Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Gay-Eye Joe

     What?? You come up with a better title.

     MSNBC (a combination I've never really understood) is reporting today that due to recruiting problems in the military, a new push is on to allow openly gay soldiers to serve. This tells us two things. 1) June 15 is a sloooow news day. 2) the military as a Republican bastion may be under attack.
     It was pretty painful to watch, 12 years ago, as the Clinton administration tried to get the US military to stop the gay witch hunt it had been conducting for 50 years. Bowing to Republican pressure, he adopted the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" rule. It must have been a good compromise, because it made everybody pretty unhappy. In truth, it was a huge step ahead of where gays had been in the past, when the military would conduct investigations to actively find homosexual men, even if they were keeping it hidden.
     I'm sure you're going to guess which side of the fence I fall on. And you're correct. But I do empathize with the argument that adding sexual tension to a unit could be disruptive. Historically, the armed forces have been pretty asexual. That is, except for the occasional hooker, there was no sex in the military. Adding openly homosexual soldiers to the mix would change that dynamic. But that's where my empathy ends. I know that change is hard (no pun intended). But you shouldn't exclude 55% percent of Americans because you are scared to change. That's right - 55%. 5% gay people, and 50% women. Why else would women not be allowed to serve? Because Congress can't afford tampons in the desert?
     Newsweek magazine had a story very recently about the compartmentalization of our military in society. In World War II, 6% of Americans were in uniform at one time or another. I don't think there were Americans who didn't know someone involved. Today, I don't know a single person who has been to Iraq and only one person who has even a chance of going. Recruitment is way down. Enlistment bonuses now can exceed $100,000 (although a good portion of that is in benefits, such as free tuition, not cash). But re-enlistment is up. The people who are serving are more likely than ever before to have parents and other family members who serve or served. In other words, our military is becoming more removed from society at large. There are 2 main trends that can change this. The first is the tendency of immigrants to sign up. Minorities make up the majority of the military (say that five times fast), but the vast minority of its leadership. When that starts to change, so will our military. The second is the emergence of women and gays, two otherwise forbidden classes of people who are breaking in to the system inch by inch. (Still, no pun intended) This will change the military even faster, because once these people start getting into uniform, they can't be bought off with schooling or citizenship. They will want to reach the top.
     It's difficult to understand why in a world where we are desperate to find talented linguists and analysts and fighting men and women, we're rejecting people whose crime is not being attracted to the opposite sex. A return to the asexual military won't happen - can't happen. It may have been somewhat true in WWII, but by Vietnam, sex was everywhere - with the nurses, with the South Vietnamese. If having babies with the local population isn't distracting to your military mission, I don't know what is. My prediction is that tomorrow's military will be like that in Starship Troopers, only hopefully without the bugs.

20 comments:

Ben said...

I think you're wrong about women in the military. There are plenty of women in the military, they are not turned down when they want to join. Sure, they don't let them in combat, and that's probably not a bad idea, at least in infantry situations. A woman in a tank is as valuable as a man, but a woman on foot toting a big gun, with a few exceptions, is simply not going to be able to equal a man. I'm also pretty sure that unmarried women in the military had plenty of sex with other military men.

I'd also like to know where you get this idea that the military is a Republican bastion. Do you have anything to back that up? Until the 60's, the typical Democrat wasn't any less hawkish than the typical Republican. Maybe if people like Carter and Clinton hadn't done so much to drain the military and our intelligence services, then we wouldn't be having so many problems now.

Obviously I don't have a problem with gay people at all, but if I'm living in barracks and have to listen to a couple of guys getting it on every night, then yes, I might become less enthused. That said, sure, let them in.

It is kind of funny how many generalizations you make about the military, considering you've never been a part of it. Neither have I, but I've heard plenty of stories from my father.

Scott said...

You just want to be disagreeable, don't you? Recent polls have showed that 70% of military voters voted Republican in the last election. What the hell does that have to do with Democrats being hawkish in the 60's???

scorcho said...

Hi Ben. I hope no one (Scott) minds me randomly posting here.

