Please help with some advice for my daughter

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by BobBigBoy, Jun 8, 2012.

  1. BobBigBoy

    BobBigBoy Member

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    In twenty days, I will be dropping my daughter off at the Academy to begin her new life. I want to give her some fatherly advice on how to handle her interaction with the male cadets. We have been connected with current and former female cadets and all of them have relayed some form, mild or strong, of harassment from the men. With the disturbing facts that have been depicted in the Doonesbury comic strip this week, my parent antenna went up and I have to admit that I am nervous about this aspect of her upcoming military life. What would you recommend I tell her to be prepared for a potential conflict; be bold and aggressive and get in their face, report it immediately and risk being ostracized, ignore it? I am really confused and am feeling a bit helpless on guiding her on probably one of our last counseling conversations...being informed is my goal. She is pretty tough both physically and mentally but she has never faced a potential situation that could await her and I want her to be prepared. I could really use some help from all of you, especially parents and/or female cadets.
    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. MB 13

    MB 13 Member

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    Our daughter is going into her junior year at the Academy. I had the same trepidation toward this issue that you are currently experiencing. The overwhelming majority of the male cadets are like her brother's and she couldn't feel safer. With that said, the main advice that I would give any female going to any college- don't ever put yourself in a "stupid" situation that you can't control, especially involving alcohol. I have had numerous conversations with several female cadets over the last couple of years and they really do feel safe. In closing- whether you are a male or female cadet at the Academy, the respect you get is earned. You will miss your daughter greatly, but she'll be fine.
     
  3. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Here's my 0.018642 cents of advice.

    You raised a very smart child, trust her. There is nothing today, tomorrow, or next week regarding your fears that will be new to her. Ten will get me twenty this conversation already occurred before at least once. She knows it already.

    Bullet and I have 2 boys and 1 girl. We trust our boys to treat every woman they meet like their own sister. We are an AF family, and I will also tell you that any guy who tries to harass, intimidate, etc a female cadet will likely face a wall of other guys in front of her to stop them.

    Yes, it happens, but it would also happen in a traditional college, and I think at a higher rate.

    This is just the start of her life, if you fear the AFA, imagine your fear as an ADAF female pilot!

    Gary Trudeau's Doonesbury comic strip is from a liberal political perspective. Take it as a comic strip drawn by someone who has never spent 1 nano second in the military, nor his spouse (Jane Pauley) or his children. Honestly, what insight does he really have besides what the media and bloggers feed him? Do you see him on www.serviceacademyforums.com ?
     
  4. BobBigBoy

    BobBigBoy Member

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    Thanks for you insight, much appreciated. I am sure your raised your sons to very respectful of women and I wish other parents did as well but I am afraid that is not the case. Believe it or not, I am not so much concerned with the physical side as I am the verbal abuse that she might face. Physical attacks require immediate and violent defense and she is highly trained to react to a confrontation. I am more concerned about the verbal abuse that she could face and a reaction to that requires a different type of skill and that is what I would like to give her some advice about. I realize that there will be strong and consistent "tutelage" form superiors and others with the authority to do so...eyes wide open on that. It is the guy that thinks women don't belong that is my concern. Being from an AF family, you have a leg up on us on experience and I defer to your experience. If you believe there isn't a problem, thanks. I have just heard otherwise and again, I want to prepare her as well as possible. By the way, I agree with you on Trudeau but the facts he quotes are close to the truth I believe. And, I have to begrudgingly applaud him on bringing to light a very touchy subject.
     
  5. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Bob. The academy isn't an island of 4400 individuals. It is a family. The "Family" that Pima mentions being part of, your daughter will become a member of in a few weeks. It won't be "Her" against "Someone else". As MB stated, the only time a situation becomes such a major problem, "Not just at academies", is when an individual makes poor choices and allows it to become a problem. Not justifying or rationalizing what certain jerks might do out there; just that your daughter has the majority of control over what happens. At the academy itself, you're not going to find a loud negative opinion of women in the military/academy. For the rare person who truly believes that, they will keep it to themselves because the wing would not put up with it.

