Service Women’s Action Network to Dan Choi: Your Comments Were Unacceptable

Posted on 04 Nov 2010 at 2:44am

Service Women's Action Network (SWAN) is an advocacy organization for female troops and veterans. They provide input to policymakers regarding the unique problems women troops and veterans face, particularly Military Sexual Trauma and the disporportionate targeting of women, especially minority women, for harassment, investigation, and discharge under Don't Ask, Don't Tell. They are a resource for female veterans in transition, assisting with job training and benefits counseling. Their job is to help women overcome the problems created by multiple deployments, service-connected PTSD and disabilities, and institutionalized sexism in the military.

SWAN, along with other women's and LGBT advocacy orgs, has released the following open letter to Dan Choi regarding his comments about Harry Reid being a “pussy…[who] bleeds once a month.”

November 2nd, 2010

CONTACT:  Anu Bhagwati, Executive Director

Service Women's Action Network

212-683-0015, ext 324 or info@servicewomen.org

AN OPEN LETTER TO DAN CHOI

Dear Dan,

The Service Women's Action Network (SWAN) and the undersigned advocacy organizations were shocked and extremely disappointed by your comments about women in your recent interview in the Village Voice. You should know as we do that there is no room for misogyny, racism or other forms of hate speech among people who are working to end discrimination and bring about equality in the military, and throughout society.

Your comments about women are irresponsible, indefensible and inexcusable, and you should publicly acknowledge that fact.  As a human rights advocate, you should know that degrading one group of people to promote the rights of another disserves everyone.  Your sexist comments also undermine SWAN's efforts to achieve our policy objectives, which include promoting equality for all servicemembers.

As an organization that advocates for equal opportunity for all servicemembers and veterans, SWAN is keenly aware that there is still a tremendous amount of misogyny both within the military and the LGBTQ community, and that misogynistic and homophobic language is rampant in the military.  Comments denigrating women's bodies, or suggesting that simply being a woman is abhorrent, are unacceptable. Unfortunately, this type of language is all too familiar to women in the military.

As a direct result of misogynistic language, a hostile work environment for servicewomen–both heterosexual and lesbian–is allowed to thrive. Hate crimes, sexual harassment, lesbian-baiting, gay-bashing and sexual assault have flourished. Adopting and promulgating hate-filled speech against women only serves to increase the danger that servicewomen and LGBTQ servicemembers face on a daily basis.

We must hold you accountable for what you say as a spokesperson for equality. We encourage you to render a genuine apology, rather than a half-hearted, perfunctory tweet on Twitter. We also encourage you to discuss this issue with us further. It is part of our mission to educate the public about the serious challenges facing military women and women veterans, and we'd be more than happy to assist you in deepening your understanding of these issues.

Service Women's Action Network

Military Rape Crisis Center

MilitarySexualTrauma.org

National Center for Lesbian Rights

National Council of Women’s Organizations

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

National Organization for Women

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network

UNID@S

VetWow

Women’s Research & Education Institute

The Service Women's Action Network (SWAN) supports, defends, and empowers today's servicewomen and women veterans of all eras, through groundbreaking advocacy initiatives and innovative, healing community programs. www.servicewomen.org

As a woman, as a veteran, and as someone who fights for the rights of women, I support SWAN's statement and reiterate the call for dialogue within our movement to help erase misogyny in both the military ranks and civilian society. This problem will not go away until those who perpetuate it, in ways large and small, own up to it, and are willing to work to overcome it.

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