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Opinions and comments

Opinions from various readings/news programs through the week.

- There is no parallel between Schiavo and the Pope, except that they have both died. And if you're worried about what happened in Florida happening to you or your family, then it's time to get around to writing that living will, eh?

- A group of intolerant Christians is no more representative of all Christians than a pack of vicious dogs represents all dogs. (Via a discussion in the adult forum at HPANA Encountering such a group is also not a reason to abandon the faith; all that does is leave the nutcases in the majority, so they can make things worse. And yes, I'm doing the pot-and-kettle thing. I did indeed leave the church of my childhood when I grew worldly enough to understand just how much money mattered to the conference and how little our spiritual needs meant. I hear they are doing much better, now that the woman who caused most of that breach is now gone. (Ministry is a calling, not a job for one's retirement years.)

- I'm pleased that Canada denied asylum to our deserter. And that the Navy is finally getting around to charging one who, instead of running to Canada, ran his mouth instead.

And now the big-ticket item, via this discussion at womenwarriors. The military is a reflection of society, because it's drawn from society. The policy on homosexual behavior is drawn from society. If you want it to change, then society has to change.

It's not the same thing as racial integration--and do we really want integrating those who prefer same-sex couplings to go the same way as racial integration did, anyway? Race riots, anyone? Except that they would be much more intimate and personal sorts of riots--more like a beating than a riot. The race riots were because society hadn't adjusted to integration yet, and so everyone brought all of their prejudices and fears and baggage with them when they joined up.

And to some folks, the integration would be akin to having mixed-gender berthing. Some folks are quite simply uncomfortable with the idea of undressing in front of someone from the opposite gender, and would feel the same. (Although I have heard some fellows complain that it would be unfair, you know. That they ought to be allowed to bunk with women out of fairness, so they could see what they like in the morning, too. Childish, yes.) As a personal note, this bothers me not at all. My first ship had 142 racks in my berthing. I am pretty certain that at least 20% of the women in my berthing were either lesbian or bi, but they did keep it off the ship where all sexual matters belong. Didn't really bother me, but I acknowledge that society trains us to be more accepting of lesbians than of gay men.

Now, someone suggested that a person with a problem should move to another room, and I think I answered that over there. But a point of reference: My berthing compartment has nine racks, for women in paygrades E7 to E9, with three sinks, two seats, and one shower stall. The male CPO is larger. These are the only berthing compartments for Chiefs, aside from the Marine berthings. The E6 and below spaces are significantly larger, and only the female berthings are mixed departments. Everyone else bunks with their department. [Department as in 'Engineering' or 'Supply' or 'Combat Systems'] Moving is not an option. And segregating berthings by sexual preference just isn't happening. And we're stuck together for six months at a time, sometimes longer.

We're also talking about fear, here. Rational or not, to deny its existence is to be deluded. And the images most straight folks get of GLBT aren't helping. Steve Yuhas addresses that somewhat here. Now, I'm 38 years old, and have lived in California for nearly ten years. At the risk of sounding condescending, I've met many people that I knew were gay/lesbian (and probably many more that I didn't know were), and they're weren't 'Fab Five'. They weren't the stereotypes at all. Because people aren't stereotypes. However, put my hick butt back in Indiana, make a few different choices, and Queer Eye, the images of Gay Pride Day from the big cities, and Ellen are the sum total of my experience. (Except for my Aunt's thieving friend. And that image doesn't help.) People simply don't know any better, because they have no idea that the normal guy living next door, the one they say hello to in the morning and wave at as he pulls into his driveway while they are watering the lawn--they have no idea that that fellow likes fellows. "Jim" is a stand-up guy. But they can't understand 'those homosexual folks'. Pity, that. And TV doesn't help.

And then the insulated fellow joins the Navy.

Now, our insulated fellow is out on liberty, and alcohol is involved, and someone makes an offer that perhaps he doesn't understand, and he gets scared and lashes out. (Alcohol. Oh, alcohol. The cause of so many problems on liberty.) Not saying it's right, just saying that it will happen.

And guys already know that the system doesn't always protect the women. (We aren't going into that now. Let me just say that it's a lot better than it was 18 years ago.) Add to that, the idea that a lot of men won't report harassment from another man. Again, society raised them that way.

