuania are Escalating Events in Belarus as they did with Maidan
On August 9 [2020], presidential elections were held in Belarus with five candidates bidding to be head of state. According to the Central Election Commission, the incumbent president, Alexander Lukashenko, won in the first round with over 80% of the votes. Mass protests began in Belarus right after the announcement of the preliminary election results. People went to the streets, expressing their dissatisfaction with the results of the elections that they believe were unfair. Mass protests turned into riots and there were clashes between rioters and the police. Many people were detained and injured, and two protestors died.Representatives of the ...
READ MORE
Syria: Should Turkey Trust the U.S. Gangsters?
Last week, the Turkish Armed Forces entered Afrin in Syria’s Aleppo. According to the Syria-based Kurdish Hawar News Agency, Turkey also intends to deploy troops near the Raju area and place its armored vehicles there.Many Syrian experts believe that Ankara cooperates with the U.S.-backed Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki. Earlier, Spokesman of the armed opposition group Abdulsalam Adbulrazaq reported that Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki had reached an agreement with the Turkish troops over the deployment of Turkish soldiers at monitoring positions in Western Aleppo.According to preliminary estimates, Turkey will provide opposition militants with all necessary weapons, and Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki ...
READ MORE
The “Pro-Western Revolution” in Ukraine has been a Fascist-infested Fraud
The great deception of “a real democracy” in the Ukraine, which the New York Times insisted on 31 March 2019, shows little sign of relenting. For five years, Western populations have been consistently misled through skewed and slanted reporting, assuring the readership that what is unfolding in Kiev is a “fledgling democracy”, as a Washington Post editorial further outlined on 6 April 2019.In reality it was a United States-funded coup d’état. During the months prior to Viktor Yanukovych‘s February 2014 ousting, elite American organizations bankrolled the “anti-government protests”, revealed as much in December 2013 by Victoria Nuland, then a high ...
READ MORE
Why do They Hate Russia?
The fundamental and justifiable reasons of a Russophobic hysteria around the world by liberal-democratic governments, politicians, academics and political parties/movements are:Constant Russian global imperialism.Russian policy to transform world into Pax Russiana.Russian war crimes across the globe.Russian military presence across the globe.Russian occupation of foreign countries.Russian installation of puppet regimes across the globe.Russian collaboration with the terrorists.Corruption of Russian government.Etc.See below images as proves of justifiable reasons of a Russophobic hysteria around the world:SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveOrigins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest.Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!Donate to Support UsWe would like to ask you to consider a small donation to ...
READ MORE
How Fascism Won Control in The West
"The West" is the nations that are essentially controlled, basically dictated-to, by America's approximately 600 billionaires, who control the U.S. Government, by coordinatedly funding (through their news-media and political donations, and also by their members-only private conferences) the careers of cooperative politicians, and who thereby defeat the politicians who act against increasing the percentage of the nation's wealth that these few people hold, and against increasing their extractions from everybody else. (Those non-compliant politicians are derisively called "socialists" and equated with the communist Joseph Stalin instead of with the democratic socialist FDR and the leaders of the democratic socialist Scandinavian ...
READ MORE
The Latest Plague So Far is a Brilliant Success
The wicked social control experiment using virus as the pretext for further enslavement is performing magnificently by implanting a sense of helplessness, dependence, and blind conformism. It should be noted that the favorable atmosphere enabling Them (whoever they are) to accomplish just that was contrived by the controlled and unscrupulous media in under a month of intense, coordinated, global brainwashing. Praise is in order, not for the obviously immoral master plan but for the technical excellence of its execution. In the subservient Balkans, local  quislings have expectedly introduced a practically region-wide state of emergency, giving that ignoble set of local ...
READ MORE
Who are the Serbs?
Serbs: Basic factsEthnic location: Central and western part of the Balkan Peninsula (South-East Europe)Population: 10.2 million (1.8 million Serbs live outside their ethnic location)Language: SerbianReligion: Eastern Orthodox Christians1 Introduction Serbs belong to the Southslavonic group of Indo-European peoples. As their tradition, culture, language, beliefs, and customs show, the ethnogenesis of Serbs goes far back into the past. Serbian ancestors, Protoslavs and Old Serbs, were described in the 5th century BC by Herodotus, under the names of Neuri and Budini, living north of the Danube in the region between Dniepar and north-eastern Carpathian Mountains.The first mention of the name “Serbs” appears ...
READ MORE
South-East Europe in the International Relations at the Turn of the 20th Century (II)
Americans have Forgotten What We did to North Korea
Trolling Russia
Vietnam War Atrocities Committed by the US Army
Ukraine Commemorates V-Day by Waging War and Honoring Nazi Criminals
Balkanisation, Myanmar and the US “Pivot to Asia” Directed against China
The U.S. Government’s Love of Foreign Dictatorships
The Responsibility to Protect the World … from the United States
The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!
The ‘Post-Truth’ Mainstream Media
Recognize the Genocide that Happened—And the One Now Beginning
The 6 Reasons China and Russia are Catching Up to the U.S. Military
The Unspoken Crimes of World War II: The Dresden Massacre of 1945
Poland and Lithuania are Escalating Events in Belarus as they did with Maidan
Syria: Should Turkey Trust the U.S. Gangsters?
The “Pro-Western Revolution” in Ukraine has been a Fascist-infested Fraud
Why do They Hate Russia?
How Fascism Won Control in The West
The Latest Plague So Far is a Brilliant Success
Who are the Serbs?

Written by Policraticus

SHORT LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The website’s owner & editor-in-chief has no official position on any issue published at this website. The views of the authors presented at this website do not necessarily coincide with the opinion of the owner & editor-in-chief of the website. The contents of all material (articles, books, photos, videos…) are of sole responsibility of the authors. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the contents of all material found on this website. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not responsible for the content of external internet sites. No advertising, government or corporate funding for the functioning of this website. The owner & editor-in-chief and authors are not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the text and material found on the website www.global-politics.eu

Website: http://www.global-politics.eu