I'm an Ensign in the Dental Corps of the US Navy. Women make up 14% of the Navy, altogether. The highest percentages are in the health and medical fields, with 62% of the nurse corps being female, etc etc. These days nearly 90% of positions in the Navy are open to women - the exceptions being combat, and I think submarine tours are still off-limits. If I were to make an educated guess here, I'd conclude that on the whole, women are encouraged to enter positions in health-related fields and service fields. I cannot say whether or not this is a bad thing: it's nice to have a larger female representation in officers' corps, but at the same time there are positions that women could easily succeed in that are still off-limits.

I will mention though, that I had to sign paperwork about 4 different times assuring that I was not homoseuxal, and that I would not encourage homosexuality, inquire as to the sexuality of others, or engage in activity of a homosexual nature. Although it might be different for enlistees, officers are permitted (with the exception of fraternizing on base) to engage in whatever kind of association with other officers of equal rank, so long as it's not "of a controversial nature."

My dad was a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy Medical Corps as well, and knew of plenty of gay officers who never seemed to encounter any problems, and no one seemed to care. The problem is that since then, instead of increasing in open-mindedness and respect for others, which one would assume plays a role in the advancement of a civilization, we have begun using the Bible and "morality" to point the finger at homosexuals and thus make the decision that they could cause discomfort or disruption, ergo are unfit for military service. We make the assumption that because a man (or woman) is gay, that he or she will certainly be having sex constantly in the barracks in the middle of the night while the rest of the troops are trying to sleep (or checking you in out the shower), as opposed to waiting for the next night shift, when one can instead seduce a young native girl, which is okay because it's not homosexual interaction.

Mike said...

Personally I like the "don't ask don't tell" policy. Why does it matter? A person's sexuality should have no effect on their performance or what is expected of them. I think anyone found having sex in the military (unless on leave) should be punished whether homo or heterosexual sex. They are there to do a job and expected to be ready on a moments notice 24 hours a day. You and I can't have sex while we're expected to be on the job, why should they be any different? But when they are off duty it shouldn't matter.

I don't think women belong on the battlefield. You put your best team on the field. A football coach doesn't put a 135 lb guy at left tackle in the name of "equal opportunity". You don't put a guy who runs a 5.2 40 at widereceiver to fill a quota. I object to giving women different (lesser) standards to qualify for combat duty. There should be one set of standards that everyone has to meet. But no woman should be turned away who wants to serve her country. There are plenty of positions at domestic bases where they can serve with honor.

My final point, which I'll try to make brief, is I think you're flipping it around calling the military a "Republican bastion". I think the military is mostly republican for the simple fact the democrats hate the military ever since Vietnam. They are anti-war peaceniks. No peacenik is going to join the military and that is why the military is mostly Republican. It's too bad because the democratic party used to be strong on national defense. JFK was probably their last great man who spoke with pride of the military and his service in it. Now they best they can do is John Kerry who trashed the troops once he got back on this side of the ocean.

Scott said...

I really don't understand your objection to the word bastion, which means "stonghold" or "fortress". If the military votes 70% Republican - heck, if it votes 60% Republican, it's a fortress of Republican votes. If it were a state it would be redder than Utah and South Carolina combined. And yeah, some of the reasons are what Mike mentioned. I actually had meant to talk about how different the military would look if we never fought Vietnam. How that war turned off a whole generation to the military. But that being said, gays don't vote Republican, with very few exceptions. So I think it's fair to say if there were more gays in the military, it would be less Republican. You people pick the weirdest things to argue about.
Welcome, Scorcho! Of course I don't mind. The more the merrier. I actually have a cousin who did what you're doing. He was young enough to miss Vietnam, and he was a dentist in the army for a few years. Long enough to pay for him to become an endodontist.

Alisa said...

As a woman in the Marine Corps who spent six years in an Infantry Regiment providing logistical support, I feel I have a bird's eye view of this situation.

No, women shouldn't be in the infantry. They do disrupt the dynamics within the team that are essential to mission accomplishment. But to not allow us the combat support roles we play is ludicrous (and thank god that idea just got politically shot down).

