Conflict & Justice

Marines aim to eliminate Facebook posts degrading women by July


Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Vee Penrod, left, and Maj. Gen. Gary Patton speak to media February 9, 2012 at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va. Penrod and Patton briefed the media on the Defense Department's review of women in service.


Alex Wong

Officials at the Pentagon said today they want to eliminate all degrading material aimed at female Marines by July after a Facebook page appeared with lewd photos of women soldiers.

Someone posted the photos of women, some who appear to be victims of domestic violence, with degrading captions on a page called F’N Wook.

“That type of stuff is despicable,” Army Maj. Gen. Gary Patton told USA Today. “That’s exactly the type of offensive and degrading materials that are unacceptable in a unit that prides itself on our professional values and on unit cohesion.”

There were an estimated 26,000 sexual assaults in the military last year, more than one-third more than 2010, USA Today said.

Patton ordered an inspection he hopes eliminated the offensive material by July, reinforcing in commanding officers that they need to root out and discourage sexist behaviors.

It was US Rep. Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco) who first alerted the Pentagon to the offensive social media posts.

She sent a letter to the Secretary of Defense urging action.

“The ‘humor’ expressed on this page and similar pages ... contribute to a culture that permits and seems to encourage sexual assault and abuse,” said the letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Marine Commandant James Amos and Inspector General Lynne Halbrooks.

Speier included several photos, many with sexually themed insults, from the site in her letter.

A Marine Corps spokesman told NBC News that offending Marines had been identified and punished.

“We have identified active Marines doing inappropriate postings on social media and they have been punished,” Capt. Eric Flanagan told NBC.