Saturday, October 20, 2012

By Fore of Arms

By Force of Arms: Rape, War, and Military Culture

Pg 725 Deindividuation Norms in Primary Groups;

Upon reading the theory of deindividuation I was interested in this notions role in the army. I found this article on Jstore that is a researche that focuses on  variety of issues but what was really interesting was how they broke down the fluxuation of issues of sexual assault by military forces in peace time and war time and also wether the deindividuation pay particularly and important role in offiicers participation in sexual assault. And seeks a solution for to solve these existing issues within the military. 
As it turn out in, war time instances of sexual assault by military forces does change quite a bit compared to civilian rates of incidents. The article focuses on how some aspect of military culture: military organization being composed of bonded groups of individuals who share group norms which revolve around masculinity, sexuality might cause this fluxuation of rape incidences as specially by indirectly forging deindividuation due to the nature of it's structure. 
In general , i found the article to be very well documented ,non biased and insight full. It is quite interesting to she how the individual character play a big role within the process of deindividuation. It is quite interesting to see how the context effect the individuals internal constrains on behavior. What is exteremly intriguing is the potential of deindividuation for  both extreme positive and negative behaviors.However that being said, it is also quite disturbing to see that military needs deindividuation to some extent to functions as an enforcing mechanism where individuals are called upon to act on external cues. With that in mind this dynamic presents a quite intriguing dilemma with the whole military culture and functioning.
What do you guys think ? 


  1. The fact that peacetime rape and violent crime rates are lower in military men than in civilian men shows how powerful deindividuation can be. The pressure of being at war, combined with group pressure and a violent environment can change a person's behavior drastically. Also, there is a rhetoric/ideology included in the military that has to do with the idea of us versus them -- raping and plundering becomes glorified, because that's how armies have carried on for centuries. This partly explains the impulse towards raping enemy peoples.
    The most interesting thing, I think, is the fact of rape of people within ones own army, as well as of allied peoples (i.e. the French women in WWII). The article mentions that the use of firearms was common in the rape of French women, which seems extra aggressive. A fit man would generally not have much trouble overtaking a smaller woman, so the use of guns certainly has something to do with the combat mindset of these military men. With a uniform to hide behind, and a group to be a part of, the men transformed.

  2. I think that the idea of deindividuation is a very interesting one - the notion someone can truly become, physically and mentally, a cog in a much greater machine is one that suggests many possibilities for future societies. It sounds almost like a hive-mind mentality, that no individual works for themselves, but rather they all collectively work towards the prosperity of the group. Whether or not this is a good thing, this loss of individuality, I am not entirely sure, though I will acknowledge its usefulness in certain cases.
    Applying the term to the military, and their behavior when compared with the average citizen, it is less surprising to me that the organization that is made to protect the rights of the nation it serves would be less likely to commit atrocities like rape, if they are trained as a whole to fight against injustices.
    The more I think about it though, the more I associate deindividuation with team environments in general, particularly in sports. To me, a team that is working together to accomplish a specific goal sounds like the pinnacle of what deindividuation should be. Sports such as basketball, football and soccer, where each person has a very specific role, I think make for the best examples, as the team cannot function if a single one of those components is missing, and no player can play selfishly and put his own needs above those of the team.
    On the other end of the spectrum, the deindividuation of gangs is towards the negative extreme. While there is ultimately a certain level of camaraderie, gangs generally organize and act on the basis of crime, where individual morals and ethics go out the window for the sake of the organization.

  3. Deindividuation in war is straining on the mind for the sake of goal. After World War II a touchy subject between the Chinese and the Japanese was the rape of Nanking. To some extent anti sentiments towards the other country has been taught because of what happened even to this day. And the argument is usually between "us" versus "them" which not only includes the government but also civilians and younger generations who don't necessarily cling on to history. It is understandable that East Asian culture emphasizes deinvidualization further as a collective culture and therefore the strain on the priority of individual identity in favor of groups. I think because people think that amoral actions are more excusable because everyone else is doing so or for organization sake isn't going to change. And the way military is organized to put the priority of the country over personal identity isn't going to change either. So rape on any level in the military isn't going to disappear anytime soon. It might help if you have a fair balance between personal and group identity and that really isn't a priority of the military since the goals of the country comes first, and so the identity and mindset of a group comes first.

  4. I see deindividuation as a way to get out of something, when the "act" being done is wrong. If the group is caught committing a crime or something else that is wrong, than they all get in trouble. An individual from that group can't be singled out since they all participated equally. I agree that it makes sense for the military to be less likely to commit rape crimes. The article pointed out that since the integration of women into the army, men and women have been able to relate to each other better. The purpose of joining the army is to become mature, educated, responsible, and to be part of a team. Just by entering the army the group is bonded by similar goals and is. In this case, deindividuation is a positive thing, because instead of trying to get out of something, you're trying to achieve the same goal that will benefit others.

  5. It is really interesting but terrifying grasping around the concept of deindividuation, I agree with Steve that it can suggest possiblilites for future societies. It feels like making a group of indidviduals into one working machine which I suppose works for the military but it must be hard to come back from that and back to who you were. Not to talk down on anything but it does remind me of ants in the way that they work together to run a society, they aren't individuals but they get what they need to get down effectively. It's just interesting to me that humans could have a similar experience in that sense.

  6. It is hard for me to relate the rape rate during peacetime in military to the concept of deinvidualization, but I understand the deinvidulization does happen in military. Military need efficiency. They need all people work collaborative and act accurate based on the common goal. The relationship between individual and group in always changing overtime, especially people's attitude. From enlightenment to industries revolution, the social structure and the way we live have significant influence on how people act. And I agree with Seiko that different culture and different education system have their way to treat deindividualization and individualization. Ameician mainstream is trying to let the students have their own creative thought, but in Asian, the education become something like a copy machine. People sitting in the same classroom and trying to remember the same knowledge. This changed how people think, as a part of the deinvidulization. But from other views, people want to have a belongings feeling toward home, nation, a certain group. A group, big or small have their rules, such as social norms. In a way, those standards also lead to deindividulization.

  7. It doesn't make it any better to have deindividuation be the cause of acts such as rape, however. But as women enter the military more, I guess the whole "manly and savage" aspect of killing and being in the army is reduced, but in a good way; it keeps everyone in an orderly, respectable atmosphere.

  8. While the crime rates for military men are certainly lower than the crime rates of civilian men, I’m curious as to why these violent acts occur more frequently in certain branches of the military than in others. According to one of the tables in the article, within the years 1987-1992, the crimes rates were as follows: 64 for the army, 28 for the navy, 42 for the marine corps and 26 for the air force. For groups that, supposedly, all experience the effects of deindividuation, why did the army rank the highest in terms of their crime rate? Maybe I’m looking too far into it and it could just be that there were more people in the army than in the other branches, but if that was not the case then does this suggest that the army was the least deindividuated? Maybe some men were still struggling to put their personal motives aside and failed to assimilate with the rest of the men to fight for the greater good of the country.