Before the major sexual assaults at Lackland Air Force Base were exposed, it was a long, silent slog for women in the military. But ever since, it's been a banner year: abortion may be more readily insured, women like ex-Marine Sarah Anderson have come forward to let pundits have it for commenting that female officers in the military should "expect" to be raped. The Invisible War, a documentary dealing with military sexual assault, has been nominated for an Oscar. It looks like conditions are improving.
But two of the assault victims who appeared in The Invisible War say that director Kirby Dick should be "ashamed and embarassed" that most of their stories ended up on the cutting room floor. Specifically, Michael Matthews and Brian Lewis, who feel "betrayed" and "abandoned" by Dick, as well as the overall legislative and social attention being paid to female military assault victims (of the estimated 19,000 sex offense victims in the armed forces, 10,000—56%—are men and 9,000 women.) Lewis only has a 10-second soundbite in the film, and 5 minutes of the total 2-hour running time are devoted to male victims, none of whom are listed along with the six female victims on the documentary's website.
Matthews asked NBC News:
"What the fuck is that about? [...] [Dick] is making millions of dollars but he's not bringing any of the men to any these appearances all over the country like he's bringing the women. I appreciate them putting us in the movie but, now, the men are not being represented at all. He has turned his back on us. And the movie, some of it, is hurting us."
A Washington D.C. lawyer who reps both male and female military assault victims echoes Matthews' statement: ""There's a lot of disappointment in the male survivor community that this keeps being talked about as a 'women's issue,' and it's not."
Dick agreed that male military sexual assault victims are often "kept in the shadows" and confirmed that the film's producer intentionally focused more on female victims, but with the goal of inspire change on behalf of victims of either gender.
"In terms of making the film, we felt the entry point in this discussion was more women being assaulted because we felt it was a discussion that people would start to have. Our essential goal here is to have the military continue to change its policy (on investigating rape reports and disciplining predators) so that all men and women are protected in the military ... We felt that once the country started putting pressure on the military to make these changes, if and when the military does make changes, those will apply to men just as they will women. So we kind of felt women would get the discussion going and push the military to make the change for everyone."