My Photo

« The Speech | Main | Isn't It Ironic? »

July 24, 2008

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d834515c2369e200e553b72ff68833

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Don't Ask, Don't Tell:

Comments

I have never understood why it's different when gay men and lesbians enter the picture.

I think it's a question of strength in numbers. If the bigots greatly outnumber the people they're bigoted against, it's simpler to give in and let them have their way. It's a lot easier to discharge- or force into the closet- the smaller number of gay soldiers than to punish the larger population of homophobes. It's a workable argument if you care nothing about fairness or decency and consider attitudes toward homosexuality as fixed rather than changeable. I'm sure that it's also a compelling rationalization for decision makers who want to justify their own bigotry.

"I have never understood why it's different when gay men and lesbians enter the picture."

Because Teh Gay squicks homophobes, of course. It's icky.

Then there's the religious fundamentalism.

Those are the two answers, so far as I'm aware. The rest is rationalization.

I think most people know this, and consider it so obvious as to not be worth stating, but sometimes I like to put the obvious on the record.

"Apparently, there were fireworks, and perhaps in a different mood I might enjoy poking fun at them."

My favorite part:

Donnelly treated the panel to an extraordinary exhibition of rage. She warned of "transgenders in the military." She warned that lesbians would take pictures of people in the shower. She spoke ominously of gays spreading "HIV positivity" through the ranks.

[...]

Rep. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.) labeled her statement "just bonkers" and "dumb," and he called her claims about an HIV menace "inappropriate." Said Snyder: "By this analysis . . . we ought to recruit only lesbians for the military, because they have the lowest incidence of HIV in the country."

This was another Dana Milbank Sketch, btw.

There is nothing better than seeing hatred aired in an open forum and shown baldly for what it is. Even the conservatives on the panel were disgusted with Ms. Donnely and did their best to distance themselves from her. It was quite amazing.

NOthing to refute in this post, it's perfect. But I will add that Ms. Donnelly has really weird views about the modern military.

I saw a reference to this hearing elsewhere on the net, and it's a nice reminder that the "Ms. Donnelly" Rep. Murphy is addressing is none other than Elaine Donnelly , President of the "organization" the Center for Military Readiness : a group (reeking of astroturf) whose main purpose seem to be collecting and disseminating scaremongering articles not only arguing against allowing gays to serve in the military, but also for restricting the role of women in the armed services in general, as well.

Really, is this the best "advocate" the DADT-pushers could come up with?

Ooops! LT Nixon beat me to it while I was collecting links... sorrry!

If there were any justice in the world, Victor Davis Hanson would be tasked with explaining the Sacred Band of Thebes to Ms. Donnelly.

Oh come on, hilzoy.

I have never understood why it's different when gay men and lesbians enter the picture.

Because they're undercutting gender norms, *DUH*. And because an enormous amount of the emotional point of soldiery -- for the past umpty-thousand years -- has been that it is masculine, it is a job for *men*, and by taking it you prove you are a man. Which is one reason the same people who are opposed to gays in the military are opposed to women in the military. Violence is supposed to be a prerogative of men -- where "men" are "males acting out appropriate gender norms".

I'm sorry, I do not believe that a thoughtful person like yourself truly doesn't know where the emotional objection to gays in the military comes from. How can you *not* know?!? Do you need to re-read "The Red Badge of Courage" or "The Iliad" or "War and Peace" or "Othello"?

What *do* they teach them in these schools?

Dr. Science, I take your point, but I'm pretty sure The Iliad is a suboptimal choice for this argument.

Dr. Science: Hmm. When I wrote that, I didn't mean that I didn't know what might make people object. It's that I didn't see how why letting homophobia get the better of me isn't exactly the same as if I, for instance, despised someone in my platoon for, oh, cheating on his wife, and let that get in the way of doing my job. It wasn't psychological bafflement; it was normative.

I have never understood why it's different when gay men and lesbians enter the picture.

The reason, Hilzoy, is that you don’t want your troops having sex with each other. It is a distraction from what they are supposed to be doing. The pointy-edge-of-the-sword types are all men.

We had a guy who was gay, kept it quiet, and everything worked out fine. If he was free to express his feelings towards others, it would not have worked out fine.

