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“The thing is, it’s patriarchy that says men are stupid and monolithic…”


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Science Reveals How the Brains of Social Justice Activists Are Different From Everyone Else’s

“…People who are more sensitive to the ideas of fairness and equity are driven by logic, not emotion, according to a recent University of Chicago study published in the Journal of Neuroscience…

The research suggests that human rights and environmentalist organizations could get more public support by appealing to people’s sense of logic and reason rather than to their emotions. Efforts to combat global warming, for example, saw a surge in public support after scientists and statisticians began publishing data about how much sea levels and temperatures would rise instead of sad polar bears on a floating iceberg.

Perhaps your activist alter-ego was more level-headed than you thought.”





(My bolds are applicable to those thoroughly depressing commercials about abused animals and hungry children.)

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by | June 26, 2014 · 9:20 pm

Abortion bill sponsor said what?

By Donna Brazile, CNN Contributor

updated 3:37 PM EDT, Sun June 16, 2013


“Editor’s note: Donna Brazile, a CNN contributor and a Democratic strategist, is vice chairwoman for voter registration and participation at the Democratic National Committee. She is a nationally syndicated columnist, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and author of “Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pot in America.” She was manager for the Gore-Lieberman presidential campaign in 2000.

(CNN) — “The stupidity is simply staggering,” Rep. Charlie Dent, a moderate Republican from Pennsylvania, told Roll Call. He was referring to the political miscalculation of anti-abortion forces in the House Judiciary Committee who insisted this week on reviving the culture wars, years behind us, still again, with yet another proposed abortion bill.

This bill, championed by Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks, sought to ban abortions after 20 weeks nationwide, with no exceptions for victims of rape or incest. “I’ll be very frank: I discouraged our leadership from bringing this to a vote on the floor,” Dent said.

My e-mail box was flooded with headlines that began “This again?” and “This … is the GOP’s idea of outreach to women? Really?” and “He said what?” The latter referred to a remark by Franks, chairman of the committee, that “incidents of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low,” as a justification for the bill ignoring rape and incest victims.


Democrats on the Judiciary Committee were apparently willing to allow the time when an abortion is legal to be reduced by one month. They sought to add exceptions for rape, incest and the woman’s health — all of which were rejected by Republicans on the panel.

But it appears the House Republican leaders, recognizing a train wreck, added the language to the bill anyway to avoid an embarrassing defeat. The bill will also include an exception for a medical emergency in which the woman might die. This new altered version goes before the Rules Committee on Monday. There are, by the way, 22 Republicans on the Judiciary Committee. All men. Not a single woman.

It’s hard to avoid inflammatory remarks when discussing rape. And the line between inflammatory and insulting is thin. It’s also porous. So if Franks thought he had to address the issue of rape, he should have done so judiciously.

His remark says to women impregnated by rape: You don’t count. There aren’t enough of you to matter. That’s not just insensitive; it’s immoral.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-California, first pounced on the statement’s factual inaccuracy. “I just find it astonishing to hear a phrase repeated that the incidence of pregnancy from rape is low,” she said. “There’s no scientific basis for that.”

Then Lofgren, one of five women among the Democratic minority on the committee, added, “And the idea that the Republican men on this committee can tell the women of America that they have to carry to term the product of a rape is outrageous.”

It might be that Franks’ argument, such as it is, echoed a comment by Missouri Republican Rep. Todd Aiken, who claimed during his Senate campaign last fall that women’s bodies have a built-in mechanism to prevent impregnation from “a legitimate rape.” Aiken’s candidacy went into a tailspin from that misinformed remark, and never recovered.

Fact checkers have pointed to studies that indicate Franks’ claim is as suspect as Aiken’s. One study by St. Lawrence University found that pregnancies resulting from rape were higher than from other instances.

Franks later walked back his low-pregnancy-from-rape argument, saying he was not claiming it was harder to get pregnant from rape. Franks apparently based his claim on there being fewer pregnancies from rape than from consensual intercourse. Even so, that’s a “Duh, do the math” excuse.

GOP aides now say Rep. Marsha Blackburn will be managing Franks’ anti-abortion bill. Given her record — “no” votes on major equality or women-protection legislation and “yea” for issues like ending federal funding for Planned Parenthood — that’s hardly an improvement.

And it misses the point. It’s not the who, it’s the what — the argument itself does not stand.

During the Judiciary debate, Franks said, “When you make that exception, there’s usually a requirement to report the rape within 48 hours. And in this case that’s impossible. … And that’s what completely negates and vitiates the purpose for such an amendment.”

