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I've been thinking of this post for over a month. Ever since the conversation came up in a random comment thread, I've been thinking of making my thoughts on this subject open, plain, and viewable to all, partly so everyone knows exactly where I stand, WHY I stand where I stand, and has the chance to disagree with me, even if it's to call me a piece of shit. I know that last part is coming; the person I discussed it with at the time didn't even want me to go there, partly - I'm guessing - because she could see the chauvinism and bigotry coming a mile away, feelings she's likely been fighting her whole life, considering she's a checkmark under both of the columns that I'm going to discuss here.

Before I begin the glut of this piece, let me state for the record: I am not a chauvanist, nor am I a homophobe, and anyone that's known me for any length of time can really attest to those facts. This isn't going to be an "attack" on women or gay people... if anything, it's going to be a plea for their protection, and a call to end the threat of persecution. I don't like it when people say "I'm not __________, I've got a friend who's ___________!", because that's usually people justifying something shitty they did and in the process turning friends into tokens, and permeating the kind of bigotry that would necessitate a statement like that to begin with, but I think my record on these fronts speak for themselves.

With that said, I think it should be pretty obvious by this point that, when it comes to combat positions, or positions where there is a danger of hostile enemy action, I do not believe women or gays should be there.

First, let's talk about gays, because this is going to be the shortest of the two subjects. I don't believe that there's any difference between a gay man and a straight man. I've known big, burly, strong-minded and strong-bodied gay men, and weak, pussy little heteros. The only - repeat, only - difference between a gay man and a straight one is where they like to put their penises in their private time.

It's not hard to tell me this, I learned it early. But tell your average grunt that. Tell your average soldier, who likely came from a poor area, and was raised to look at gay people like there was something wrong with them, either because they were unnatural (typical in religious upbringings), or because they weren't macho, or were weak (typical in poor or urban upbringings). Now, tell them that in an environment that is, by nature, supremely macho. It doesn't sound appealing, does it?

Now, imagine 19 big, strong men, most of them with a large bit of machismo, either naturally or ingrained into them via their training. They're trained to kill, and they're trained on what is strong and what is weak, even if their views on both are a bit skewed with perspective.

Then tell them that they have to serve with a gay person.

Consider, again, the upbringing of your average soldier. These aren't affluent kids, in the vast majority of cases. These are the bottom-rung guys; poor, not very well educated, no real shot at college, so the choices are either to fight the job market with just a high school degree - if that - or to join the military and get three hots and a cot, "good" pay, and maybe some training so they can make something of themselves. They don't know any better. This is hard for a lot of my readers to understand mainly because they don't know any better themselves, but these are people that usually learned early - and often - to solve their debates with their fists. Putting a gay man in a group of people like this would lead to the large possibility of someone - or plenty of people - beating the shit out of him. It's possible he might die.

Now, I can hear the chorus of people - most of them very liberal - saying "They can't do that! That's against the law! Break up the squadron! Arrest everyone! We must REFORM the military!". One problem, guys: these are combat ready platoons I'm talking about. I'm talking the difference between life or death. I am not willing to sacrifice five people who would have normally been decent soldiers, possibly, to "reform" the military; not when it makes my combat strength weaker. I don't advocate it, the military doesn't advocate it, nor should they. When it comes to the difference between life or death, you do not have room for bullshit, and putting a gay man in an environment that is hostile to gay people only works in movies. The time it would take to reform that would weaken our military; the stakes are too high for morality.

A lot of those arguments work against arguing against women in combat positions as well, but the natural makeup of them - and human interactions - are different. You have to look back at history; for millenniums - that's right, thousands of years, at the very least - the law of the land has been the same: the men fight the wars, and the women take one of two roles: they support from home, or if their side loses, they too often turned into war trophies. Those so-called war trophies were often raped, then murdered. This was common, and again, it's been ingrained for thousands of years. To think we can fight against that kind of history while engaging in a two-front war is ridiculous.

The article that made me think of this is this piece on the BBC's site. It's an excerpt from a book about women's experiences in combat, and those excerpts basically tell the same story: the women were basically alone, they weren't treated like equals, it's a hostile environment where your fellow soldiers are more dangerous than the enemy (who, in most cases, would rape the shit out of a captive female soldier, though I don't see that as QUITE as big a problem in Islamic countries; they'd just... be killed), and believe me when I say this, but they're raped more often than is reported. MUCH more often. Even worse, the problem with an anonymous reporting system is that it's not anonymous; supervisors and sergeants have a way of finding out when these things get reported, and that just makes things worse.