There was one other guy, and his name really was Mohammed, who took to sitting in the bathroom stall and watching people take showers. He was removed for his own safety, among other things.

Jake:

I included The Iliad in part because it has *different* gender norms, but the same upshot: Real Men are Fightin' Men, and vise versa.

It's that I didn't see how why letting homophobia get the better of me isn't exactly the same as if I, for instance, despised someone in my platoon for, oh, cheating on his wife, and let that get in the way of doing my job.

Well, that depends on what your job is, doesn't it? If you were both accountants, then you would certainly not want to work with someone who cheated on her personal taxes -- moral turpitude at home would be a reasonable predictor of moral turpitude at work.

The reason people like Ms. Donnelly don't want gays or women in the military is that they feel the military is supposed to uphold and exemplify gender norms, that's their *job*.

What's interesting is that times have changed to the point where even she can't just *say* that, she has to flail around looking for another reason.

It wasn't psychological bafflement; it was normative.

omigosh it's late, and I have no idea what you mean by that.

We had a guy who was gay, kept it quiet, and everything worked out fine. If he was free to express his feelings towards others, it would not have worked out fine.

Yeah, well, we had a couple of gay dudes on my boat (a submarine where just walking around is a burden unto itself due to the space constrictions), everyone knew they were gay, and no one particularly gave a shit. Of course the Navy is often characterized as being teh ghey branch (see the Village People).

Doctor Science: Because they're undercutting gender norms, *DUH*. And because an enormous amount of the emotional point of soldiery -- for the past umpty-thousand years -- has been that it is masculine, it is a job for *men*, and by taking it you prove you are a man. Which is one reason the same people who are opposed to gays in the military are opposed to women in the military. Violence is supposed to be a prerogative of men -- where "men" are "males acting out appropriate gender norms".

Which is why "Don't Ask Don't Tell" is disproportionally evoked against women - and generally, against women who are good soldiers. (When I was 20 or so, I knew half a dozen women in the military quite well: within five years, every single one had been given a dishonorable discharge.)

A woman who is a good soldier offends gender norms as much as a lesbian does.

Similiar kinds of reasons, I would guess, the disproportionate number of Arabic translators who were fired for being gay represents not a disproportionate number of gays but a disproportionate amount of anti-Arab feeling in the military.

"We had a guy who was gay, kept it quiet, and everything worked out fine. If he was free to express his feelings towards others, it would not have worked out fine."

LTNixon has already addressed this. However: if it would not have been fine, I would blame the people who caused the problem, and your leadership for not preventing it, and making sure that your unit was fully professional.

I had bigger problems than defending the sexual freedoms of young Mohammed Hilzoy. The job is not easy. You work long hours. There is sweat involved.

He was a dummy anyway.

I want to qualify my statement Hilzoy. I spent hours and hours getting Mohammed through his qualifications. More time than any of Mohammed’s peers. He seemed to want to learn. I felt good about myself.

In all other cases, we assume that given a choice between two soldiers, one of whom is trying to complete his mission to the best of his ability, and one of whom is unable or unwilling to put his animosity aside and do his job, we choose the first.

That’s exactly right, exactly on the money.

It’s (past) time to end the nonsense.

Two days ago (July 23, 2008) was the 60th anniversary of President Truman’s signing of Executive Order 9981 which integrated the U.S. armed forces.

Nothing would be more fitting to celebrate the anniversary than another executive order dealing with this nonsense.

All of the objections to homosexuals in the military seem to fall into two groups:

1) Those (the vast majority) which are identical to those which could have been made, with at least as much justification, to racial integration of the military in the middle of the last century. Fortunately, President Truman did not worry about that.

2) Those concerning homosexual advances which might be made to individuals who are not inclined to accept. Which amount to saying "Oh horrors! If we enforce the regs against sexual harassment of people of the same sex, we might have to enforce them when it comes to heterosexual harassment. Which would be just way too inconvenient."

Somehow, I just can work up any sympathy for either.

The difference to everything else (save perhaps race) is that this is about sexuality and hence comes into play e.g. with touching, which is in turn a somewhat intimate thing and hence in turn harder to modify. Same for women in the military really.
When I'm lusting for my fellow office drone being professional about it is made a lot easier by the fact that we don't have to spend hours pressed together in the same foxhole. Or shower together in emergencies.
That said, it is of course nonsense, but so are seperate toilets for men and women. If I can feel sympathy for a women disinclined to sleep where she must expect to be oogled when changing clothes, surely I can muster the same sympathy for men.