So what is Dawn saying here? That homosexuals should never be allowed in the military? Oh, hell, no. What I'm saying is that it's not as simple as some folks make it out to be. Society has to change, fears have to be allayed, and generally, acceptance has to grow. It's not as simple as changing the policy. It's not just a signature on a document, if you want it to really work.

And I really do.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
fabucat
Apr. 4th, 2005 05:57 pm (UTC)
several points here:

1) I believe that Pres. Truman integrated the troops (whites w/blacks) even before the Brown v. Board decision, which was in 1954. One could argue that our country wasn't "ready" for integration at the time of the Brown decision, and it certainly wasn't ready when Truman issued his executive directive. Proof that our country wasn't "ready" for integration in the 50s: Almost 15 years of ugly race riots and racial violence. Was it the right thing to do? HELL YEAH! So there's one flaw in your argument.

2) I think that our country is more ready for gays in the military than it was ready for integration of blacks and whites in the military. In the 1950s, I don't believe that blacks were portrayed positively on top ten TV shows. OK, one could argue that the flamers on Queer Eye are the gay Amos and Andy. Still, these super-sissies, who fix up straight slobs' apartments, can be seen as a lot more positive than the Stepinfetchit black characters on 50s TV and radio shows.

3) Here's a bombshell: a good number of people are bisexual. For years you've undressed in front of us in the gym, and we would never think to bother you. I assume that my lesbian sisters are the same way. We go to the gym to work out, not to mack on you straight ladies. We join the military to serve our country, not to pick up chicks. Unlike straights, gays, lezes and bis are always going to be in the minority. Even if queers were welcome in the military, if we sexually harassed someone, all fucking hell would break loose, just the way it would in a civilian job. BTW, my boyfriend, a former Marine, was raped in Okinawa by a putatively straight male fellow Marine and no action was taken against the assailant. That's because the perp wasn't self-identified as gay. Simply because one isn't gay or bi doesn't necessarily mean that someone isn't going to engage in homosexual rape or sexual harassment.

4) Rape/sexual harassment are crimes of violence and of the exertion of domination. They are not about people, straight, bi or gay, being so horny that they can't control themselves from engaging in unpermitted and/or unconsensual sexual activity. Therefore, no matter how horny your lesbian bunkmate is, if she's not a violent, criminal sicko (and there's 99.99% chance that she is not), she'd rather go into the ladies room and discreetly pleasure herself on her break, rather than force herself on you.

One point in your favor is that one could argue that being queer is not similar to being black, and that therefore discrimination on the basis of race is a lot more serious a crime against humanity than discrimination on the basis of sexual preference. Accordingly, it was the right thing for the government to be ahead of the curve, to help eradicate manifest injustices that had been perpetrated against African Americans since the settling of this country. Let's face it, our founding fathers didn't write in the Constitution that each queer was 3/5s of a person!

Don't get me started on religious rightwing wackos. Tom DeLay had such a hard-on for the Schiavo case that he hinted that physical violence against judges his people didn't agree with might be in order. One judge was murdered, and another judge's family was murdered all last month. Who sets the model for this climate of terrorism against the judiciary? One could argue that DeLay isn't that different from the Iman who spews hatred and implicitly condones violence against Westerners. Judges are pillars of the rule of law, order and justice for our society. Even hinting that violence against judges might be permissible is pretty damned far from true, traditional "conservative" doctrine.

alphasunrise
Apr. 4th, 2005 06:18 pm (UTC)
Point 1 - Yes, I know. But I don't want to see fifteen years of openly gay folks getting the crap beat out of them, okay? The point I was trying to make is that it's not a military problem. The fix has to come outside the military to make it work well.

Point 2 - Okay, I see your point. But I still don't think the two are equal.

Point 3 - You must think that I am a fool if I don't recognize that I have indeed been surrounded by women who like women. I thought I had mentioned it. Didn't bother me at all.

Point 4 - I quite understand the nature of rape. Nor did I say anywhere, or intend to imply anywhere, that gay, lesbian, or bi folks were out to rape anyone. The problem isn't the GLBT folks. The problem is the bred-in perceptions that people bring with them into the military, and those take a while to change. Changing them outside is a better, healthier thing for society as a whole.

