Gay, lesbian troops can serve openly -- for now
September 19, 2001 12:56 PM   Subscribe

Gay, lesbian troops can serve openly -- for now "First, gays and lesbians would be allowed to serve during any war, just as they do now, as long as they remain in compliance with the homosexual conduct policy," said Maj. James P. Cassella of the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs' office."

Sorry we've treated you so crappy, but, uh, we need you to serve now. Of course, when we don't need you any more, you'll be discharged because you're gay.
posted by 4midori (81 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I wonder what the religious right will think about this?
posted by phatboy at 12:58 PM on September 19, 2001


The Military Perspective

Downside: The military won't be very happy about acknowledging the service of its gay soldiers.

Upside: Hey, maybe they'll all be killed.
posted by Skot at 1:02 PM on September 19, 2001


...as long as they remain in compliance with the homosexual conduct policy.

Don't ask, don't tell? That doesn't sound very "open" to me.
posted by barkingmoose at 1:10 PM on September 19, 2001


There goes my plan to get out of the draft.
posted by skallas at 1:24 PM on September 19, 2001


I think if I was in the military--sharing increadibly close quarters 24/7 in many instances--I wouldn't want openly homosexual guys sleeping right next to me. No, I don't think they would hit on me or anything, but it would be distracting/uncomfortable. It's akin to sharing that precious little personal space with women. I don't need that distraction in the military.

For the record, I have no problem with homosexual guys serving in the military, as long as they don't make it known. "Don't ask, don't tell" policy sounds good in principle to me. I have no clue how it was implemented.

That's the way I see it. Flame away!
posted by Witold at 1:25 PM on September 19, 2001


how is this any different than before?

skallas, if you want to get out of potential drafts, it still sounds like all you have to do is hit on your CO (assuming same gender).
posted by tolkhan at 1:27 PM on September 19, 2001


homosexual conduct policy??? what a crock of doo doo. that is embarassing. what are they afraid of, male soldiers insisting on wearing dresses and siging showtunes?
posted by mich9139 at 1:28 PM on September 19, 2001


it would be distracting/uncomfortable.

why?
posted by tolkhan at 1:29 PM on September 19, 2001


witold, your encouragement to flame away is what many people have been hoping that the military's policy would have been all along.
posted by mich9139 at 1:34 PM on September 19, 2001



"I wouldn't want openly homosexual guys sleeping next to me"

So secret homosexuals would be O.K. As everybody knows, closet gays are so very difficult to excite.

Or perhaps, witold, you are so damned attractive and babelicious you should stay away from all men and women; in fact all human beings and mammals in general and sleep in the stables or the manger or something.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:35 PM on September 19, 2001


I can't personally relate to the distracting/uncomfortable argument. I've been in analogous situations, and there's never been an issue.

Playing Devil's Advocate, the argument might be:

It is uncomfortable for the same reason that women wouldn't want a man standing in the middle of their locker room. One should avoid situations where privacy and sexual attraction co-mingle.
posted by marknau at 1:36 PM on September 19, 2001


No, I don't think they would hit on me or anything, but it would be distracting/uncomfortable.

That sounds like your problem, not theirs. I'm not being a smartass, either. Consider this.

This is true. Personally, I get the total creeps because the guy in the next cubicle is a raging right-wing gun nut. A flaming gun nut--his screensaver is picture after picture of handguns, and there are pictures of him at the shooting range all over his cube. It's a huge distraction for me. I'm not afraid he's going to shoot me or anything, but I can't help but think about it.

I should get over it, learn to accept it. What I shouldn't do is lobby for him to be fired.
posted by jpoulos at 1:36 PM on September 19, 2001


mine too skallas...damn
posted by physics at 1:47 PM on September 19, 2001


Settle down, miguelcardoso.

One of the brutal facts of warfare (that us chat-room philosophers are spared) is you have to send men into situations where there is a high probability they'll get killed. Who? Well, not everyone. So you have to choose. How do you choose? Well, training, 'turn', role, experience.

Just exactly how much discipline do you suppose there would be if there was the remotest suspicion that the basis of choice was the attractiveness of the guy staying behind? (This works for heterosexual, too, in mixed units).

This is warfare. Don't judge it like it was your office.
posted by RichLyon at 1:47 PM on September 19, 2001


It seems obvious to me that this injunction has little or nothing to do with allowing the nation's proud gays and lesbians to serve their country in her time of need, and everything to do with preventing a rash of straight soldiers, looking for a college education and little else, 'coming out' and getting the hell out when their lives are imperiled. It would certainly be my first thought if I had enlisted, and I'm sure a lot of other people's as well.
posted by ztt at 1:48 PM on September 19, 2001


What did Chris Rock say? Hell, let the gays go. We saw how well it worked out for African-Americans in the armed services.

Speaking as a homo, it's really sad that gay organizations actually lobby for gays to be included in the military. Get some perspective. And yes, witold, if we were in the military together, I'd be all over you like a chicken on a wounded worm.

No, seriously, you're "disturbed" by the idea. I don't understand, but I'm SO curious to know more about what exactly troubles you. What would these gays say? Or what would they be doing to distract? In all seriousness, I feel like I might be too close to gayitude to get a clear perspective.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 1:51 PM on September 19, 2001


"Don't ask, don't tell" policy sounds good in principle to me. I have no clue how it was implemented.

