Female Marines Took a Stand Against Revenge Porn and Served as the Impetus For Major Change

"Harassment will not be tolerated and now policy reflects that more clearly."

Last month we told you about a group of female marines who banned together to form a group called Actionable Change in an effort to put an end to misogyny in the service, and now we're happy to report the group just helped to secure a major win.

BuzzFeed News reports commanders are now required to consider firing marines who have shared an intimate image without a person's consent. This anti-revenge porn change comes months after hundreds, if not thousands, of nude pictures of female marines and veterans were reportedly shared in a private Facebook group called Marines United. It was that nude photo scandal that lead to Actionable Change's creation, and now the group boasts upwards of 700 female members.

At the time the group wrote a letter to members which said, in part, "In a culture that prizes masculinity, it is easy to mistake barbarism for strength. Brutality for power. Savagery for ferocity. Yet we respectfully disagree with the notion that to fight and win our nation's battles, we must preserve an institution where men are permitted or even expected to behave like animals, and women trespass at their peril."

Revenge porn became a potentially fireable offense on May 9, when the Marine Corps updated its Separation and Retirement Manual to require commanders to consider firing any marines involved in a "substantiated incident" of revenge porn. This update comes just weeks after the corps formally banned revenge porn in an update to the Navy Regulations.

"The change to the Separation Manual is one of several steps taken to ensure marines who do not uphold our values are held accountable," Marines spokeswoman Capt. Ryan Alvis tells BuzzFeed. "Harassment will not be tolerated and now policy reflects that more clearly."

And though Actionable Change was never mentioned directly, it's likely they played a pivotal role in this key change to the Separation Manual. 

What's more? On May 12 the marines released a recruiting ad called "Battle Up" that, for the first time ever, focuses on a female marine in combat. The ad, below, even stars a real marine — Capt. Erin Demchko — who served in Afghanistan.

The marines still have work to do (as recently as 2014 the Marine Corps had the highest rate of sexual assault against women) but this shift is a step in the right direction.

Cover image via ittipon / Shutterstock.

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