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Facebook pulls page that denigrates female Marines

May. 8, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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Facebook has removed a page that denigrated women in the Marine Corps after a congresswoman complained to the Pentagon and called the page another example of the military’s lax attitude toward sexual harassment.

The page, called “F’n Wook,” was among a number cited by Rep. Jackie Speier in a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and top military brass released Wednesday. She also addressed it to the Marine Corps commandant, Gen. Jim, Amos and in it asks officials to tell her how they plan to respond.

“I am confident that if you reviewed the contents of this webpage that you would be horrified by the culture of misogyny and sexual harassment depicted on the web site,” wrote Speier, who has pushed the Pentagon to treat sexual abuse cases with more urgency.

The pages Speier cited as examples in the letter show photos of women, one of them naked and bound, with lewd captions.

Before it was removed, the “F’n Wook” page had over 9,000 followers. In addition to photographs of women’s cleavage, it frequently posted “meme” photos of female Marines in uniform, mocking their weight and military appearance or saying they belonged in the kitchen, not on the battlefield. While the moderators of the site kept their identities anonymous, they indicated in interaction with their followers that they were women.

“Veteran assistance, good laughs, sammiches, recipes for taste, love and destruction of societal norms — but most of all, we’re here to add levity and laughs to life,” read the page description.

“Wookiee” is a derogatory term used by some enlisted Marines to describe females in uniform. It is derived from the hairy “Star Wars” character Chewbacca.

Facebook removed the page Wednesday after determining the administrators were fake, said a company official speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. Facebook, the official said, routinely removes pages that bully or harass people in general.

Other pages Speier named in her letter remain live.

This page and others like it, Speier wrote, “contribute to a culture that permits and seems to encourage sexual assault and abuse.”

Speier wrote that the Marine Corps inspector general is aware of the site and has been monitoring it for three years.

“Despite this monitoring, the cyber retaliation against those who complain about the website’s content continues unabated,” she wrote.

Speier’s letter comes a day after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called for a comprehensive inspection of military workplaces across the force to root out any images of women that might “create an offensive or degrading work environment.”

Amos addressed the issue leaders with lawmakers during an appearance Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

“I’m determined to change our culture, and I apologize to this committee for the shameful behavior of my Marines,” Amos told members of the House defense appropriations subcommittee.

On Tuesday, the Pentagon released a report that estimated 26,000 troops had been sexually abused in 2012, up 35 percent since the last survey in 2010.

Vanden Brook writes for USA Today. Hodge writes for Marine Corps Times.

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