Yes, Donald, Soldiers Would Listen To A Female Commander In Chief

Photo: Courtesy of Crystal Cravens.
Crystal Cravens served in the U.S. Army from 2005 to 2009.
Crystal Cravens is a U.S. Army veteran, the mother of an autistic son, and a community organizer and activist. The views expressed here are her own.

At a recent rally in Selma, NC, Donald Trump had the nerve to ridicule the idea that a woman could serve as our commander in chief.

"When I look at these great admirals and these great generals and these great Medal of Honor recipients behind me ― to think of her being their boss? I don’t think so," Trump said.

Donald Trump, who never served his country, is gravely insulting veterans like myself when he suggests our troops wouldn’t perform their duties if their commander in chief was a woman. The comment is even worse because it is just reinforces Trump’s apparent belief that women have no business defending this country at all.

When he mocks the idea of a woman as commander in chief, Trump is only reinforcing a dangerous culture of misogyny that is still dominant throughout the military.

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The fact is that Trump is completely clueless about the military. He doesn’t understand the meaning of service, or why women like me join in the first place. That's why I teamed up with fellow female veterans to make a video calling Trump out for being a "blue falcon" (a NSFW military insult that Trump probably doesn't know the meaning of).
Our service means so much more than answering to the president in office. I joined the military because I wanted to give back. The pledge to protect our country from "threats, foreign and domestic" might sound abstract, but what it meant for me was protecting my friends, my family, and my son. I was all too willing to lay down my life for them and do whatever I could to ensure they remained free and safe from any harm. And that ideology hasn't ended merely because I am a civilian now.

It’s also clear that Trump has no comprehension of the challenges faced by women in the military. In 2013, he took to Twitter to say that military sexual trauma was the result of men and women serving together. Then in 2014, while discussing his time spent in a military-themed boarding school with his biographer, Trump said: "It’s something that people aren’t talking about, but what’s going on is bedlam, bringing women in the Army."
Photo: Courtesy of Crystal Cravens.
Cravens in uniform during her service.
When he mocks the idea of a woman as commander in chief — "to think of her being their boss?" — Trump is only reinforcing a dangerous culture of misogyny that is still dominant throughout the military. While I was in the Army, there were countless incidents that made me feel like I somehow didn’t belong simply because I was a woman. I was subjected to constant sexual harassment, and when I tried to speak out, it only made things worse.

One day, I was assaulted by a male soldier from my unit while off post. He pushed me into a bathroom and started groping and kissing me. Luckily, I was able to shove him into the bathtub and run away. But when I reported the incident to my chain of command, they discouraged me from taking legal steps. "But, what do you think his wife will think if you go through with it?" they asked me. "He's a good soldier, and you don't want to mess up his career."

Unfortunately, my experience is far from the exception. All too often, women in the military who report sexual harassment and assaults are ignored, punished, and ostracized by their unit and the men in their chain of command. Donald Trump's disparaging comments about a female commander in chief only reinforce the idea that women are less valuable than men, and therefore shouldn't be listened to or respected.

Even if female soldiers don't necessarily agree with Hillary Clinton's policies, we can respect how hard she has fought to come this close to holding the most powerful position in the world. We can recognize the discrimination she has faced. We female service members and veterans can recognize how hard she has to work to prove her merit versus every man she is up against because we, too, have had to prove ourselves this way.

So yes, Donald Trump, America's men and women can fall into line behind a female commander in chief. In fact, it would be harder for us to take orders from a man who has zero experience, doesn’t pay his taxes, has a frighteningly cozy relationship with Russia, and brags about being a sexual predator. And yet, because Trump is a rich man, he has been able to run for the highest office in our country and use his platform to continuously insult our nation's veterans and service members.

I took an oath to defend this country from threats, foreign and domestic. And that's what I'm doing by speaking out against hatred and sexism, and turning up at the polls on Tuesday.
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