So, Franks’ argument then became a technical one, that if a rape wasn’t reported, a decision after 20 weeks to abort was made too late. But why is it too late? Does psychological trauma have a timetable? Each case of rape that produces a pregnancy is as individual as the woman who was raped. And the ordeal — psychological, emotional, physical, spiritual — is not term-limited.

The issue of abortion raises real and poignant moral questions. Franks made many remarks that show his obvious, deeply felt, conviction that abortions after 20 weeks are wrong.

But majorities in Congress and of Americans, also with deep conviction, came to a different conclusion: They feel compelled to support exceptions for rape, incest and health.

Franks’ outrageous comment and the viewpoints of other Republicans on the Judiciary Committee illustrate that when one party becomes so narrowly composed that it represents a particular religious culture, we’re headed to what people in other countries face when a ruling party begins making laws from religious theology, without regard to a democratic, secular society — thus excluding other religious viewpoints and dismissing those who suffer as too few to matter.”

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by | June 18, 2013 · 5:29 pm

The Problem with ‘Boys Will Be Boys’

Posted: 05/06/2013 12:26 pm


“This post was originally published inRole/Reboot.

For months, every morning when my daughter was in preschool, I watched her construct an elaborate castle out of blocks, colorful plastic discs, bits of rope, ribbons and feathers, only to have the same little boy gleefully destroy it within seconds of its completion.

It was obvious that this little guy got massive joy out of doing this. The first time, my daughter just stared in amazement and I tried to help her rebuild. Second time: sadness. Third time: The Injustice! “Why did he do that again?” Fourth time: Royally Pissed Girl wanted to know why his parent didn’t stop him. And what about me? Fifth time: She was ready with some ideas about stopping him.

During the course of this socialization exercise, we tried several strategies and his parents engaged in conversation with us, but mostly me. One or the other of them would occasionally, always after the fact, smile and apologize as they whisked him away. Figuring out what they would say next became a fun game:

“You know! Boys will be boys!” 

“He’s just going through a phase!”

“He’s such a boy! He LOVES destroying things!”

“Oh my god! Girls and boys are SO different!”

“He. Just. Can’t. Help himself!”

No matter how many times he did it, they never swooped in BEFORE the morning’s live 3-D reenactment of “Invasion of AstroMonster.”

I tried to teach my daughter how to stop this from happening. She asked him politely not to do it. We talked about some things she might do. She moved where she built. She stood in his way. She built a stronger foundation to the castle, so that, if he did get to it, she wouldn’t have to rebuild the whole thing. In the meantime, I imagine his parents thinking, “What red-blooded boy wouldn’t knock it down?”

She built a beautiful, glittery castle in a public space.

It was so tempting.

He just couldn’t control himself and, being a boy, had violent inclinations.

She had to keep her building safe.

Her consent didn’t matter. Besides, it’s not like she made a big fuss when he knocked it down. It wasn’t a “legitimate” knocking over if she didn’t throw a tantrum.

His desire — for power, destruction, control, whatever- – was understandable.

Maybe she “shouldn’t have gone to preschool” at all. OR, better if she just kept her building activities to home.

I know it’s a lurid metaphor, but I taught my daughter the preschool block precursor of don’t “get raped” and this child, Boy #1, did not learn the preschool equivalent of “don’t rape.

Not once did his parents talk to him about invading another person’s space and claiming for his own purposes something that was not his to claim. Respect for my daughter and her work and words was not something he was learning. It was, to them, some kind of XY entitlement. How much of the boy’s behavior in coming years would be excused in these ways, be calibrated to meet these expectations and enforce the “rules” his parents kept repeating?

There was another boy who, similarly, decided to knock down her castle one day. When he did it his mother took him in hand, explained to him that it was not his to destroy, asked him how he thought my daughter felt after working so hard on her building and walked over with him so he could apologize. That probably wasn’t much fun for him, but he did not do it again.

There was a third child. He was really smart. He asked if he could knock her building down. She, beneficent ruler of all pre-circle-time castle construction, said yes… but only after she was done building it and said it was OK. They worked out a plan together and eventually he started building things with her and they would both knock the thing down with unadulterated joy. You can’t make this stuff up.

Take each of these three boys and consider what he might do when he’s older, say, at college, drunk at a party, mad at an ex-girlfriend who rebuffs him and uses words that she expects will be meaningful and respecte, “No, I don’t want to. Stop. Leave.”