Or shower together in emergencies.

The only emergency shower situation I can think of is NBC decontamination. And trust me – sex or even just ogling are going to the last thing on your mind. ;)

If I can feel sympathy for a women disinclined to sleep where she must expect to be oogled when changing clothes, surely I can muster the same sympathy for men.

The answer, presumably, would be to have regulations against sexual harassment, and strict standards of professional behavior, enforced by discipline and by example.

I wonder if anyone in the military has ever thought of that solution?

I've experienced the annoyance, worry, and bother of dealing with Clueless Het Guy. More than once, and quite recently. Clueless Het Guy is in my experience much more common than Scary Rapist Guy or Scary Stalker Guy.

But a good dose of military indoctrination that regardless of what you feel for one of your fellow soldiers, you will not under any circumstances allow your feelings to disturb them would do Clueless Het Guy a world of good.

I got it. I was merely trying to answer hilzoy's question "Why is this different?".

On the matter, "more discipline, more regulations" ranks up there with "more willpower". Large segments of the population of either gender will never be comfortable having to change/sleep/shower in the same room with people whom the suspect/expect to be sexually attacted to them, no matter how much discipline you apply. I say "though shit", justice, fairness and equality trump their squeamishness, but then again I don't have to meet any recruitment quota.

Large segments of the population of either gender will never be comfortable having to change/sleep/shower in the same room with people whom the suspect/expect to be sexually attacted to them, no matter how much discipline you apply.

I wonder if there's a way to convert "They're not that into you" into marching cadence.

Large segments of the population of either gender will never be comfortable having to change/sleep/shower in the same room with people whom they suspect/expect to be sexually attacted to them, no matter how much discipline you apply.

If true, they'll need to sack all the straight soldiers, since they're apparently incapable of learning how to deal with this in a grown-up fashion, and recruit only LGB soldiers. Simple.

I honestly never thought people join the military because they want to be comfortable.

Bigotry is the principal driving force behind opposing gays in the military just as it is the principal force behind the various state anti-marriage constitutional amendments. Many of the people I know have a viscerally negative view of gay people generally, yet paradoxically, have gay friends, colleagues, family members, etc. with whom they do just fine. Yet these same people would and do deny gays the right to a legally cognizable lifetime union, perhaps the single most important thing for most people there is. Pairing seems to be a near universal phenomena, and the need to so seems as nearly as fundamental as one's sexuality.

Yet, acknowledging all of that, and more, there is more to gay military service than either side addresses. Leaving aside the issues of bigotry and ignorance, there is the matter of sexuality and forced intimacy that proponents of gay military service fail to address sufficiently by taking generally one of two views: (1) they simply sidestep the issue and instead focus on selected, sympathetic examples of a stellar soldier/sailor being, seemingly, arbitrarily discharged by the military. The premise of 'don't ask, don't tell' is that a gay person cannot be asked, and if the gay person does not make disclosure, no action is taken. I have yet to see a sympathetic presentation of an involuntarily separated gay service person that fully discloses how the gay person was outed. Usually, in the fine print, the person self-outed, thus inviting involuntary separation--the point I am making here is not that forced suppression of one's identity is a good policy, simply that 'don't ask, don't tell' doesn't get people kicked out unless they somehow disclose their orientation (at least that is the official policy); (2) the issues of intimacy and sexuality are dismissed as mere matters of command discipline. There is more to it than that. Andrew Sullivan has written extensively on gay male sexuality. My take on what he says is that, unlike heterosexuals, with both sides of the equations being testosterone-fueled, the sexual energy level is much higher. Another point Sullivan makes is that gay men are just like straight men, except that their focus is men, not women. Against that background, we don't let male soldiers shower with female soldiers, for reasons that are painfully self-evident. Yet, proponents of permitting openly, sexually active gay men to serve alongside straight men in precisely analogous circumstances act as if this is hardly even an issue that merits serious discussion.

