Is the US Military a Government Supported Frat House?
Based on the story that appeared on CNN and in the New York Times, I am forced to conclude that the US military is essentially a ginormous, government-funded frat house that also fights wars on our behalf.
It seems that Captain Owen Honors (yes, I find his name hilariously ironic) produced several raunchy videos while in command of the USS Enterprise and showed them as entertainment over the ship's closed circuit television. This is a common act, as it supposedly boosts the morale of the servicemen. According to the Times, the videos made by Captain "Honors" included the following content, "...scenes of simulated masturbation, simulated eating of feces and two men as well as two women showering together... [and] slurs against gay men."
Watch for yourself:
The good captain warned people that they would probably be offended by his work, but too damn bad. As a leader of the ship, he felt under no sort of obligation to protect the rights of all those under his command. Certainly not when there were hilarious jokes to be made about eating shit and gay men! Minorities are so damn touchy about these things, anyway, ya know?
Back to the frat house culture. Unlike the president of Omega Gamma Delta Psi, who I can totally see making videos like this and being lauded for it, Captain Owens was relieved of his command. This is, according to conspiracy theorists, the fault of feminists and gay rights advocates who want to destroy the military -- and ultimately the nation -- with our ludicrous claims that it is totally not acceptable for someone in a governmental position of power over 6,000 people to act like the president of Omega Gamma Delta Psi rather than an actual responsible individual. I know. We have some nerve!
The whole thing got me thinking. First of all, it is not right that I tsk at Captain Honors while laughing my ass off at a blog post titled, Douchey Naval Captain Suspended Over Inappropriate Videos, is it? (On the other hand, no one put me in charge of anything important -- perhaps for good reason...) Second, is it possible to have a military that is not rooted in a frat house culture? Has that ever happened in history anywhere? (I don't have an answer for that, but I hope someone does. I think it is interesting. Certainly ancient Greek militaries were not homophobic, although they also seem to be sort of fratty, but there's a start.) Third, even if historically all military cultures were rooted in some sort of adolescent male fantasy land because there was a reason for it based on the type of combat, is that true today when so many things require education, logistics, and technology rather than brute force?
I've never bought into the idea that men are violent fighters and women are peacemaking doves by nature. Humans are humans. We are all driven by the same basic needs and wants but constrained in how we act on them by how we've been socialized and by the limits set by society. So what does this all mean for the future?
The Forward just ran an interesting article about Korrie Xavier, a Jewish lesbian who was forced out of the Navy a few years ago when she revealed her sexual orientation. She's not sure that she'd rejoin. Lez Get Real has a sobering report on the rampant sexual violence committed against women in the military. It should not come as a surprise, either, that male soldiers rape other male soldiers, too, according to Stella by Starlight at Mad Mike's America.
Will the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" change things for the better by changing the frat culture? What do you think?
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