On the Distinctiveness of Military Sexual Violence: What We Know about the Case of the US Military

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Event details

IR Seminar

Date & time

Monday 23 September 2019


SDSC Reading Room 3.27, Hedley Bull Centre (130), Garran Road, ANU
ANU Canberra


Professor Annick T. R. Wibben, Swedish Defence University


Dr Nicolas Lemay-Hébert
+61 2 6125 0919

Military sexual assault (MSA) is defined as attempted or completed sexual assault while the victim-survivor was serving in the US military, whereas military sexual trauma (MST) is used by the US Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA) as a diagnostic tool to describe the psychological trauma resulting from sexual assault or harassment – and, to determine potential associated DVA health care benefits. According to conservative estimates by the DVA, one in four servicewomen has some experience with MST. While the experience of sexualised violence in the military is similar to that of civilian victim-survivors, there are also aspects that are unique to the military experience.

This seminar aims to tease out the distinctiveness of experience of sexualised violence in the US military context. To do so, it explores the film The Invisible War (Dick & Ziering, 2012) alongside scholarly literature on the phenomenon of sexualised violence in the military (MSA/MST) specifically as well as (feminist) research on sexualised violence more generally. The aim is to identify what we know about the military sexual violence (MSV) in the US case, as well as to ascertain the continuities and discontinuities with ‘regular’ sexualised violence to begin to understand what makes MSV distinct.

Annick T. R. Wibben is Anna Lindh Professor of Gender, Peace & Security at the Swedish Defence University. Previously she was Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco (2005‒2019), and co-Investigator (with James Der Derian) of the Information Technology, War and Peace Project [infopeace.org] at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University (2001‒2005).

Her research straddles critical security and military studies, peace studies, international theory, feminist international relations, and feminist security studies. Her books include Feminist Security Studies: A Narrative Approach (Routledge, 2011), and two edited volumes, Researching War: Feminist Methods, Ethics & Politics (Routledge, 2016) as well as Teaching Peace and War: Pedagogy and Curricula (Routledge, 2019, with Amanda E. Donahoe). Her articles have been published in journals such as International Political Sociology, Security Dialogue, Critical Studies on Security, Humanity, Politics & Gender and more.

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