SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE MILITARY

Thousands of words, a few of them wise and intelligent and the majority pompous and fatuous, have been written about the sexual harassment of women in America's armed services. Far too many came from the keyboards of people of both sexes who never served in any branch of our military. A number have come from comments of senior officers defending the existing egalitarian policies under which their commands now function. These officers' careers and further promotion depend on their compliance in loyally supporting the status quo, and they are unable to be objective and unbiased. They know full well the penalty of being direct, honest, and tactless enough to refute the workability of women pervading military organizations. By this, I don't mean women cannot handle many of the kinds of jobs men do in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. They can.

I do unequivocally say women don't belong on Navy combat ships, in Army and Marine combat units, and in first echelon support units where they may be in danger of capture by enemy forces. Their use as combat theater airplane and helicopter pilots is highly questionable, though women are fully capable of flying the aircraft.

The constitution's stated purpose in having a military is to be able to defend America against all enemies, domestic and foreign, and it is a serious and necessary business. I do not believe that particular enterprise should be placed at risk by a social engineering experiment, no matter how well-intended or desirable.

As long as women, specifically young, inexperienced women, are placed in subordinate positions in a military hierarchy, the senior men will have an advantage over them and great influence in dictating the womens' behavior. Sexual harassment, being at worst the abuse of power of one person over another, will occur in many forms. It will take place as off-color jokes, unwanted physical and verbal attention, sought and unsought flirtation, and sometimes as covert or overt threats. Military regulations can limit and reduce, but not eliminate it. One does not allow the fox, no matter how well brought up and trained, into the hen house. Similarly, cleverly sequenced words will not control male sexual impulses in human primates. We ignore these truths at our peril.

If, in spite of the evident and generally acknowleged dangers of attempting to interchangably combine women with men in the warring areas of our military, we insist in doing so, there is one solution. The armed services could be entirely comprised of women and homosexual men. Neither group feels threatened by nor threatens the other, and they can co-exist equably under all conditions. With the cessation of the Cold War, America no longer faces a military superpower. Perhaps our military needs nothing more than women and gays to successfully defend the country.

The transition of the senior officer corps to women and gays will take nearly two decades. They will have to rise through subordinate positions that deal with tanks, artillery, aircraft, and ships, so that they later can successfully plot and direct wartime strategy. For that reason, a dual structure will be necessary during the transition phase, and the proportion of young women and gay men entering our service academies must immediately be drastically increased. No-one can deny the logistics of this conversion will be difficult, but its desired goal of social equality without sexual harassment is sufficiently desirable to justify the turmoil.

On the other hand, we could admit war is a nasty, dangerous, and rotten business, not a sport. It is necessary to maintain a strong military, which has traditionally consisted of men. Although I feel they should serve if their country needs them, I would not particularly want my sons to be a part of it. I would certainly not want my daughter involved.

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Sam Orr

World Traveler

and Philanthrope

(Location Unknown)