Maybe in principle, but from what I've read (just a small sample) the reality is the harrasment and witchhunts continue, possibly worse than before. This new "policy" just sounds like they're desperate for cannon fodder and will take whoever they can get. Afterwards: dishonorable discharge.
posted by cakeman at 1:52 PM on September 19, 2001


Well, at least we should be pleased that THEY haven't said "We are sorry for all the dead at the WTC....except for those who were gays or lesbians....."
posted by scotty at 1:58 PM on September 19, 2001


I guess this means the only acceptable way for gay men to donate blood is with a bullet.
posted by cakeman at 1:58 PM on September 19, 2001


I guess this means the only acceptable way for gay men to donate blood is with a bullet.
posted by cakeman at 2:00 PM on September 19, 2001


I get the total creeps because the guy in the next cubicle is a raging right-wing gun nut...

That's not a good analogy. Unlike the homosexual in the bunk next to yours, the right-wing gun nut is not going to be ogling your, umm... handgun. Or something.

The point is, homosexuals in the military present the potential for more than just discomfort for some strait men. In the right-winger analogy, your coworker hasn't done anything to you. But in the military, if the strait man is attractive, and the gay man is unscrupulous, it presents the opportunity for a very important and personal type of privacy violation. The gay man could potentially view the body of the strait man. You could argue that people have a basic right, in situations where there is sexual attraction, to not have their bodies viewed if they don't want to. A sort of "freedom from ogling", I suppose.

I don't yet have a position on the matter, I'm just saying that the situations are not analogous.
posted by gd779 at 2:00 PM on September 19, 2001


Clarification - the "homosexual conduct policy" is different from "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." I think the article has it confused.

It is against regulations to have gay sex (as distinct from disclosing that you're gay). Additionally, it is forbidden to have sex of any kind with anyone of a different rank, or aboard ship or on an overseas mission. That leaves - in terms of regulations - only one category: Heterosexual sex is permitted between men and women of equal rank when not at sea or overseas.

Now, these regulations are widely ignored for heterosexuals, though occasionally they are haphazardly enforced. The regulations certainly are enforced for homosexual sex, and the penalties are not equivalent.

What this change means is that "saying you are gay" will not be grounds for discharge for the duration of the impending conflict. However, actually getting caught engaging in homosexual sex will still be grounds for punishment and discharge.

Only one double standard out of many has been ended, and only temporarily, but I suppose that's progress of a sort.
posted by Chanther at 2:01 PM on September 19, 2001


And wake up, folks. We also need to ban homosexuals from intimate, tight, and mission-intensive situations like surgery, emergency rooms, commercial aviation, firefighting, space travel, and professional football.

Too "distracting", you know, especially if you are afraid you may fall for some stud in tight camouflage.

When I was in the Army, I was "distracted" by the utter banality and stupidity of the people in charge more than anything then or since. But somehow I doubt the armed forces will introduce a "don't ask don't tell" policy for morons...unless that's how Bush was able to sneak into the Air National Guard.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 2:01 PM on September 19, 2001 [1 favorite]


Oops, double post. sorry.
posted by cakeman at 2:02 PM on September 19, 2001


I get so sick and tired of these arm-chair soldiers saying whether or not gays should be allowed in the military. I was in the US Army Infantry. When Clinton was running for office, a lot of my co-workers were upset that gays would be serving with us. "I don't want no guy hitting on me!" was the main complaint. Yeah, like you have so many women hitting on you now...

It was rather amusing for me. I am heterosexual, yet since I wasn't rabidly anti-gay, many of my co-workers thought I was gay. Even the gay ones.

As for why the gay organizations are lobbying for gays to be allowed to serve openly in the military, I support it. Why limit what one is able to do just based upon their choice of sex partners?
posted by nickonomicon at 2:04 PM on September 19, 2001


One of the brutal facts of warfare (that us chat-room philosophers are spared) is you have to send men into situations where there is a high probability they'll get killed. Who? Well, not everyone.

Just exactly how much discipline do you suppose there would be if there was the remotest suspicion that the basis of choice was the attractiveness of the guy staying behind? (This works for heterosexual, too, in mixed units).


Rich, by the same logic, you could argue that no black men should be allowed in units with white men because how much discipline would there be if there was the remotest suspicion that the basis of choice was the skin color of the guy staying behind?

And you'd better not mix people from Arkansas and Texas. Or people from Chicago and New York. Or lefties with righties. Or grunge-lovers with pop-lovers.

Simply put, there is no good reason to exclude homosexuals from the military.

That said, I think ztt has a better idea of the real reasoning behind this new policy.
posted by daveadams at 2:07 PM on September 19, 2001


You could argue that people have a basic right, in situations where there is sexual attraction, to not have their bodies viewed if they don't want to. A sort of "freedom from ogling", I suppose.

I could (and would) argue that people have a basic right in any situation to not have their bodies viewed if they don't want to.
posted by daveadams at 2:10 PM on September 19, 2001


"It doesn't appear there is going to be that large a need for bodies,"
Emphasis mine. I think that's my new favorite quote.
posted by Su at 2:13 PM on September 19, 2001


This is warfare. Don't judge it like it was your office.

obviously then, you don't work in an office. it damned close.
posted by tolkhan at 2:13 PM on September 19, 2001


I get the total creeps because the guy in the next cubicle is a raging right-wing gun nut...