Based on Boy #1’s parents blanket gender essentialisms and explanations, my daughter and the kids around her could easily have come to the conclusion that all boys went through this phase, are so different from girls, cannot control themselves, and love destroying things. But, that’s not the case. Some do. Some don’t. There are also lots of girls who are very interested in ripping things apart systematically.

I have one of those, too. “Destructo Girl” was our nickname for this daughter. Given the slightest opportunity,she would grab whatever toy either of her sisters was playing with and run, giddy with power, to the top of a landing only to dash whatever was in her hand down two flights of stairs. She beamed with joy as it clattered and shattered. But, we figured just because she could do it, didn’t mean she should and eventually she understood that, even if she wanted to and it was fun, she couldn’t continue to violate her sisters’ rights as citizens of our household.

“Girls will be girls?” I don’t think so. Nor do we say things like, “She just can’t help herself.” I have heard parents of daughters so inclined say things like, “She’s just so rambunctious!” But, in my experience, most people assume girls, as a class, can control themselves better, faster, more completely, and that boys have a harder time. There are many studies that indicate the reasons why this might be true, including the fact that we teach girls to delay gratification more and also to put their needs last. But, it does not appear to be innate.

Boy #1? Yes, maybe he had impulse control issues. Maybe it would take a lot of time to teach him about self-control, like Daughter #2. Maybe it would take even longer to teach him about personal boundaries and other people’s rights. Maybe he had genuine problems with all of those things that needed to be addressed in more thorough ways than morning time social interactions.

But that boy — and many others like him — never got the benefit of the doubt. This behavior gets rewarded or not, amplified or not, sanctioned tacitly or not. Both on individual and cultural levels. To be clear: I’m not saying that there is causality between knocking down blocks in preschool and assaulting people later. I am not saying that all boys with bad manners, poor impulse control, ADHD or other behavioral issues will be rapists or abuse spouses. I’m saying the world would be a different kind of place if children were taught to respect other children’s rights from the start. Rights to be, to do, to look certain ways and not others. And that teaching children these things has profound implications for society. Anyone who has studied or worked in the field of domestic violence can tell you that the “overarching attitudinal characteristic” of abusive men is entitlement and the belief that they have rights without responsibility to or respect for others. Similar attitudes feed our steady stream of sexual assault and rape.

In general, I’m a strict non-interventionist when it comes to other people’s children, unless I am explicitly responsible for them and their safety. But, one morning, when it really became clear that Boy #1’s parents were utterly useless as people who could teach their son to be aware of others, empathetic and yes, kinder, I picked him up and moved him away from my daughter. I asked him gently if he understood the word “forever.” He said yes. Putting him down, I added that he was to stay away from my daughter and her castles for that length of time. So far, so good.”

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by | June 14, 2013 · 4:11 pm

Legal recognition for those who don’t identify as either ‘M’ or ‘F’

Paul Bibby

May 31, 2013


Long awaited victory: A specific sex identity shouldn’t be forced on anyone, says Norrie. Photo: Dallas Kilponen


“People who do not identify as male or female have achieved formal legal recognition in Australia for the first time, after the NSW Court of Appeal overturned a ruling that everyone must be listed as a man or a woman with the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages.

In a landmark decision with major implications for thousands of intersex, androgynous and neuter people across the country, the court on Friday upheld an appeal by Sydney activist ‘Norrie’ against a decision by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal that people must be officially registered as ‘M’ or ‘F’.

It’s not good enough if the law is just for the majority of people 

In 2010, Norrie, who identifies as neuter and uses only a first name, became the first in NSW to be neither man nor woman in the eyes of the NSW government when the 52-year-old Sydneysider was given the designation “sex not specified”.

But four months later the registry wrote to Norrie, saying that the change was invalid and had been “issued in error”.

Norrie subsequently appealed the decision in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. But this was dismissed, with the tribunal declaring that, as a matter of law, the Registry must list someone’s sex as either male or female.

Norrie appealed to the Court of Appeal and on Friday, three years later, won a near-total victory. The three-judge appeal panel unanimously declared that “as a matter of construction … the word sex does not bear a binary meaning of ‘male’ or ‘female'”.

“The Appeal Panel erred in law in concluding that it was not open to the Registrar to register Norrie’s sex as ‘non-specific’,” the judges said.

The matter has now been sent back to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal which must decide on a ‘sexless’ designation for Norrie in the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages.

