Why do men talking about violence invariably use language that separates the violent act from the man?
A study released by the US Defense Department two weeks ago estimated that reports of unwanted sexual contact in the military, from groping to rape, rose 37 percent in 2012, to about 26,000 cases.
It's turned into a bit of a scandal, so much so, that at the graduation ceremonies for the military elite at West Point on the weekend, the US Defence Secretary said, "The scourge of sexual assault must be stamped out"
Two days earlier, at the Naval Academy, Barack Obama said, "Those who commit sexual assault are not only committing a crime, they threaten the trust and discipline that makes our military strong"
Why couldn't Obama have said something more like, "Men, you will not under any circumstances have sex with a woman against her will. You will not grab a woman's body parts. This counts for women in the countries in which you serve and for women you're serving with. It applies to all women. It also applies to all men. You may not attack anyone sexually. This is a direct order from your Commander in Chief. From Me to You. Seriously, stop it."
It might not work, but it would certainly send a stronger message than mealy-mouthed, distancing phrases and the passive, 'must be stamped out.'