To put it another way: military service, by it's very nature, requires a certain reduction in privacy. As a result, it removes the many of the checks that usually serve to regulate sexual behavior. It also leaves the strait man without any recourse in the even of an unwanted privacy violation.

So in the military situation, the violation is an active intrusion into your privacy, from which you have no recourse. By contrast, your right-wing coworker offends you simply with his beliefs; he basically keeps it to himself (a screensaver can't be considered a meaningful intrusion in this context.) The differences are: the degree and personal nature of the harm inflicted, the recourse available, and the active/passive nature of the unwanted act.

I could (and would) argue that people have a basic right in any situation to not have their bodies viewed if they don't want to.

How can you have military service during conflict without abridging that right?
posted by gd779 at 2:14 PM on September 19, 2001


It's akin to sharing that precious little personal space with women. I don't need that distraction in the military.
So if I am reading your comment correctly, you don't think female soldiers have any place in combat, either?
I don't get the "distraction." Is it because people may think about sex? That's human - and I think it's always good to remember you're human. What about a lesbian soldier? That would seem to be OK to you, since there would be no distraction that someone may be thinking what you're like under the sheets?
posted by sixdifferentways at 2:15 PM on September 19, 2001


Just exactly how much discipline do you suppose there would be if there was the remotest suspicion that the basis of choice was the attractiveness of the guy staying behind?

That is one of the silliest things I've ever heard.

That's not a good analogy. Unlike the homosexual in the bunk next to yours, the right-wing gun nut is not going to be ogling your, umm... handgun. Or something.

I disagree. The right-wing gun nut has, in my opinion, the opportunity to do things far worse than ogle me. He could, for example, shoot me. With all the precedents of work-place shootings, and the absence of any evidence that gay soldiers are raping their straight colleagues, my fear would be much more grounded in reality. Honestly, your argument seems to be based on the belief that gay men can't control themselves.

You could argue that people have a basic right, in situations where there is sexual attraction, to not have their bodies viewed if they don't want to.

But they don't have the right not to have their bodies viewed by straight men? Where does that come from? We all have a right to privacy, but if soldiers are showering together, they've already abandoned that right--whether there are gay soldiers present or not. Not to mention, you must admit, protecting individual rights (especially rights to privacy) has never been a top concern in the armed services--until you start talking about "queers".

Also, if that logic were to be applied uniformly, gays would be banned from public high schools (where same-sex students shower after phys ed or football) or even to public swimming pools (where a gay man might see me in my speedo). The logic is just full of holes. In the end, inevitably, it comes down to straight men being scared of gay men, which, history shows, is a completely irrational fear (see gay-on-straight rape above). There's no guarantee, under the constitution or any statute, for the protection of soldiers from irrational fears.
posted by jpoulos at 2:23 PM on September 19, 2001


To answer why it would be "uncomfortable":

Let me draw an analogy to people seeking roomates. Have you ever noticed how people tend to look for a roomate of the same gender? Most of the time, these individuals will not even be sharing the same room, or even bathroom. But they feel more comfortable with the fact that the person is of the same gender.

The reason why people prefer same-gender roomates is the same reason why people don't want women in certain military positions or homosequal men.


cakeman: Obviously The Advocate has an agenda, but it looks like the guy was a victim of hazing. If someone thinks that the only recipients of hazing in the military are homosexuals, then they obviously don't know anyone in the military.
posted by Witold at 2:25 PM on September 19, 2001


The right-wing gun nut has, in my opinion, the opportunity to do things far worse than ogle me. He could, for example, shoot me.

For that matter, your coworker who's not a gun nut could go postal and shoot you one day. The point here is that the sexually-interested viewing of heterosexual bodies is not a potential harm, it is an actual harm, in and of itself.

your argument seems to be based on the belief that gay men can't control themselves.

Nobody, no matter how well intentioned, can keep from this harm. It's just part of military life. And I do believe that homosexuals can't just "shut off" their sexuality at the drop of a hat, so there you go.

We all have a right to privacy, but if soldiers are showering together, they've already abandoned that right--whether there are gay soldiers present or not.

Very true. The military abridges a number of rights, simply due to the nature of military service. But the added element of potential sexual attraction makes the violation of privacy much more personal and egregious than non-sexual violation of privacy. It's the difference between women in the women's locker room and men in the women's locker room.

That's not to say that the right shouldn't be abridged. Maybe it should. You have to weigh that against the needs of the military and the potential right of anyone to serve in our armed forces.

Also, if that logic were to be applied uniformly, gays would be banned from public high schools (where same-sex students shower after phys ed or football)

Partially true. They wouldn't be banned, everybody would just be given private shower stalls.

Your other analogy is fallacious, because if you show up in a public swimming pool wearing a speedo, you've implicitly consented to the viewing of your body by women and men alike. I think that you're trying to fit my argument into your worldview, where "it all comes down to strait men being scared of gay men". That's not what I'm saying.