Though strictly the decision only applies to those such as Norrie who have had sex affirmation surgery (previously known as sex change surgery), it has potential implications for many others, including babies who are born with ambiguous genetalia, and people who do not identify as male or female despite having physical characteristics of a man or a woman.

“This is the first decision that recognises that ‘sex’ is not binary – it is not only ‘male’ or ‘female’ – and that we should have recognition of that in the law and in our legal documents,” one of Norrie’s solicitors, Emily Christie from DLA Piper said.

“This sets a precedent. In future, government departments and courts may adopt the reasoning found here.”

Norrie said the decision was recognition that not all people were “unambiguously male or female”.

“It’s not good enough if the law is just for the majority of people,” Norrie said.

“We accept that most people are going to be unproblematicly male or female, but the law should include everybody.””

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by | June 1, 2013 · 5:39 pm


“For millions of gay and lesbian employees, much has changed since 1999, when no states recognized gay marriage, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” effectively barred people who were openly gay from serving in the military, Matthew Shepard’s murderer was convicted — and Exxon Mobil shareholders were first asked to protect gay and lesbian employees from discrimination.

One thing hasn’t: Exxon Mobil’s implacable opposition to adding sexual orientation to its official equal employment opportunity statement.

The issue will be on the agenda at Exxon Mobil’s annual shareholder meeting next week for the 14th consecutive year. Last year the company went so far as to ask the Securities and Exchange Commission for a ruling that it needn’t keep including the proposal on its ballot, but was rejected.

The proposal, backed this year, as it has been since 2010, by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli on behalf of the New York State Employees Retirement System, has never gained majority support. That’s not unusual for so-called social, political and environmental shareholder initiatives, since most institutional money managers usually decline as a matter of policy to vote against management recommendations on such issues. Still, the measure has gained as much as 38 percent of the vote, considered resounding support by the feeble standards of shareholder democracy.

That hasn’t fazed Exxon Mobil. On the contrary, as social attitudes and other corporations’ policies on the subject of gay rights have changed drastically, Exxon Mobil has moved steadily further from the mainstream, even within the energy sector. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 88 percent of Fortune 500 companies have adopted written nondiscrimination policies prohibiting harassment and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, as have all the major integrated oil companies that compete with Exxon Mobil.

Twenty-one states, the District of Columbia and more than 160 cities and counties have laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. But Exxon Mobil maintains it isn’t bound by these because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which pre-empts state law. A constitutional challenge to DOMA is awaiting decision by the Supreme Court, and two federal appeals courts have ruled DOMA unconstitutional.

“Exxon Mobil is an outlier among Fortune 500 companies on this issue,” Mr. DiNapoli said when I asked him about the issue this week. He said it was not only a social or civil rights issue. “The company runs the risk of restricting its ability to attract and maintain top talent. Exxon Mobil is sending a message that applicants and employees can be discriminated against on the basis of non-job related criteria. It just doesn’t make sense from a bottom-line standpoint.”

In countries where it’s mandated by law, Exxon Mobil does have policies barring discrimination against gay and lesbian employees — and extends spousal benefits to same-sex married couples. But the company has gone to unusual lengths to avoid doing so in the United States. Mobil Oil had polices protecting gay and lesbian employees from discrimination and extended benefits to same-sex couples. But Exxon rescinded them when it acquired Mobil in 1999. It eliminated the same protections and benefits when it acquired XTO Energy in 2009.

A former Exxon Mobil employee told me that he was involved with the company’s effort to transfer a highly valued executive from Belgium, where the executive lived with his husband, to Texas. He said the executive told the company, “I’m not coming alone,” and asked for the same medical benefits and recognition for his spouse that he received in Belgium. The company refused.

An Exxon Mobil spokesman said he couldn’t comment on a specific case, but noted that the United States immigration service doesn’t grant visas to same-sex spouses since those marriages aren’t recognized under federal law. He confirmed that it was company policy to provide such benefits only in countries where they are mandated by law, and not in the United States. According to Mr. DiNapoli, Exxon Mobil told him that the company refused to recognize the validity of same-sex marriages in New York or any other state where they are now legal. “Exxon Mobil must recognize that its stance against equal rights will hurt the company and its investors,” Mr. DiNapoli said.

It seems to be hurting the company with gay and lesbian customers and employees. Last June, Cece Cox, chief executive of Resource Center Dallas, and a group that included representatives from several Fortune 500 companies, met with Exxon Mobil’s relatively new head of human resources, Malcolm Farrant. “He flat-out asked us, ‘What’s your opinion of Exxon Mobil?’ ” Ms. Cox said. “Every single person said the equivalent of, ‘I’d walk 20 miles in a blizzard to find another gas station if I’d run out of gas. We’d never spend a dime at Exxon Mobil.’ ” It may also hurt the company’s recruiting efforts, especially among young engineering graduates who support same-sex marriage.

