ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATION:
- Best Documentary Feature
This movie made me very uncomfortable. It was very interesting and informative but it wasn’t really the movie for me. Definitely watch the movie if you’re interested but don’t plan on having a great night after.
As one might expect, The Invisible War is tough to watch. It doesn’t help when you’re a woman watching a documentary about rape in the military, but I can’t imagine what kind of person wouldn’t find this hard to watch.
As someone with no military background (for myself or my immediate family), The Invisible War was certainly a learning experience. Not that people who grew up with military parents are going to be experts on rape in the military, but I really had no idea just how much the military dominates your life when you’re in it, for better or worse. Maybe that was naive of me, but I just never really thought about it. Rape, even if it happens at work, shouldn’t be solely a workplace matter. The fact that it can’t go outside the workplace when you’re in the military sort of blows my mind.
It’s also really difficult to watch The Invisible War and not get angry, I think especially if you’re a woman. The film shows how many of the military’s “prevention” strategies focus on things like “don’t walk by yourself if you’re a woman.” As one of the victims in the film says, the military only tries to make it easier for women to deal with being raped, instead of trying to prevent rape itself. This is a concept (and I know it’s not just a military thing) that is so insane I can hardly stand it. Maybe there should be less focus on tips for women to try to not get raped and, oh, I don’t know, more focus on not letting fucking rapists into the military? And prosecuting them and giving jail time so they don’t have just free reign? It’s something that seems so obvious, and the fact that it’s not is obviously something the filmmakers wanted to point out. When a lawsuit against the former Secretary of Defense is filed by victims, it is not only dismissed, but the victims are told that “rape is an occupational hazard of the military.” That’s a statement that’s going to stick with me a long time.
I also appreciated that the film doesn’t pretend only women get raped; they talk to male victims, too. The only thing I wish the film had focused a bit more on was the process of reporting; like can victims not report rape to the police if it happens on base? They imply that you can’t but never really say. If they did report it, would be police not be able to do anything? It’s not that the film gives more questions than answers, but those questions definitely lingered with me.
It’s hard to say if I want The Invisible War to win the Oscar. When it’s up against something like Searching for Sugar Man, which was filmed much better and was more enjoyable, it’s hard to not want Searching for Sugar Man to win. But on the other hand, an Oscar win, plus the fact that it’s easily accessible on Netflix, would give it some great exposure.
Apparently the film has already caused some policy changes within branches of the military, and I hope that The Invisible War ends up with a sort of Thin Blue Line effect, where the people who watch it who can make changes can’t help but do just that.