In short: unlike your right-wing coworker, who hasn't actually done anything to you, a homosexual who, without consent, views (in a sexual manner) the body of another serviceman has done something to the serviceman. In a very real sense, he has taken something from the serviceman by intruding on his privacy. And there's really no way to prevent it, and no recourse when it does occur. However, that doesn't resolve the debate over gays in the military, because there are other factors to consider.
posted by gd779 at 2:45 PM on September 19, 2001


To answer why it would be "uncomfortable":

...The reason why people prefer same-gender roomates is the same reason why people don't want women in certain military positions or homosequal men.


actually, you didn't answer, and your analogy doesn't provide an answer either, just vague notions that can be easily refuted.

maybe it has something to do with a more Victorian age that frowned upon unmarried opposite gendered people from living together. remember the premise of "Three's Company"? a man living with women?!? shocking!
posted by tolkhan at 2:45 PM on September 19, 2001


(1) "I'm keeping daveadams here 'cus he's white, like me".
(2) "I'm keeping daveadams here 'cus I love him".

One will cause the blacks in your unit to go bananas. The other will cause everyone to do so. I'm condoning neither racism nor homophobia - I'm anticipating, based on experience from time I spent in the Armed Forces, what the reaction of the average unit of guys getting to shipped to Afghanistan next week would likely be.

That is one of the silliest things I've ever heard. Hey! Me too! But then, neither of us is facing the prospect of getting disemboweled in combat in the near future. Here we are spitballing about logic, and whether you can or can't extend the principles of our arguments to high schools. Their job is to stick a knife into someone and twist it so the stomach muscle cramps round it. It's not really a question of how you or I perceive the situation. It's how they do.
posted by RichLyon at 2:48 PM on September 19, 2001


Bolding mine.


"First, gays and lesbians would be allowed to serve during any war, just as they do now, as long as they remain in compliance with the homosexual conduct policy," said Maj. James P. Cassella of the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs' office.

Cassella was referring to "don't ask, don't tell," the edict President Bill Clinton enacted in 1993 as a compromise to his campaign promise to lift the ban on gay men and lesbians in the military.


Chanther, the Major's quote, (just as they do now), seems to imply that "don't ask/don't tell" is part of the homosexual conduct policy. Do you know that it isn't? (not a rhetorical flame bait question, it wasn't clear if you were postulating or were familiar with specific military policies)

Are there any other articles around to help clarify which it is?

...

Administrative discharges are still around, so a commander could get rid of any gay troops they wanted to.

...

Even in the best light (no don't ask/don't tell, no administrative discharges) this reeks of the worst kind of hypocrisy. Gay troops are only allowed to openly serve when there's a high risk of combat/loss of life.

How long until everyone's 27th birthday?
posted by alan at 2:54 PM on September 19, 2001


homosexual conduct policy??? what a crock of doo doo. that is embarassing. what are they afraid of, male soldiers insisting on wearing dresses and siging showtunes?

I think that by homosexual conduct they mean having same-sex intercourse.
posted by glenwood at 2:56 PM on September 19, 2001


i think i'd much rather have a roommate of the opposite gender, if at all possible. after a certain point, the prospect of hooking up with someone else that you're very good friends with is merely an academic exercise.

i frankly cannot separate the cases of homosexuality and the cases of differing skin color, according to your argument, witold. i suppose that, when the armed forces were first integrated, black units (despite commanding officers who were white) were kept apart from white units because they didn't want the whites to feel uncomfortable. yet the units were eventually integrated, and now everyone seems fine.

what's different? merely the prospect that someone might be checking you out. well, gee, men ogle women every day. and, quite honestly, women ogle men every day. i suppose that, in happy perfect land, you have a "right" not to be ogled, but let's face it: in the real world, you don't, and you're not going to. get over it.

i'm really tempted to say that the men in question just don't want to face a world where they might be looked at by someone who thinks the way they do sexually. i'm really tempted to say that these are men who think to themselves "jesus, i'd love to fuck that sweet ass" as women walk by, but don't want to be the one referenced by "sweet ass" in another man's thoughts.

i'm really tempted to say: hypocrites.
posted by moz at 2:57 PM on September 19, 2001


How long until everyone's 27th birthday?

6 weeks, (yay! buy me things! it helps the economy!) not that it matters. i wouldn't go anyway.
posted by tolkhan at 3:00 PM on September 19, 2001


In short: unlike your right-wing coworker, who hasn't actually done anything to you, a homosexual who, without consent, views (in a sexual manner) the body of another serviceman has done something to the serviceman. In a very real sense, he has taken something from the serviceman by intruding on his privacy. And there's really no way to prevent it, and no recourse when it does occur. However, that doesn't resolve the debate over gays in the military, because there are other factors to consider.

I hate to disappoint lots of straight men, but chances are gay men have been looking in gym showers for years now and just are not impressed. Most people don't get that communial showers are about as sexy as a doctor's exam for most queer men. There is a huge difference between a dozen naked men competing for a limited quantity of hot water while bone tired, and a single naked guy with a come hither smile on his face. The context makes all the difference.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:09 PM on September 19, 2001


If a gay gets kicked out of the military, what type of discharge does he get? Honorable or dishonable. Ok: joke if you must (premature discharge). I am fascinated that as I look over the posted URLs for the day, the topic of gayness elicits the most responses. What does this mean?
posted by Postroad at 3:21 PM on September 19, 2001


it's a controversial issue that many people have opinions about?
posted by moz at 3:22 PM on September 19, 2001


Obviously The Advocate has an agenda, but it looks like the guy was a victim of hazing.