Exxon Mobil ranks last in the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality index of the Fortune 1000 corporations, with a score of negative 25 out of a possible 100. The company received the first and thus far only negative score for “engaging in activities that undermine L.G.B.T. equality,” an H.R.C. spokesman said. “Exxon Mobil is in a class by itself, and I don’t mean that in a positive sense,” said Deena Fidas, H.R.C.’s deputy director for the workplace project.

When I asked the Exxon Mobil spokesman, Alan T. Jeffers, for the company’s rationale, he referred me to its proxy statement, which states that “the board believes the proposal is unnecessary” because Exxon Mobil already “prohibits all forms of discrimination” and specifically mentions sexual orientation in a statement on its Web site and in its training programming for new employees.

That position irks gay rights advocates. “They have a bevy of attorneys who understand the difference between a legally binding equal employment opportunity statement and some reference on their Web site,” Ms. Cox said.

It seems ironic, then, that employees and former employees I spoke to praised the company for its tolerant work environment. “As an employee there every day, I never experienced anything close to discrimination based on sexual orientation or anything else, for that matter. And I never heard anything from anyone else. The only complaints I heard were about medical benefits,” said Tom Allen, who recently retired after 10 years with the company. Exxon Mobil has a gay employees organization, and a few members attended the “Out and Equal” workplace meeting when it held its annual convention in Dallas two years ago.

Mr. Allen was working at Mobil at the time of the merger with Exxon, and was involved in persuading Mobil’s former chairman, Lucio Noto, to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and to extend domestic partner benefits to same-sex couples. “We met with him, and explained the advantages straight people had, and he turned to me and said, ‘You’ve got to help me out here. What do you mean by straight people?’ But he understood the issue. Exxon just doesn’t seem to get it. They were very proud of their record on apartheid but they just don’t seem to see the common thread.”

Mr. Allen added, “Inside the company we anxiously watched that shareholder vote year after year. We kept hoping to see it turn to a yes vote, and we felt it was trending in the right direction. We never understood the company’s position. All their major competitors have taken this step. That’s what I don’t get. They are so driven by what happens at the competition, and wanting to stay competitive, except for this. It’s got to be somebody somewhere is blocking it. I can’t imagine who that is.”

For years, some people assumed it was Lee Raymond, Exxon’s blunt former chairman and chief executive best known for his vocal skepticism about global warming, who was also dismissive of the sexual orientation issue at shareholder meetings. But he retired at the end of 2005, replaced by a more genial Texan, Rex W. Tillerson.

Mr. Tillerson, a former Eagle Scout, was national president of the Boy Scouts of America from 2010 to 2011, while the Boy Scouts maintained its ban on gay scouts and scout leaders. He is a member of the Boy Scouts’ national executive board, which voted this week to lift the ban on gay scouts (but not gay scout leaders). Eight years into his tenure as Exxon Mobil’s chief executive, the company’s position hasn’t budged. No one doubts that if Mr. Tillerson threw his support behind the issue, the company’s policy would change.

Mr. Jeffers said Mr. Tillerson had no comment. He added that the company’s position on the issue was a board decision, and that board deliberations were confidential.

This week, Freedom to Work, a gay advocacy group, filed suit against Exxon Mobil in Illinois, claiming discrimination based on sexual orientation. The group sent the company two fictitious résumés for a job opening in Patoka, Ill. One résumé had stronger qualifications, but identified the applicant as gay. Exxon Mobil responded to the lesser-qualified applicant’s résumé and made several follow-up phone calls. The résumé from the gay applicant received no reply.

Tico Almeida, a Yale Law School graduate and president of Freedom to Work, told me this week he was inspired by similar lawsuits that were part of the civil rights movement. “Exxon Mobil says it doesn’t discriminate. If so, all they have to do is adopt the same nondiscrimination policy that other companies have and we’ll settle the case,’ Mr. Almeida said. “I hope they don’t decide to waste shareholder money by fighting it.”

But no one is holding out much hope, either for the lawsuit or the coming shareholder vote. “I don’t think they’ll ever back down,” Mr. Allen said. “Not until they’re forced to. I think it’s just a cultural thing.””