Even if queers were welcome in the military, if we sexually harassed someone, all fucking hell would break loose, just the way it would in a civilian job.

Sadly, I've seen it all brushed under the rug, because the command didn't want to have to deal with the issue. But then again, I've seen male-to-female harassment brushed under the rug in my time, too. The Navy's getting better with that, but it still has a long way to go.

BTW, my boyfriend, a former Marine, was raped in Okinawa by a putatively straight male fellow Marine and no action was taken against the assailant. That's because the perp wasn't self-identified as gay. Simply because one isn't gay or bi doesn't necessarily mean that someone isn't going to engage in homosexual rape or sexual harassment.

And that I am sorry to hear about. It shouldn't have mattered. Rape is an act of violence, not of sex. It's a power thing. But you know that.


As for the last point -

Tom DeLay certainly doesn't represent me, thank goodness. Nor does he represent all of Christanity, any more than Jesse Jackson does. And in no way do I condone violence against the judiciary. Violence against judges, abortion clinics, military recruitment facilities, churches, mosques, synagoges, housing developments, SUV retailers, people wearing fur--it's all wrong, and those who advocate it are wrong.

Have to go now. Sorry if the post rained on your morning.
fabucat
Apr. 4th, 2005 06:52 pm (UTC)
Naw, I enjoyed arguing. It's what I do for a living!

BTW is it true that the military has kind of eased up on their "no gays" stance, since recruitment levels are lacking? As long as some guy doesn't show up for duty in a dress and a cache of "Mandate" magazines, for example, queers in the military sound like they are OK, for the time being. I could be wrong, however.

Interestingly, you're probably well aware of the prestige the whole military image has in the gay male community. I think it's a compliment. Gay guys love the fact that military guys are in shape, even in middle-age, are tough, yet dress really, really well, and very neatly, without being prissy about it. Hell, same reasons str8 chicks love military guys, lol.

If a decent number of queer men and women serve discreetly, and bravely within the confines of military regs, post-9/11, no doubt they will come home rightfully demanding more rights and less discrimination. This time, because of their service, their arguments will sound more convincing.
alphasunrise
Apr. 5th, 2005 03:18 am (UTC)
As long as someone doesn't drag their private life aboard, most people don't give a dang what they like. Sort of like when ships have 'no dating' policies and everyone just dates away from the ship. Don't ask don't tell seems to boil down to 'Don't make the Navy have to notice that you're gay.' Still, it's not the best answer, as partners are excluded from the family support group events. :o( [Although there's this one ship I heard, the CO invited a whole bunch of flamboyant friends to the ceremony where he took command ... But that's just hearsay.]

If a decent number of queer men and women serve discreetly, and bravely within the confines of military regs, post-9/11, no doubt they will come home rightfully demanding more rights and less discrimination. This time, because of their service, their arguments will sound more convincing.

I hope it goes well for them, too. I see the problems, but I want it to succeed. Probably not as much as those concerned, though.
crackferret
Apr. 4th, 2005 10:18 pm (UTC)
Oddly enough, this all reminds me of the one time the military tried to recruit me over the phone. I told them I was a lesbian and they went away (this was years ago).

They called a couple years later for my brother, who apparently also told them that he was a lesbian.

I don't know if they thought it was funny, or if they hung up just because it was a weird answer, but they never called our house again.

You make a lot of fair points - really, the issue is very complicated, and it does boil down to fear. Attraction doesn't mean harassment - like the other poster noted, a lot of people are bi. The real problem isn't what homosexuals would do - it's the fact that people are afraid that they will do something, something that probably won't ever happen. And, if someone is discreet about their sexual preferences, no one should even *know* about it to care.
alphasunrise
Apr. 5th, 2005 03:24 am (UTC)
I wish some of the hetero folks would be as discreet, to be honest. I really don't care who's boinking who. One of my fellows on the last ship caused a rukus when the girl he was seeing broke it off to start seeing someone else, to the point that the chiefs had to intervene. And then there was the very junior chick who was trying to sleep her way through my whole division. I kept throwing her out of our workspaces until she got the hint that she wasn't welcome in there.

My brother took one of those recruiter calls once. They called for me right after I'd left for the Navy, and then tried to recruit him. He told them that he was sixteen, and that if they called to bother him again he'd never join. Hence, no more calls for my family, either.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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