Like I said, that article was only a small example and the quickest one I could find. I've read many more reports of systemic abuse and spying, not to mention plenty of supposedly forbidden "asking". Of course the Advocate has an agenda which it is quite open about, as opposed to the hidden agendas of many more mainstream publications that fail to report on this issue at all.

gd779: In short: unlike your right-wing coworker, who hasn't actually done anything to you, a homosexual who, without consent, views (in a sexual manner) the body of another serviceman has done something to the serviceman. In a very real sense, he has taken something from the serviceman by intruding on his privacy.

Oh my God! Thoughtcrime! You see a pretty woman walking down the steet and have unclean thoughts about her - does this mean you should be arrested or made to wear a blindfold in public because you have "taken something" from her? Unless somebody is touching you inappropriately or raping you, get over it. Stop being such a victim.
posted by cakeman at 3:23 PM on September 19, 2001


Alan - I was more postulating than speaking from direct knowledge. It's just been my understanding that a distinction has always been made between a person saying he's gay and actually having gay sex.

After searching for some links to back myself up, I'd say you're probably right, that the phrase "Homosexual Conduct Policy" includes "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." I think that they're not one and the same - there's more in the official policy than just the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" provisions.

Anyway, here is a link to the military's specific regulations on homosexual conduct. Since the effective dates of the policy are all around the implementation of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", I think the whole code was rewritten then.

Some interesting political "findings" at the top of that section, there.

See also this FAQ from the same site - the terms for what constitute "homosexual conduct" are referred to as "statement, act, or marriage."

So my guess is that perhaps basic statements will no longer be sufficient for a discharge, but acts or an "attempt to marry a person known to be of the same biological sex" would be.
posted by Chanther at 3:28 PM on September 19, 2001


in my conversations with friends in the navy i've learned when sailors aren't hanging out with your buddies in port, they're working your @$$ off on the ship. the reality is that most people on the ship know who "the gay ones" are. as long as these folks get the job done, no one cares.

ps—the actual time spent in the shower is too precious for idle cruising.
posted by brigita at 3:33 PM on September 19, 2001


oops, my change from second to third person made for an unfortunate pun.

sailors on the ship work their own @$$es off.

as you were.
posted by brigita at 3:35 PM on September 19, 2001


well, gee, men ogle women every day. and, quite honestly, women ogle men every day. i suppose that, in happy perfect land, you have a "right" not to be ogled, but let's face it: in the real world, you don't, and you're not going to. get over it.

The difference is that you are rarely forced to room and shower with members of the opposite sex (of course, you may voluntarily do those things...) I'm not talking about ogling in the normal sense of the word... I'm talking about the real privacy violation that occurs when someone else sees your naked or partially clothed body against your will.

You don't have the right to keep people from looking at you when you're clothed. You DO have the right, generally, to keep people from looking at your body when you're naked. Heterosexual military service abandons that right due to practical necessity. The question is, does the element of sexual attraction change the equation? Is being viewed by a homosexual man is analogous to being viewed by a heterosexual woman?

Thoughtcrime!i>

Again, it's not about what you think, it's about what you see. It's about an unwanted intrusion of privacy.
posted by gd779 at 3:49 PM on September 19, 2001


Italics begone.
posted by gd779 at 3:50 PM on September 19, 2001


um, sexual harrassment is a no-no in the military regardless, right? and you're not supposed to be in the same unit with or under the command of someone you're involved with in any case, right? (I'm assuming here - please let me know if this is wrong.) so all those feared behaviors - cruising in the shower, favoritism - are already covered. no need to kick out people who already have the impulse to serve in the military.

I once knew a rather unusual fellow, several years ago, who was in the army...having multiple simultaneous relationships with men and women didn't seem to harm his effectiveness as a soldier. (I still don't know when he found time to sleep!) just something to think about.
posted by epersonae at 3:53 PM on September 19, 2001


Again, it's not about what you think, it's about what you see. It's about an unwanted intrusion of privacy.

Wrong. You give up any expectation of privacy when you join the military. All the other guys in the shower room are seeing you nekkid, but according to you it's only the gay ones in the group that are causing you "harm". The only difference is what he may be thinking.
posted by cakeman at 4:04 PM on September 19, 2001


if you're aware that you will be showering with other soldiers or sailors when you join the military, doesn't that mean you're consenting to being seen in shower by other soldiers? also, wouldn't you be aware that there may be gay men in your unit. by enlisting, you're consenting and you're giving up any reasonable expectation of not being seen by men straight or gay.
posted by tolkhan at 4:05 PM on September 19, 2001


dammit. what cakeman said.
posted by tolkhan at 4:05 PM on September 19, 2001


The simple truth is: any man who is so uncomfortable at the thought of a man looking at him or having a private thought about him must have those thoughts himself. If you are not inclined to be attracted to a man why would you care what he thought?

I am a lesbian, but I don't look like what everyone thinks a lesbian looks like. I am a waitress so in the course of my day I get hit on once in awhile by straight men. It makes me laugh. I couldn't care less. My girlfriend tends to get a little upset but other than that it's just a momentary annoyance.