In the first example I linked to, the military commander noted that the common theme was her, and that they were getting rid of her; you know, "no offence". "No offence, but you're a cunt and a whiny bitch, and you're fucking up my unit, so get the fuck out". In any other work environment, this would be disgusting, and the person that said those things would be brought up on charges, rightly so. Not in the military, and also rightly so; there is no time or room for morality in a platoon, there is only time and room for killing more of them than your own boys get killed. It's about getting out alive, and distractions get people killed. Women are a distraction, plain and simple, so it's not only best for a woman, in my eyes, that she not see the front lines - due to the threat of rape, abuse, etc. - it's also best for the rest of the men, too.

There are other metrics that come into play here, however. These come from my own personal experiences. One of them is that in a lot of cases, the women are just as horny as the men, and in too many cases, want - and often get - sex just as badly. This is completely natural, of course, and this is often exacerbated by the tense situation everyone's in. I had a girlfriend that went over to Kuwait, and almost immediately broke up with me because she'd found someone else, both for comfort and for intercourse. I've had sex on my ship plenty of times, and when I was in, on the Truman, at least, the Captain got so tired of his sailors doing it on the ship that he started throwing anyone that got in trouble for sex on deployments out of the Navy, after a 30 day Brig stay.

Furthermore, what happens if a woman DOES get pregnant? In the Navy, they left the ship. In the other branches, they leave any kind of physical or dangerous labour, and go to a desk job until they have the kid, at which point they get maternity leave for six months, then have to go right back; hope she's able to find a good babysitter, and if she's married to another soldier and he's away? Tough shit; hey, the military didn't issue a mate. On the Washington, this usually led to women intentionally getting pregnant just to skip out on long deployments. If you don't believe it happens, consider that the USS George Washington lost an estimated 10% of it's female ship's company before the 2002 Mediterranean Deployment.

Finally, there's one bit of unavoidable fact that people want to ignore: in most cases, women just simply cannot do some of the work. This isn't a slight, this is biology. I was on the Washington's At-Sea Fire Party. If I got stuck in a hole somewhere, with fire around me, and needed to be pulled out, chances are very good a 135lb. woman - no matter how game she is - can't pull my (at the time) 215lb. self out; she just wouldn't be strong enough. Only 10% of the women I've ever known in the service were strong enough to do physical work as well as the men, and the others either were administrative workers, or just not as good at their jobs as the men. Again, this is natural and biological.

In conclusion, I can't support having women and gays on the front lines because the negatives far outweigh the positives, and because the vast majority of the people that want to reform that system have their own non-militaristic agendas, and the military is just one of the ways to fulfil that; naturally, 99.8% of these people are civilians who would run and hide should the United States start conscripting again. The military, within reason, should be an insular, separate organization with it's own rules of enforcement; they should be almost completely separate from civilian rule.

And while I would normally campaign for total equality for women and gays in civilian life, in the military, there is no time for such movements. Not when lives are in the balance.

Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
superbus
Apr. 20th, 2009 03:32 am (UTC)
I find this happening EXTREMELY rarely; in my experience, most of the time, men view women in combat as something in the way; hell, I wasn't exempt to this on the ship, and we didn't see combat. I think men would focus on survival other than libido, and even if a man was to that point where he would go and save the woman over other men, the damage to company morale would be devastating.
(Deleted comment)
superbus
Apr. 20th, 2009 03:35 am (UTC)
I'll default to your father's experience on that front; he did twenty, I did four. But that's something I didn't think about: women are more high-maintenance than men physically.

God, I'm going to piss the more feminist minded of my friends off...
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
superbus
Apr. 20th, 2009 03:43 am (UTC)
Consider your average young soldier/sailor. Are you seeing ANYTHING "paternal"?