It is a fact, one that is as immutable as any person's sexuality, that straight men do not harbor secret gay desires just as, presumably, gay men do not harbor secret straight desires. Whatever gay men feel about being personally intimate with a woman (and I have no idea what that might be), the vast majority of straight men could no more be intimate with another man than they could with their own sister or mother. A significant facet of this very real fact is that straight men do not have any desire to be anywhere around overt gay intimacy. They are just fine with heterosexual intimacy, but not the gay angle. This isn't going to change any more than we can rewire anyone's sexual orientation, so whether it is right, wrong or indifferent is beside the point.

Highly-charged, testosterone-fueled young gay males in a shower or other intimate setting with other men is the same as putting equally sexually-charged young straight men in similar settings with women. Bad things will happen. It is a certainty. Pretending otherwise is foolish. In this regard, gay is different than race. Hilzoy's rhetorical sally, "I have never understood why it's different when gay men and lesbians enter the picture" has a clear answer--sexuality is behavioral in the most intimate, fundamental sense and skin color is a matter of pigmentation, period.

So, while I favor the armed services being open to gay people in a context where, for example, a gay person's loved one is openly listed as spouse or next-of-kin, and just as I favor women serving in any MOS for which they are physically qualified, there is a very real need for a frank and explicit understanding of just how openly gay people can serve. For instance, it must be crystal clear that unwanted sexual advances between members of the same sex are subject to immediate discipline and that repeat offenders will be discharged. Gay service members will be judged, to a degree, differently. We cannot reasonably expect young men to share a shower with another young man, who, like the one someone described above, spends inordinate amounts of time in the men's room seemingly ogling his fellow soldiers (if someone believes this won't happen, please explain why gay men are different than straight men in this regard--if, at the age of 18, I'd been given free access to the women's bathroom in my dorm, I'd have never left). Evaluating this kind of behavior is inherently subjective and will produce myriad problematical situations for military authorities, already stretched to the breaking point, to deal with. I am convinced that the vast majority of gays (and straights), in and out of the military, fully understand the boundaries, but just as there is no shortage of heterosexual boors, aggressors and predators, there is likely no shortage of counterparts on the gay side as well. The gay angle exacerbates the already sufficiently contentious milieu of sexual complaint and harassment, and pretending otherwise does neither side any credit.

If I'm not mistaken, a number of other armed forces -- the UK and Israel come to mind -- have had openly gay people serving for some years now. Why not find out how that has been working out for them? Have they been having any major problems or issues with it?

To my knowledge here in Germany they put all gays in one unit but that info may not be up to date.

Have they been having any major problems or issues with it?

No.

Civil partners in the military have identical legal rights and privileges to married couples. No one reports any difficulty with that, and I can think offhand of a couple of regimental weddings of same-sex couples.

Representatives of all three branches of the military marched in uniform at the recent Pride in London, with appropriately military demeanour and proper respect to the Cenotaph as they passed it. No one reports any difficulty with that.

The British Army just recently became the 400th member of Diversity Champions (the Navy and the Airforce had already joined), which is a "good practice forum in which employers can work with Stonewall, and each other, to promote lesbian, gay and bisexual equality in the workplace" - in practical terms, employers join when they know they have significant numbers of LGB employees and they want to make sure that (a) no one is being discriminated against for their sexual orientation and (b) LGB employees and potential applicants for employment know they are welcome in the organisation.

It's only been 8 years since homosexuality ceased to be cause for automatic discharge from the Forces. Hell, it's not a quarter of a century since LGB military could be sacked under threat of court martial. I don't doubt there are a lot of homophobic/transphobic people still serving, who make unofficial difficulties for the LGBT people under their command. I can think offhand of three or four such incidents that surfaced in the past five years, and that may mean 50 or a hundred more that didn't.

But it's significant, I think, that not one of those incidents came up in Iraq or Afghanistan or anywhere the UK military was on active service: they surfaced in the UK.

But you wouldn't expect conservative supporters of US practices to go look at successful reversals elsewhere, would you? That wouldn't be American exceptionalism at its best.

mckinney: For instance, it must be crystal clear that unwanted sexual advances between members of the same sex are subject to immediate discipline and that repeat offenders will be discharged.

Whereas women need to learn to put up with it for the privilege of serving, and nine-tenths of men who rape their fellow soldiers - so long as they pick women to rape - will not be prosecuted for doing so.

Got it. Men deserve the utmost protection from unwanted sexual advances. Women don't.