I think the men who are afraid gays would be a distraction would be the ones distracted; by your own uncomfortable thoughts.
posted by bas67 at 4:07 PM on September 19, 2001


Seems to me that if everyone maintains mutual respect for each other, there shouldn't be a problem.

The only reasons that I can see for being uncomfortable working with members of the same sex that happen to be gay are:

1) You are uncomfortable with yourself or your own sexuality. It makes you "nervous" because of unsubstantiated or irrational fears.

2) Your coworkers have proven that they don't have respect for you or YOUR sexual preference and harass you in any way, shape, or form.

The second reason is out of line and should be dealt with. Any other reason is really your *own* problem.
posted by Astucity at 4:09 PM on September 19, 2001


The point here is that the sexually-interested viewing of heterosexual bodies is not a potential harm, it is an actual harm, in and of itself.

I fail to see why this is an "actual" harm. It's very likely that both you and I have been "checked out" by gay men at some point in our lives, even in the shower. Can you honestly say that you've been harmed by that? I suppose you might perceive harm if you knew someone was looking at you, and it made you uncomfortable. But, again, that's your problem. After all, this is war. "Sergeant, those planes flying over head and dropping bombs are making me uncomfortable. May I be excused from the war?"

And I do believe that homosexuals can't just "shut off" their sexuality at the drop of a hat, so there you go.

Why not? I can go day to day without forcing myself on women who don't want me. Do you think that straight men, even in combat, are unable to keep from violating the women they work with?

Your other analogy is fallacious, because if you show up in a public swimming pool wearing a speedo, you've implicitly consented to the viewing of your body by women and men alike.

And if you sign up for the Army, you've explicitly consented to give up a number of rights, including a right to privacy.

The difference is that you are rarely forced to room and shower with members of the opposite sex.

If it's such a big deal, why not install individual shower stalls (I'm not sure they don't do this anyway)? It seems a small price to pay to avoid infringing on someone's civil rights.

Again, it's not about what you think, it's about what you see. It's about an unwanted intrusion of privacy.

No, it is about what you think. The straight soldiers are seeing your little willie too. You only have a problem with that if someone thinks about touching it.
posted by jpoulos at 4:21 PM on September 19, 2001


doesn't that mean you're consenting to being seen in shower by other soldiers?

When you join voluntarily, yes. But not everybody joins voluntarily. So consent is not a defense (though you have a good point.)

I fail to see why this is an "actual" harm. It's very likely that both you and I have been "checked out" by gay men at some point in our lives, even in the shower. Can you honestly say that you've been harmed by that? I suppose you might perceive harm if you knew someone was looking at you, and it made you uncomfortable.

That's like saying that it's okay for someone to spy on me through my window, as long as I don't notice him or her. Because I can't be made uncomfortable if I don't know (s)he's there, right?

It's not about being comfortable. As you imply, you have no inherent right to be kept comfortable. I'm talking about a right to privacy, and the situations under which we abridge that right.

What I don't understand is, why don't you agree that this is a harm, but just argue that it is outweighed by the need to include everyone in the armed forces? Can't we agree that people who don't want to be looked at by homosexuals when they're naked should have that right, absent other compelling circumstances?

No, it is about what you think. The straight soldiers are seeing your little willie too. You only have a problem with that if someone thinks about touching it.

Hmmm. You (all of you who have argued this) have a point there. But then why do we waste the money building gender-separated bunks and showers? Isn't it because we think there's something wrong with being forced to show yourself to a member of the opposite sex?

So why is it generally considered okay to shower with the same sex, but not the opposite sex? Sexual attraction is really the only difference, right?
posted by gd779 at 4:43 PM on September 19, 2001


Do you think that straight men, even in combat, are unable to keep from violating the women they work with?

Please, stop and re-read what I've written here. It's the act of seeing someone naked or partially clothed that I'm addressing, nothing else. Please stop trying to put words into my mouth; I just don't fit into your stereotype.
posted by gd779 at 4:49 PM on September 19, 2001


I'm actually very interested in this whole debate. The way I see it, Amercians need to pull together at a time like this. Unfortunately, the rotten core of discrimination and bigotry against fellow Americans is also being highlighted at this time.

Anyway, big brave gung ho soldier boys that like to wear uniforms and apply dramatic combat make-up might be interested to know that Attila the Hun and Alexander The Great (to name but a few) were into M/M activities. I'm sure someone has a list on this area.

Food for thought...
posted by skinsuit at 4:54 PM on September 19, 2001


But then why do we waste the money building gender-separated bunks and showers? Isn't it because we think there's something wrong with being forced to show yourself to a member of the opposite sex?

It's because in a male dominated environment women have been subjected to harrasment and rape (remember Tailhook?). I can't think of any incidents of harrasment or rape of straight male solders by gay male solders. Has this every happened? There is plenty of documentation to show that some heterosexual males are unable to control their sexual impulses. Again it's not the looking and the thinking, it's the acting.
posted by cakeman at 5:08 PM on September 19, 2001


The only reasons that I can see for being uncomfortable working with members of the same sex that happen to be gay are:

1) You are uncomfortable with yourself or your own sexuality. It makes you "nervous" because of unsubstantiated or irrational fears...


So the only way that you wouldn't want someone to look at you sexually is if you were irrational and nervous about your sexuality? Great. Then I vote that all women who are comfortable with their heterosexuality let me and my friends watch them shower every night. Heck, I vote that all women start walking around stark naked! You don't mind, do you?

