Sexual violence against women—pervasive in our society—is largely hidden, as in the oppressive presence of date rape on university campuses. Occasionally it does rise to the news headlines, sometimes through an individual’s action, as in the rape charges faced by basketball superstar Kobe Bryant or the battering accusations against popular baseball Hall-of-Famer Kirby Puckett. At other times it is episodic, as in the notorious 1991 “Tailhook” scandal involving U.S. naval officers.
Or the scandal can be systemic, as it was in recent years at the Air Force Academy. About 70 percent of the 659 women enrolled had experienced sexual harassment, 19 percent sexual assault and 7 percent rape or attempted rape, according to a 2003 survey by the air force’s inspector general.