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by | June 1, 2013 · 4:36 pm

Sergeant Accused of Secretly Filming Female Cadets

Is there a right response to an episode like this? Or is it just a symptom of an underlying societal disease?




Published: May 22, 2013

“WASHINGTON — A sergeant first class on the staff of the United States Military Academy at West Point faces charges for allegedly videotaping female cadets without their consent, sometimes when they were in the shower, according to Army officials.

The Army is contacting a dozen women to alert them that their privacy may have been violated and to offer support or counseling as required, officials said.

The suspect, Sgt. First Class Michael McClendon, faces charges under four articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for indecent acts, dereliction in the performance of duty, cruelty and maltreatment, and actions prejudicial to good order and discipline. Sergeant McClendon, who had been assigned to the school since 2009, was transferred to Fort Drum, N.Y., after charges were filed on May 14, Army officials said.

During his tenure at West Point, Sergeant McClendon served as a “tactical noncommissioned officer,” described in academy personnel documents as a staff adviser “responsible for the health, welfare and discipline” of a company of 125 cadets. The person in the position is expected to “assist each cadet in balancing and integrating the requirements of physical, military, academic and moral-ethical programs.”

The student body at West Point numbers about 4,500 cadets; just over 15 percent are female.

The allegations at West Point, the nation’s oldest and most prestgious military academy, came in the midst of growing outrage in the armed services, in Congress and even from President Obama over reports of sexual harassment and sexual assault in the military — and at the failure of official efforts to reduce the problem and protect victims. They also come as the Army has begun integrating women into a number of combat positions, bringing added demands for fair and equal treatment of those in uniform.

“The Army is committed to ensuring the safety and welfare of our cadets at the Military Academy at West Point — as well as all soldiers throughout our Army,” Gen. John F. Campbell, the Army vice chief of staff, said on Wednesday. “Once notified of the violation, a full investigation was launched, followed by swift action to correct the problem. Our cadets must be confident that issues such as these are handled quickly and decisively, and that our system will hold those responsible accountable.”

The Army made no announcement of the charges against Sergeant McClendon, but provided details after The New York Times learned of the inquiry from several current and former members of the West Point community who said they were alarmed by the allegations and wanted to learn of the academy’s plans to investigate and prevent future violations.

If proven, the violation of privacy and trust alleged in the filming of female cadets could have a significant negative impact on whether the Army is seen as an inviting career for young women.

George Wright, an Army spokesman, said the service and the academy would “rebuild trust through our response.” He said the Army was committed to “providing the full range of support to those whose privacy was violated,” as well as “keeping them updated on the case.”

“The Army will ensure the military justice system works through to its proper conclusion,” Mr. Wright said.

Some details of the alleged violations remain unclear. Officials said some images appeared to have been taken in the showers, while others were taken at different locations, perhaps through windows. And complicating the inquiry, according to officials, was that some images may have been taken consensually.

According to military service records, Sergeant McClendon joined the Army in 1990 and trained as a combat engineer. He deployed to Iraq from 2004 to 2005 and from 2007 to 2009, and was awarded a Bronze Star.

In recent weeks, allegations of sexual harassment and assault against women in the miltary have prompted vows from the Pentagon’s highest officials that they will confront the problem.

“It is time we take on the fight against sexual assault and sexual harassment as our primary mission,” Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, wrote in a message to all of his service personnel last week. “It is up to every one of us, civilian and soldier, general officer to private, to solve this problem within our ranks.”

General Odierno wrote that “recent incidents of sexual assault and sexual harassment demonstrate that we have violated that trust.”

“In fact,” he added, “these acts violate everything our Army stands for. They are contrary to our Army values and they must not be tolerated.”

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was briefed on the case Wednesday morning and was described as “concerned and disturbed” by the allegations. He signed an order on Friday requiring the military to review and recertify each person assigned to programs for preventing sexual assault and assisting victims.

The order requires a “review of credentials and qualifications of current-serving recruiters, sexual assault response coordinators and victim advocates,” and it imposes “refresher training” for the approximately 25,000 people who are assigned to these programs.

Mr. Hagel’s decision came after Mr. Obama summoned the Pentagon’s senior leaders to the White House, telling them that the levels of sexual assault across the armed services were a disgrace that undermined the trust essential for the military to carry out its mission effectively.

Mr. Hagel has acknowledged that the issue has reached a crisis. The Pentagon found that an estimated 26,000 assaults took place last year.

“We’re losing the confidence of the women who serve that we can solve this problem,” said Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “That’s a crisis.””

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by | May 22, 2013 · 6:55 pm