March 10, 2005

Dean Thinks

. . . that we may be reaching the tipping point in terms of throwing out this silly, destructive "don't ask, don't tell" policy in our armed forces.

About flippin' time.

Posted by Attila at March 10, 2005 02:01 AM

Do the gay men shower with the men or the women?
Do the lesbians shower with the men or the women?

Here's a very real "order and discipline" question:

Should a person be put in the position of having to undress and shower in front of a person/people who openly find them sexually attractive? What if that includes someone that has openly made sexual/romantic advances? Would you want to put your daughter or son in that situation?

If a gay man can go into the gang shower and get an eyeful of naked beef, can I go get to shower with the 22 year old girls in the unit?

If not, then why not?

Actually, I would be seriously uncomfortable whether it was the gay men or the 22 year old girls and I don't think it's unnatural to feel that way.

The last time I was off at the war we took a young lady with us. She was a real trooper and we men vigilantly protected her privacy from any chance of predatory voyeurism. We also made sure not to expose ourselves to her.

The current policy is a half-hearted attempt to protect all of us from predatory voyeurism.

On many bases, we have policies that keep men and women in separate barracks. This is for "good order and discipline." Barring young men from their barracks helps protect the young ladies. We get lots of congressional attention when some guy misbehaves.

4 sets of barracks/showers don't do it either. If all the gay men are in the same barracks to have at each other, how is it consistent to separate straight men and women by gender?

So we are left with one equitable solution. Everyone showers with everyone.

Posted by: Ironcross11 at March 12, 2005 08:51 PM

This has been discussed a lot on blogs I frequent. It's certainly the most difficult issue for a lot of people. I know that Cassandra of Villainous Company has struggled with it, because she has had to deal with disciplinary problems that crop up in a heterosexual context, and this sounds extra-complex to her—and to many others as well. We've had some spirited exchanges over at Beautiful Atrocities on this very subject; you might go over there and do a search if you'd like to read them.

I can only give a partial answer, not having a military background myself. But here are some thoughts:

1) Gay men and lesbians are not more sexual than other people. I'm not saying you were implying this, but it's something to bear in mind as you think about this issue.

2) There are already gay men and lesbians who are serving, and for many of them it's awkward to have to be secretive (which is a different thing than being discreet).

3) The primary reason for joining the military for gays and lesbians is to serve their country—just as it is with straights. The intention is not to ogle people in the shower. (Mostly, of course. There are jerks in every demographic.)

4) You include the notion of young soldiers/sailors/Marines having to shower with others who have made sexual or romantic advances, but surely permitting that sort of thing is not considered good "order and discipline" among straight soldiers/sailors/Marines, is it? Isn't an inappropriate advance a reportable offense? Do you need to re-examine an assumption that gays/lesbians are more likely than straights to make inappropriate advances?

5) I'm often told that men find it more difficult than women to "turn the channel," that they are turned on by visual stimuli, cannot help it, and often act on it. But I'm not so sure: after all, if that were the case—if adult males were as wanton as I'm told they are—a lot more of them would have made advances toward their teenaged daughters, whom I'm sure they occasionally glimpse getting out of the shower. I know this is an ooky thing to say, but I'm making the point that men can program themselves to respect society's boundaries. If it's clear what is a "no-no," they will neither look nor touch. Mostly. (For the rest, we have the military justice system.)

6) Most gays and lesbians have grown up taking showers with the same sex, in high school, and know how to cope. They are perfectly capable of keeping their eyes to themselves; they've had years of practice.

7) I'm not so sure that naked people are sexier than partially clothed people: it seems that the people looking are far more intrigued when things are hidden than when they are shown.

8) It's my understanding that straight people have suffered under the "don't ask, don't tell" rules, because others can accuse them of being gay and it's difficult to defend against. This encourages the "office politics" to ferment.

9) I see no justification for the extreme things that have happened in the name of "don't ask, don't tell." Firing translators? Firing Arabic and Farsi translators? That has nothing to do with taking showers at all: it's just pure prejudice, and it's hurting our ability to fight the War on Terror.

It's the guys we're fighting who value women's privacy to the point that we are supposed to bundle up lest you guys glimpse a bit of leg and be driven mad by desire.

I'm a Westerner, and I think as a whole we represent a more optimistic view of human nature.

Hope this helps.

Posted by: Attila Girl at March 13, 2005 12:58 AM

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