Facebook removes obscene page that denigrated women Marines

A Facebook page denigrating women was cited by Rep. Jackie Speier in a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and top military brass.

A crude and misogynistic Facebook page about female Marines attracted the attention of an angry member of Congress and has been taken down by Facebook.

The page, titled "F'N Wook" ("wook" is a derogatory term for a female marine), which was taken down by Facebook Wednesday evening, featured photos of female Marines crudely captioned with statements advocating violence against women, misogynistic rants, and a smattering of homophobia. On a second page that appeared Thursday and was also taken down by Facebook, Calif. Rep. Jackie Speier was called a vulgar four-letter word, as well as incorrectly called a senator. 

Speier wrote a letter to Secretary of Defense Charles Hagel; Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps; and Lynne Halbrooks, deputy inspector general, after her office was anonymously tipped off about the original website. A spokesperson from Speier's office said they tracked down the names responsible

for the site by their LinkedIn profiles and that the profiles identified them all as active-duty marines.  

In the letter to Hagel and others, Speier said the Facebook page denigrated women by promoting a "culture of misogyny and sexual harassment."

Included with Speier's letter were graphic images, accompanied by demeaning and derogatory captions, taken from the Facebook page. One was of a woman with a black eye. 

"Heads need to roll," Speier said in an email to MSN News. "The Marine Corps says that they have zero tolerance for this behavior, now they need to prove it. A culture that says that it is acceptable to denigrate women sends the horrific message that it is acceptable to assault them."

ADDRESSING THE ISSUE

Speier said the Marine Corps inspector general was aware of the page and had been monitoring it for over three years.

"The military cannot eradicate [sexual assault] without fundamentally changing its approach, including its tolerance of participation in these kinds of web sites,” Speier wrote in her letter to Hagel.

The congresswoman was referencing the escalating number of reported sexual assaults in the military. A recent report from the Pentagon suggests that as many as 22,000 soldiers were sexually assaulted in 2012, the overwhelming majority choosing not to report the attack or unwanted groping.  The discouraging numbers of women who report may have something to do with the fact that in 2010, of the 3,158 sexual assaults reported, only 529 cases went to trial.

"There seems to be real momentum and traction for addressing these issues right now," she says. "But it’s important that the administration recognizes that these are not isolated incidents and that timid reforms have failed. The problem is getting worse. We need real justice, and that means taking these decisions out of the chain of command."

Speier has proposed this in the Sexual Assault Training and Oversight and Prevention (STOP) Act, which would change the way these complaints are handled.

But so far not much progress has been made. Congressman Buck McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has refused to hold hearings about the STOP Act. McKeon refused comment on this latest incident, instead releasing a statement that read in part, "This week the Secretary of Defense and the President had stern words for sexual offenders in the military and the commanders who tolerate them. I believe that the time for stern words is coming to an end. The time for holding military commanders accountable is past due.”

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