We are no longer engaging in wars with definitive "front lines" and as per the Marine Corps standards, the Female Recruits have the exact same training as the Male Recruits and often train right beside them (swim qualification, rifle range, rappel tower, bivouac, etc). We also go through the same 17 day combat training that the non-infantry males go through.

Are we qualified to handle ourselves in a combat situation? Yes, as we have passed the exact same training that the men have. And women traditionally do better on average on the rifle range than their male counterparts do (as an FYI).

Having said this, and going back to the point I was making about the front lines, there are none. Anyone who goes overseas to Iraq or Afghanistan will have to be able to utilize their combat training regardless of gender. Supply convoys (which women are a part of) are one of the most dangerous activities, outside of the door to door assaults that have been staged in various cities.

As far as homosexuality is concerned, I can see the issues behind that. If you have a "couple" in a team, the emotional ties between said "couple" could easily interfere with the dynamics of the team (as having a woman on board would do). I can also see the hate crimes that would be committed against openly gay individuals. I personally, do not have a problem with homosexual individuals, but I can see the problems that they could have in the military environment. As long as the guy in the fighting hole next to me doesn't stand up, wave and shout "heeeee---eeeeeyyyy" I am okay with them.

Now... in regard to military having sex... uhm, we ARE humans and we do what every other person does (eating, breathing, sleeping), to include having sex and *gasp* starting families. The military has swung around and is becoming a more family-centric community and this is aiding in retention numbers, as the military can actually be a good life for a family.

In regard to minorities: who cares? We all bleed the same color and we all have the same job to perform.

Ben said...

I just wanted to clarify my comment about gay men having sex at night in the barracks... I just figured that if I lived in a multi-sex barracks, I'd have no problem having sex in the middle of the night with a woman right there in the barracks, so I don't know why two gay men wouldn't. Anyplace a horny hetero guy will have sex, is the same place two gay men would. Anytime I see a hot woman, I'm at least tempted to hit on her, thus I don't see why a gay man wouldn't want to hit on any hot guy he sees. Therefore I don't think it's so intolerant for me not to want to sleep in barracks with gay men.

As far as my comment on Republicans running the military.... Yes, the troops are majority Republican, but the Army, as Mike said, is Republican only because left-wingers seem to hate the military. I think it's a great fallacy for anyone to say that military culture or policies are Republican, however. When Scott said "bastion," I took that to mean Republican run and controlled. That's true right now, but only because the Commander-
in-Chief that the people voted in is a Republican.

Scott said...

Ben, remind me never to sleep in the same room as you.

Mike said...

Suppose Hillary wins in 2008. Do you think overseas military people get absentee ballots in 2012?

Ben: "I would have no problem having sex...with a woman right there in the barracks."

Yeah, if he could find a woman to have sex with him.

Hahaha j/k dude. Actually I've heard some scary stories of some pretty loose women making $50,000 on a six month cruise in the Navy.

scorcho said...

Ben, you'd have a couple of problems having sex in the middle of the night in the barracks, the most obvious being needing a consenting partner. The other, of course, would be verbal reprimand, court-martial, or having to sit out Saturday-night Parcheese.

scorcho said...

Damnit, mike posted the joke at the same exact time I did. I wonder how many people are sharing the same thought?

Sylvana said...

Mike, Democrats don't hate the military. That's just ignorant. Democrats value the lives of the people who so generously committ themselves to helping their country. They don't believe that these people's lives should be taken lightly, so there had better be a damn good reason to go to war and there better be strong evidence to back up those reasons, not just some shit someone mad up to get their way.

I personally think that a standard should be set that relates to the job. Whoever can pass those standards should be allowed to perform the job. Those standards should not include things that are NOT related to the job, such as being male or being heterosexual. Really, what does that have to do with performing the job at hand?

I don't know why whenever "gay" is mentioned people assume that all they do all day and night is have sex. Seriously, grow up!

Mike said...

Just to refresh your memory, President Clinton said Saddam had WMD's years ago. The UN said Saddam had WMD's years ago long before Bush was sworn in. So who exactly made it up?

