POLITICS
03/14/2017 02:43 pm ET Updated Mar 14, 2017

Paula Broadwell Reminds Us Marines Photo Scandal Is Part Of A Much Bigger Problem

“The problem is pervasive in society, and it’s because our society has a propensity to objectify women."

Paula Broadwell, former military officer and gender bias activist, criticized the “tepid response” to the recent military nude photo scandal and said it’s only one part of a much bigger problem. 

Speaking with CNN’s Brooke Baldwin on Friday, Broadwell said that armed service members sharing explicit photos of their female colleagues online without their consent ― a practice exposed by Marine veteran Thomas Brennan, who runs the nonprofit news organization The War Horse, earlier this month ― is exemplary of issues all women face.

“This isn’t just a military problem,” she said. “The problem is pervasive in society, and it’s because our society has a propensity to objectify women. So we’ve got to look at the issue with the military, but the military thing is a microcosm of what’s going on in America as well.” 

Since the initial story broke, new reports have found that the scandal goes beyond the Marines and involves members of other military branches

Broadwell also called on Gen. Robert Neller, the Marine Corps’ top commander, to be clearer about how inadmissible these actions are. 

“He needs to come out in no uncertain terms and say this is unacceptable, and if you’re doing this, we don’t want you in the Corps,” she said. 

Last week, Neller asked service members to “reconsider [their] participation in any sort of behavior like this,” and described the nude photo-sharing as being part of the “subculture” of the Marines,

Broadwell took issue with Neller pinning the problem on a few bad apples. 

“It’s interesting he called it a subculture, Brooke, because I’d say it is the culture of the Marine Corps,” she said. “So many, in fact I think all, of my Marine Corps colleagues who are field grade officers have experienced some form of sexual harassment or even assault.”

Since “Marines United,” the 30,000-member private Facebook group for sharing the photos, and other private sites have been exposed, Broadwell says dozens of servicewomen have reached out to her to share stories of cameras being installed in showers and of finding their photos being passed around on these sites. 

The White House has not commented on the scandal. Even Melania Trump, who stated that her platform as first lady would be to combat cyberbullying, has not spoken out.

“I think silence is condoning what’s going on,” Broadwell said. 

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated the date Broadwell spoke with CNN.

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