I really am sorry about dominating this thread. I'm leaving now, and I won't be back until tomorrow. It'll be tough, but see if you can struggle on in my absence, okay?
posted by gd779 at 5:09 PM on September 19, 2001


Why is everyone so convinced that straight-gay is a black-and-white issue? I'm pretty sure that sexuality is a gray area---and that even though everyone has their preference, certainly even those who declare themselves "straight" are at risk of finding another person of the same sex attractive.

And why, in God's name, would any gay man act upon such an attraction if it wasn't reciprocated, ESPECIALLY in the military?

I think you guys are feeding into dumb stereotypes and that the reality of the situation is that there's a time and a place for everything. I'm gay and if I'm drafted into war I'll be spending less time "oggling" my fellow soldiers and more time screaming like a girl as bullets fly over my head.
posted by adrober at 5:23 PM on September 19, 2001


That's like saying that it's okay for someone to spy on me through my window, as long as I don't notice him or her.

No, it isn't, because you have a right to privacy in your home. If you live in a barracks with 50 other people, you do not have that right.

Can't we agree that people who don't want to be looked at by homosexuals when they're naked should have that right, absent other compelling circumstances?

Again, no one has the right to look at you naked in your home, but if you join the military, you give up the right not to be looked at. And what about the rights of gays to serve their country?

Please stop trying to put words into my mouth; I just don't fit into your stereotype.

Pleaes accept my apologies. This is a friendly discussion.
posted by jpoulos at 5:49 PM on September 19, 2001


Yes, the same-gender roomate analogy and separate bathroom analogy both have much more to do with physical violence than they have to do with ogling or visual harassment. Women don't go out looking for male roommates because men are "far more likely" to be rapists (quotes indicate understatement).

I feel kind of bad. Sometimes I cruise guys on the street. I do it A) to find out if guys are gay and B) because I enjoy it, and anyway, I figure in some ways it's acceptable because of all the ridiculous ogling of straight chicks (cf The War Zone) by straight men. But, as a fag and a feminist, should I keep my eyes to myself at all times?
posted by RJ Reynolds at 6:10 PM on September 19, 2001


I sure wouldn't appreciate it.
posted by aaronshaf at 6:29 PM on September 19, 2001


I'm gay and if I'm drafted into war I'll be spending less time "oggling" my fellow soldiers and more time screaming like a girl as bullets fly over my head.

Speaks for itself.
posted by aaronshaf at 6:31 PM on September 19, 2001


So the only way that you wouldn't want someone to look at you sexually is if you were irrational and nervous about your sexuality?

That's not what I said.

I said, "The only reasons that I can see for being uncomfortable working with members of the same sex that happen to be gay are..."

It is about respect for your fellow human. If I'm working with someone and have put myself in a work situation that compromises privacy, then if someone wants to look at me sexually, fine -- just keep it to themselves. It would be inappropriate and inexcusable for them to do anything else in a work situation. That is, if they are acting with any degree of respect, you or I would never be _aware_ we were being looked at sexually.

I reiterate - it is about respect for your fellow human. That's all.
posted by Astucity at 6:38 PM on September 19, 2001


That's right, it's OK to ask our soldiers to risk their lives. It's OK to train our soldiers to be the first layer of bodies over the hill to take some little bit of territory that nobody really wants, because we need the enemy to understand we're willing to take those levels of losses or more. But, we must protect them from having somebody catch a little peak of their hairy butt crack because this would harm them in ways too horrible to consider. Why the very thought of it is a violation of human dignity so profound that the thought of asking our brave soldiers to subject themselves … well, it just makes me weep. I imagine we have asked a soldier or two to drop trou for a nurse from time to time. I imagine some of the nurses may have found some of these soldiers attractive. Should we insist that no female nurses work on our boys in green?

If a little unwelcome ogling is the worst harm somebody comes out of the military with, they are lucky. Any argument that gays should be kept out of military service out of privacy concerns seems a little insincere to me. The real reason is that it’s a perversion and we don’t want our soldiers worried that it’s going to rub off on them or something. You know if a gay man looks at you longingly enough he can turn you. They got the evil eye.
posted by willnot at 8:50 PM on September 19, 2001


I'm active duty and would rather serve with someone who's openly gay than someone who had to get a waiver because they couldn't score higher than 30 on the ASVAB. Basically it should come down to who's professional and can do the job right..everything else is meaningless.
posted by tetsuo at 9:13 PM on September 19, 2001


am i the only person who thinks the military's sole reason for "including" homosexuals is to prevent people who don't want to be drafted from claiming they're gay?
posted by ignu at 9:18 PM on September 19, 2001


"There is plenty of documentation to show that some heterosexual males are unable to control their sexual impulses. "

What a generalisation that one is. Please link to the documentation. Anyone can control their sexual "impulses" Some simply choose not to because they are inculcated from birth to think that they can get away with it with the exact lame argument that you just used. Their dick controls their brain....what rubbish.

Crimes such as rape are acts of power, not sex, but I can't work out what you are referring to, if not that.
posted by lucien at 10:01 PM on September 19, 2001


You`re not going to believe this, but Rush Limbaugh had something very interesting to say about this issue many years ago. It changed my stance on the issue forever.

