by Doctor Science
In the discussion to Sebastian's post celebrating the end of DADT, commenter avedis took issue. I found avedis' comments more honest and comprehensible than most defenses of DADT, but they raise disturbing questions about rape culture in the military.
WARNING: POTENTIALLY TRIGGERY DISCUSSION OF RAPE AND RAPE CULTURE
To be blunt, I have no doubt whatsoever that there are homosexuals who have the phsyical and psychological right stuff to go out slaughter human beings with the best of 'em. However, the typical 18 to 24 year old who is out there doing that kind of work sees sexually conquering females as an important aspect of the personna and sucking dick and taking it up the ass as being antithetical to it.
I think avedis is both honest and clear about why he thinks DADT should remain in place -- much more so than any public figures who have spoken about the issue (Senator McCain, Marine Corps General Amos, etc.).
As I understand him, avedis is saying that:
a) a "macho" construction of masculinity is a crucial shared value that keeps combat military units together
b) one factor that holds such units together is that there are no sexual relations inside the group. All inside the group are effectively peers, a Band of Brothers, even though some are leaders or commanders (=older brothers). Sex is something you do with outsiders, and therefore *cannot* be with peers, because your peers are your unit.
c) a macho, masculine man is always dominant in a sexual relationship; his partner (male or female) is degraded or made less by penetration. In other words, having sex with you (the man who is the POV in this story) is bad for people. Sex is not how you show or get caring or trust: you get that from the Band of Brothers.
What avedis is IMHO describing is a form of rape culture, as several other commenters noted. But he is also describing a *very* traditional and (presumably) militarily effective culture. Crudely, military men are put into units where trust and emotional care are completely separated from sex, and all sex becomes whoring or rape. If you permit open homosexuals in such a unit, their very feelings threaten the division between Us (those we trust and don't f*ck) and Them (those we don't trust and may dominate or f*ck).
*That*'s why getting rid of DADT threatens "unit cohesion" -- because it threatens the strict compartmentalization between sex and the rest of life. As avedis says, prime combat troops are young, healthy, and have a naturally high libido. Why should straight men agree to live in a single-sex environment, given their natural desire to meet women? One way is to tell them that they don't need to get to *know* women to have sex with them: prostitution is enough, rape is enough.
Remember, the over-arching purpose of "unit cohesion" is *not* to get the unit members to depend on each other emotionally. The purpose is to make them work together to do whatever their commanders tell them. When units get too close, they're just as dangerous as when they "lose cohesion": unnecessary casualties are bad, but disobeying orders is military disaster. I suspect that keeping combat troops sexually frustrated is one of the ways traditional military machismo helps keep them obedient. Certainly in ancient warfare (e.g. the Iliad) one of the rewards of military success even for foot soldiers was the right to rape women in a conquered city.
Basically, I think avedis is right that gay-acceptance undercuts the macho, gender-conformist rape culture that's part of traditional military culture. We all know, I trust, that the US military has had a lot of trouble integrating women into the forces, especially with regard to rape and sexual harassment. The female vets I know say that whether they were accepted or not depended almost entirely on their Commanding Officer: when the CO was firm but fair, the military is far more respectful and empowering than civilian culture often is. When the CO thinks women don't really belong, though, it's an unparalleled nightmare. That says to me that the services *as a whole* haven't accepted women -- too much depends on the individual COs, too little on the overall military culture.
The same thing will happen with gay men, and I expect their experiences to be correlated with those of women. That is, the Marines have the lowest proportion of women of any of the services, and they also have objected most to lifting DADT. To me this says that the Marines are most gender-conformist and may well have even more of a traditional rape culture than the other services, awful though that is to imagine for someone raised knowing there's "the right way, the wrong way, and the Marine Corps way". In any event, I don't think that the services will be able to change their attitudes unless they acknowledge what their attitudes are, what they've been in the past, and what they need for the future.