When push comes to shove, young soldiers - especially the type of person that joins the military nowadays - become savages.
(Deleted comment)
superbus
Apr. 20th, 2009 03:54 am (UTC)
It's not ingrained for men to rape women; I think I showed that's more common than we would like to admit. So I think "nature" doesn't really play into this, not in that regard.
(Deleted comment)
superbus
Apr. 20th, 2009 03:56 am (UTC)
Irrelevant; if it's about power, why would I put a gender of human into that environment that has historically and societally been shoehorned into being weak?
superbus
Apr. 20th, 2009 03:42 am (UTC)
I'd be more open if a woman could hit a man's physical requirements; however, women have much less to do in terms of getting past fitness trials. I'd say, do them, AND a weightlifting test (because military requirements only specify push-ups, sit-ups and running).
dmajohnson
Apr. 20th, 2009 03:37 am (UTC)
You should tag this entry so that others--and yourself--can find it in the future.

Unless, of course, you want to write this all over again in a few months or so.
superbus
Apr. 20th, 2009 03:38 am (UTC)
Why would I re-write it?

And that's what memorable entries are for.
dmajohnson
Apr. 20th, 2009 03:41 am (UTC)
Why would I re-write it?

Because things get lost in the shuffle of time. No kidding, this is like the tenth time I've heard this exact same speech. :P

And that's what memorable entries are for.

Doesn't help others find it as much as you.
superbus
Apr. 20th, 2009 03:42 am (UTC)
The fact that I've had to say this shit so "often", despite generally the same group of people reading me, is indicative that not many people seem to have a good memory about this shit. :P
(Deleted comment)
superbus
Apr. 20th, 2009 03:46 am (UTC)
There~
dmajohnson
Apr. 20th, 2009 03:49 am (UTC)
See, that wasn't so hard now, was it.
sarajayechan
Apr. 20th, 2009 03:52 am (UTC)
My two cents
The problem is with the attitudes against gays and women, not gays and women themselves. Instead of keeping them off the front lines, people should think more about trying to nip these attitudes in the bud and stop the inappropriate behavior of rape and beatings.
superbus
Apr. 20th, 2009 03:55 am (UTC)
Re: My two cents
I think that will come eventually. With that said, I do not think the military should be the organization that's putting this forward.
buddhamike
Apr. 20th, 2009 11:06 am (UTC)
I understand your position. I think though that if someone wants to put their life on the line for this country, let them, regardless of sex or sexuality.
samuraiter
Apr. 20th, 2009 11:33 am (UTC)
Well, I do know where you're coming from, 'Bus, and your reasoning here is sound. Of course, I don't agree with it, but you've done your homework, so I can't rail on it. ;-)

My own opinion is that these alpha male knuckle-draggers you describe should be purposely placed in a state of discomfort, wherever they are. It's not their world any more, if it ever was. Gays are everywhere. Women are everywhere. (Well, they've always been everywhere, but they can no longer be shut away.) There is no space for the Insular Man ™, and, even if there is, it's shrinking. Darwin has ruled against these guys in the long run; it's just taking them a long time to go away. They'll cling to whatever comfort zone they can retain, even if it means, y'know, having to go fight and die.

This, of course, is why I'm not in charge of the military.
otosaretatenshi
Apr. 20th, 2009 03:55 pm (UTC)
Didn't you make this entry already? :O
shotglass
Apr. 20th, 2009 05:31 pm (UTC)
You've made this basic entry before, and I'm pretty sure I've made this comment before, but I honestly agree with you (except not so much with the gays, but my view on that is that once society's attitude as a whole changes and these people get into the military, obviously the military will change. so there's not much that can be done except to try to change society's views -- basically, you can't go top-down on this issue -- you have to go bottom-up or you're putting people in a deadly situation just for the sake of activism). This is a huge problem in the police force and in firefighting, too. You've got these 5'3" 110lb women who couldn't drag me out of a burning building not only trying to do a strenuous, dangerous job, but often also doing it with a chip on their shoulders. That's asking for disaster.

This wouldn't irk me quite so much except that they can't pass the men's test. They have to pass an easier test. The reason those standards are in place is not to make people feel good about themselves -- it's to ensure that lives are being saved. So lowering the standards for a certain group means that that group will cease to be as effective. Same problem with the military and the mentally ill, which I don't think I even have to go into for people to get the point that you're asking for dead soldiers.

There comes a point when function and safety for all involved supersede "discriminatory."

Edited at 2009-04-20 05:39 pm (UTC)
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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