He said: "If you don`t have a problem with homosexuality, you shouldn`t have a problem with homosexuals in the military."

I have no problem with gays (in fact, I think more men should be exclusively gay-- less competition for me), so I abandoned the position and line of thought that gd779 and witold are coming from and took up the position I have now:

Gays have every right to serve in the military. And they should not be given a free pass out of service just because they are gay.
posted by chiheisen at 12:16 AM on September 20, 2001


bs.

don't hold me accountable for how other people treat (gays/lesbians), if you do not conform to the military law as the Major so-states.

The reason for the 'said law' is for your own safety and to prevent others from so-said lynchings. The military law is very strict. Sometimes it doesn't even allow you to use the restroom when you need to. I believe that the don't ask/don't tell law is very simple.

Also, you personnal life is just that. Until you make it public, then you've got problems.

I don't even care if you mutilate your privates...just don't post pictures on the internet and then sign them with your rank/branch of service. Although, i find that being gay/lesbian an issue with "one's psychological state"...but this is just my opinion.
posted by roger-unknown at 3:24 AM on September 20, 2001


The reason for the 'said law' is for your own safety and to prevent others from so-said lynchings.

Doesn't say much about the people that are supposed to protect a nation if they can't be bothered to follow their nation's laws like, oh, the one that makes beating other people up illegal.
posted by lia at 8:51 AM on September 20, 2001


Also, you personnal life is just that. Until you make it public, then you've got problems.

Then there should be a ban on straight male soldiers bragging about all the women they've fucked.
posted by jpoulos at 10:18 AM on September 20, 2001


Do you think that straight men, even in combat, are unable to keep from violating the women they work with?

The multiple rape reports that came back from Desert Storm would indicate that in some cases (far too many) the answer is an definite yes.

That said, I think it's interesting to say that someone has a problem because they don't wish to looked at laciviously by someone when unclothed, especially when they don't have a choice as to whether or not they can avoid such situations. There may not be a "right" to be free from ogling as it were, but it is hardly an indication of "issues" that one might not wish to be.
posted by Dreama at 12:00 PM on September 20, 2001


One of the best exchanges I've ever read about gays in the military:

David Horowitz's poorly-reasoned opinion on why gays should not be allowed to serve.

Various readers' responses to Horowitz.
posted by Tin Man at 1:01 PM on September 20, 2001


But not everybody joins voluntarily

a) when did the conscripting start up again?

b) when you're drafted, you still lose the same rights that the volunteers lost. if you actually report for duty after being drafted, then you're consenting to those terms. i'm not 100% certain, but i don't think they abduct people in the night and force them to serve (it's not the Girl Scouts ferchrissake).
posted by tolkhan at 2:53 PM on September 20, 2001


No, it isn't, because you have a right to privacy in your home. If you live in a barracks with 50 other people, you do not have that right.

Actually, that's what we're debating, isn't it?

And what about the rights of gays to serve their country?

Is that really an inherent right? Hypothetically (and I very much stress the hypothetical nature of this question), if we did agree on my "freedom from ogling", why couldn't gays just serve in less controversial roles? Civilian-style desk jobs, for example, don't require you to live in such close quarters.

Pleaes accept my apologies. This is a friendly discussion.

Though I doubt that anyone is still reading this, the apologies are very much accepted.

That's not what I said.

I said, "The only reasons that I can see for being uncomfortable working with members of the same sex that happen to be gay are..."


Astucity: Eh. Okay, I stand corrected. But nobody here is claiming that gays should be excluded from traditional working situations (heck, I'm not even claiming that gays should be excluded from military service). So I don't see your point, in that context.

If I'm working with someone and have put myself in a work situation that compromises privacy, then if someone wants to look at me sexually, fine -- just keep it to themselves

Okay, that's where you lose me. If that's a personal choice that you want to make, then fine. But you can hardly make that decision for the rest of us... some people just don't other people looking at them sexually, even if they keep it to themselves.

It used to be this wasn't much of a problem, because we felt comfortable dividing the women from the men and being done with it. Homosexuality makes the issue more complicated; short of complete personal privacy, there's no way to prevent these unwanted, sexually-interested looks from occurring. We've lost our societal check.

when did the conscripting start up again?

Ummm... the rules we apply in peacetime would have to be enforced in war time. What are we going to do, kick out all the gays every time we take up a draft?

if you actually report for duty after being drafted, then you're consenting to those terms.

That's hardly consent in any real, meaningful sense of the word.
posted by gd779 at 8:14 PM on September 20, 2001


when did the conscripting start up again?

Ummm... the rules we apply in peacetime would have to be enforced in war time.


huh? meesa talkin bout a comment that stated something like 'not everyone who joins the military does so voluntarily.' i was asking when they started drafting again.

hardly consent in any real, meaningful sense of the word

sure it is. you don't have to go if you're drafted. i wouldn't.


it's suddenly very quiet in here, and you know what they say about dead horses.

ciao.
posted by tolkhan at 7:57 AM on September 21, 2001


glenwood, i knew that it refers to intercourse. sorry if i was unclear. i meant that the policy is a crock of doo doo. it's a shame that we have the policy, and it sits mostly on the stereotype of male homosexuals as sexuual fanatics banging everthing in sight.
posted by mich9139 at 8:28 AM on September 21, 2001


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