And if democrats love the military so much, why does the military vote go overwhelmingly Republican? It just doesn't add up. The line "we support the troops but not the war" is hogwash. Nobody buys it. You're telling those troops they are getting shot at for nothing.

Sorry we're getting off topic here.

alex said...

Scot first off i think you need to check your facts. Minorities do not make up the majority of the military.

Of males in the military as of 2001 the exact number was

65.6 white (army)
58.6 white (navy)
68.4 white (marines)
72.7 white (air force)

this is among males

for women

48.2 white (army)
50.3 white (navy)
60.5 white (marines)
61.4 white (airforce)

I say this because it seems to be a common myth among the left that the military is mostly minorities. As for women being in the military they are already allowed in the military and i fully support this. I do not think they should serve in front line infantry units because of the unique needs of these units in combat. I do think that women should serve in combat support roles and even in aircraft including combat aircraft and this seems to be the direction that the military is heading. As for gays in the military the issue i belive has more to do with trust and comfort between fellow soldier then worry about sex in the barracks. The worry i believe is the same as with a woman serving in a unit you are in a situation in combat were life and death decision are made all the time and at any moment fellow soldiers can be killed or wounded. It is generally tough enuogh for soldiers to loose friends much less someone that they are more emotionally attached to such as a lover. (imagine if you were in a combat unit and your wife was killed before your eyes, do you think that you would then be able to continue functioning effectivly as a soldier). I understand that gay men and women serve in the military and many of them with distinction but because they are not in a position to become romantic with other people in there unit this reduces the chances of those soldiers becoming ineffective because of losses of platoon mates.

Ben said...

I never said gay people want to have sex all the time. They probably want to have it as often as I would like to (but don't always get to), which is a quite often. In other words, I think of gay people as like me, except they want to have the sex with people of the same gender. If I thought they wanted to have less sex, that would be bigoted, thinking they are different in any way other than their choice of partners.

Not having lived in a barracks, I don't know much about how they worked. I guess I just assumed a soldier could bring back a girl he met at a bar, or on R&R or whatever, but apparantely not. At least not without a court martial.

Mike.... The WMD thing is frustrating, isn't it? It wasn't a lie when Kerry said it, or the U.N., or Clinton. It's only a lie when Bush said it, because they want to score political points against him. It doesn't even fit the definition of lie, since a lie is a DELIBERATE statement of non-truth. Hard to lie when you are saying what you think is true.

Mike said...

I know, Ben. They only choose to see the facts that benefity them. They are taking advantage of the fact Bush had to make a tough choice and he had the balls to do the right thing. Sometimes I think if Bush made a statement that the sky is blue Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi would have a press conference on the steps of the capitol to say "Bush discriminates against clouds."

Ben said...

Just think if he hadn't gone in to Iraq. Right now, this very second, we would be arguing about how we've left the Iraqis to live under a horrible fate, and allowed Saddam to get WMDs. They'd be whining that we haven't done enough to fight terrorism or spread freedom and democracy. It's impossible to win if people have decided to castigate you no matter what you do.

Scott said...

Maybe if we hadn't gone into Iraq, Osama bin Laden would be on trial right now. Certainly nobody would be talking about Iraq or their WMD's, since it was Bush that brought them up in the first place.

Ben said...

Hmmm.... I seem to remember somehting like 18 UN resolutions regarding WMD, as well as Clinton, Kofi, and Blair, and many others saying a bit about it. But it wouldn't fit with your agenda to acknowledge that. Selective memory is nice, but makes you look foolish.

Also it has little to do with not catching Osama. Latest intelligence was that he's in Pakistan, and they will not let our military in. Or would you have us invade the sovereign territory of a country whose government does not opress their people?

Mike said...

Well since we fought two empires in Europe and the Pacific at the same time in WWII, I think we can handle Iraq and looking for Bin Laden. Besides, looking for Bin Laden is more of a job for the intelligence community and special forces. So I don't think it's fair to assume we would have captured Bin Laden by now had we not invaded Iraq, but it makes a nice political talking point.