    Just have a heart to heart, face to face, eye to eye conversation with your daughter. Let her know how much you trust her decision to apply to the academy and serve her country and that you know she's willing to accept all the trials and tribulations that come with that. And that you also trust her to learn and make good decisions. She'll be fine. The "Family" will be there for her. Best of luck to you and your daughter. mike....
     
  6. kdc246

    kdc246 Member

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    My DD has been at the Academy for two years now. I would agree, most of the guys treat her as a sister. I think it was hardest when she had to change squadrons after her C4C year. She has never encountered any trouble at USAFA with any males. I will relay that at the start of her C3C year in a different squadron, she made the best of it and was outgoing and always said "Hi" to everyone. She melded very easily because of her efforts to be friendly. This is not a typical scenario for my quiet, shy and reserved daughter, but she felt it important to meet as many new people in her squadron as possible. Although she grew up in a military family (Dad was retired before she was born, and I was a reservist), we did not raise any of our kids in a military environment, they never had to move every two-three years.
    The guys for the most part are going to be like the guys she went to high school with who were following the same sort of track. Just have her be open minded and friendly.
     
  7. cadet15

    cadet15 Member

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    For what this is worth, I just finished my first year here. The biggest issue I had with regards to verbal abuse was from the upperclassmen who pretty much were not very well liked by the rest of the squad. The only people they had influence over were the 4*'s and those guys ran with it. That was 1 or 2 of the 110 people in my squad and those people were dealt with by their fellow upperclassmen. People will make off hand comments not realizing what they are saying may be offensive. Honestly, the most offensive things that were said were by my best friends because they didn't treat me as special. The guys here are my brothers and you put yourself in the right crowd and this is the best family that you could ever walk into. It is what you make of it but there will be very few that have it out against females and those few that do have greater issues to deal with than offending someone because the guys will patrol themselves and deal with issues instead of letting them fester.
     
  8. BobBigBoy

    BobBigBoy Member

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    Awesome...just what I was looking for! Thanks for assuaging my concerns.
     
  9. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    The best advice I can give is to surround yourself with upstanding people. Not only do they not cause trouble, but they tend to shield their friends from trouble, as well.

    One time I was with a group of cadets in a foreign country. We went out on the town that night, and wound up meeting some other Americans at a bar. At the end of the night when we went back to our hotel, one of the guys (who was clearly interested in one girl in our group) was hanging around a bit too long. When we got the least sober people off to their beds, everyone moved toward the door except this guy. Realizing that a potentially bad situation was developing, another cadet and I rather awkwardly stood around until he decided to leave. After he left the area, we both said something like "I'm glad that worked!" Most cadets would do something similar, in my opinion.

    Yes, unfortunately there are sexual assaults at the academies (and pretty much every college). The easy ways to avoid issues are to hang out with the good crowd and don't get stupidly drunk at parties.

    There are also a few cadets who think women don't belong in the military, etc. I met two or three, in my time. Usually, a nasty look was enough to shut them up when they started saying something stupid. The one guy who didn't shut up quickly would usually get told "you're an idiot" to his face by several people. I think the only reason he didn't get into a boat load of trouble is because the girls around never gave his opinion enough weight to get angry about.
     
  10. goldenlion

    goldenlion Member

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    If something were to happen, I would advice her to talk to a chaplain, even if she isn't religious. The chaplains are really the only ones that have complete confidentiality. Besides counseling or just listening to her, they also understand the system and can advise her. Furthermore, she wouldn't be "judged" for seeing a chaplain. Anyone can see a chaplain for just about any reason. They don't make you fill out forms asking about your mental health or announce to the world the reason for your visit.

    All the chaplains that I've known while in the Air Force are just great listeners. They don't preach or try to push their religion on you.
     

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