The uniform of the United States military “gives men a free pass to ogle at women’s breasts,” says a female officer
Lieutenant Colonel Rachael Hoagland, an officer in the United States Army, demands that uniforms be adjusted so that the rank insignia is moved from the center of the chest to the collar
The U.S. military uniform inadvertently gives men “a free pass to ogle at a woman’s breasts” after moving the rank insignia from the collar to the center of the chest, a women’s bureau says.
Lt Col Rachael Hoagland, a student at the US Army War College, said the new uniform design, introduced in 2004, “has had unforeseen consequences in creating a potential factor of sexual harassment and assault.”
She said female agents are put in an uncomfortable position because they are asked by male leaders, “Can I touch you?” during promotional ceremonies where men often have to remove and secure the insignia in the center of the woman’s chest.
“Asking this publicly can put the soldier in a position where she feels like she can’t say no, even though she feels uncomfortable touching it,” Hoagland said.
DailyMail.com has reached out to the military to comment on Hoagland’s allegations.
Hoagland, an acquisition officer who has been in the military for 20 years, writes in an op-ed Army Times that the military changed its uniform design as part of a “well-intentioned shift.”
According to Hoagland, the placement of the rank insignia in the center of the chest “actually gives service members and civilians a free pass to gaze at a woman’s breasts.” The image above shows a US Army soldier in a women’s combat uniform in 2010
In September, Tiara Michelle, an army soldier, posted a video of her promotion to the rank of first lieutenant. During her promotion ceremony, a male officer sees the rank removed from her uniform and pinned the new insignia to the center of her chest.
Hoagland says having the rank insignia in the center of the chest makes women vulnerable to unwanted touch
RANK INSIGNIA REMOVAL SEEN AT 8:11 AM
The previous design, known among soldiers as ‘BDUs’ of ‘combat dress uniforms’, featured the rank insignia on the collar of the uniform.
But the military changed its uniforms to accommodate the collars for soldiers who were required to wear body armor or vests, meaning an officer’s rank would be hidden from view.
The new design was also intended to improve convenience and comfort for soldiers by replacing pins and grommets with a Velcro strap. Soldiers had complained that the previously used pins would often dig into their necks.
But Hoagland is now calling on the military to reverse the change and move the rank insignia back to the collar.
According to Hoagland, the current placement forces soldiers to stare at an officer’s coffin to see if they should salute.
There is also the delicate matter of rank promotion ceremonies where officers must physically remove the old insignia and then replace it with a new one, necessitating clumsy touching.
The previous design, known among soldiers as ‘BDUs’ of ‘combat dress uniforms’, had the rank insignia on the collar of the uniform.
In 2019, US Navy sailors complained after the rank insignia was moved to the center of the chest (as seen in the file photo above)
“It is common for a senior military leader to remove the old rank during a promotion ceremony and replace it with the new insignia,” Hoagland writes in Army Times.
This can make the leader and a newly promoted female soldier uncomfortable, during and after.
‘The wrong photo angle, and bam! It looks like the male soldier is touching a woman’s breasts.
“Worse, brushing one hand on the breasts could be seen as sexual assault.”
Hoagland writes that “ there are ways to get around the issue ” – one of which is to have the female officer remove the rank herself and hand it over to the superior, who will then give her the new rank that she would then have on her chest alone. place.
“The problem with these workarounds is that they not only break with tradition, but they also spotlight our differences,” Hoagland said.
She added, “While avoiding potential problems with sexual harassment, these temporary fixes may have the unintended effect of promoting gender over ceremonial merit and discounting years of female advancement in the military.”
Hoagland said returning the rank insignia to the collar would show that the military is “serious about eradicating sexual harassment and is more inclusive.”
She did acknowledge that the uniform is not responsible for the increase in sexual assault incidents.
“There is hardly any evidence that the uniform change led to an increase in sexual harassment or assault years ago, but it remains a concern within the larger issue that has been at the center of the last decade,” she writes.
Spc. Vanessa Guillen, 20, disappeared from Fort Hood in April 2020, and her dismembered and buried remains were found near the Leon River in Texas on June 30. Her death shocked the nation and spurred one
The military isn’t the only branch of the military that has dealt with complaints about uniform design.
In 2019, female Marines said they too had to face uncomfortable looks due to a change in uniform that placed the rank insignia in the center of the chest.
In recent months, both civilian and military leaders have made efforts to eradicate sexual violence following the gruesome murder of Spc in April last year. Vanessa Guillen by a fellow soldier in an armory of Fort Hood, Texas.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said at his first press conference at the Pentagon in February that reducing sexual violence is one of his top priorities and that he would make more efforts to combat it.
Hoagland writes that the military must immediately make changes to the uniform.
“The military doesn’t have to wait for a new uniform to be issued, it can prove that it can change quickly when the health of its people is at stake by updating uniform regulations and the location of the insignia,” she writes.
“Before more of the current uniform is produced, the Velcro fastener on the chest can be removed, forcing the change of position.”
She added: ‘The military should also update promotional ceremony protocols to ensure that no one is touched on the chest, regardless of gender.
The military’s welcome push for greater inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender personnel and the condemnation of sexual harassment and assault make this more than inappropriate touching or looking – it is about proactivity and respect in accordance with the values of the army that so often proclaims it. ‘