“Bro” on the Battlefront

Rigid rules, tight schedules, constant pressure and stress, high demand for high standard performance — military personnel are very familiar with these traits. For many, sexual assault makes the list, too.

Women are more familiar with this one, though. Only 3,374 sexual assaults were reported in the U.S. military last year. Only? Yes — comparatively low when taking into account the Pentagon’s estimate of 26,000, with 6.1 percent of these attacks against women; 1.2 percent on men. Still, critics question the Pentagon’s figure and transparency in reporting.

The numbers are atrociously high and that’s clear; the boundaries in the field, however, aren’t. An apparent “bro” culture pervasive in the military leaves female soldiers often in limbo between what attitudes of their male counterparts should be considered inclusive and exclusive, if not harassment.

But speaking up? A 2003 study by the University of Iowa Social Research Center conducted a survey amongst female veterans and found that women spoke up about an unacceptable, disrespectful work environment were six times more likely to have experienced a rape during their time of service.

For the women who don’t report such hostility, many shrug off it, as one one Air Force Sergeant told to The Atlantic. This “bro” culture has been reported to include screening porn before flight missions in Iraq and singing songs popular from the Vietnam War about “the S&M man” who “makes the hurt feel good.”

Even today, the military’s hypermasculine environment has yet to shed the culture so heavily ingrained in it through its male-dominated history. No silver bullet can fix this, but necessary reform relies at the very least on complete transparency in incident reports, equal status for women in combat, and eradication of this “bro” culture.

By Lily Wan

Online Shipping: Amazon Not So Prime

“I’ll just order it on Amazon.”

Commonly heard and commonly said, this attitude — and the causatively much cheaper price tag that goes along with it — is one of justifiable convenience.

And such is the beauty of online shopping: cheaper, wider selection, on-hand reviews and delivered right to your doorstep. And it’s that last part wherein lies the problem. You order something and — boom — it appears. There is no human connection bonding the consumer to the product; there is only a mere price, and the attractive 2-day delivery turnaround as offered by Amazon Prime accounts, which are free to students.

That expedited shipping time comes with a price. As anyone who’s bought anything online knows, faster delivery comes with a higher price tag. As anyone working in a large scale corporation warehouse knows, faster shipping comes with more stress, higher demand and even worse-than-usual working conditions.

These shipping warehouses aren’t operated directly under the corporation name from which the products are being packaged and sent, but rather a second party temporary staffing agency. This way, when employees complain or threaten lawsuit for their working conditions (we’re talking 10 hour days ringing in only $60 after taxes), the parent corporation isn’t pinned the defendant.

As an employee of a temporary staffing agency, such as Amazon’s Integrity Staffing Solutions, you are not entitled health care, raises or paid vacation. Many benefits shorted, more profit gained, and the more money consumers save with free shipping.

By Lily Wan