Seriously, mckinney, when straight men get all het up about how gay men are sexual predators, it usually turns out that they're arguing from how they would behave towards women if they were sharing a dorm or showers with women: it says more about the straight man who protests how awful it will be than it does about gay men.

It also says something about the US military's casual attitude towards men who rape women and other heterosexual male sexual offenders, of course: Judy Grahn reports this as standard fifty years ago as it is today.

Jesurgislac--get a grip amigo. The subject is gays in the military and its associated same-sex sexual friction. If we were addressing command rape or sexual harassment of women, I'd be all for hammering that too. Further, it's pretty damn clear that I reason from the fact that straight men are isolated from women for just cause and that the cause is analogous to gay/straight integration.

Your assurances of 'No problems' runs counter to logic and common sense. Are you suggesting that sexual predation and boorishness is solely the province of straight males?

And, if you think having men and women sharing the same showers wouldn't lead to instant friction, you are beyond convincing on any point. Few women would stand for it, and while many young men might, in theory find co-ed showers appealing, they'd end up being just as reticent as women.

I suspect that, in the main, gays and straights would serve together well, and I make that point. But pretending that there would not be very real problems mixing young, sexually-charged gay men with young, sexually-charged straight men is as irresponsible as believing putting men and women in close, intimate circumstances will not produce friction.


I love all this talk about the tender emotions of straight men.

Why exactly is it such a challenge to a man's masculinity to say NO to another man? Why should this be so hard? How is it that these guys can be cold-blooded marksmen but but but having the cajones to TURN SOMEONE DOWN is just too much to ask? For that, they need the government to step in and protect them from the gay menace.

Maybe the problem is that they just don't really WANT to say no.

mckinney: The subject is gays in the military and its associated same-sex sexual friction.

If the straight men currently serving in the US military are all a bunch of undisciplined fraidy-cats who neither have any sense of sexual mores with regard to the women they serve with, nor anticipate any sense of sexual mores once the gay/bi men they serve with are no longer forced to stay closeted, then I'm sure your rant at 11:05 am would have some point. Was that your point - that in the US military, the standards are so much lower than in the UK military?

I know probably just enough gay men to know that it would take a dose of pure testerone high enough to turn someone into the frigging Hulk to cause even the most hormone-addled gay adolescent to hit on one of his straight colleagues in any situation in which the almost-certain result is the ass-kicking of the century.

I know probably just enough gay men to know that it would take a dose of pure testerone high enough to turn someone into the frigging Hulk to cause even the most hormone-addled gay adolescent to hit on one of his straight colleagues in any situation in which the almost-certain result is the ass-kicking of the century.

QFT.

The issue whether gays should serve in the military should not depend to emergency contact info or even whether it’s fair. The question -the only question that matters- is whether allowing gays to serve openly would necessarily impair the combat effectiveness of US armed forces. If it did, then the ban should remain. It is that simple, and whether it would cause difficulty in some one's partner not being notified is totally irrelevant.

That said, I've yet to see a reasoned argument that allowing gays to serve openly would necessarily impair the combat effectiveness of US armed forces- the arguments seem to boil down to two:

1. it’s never been done before.

2. Gay sex is icky, icky, icky.

Those arguments don't work for me, and I suspect they don't work for most upright walking bipeds.

As for folks like Muhammad, who ogle folks in the shower, there are two ways of dealing with him: the official one of reporting him for sexual harassment and the unofficial route of the “blanket party". I suspect that both would be used to deal with such rare cases.
Gays serve openly in several armies already, including the super competent IDF. I suspect that the US military would find a way to make this work if they had to.

Coming back to this thread after sleep, etc., I'll say that I was just a little peeved that hilzoy made a post about DADT as though it had nothing to do with gender norms. I can see what you mean, now, about making a "normative" statement, but -- as a philosopher -- I hope you realize that your normative statement conceals a feminist agenda. (the feminist agenda: women are just as human and worthy as men. Radical, no?)

mckinney: But pretending that there would not be very real problems mixing young, sexually-charged [American] gay men with young, sexually-charged [American] straight men is as irresponsible as believing putting [American] men and women in close, intimate circumstances will not produce friction.

Fixed that for you.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Whatnot


  • visitors since 3/2/2004

October 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  
Blog powered by Typepad

QuantCast