Male Military Personnel Must Proclaim Sexual OrientationPosted: November 30, 2010
Alternative title: “The partial defense of the Daily Caller writer advocating ‘converting’ lesbian soldiers through rape (or so accuses internet commenters)“
or, second alternative title: “Straight Men in the Military Are Sex Obsessed: Thoughts on Sexual Orientation Segregation”
third alternative title: “The Marginalization of Straight Men Begins in the Military“
Joe Rehyansky caused a stir last week in his “Don’t hint, don’t wink: An immodest proposal” piece over on The Daily Caller, where he makes homophobic statements indicative of his age, geographic location and upbringing. The piece could very well be this Onion piece, and lesbians and under-fire feminists are enraged with some good, albeit wrong, reasons.
Despite the absurdity of Rehyansky’s written word, he touches a point rarely discussed: some men in the military fear homosexuals because they fear rape. I once commented on an unrelated Laurie Essig piece, where I explain Rehyanksky’s fear before he even expressed it:
Would you be able to say that the reason heterosexual men fear gay men in the military, is because of the rape issue? Some heterosexual men rape women in the military, and perhaps it is these same hyper-sexualized men (I mean “hyper-sexualized” as in they are obsessed with sex) who fear rape from their fellow soldier?
The wimpy “feminine” gay guy is not a threat- a strong soldier who can carry 35 pounds of gear would be. You, as a male, are isolated with other men (like prison!), and uh, oh, you have a sexual urge to give in to.
Gays are marginalized for the same reason women are… their sex. Maybe men all along have subconsciously known that they are just less competent around women, like that recent study by Johan C. Karremans ( of Radboud University in the Netherlands) proves, and they assume gay men would also lose a “cog” in their cognitive functions too. Maybe gays and women should be put in units together exclusively, and the argument would be to protect them from homophobes and rapists. Then everyone would be happy.
It is only fitting that a man would fear rape from a male soldier considering the high instances of female soldiers being sexually assaulted by their male comrades- the culture is already there to make the rape fear a reality. (Further reading: Time’s “Sexual Assaults on Female Soldiers: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell“, Salon’s “The private war of women soldiers“, and Finding Dulcinea’s “US Female Soldiers Raped by Male Comrades Have Trouble Seeking Justice“.)
Rehyansky doesn’t focus on his rape fear, rather, writes about the “dangers” of sexual attraction in the military. While I have never served in the military, I understand the power of sexual desire and how it can ruin cooperative teamwork through my time playing Team Fortress 2 – a team-based first person-shooter with goals like moving a bomb across a map/ defending or attacking key points/ stealing intel, etc.
I have seen the effects gender has in team-based environments, and I cannot deny noticing when my male teammates performance begins to deteriorate once a “sexy sounding” female requests assistance / issues orders/ offers strategic advice. While my experience does not involve close proximity, sweat inducing physical exercise and the release of endorphins, I can only imagine the effects of my sex would be greatly heightened in person. My findings through playing cooperative video games over the internet are in tune with Johan C. Karremans findings in his “Interacting with women can impair men’s cognitive functioning“ article (same study linked above).
So what’s a viable solution for the military? Rehyansky advocates keeping the gays out of the military and putting lesbians and straight men together. Rehyansky wants to keep the fear of rape out of the military, clearly missing the irony when it comes to female soldiers.
Can male soldiers learn to act like civilized gentlemen, and overcome this drop in cognitive function when it comes to potential sexual partners? Evolution says no. Humans might walk upright and build structures as tall as mountains, but we are still only chemically- programmed animals. In this light, Rehyansky’s idea of grouping together soldiers based off sexual orientation is a relatively good one- he just gets the groupings wrong. If the military felt like turning away recruits, it should start at heterosexual males…
Homosexuals should be allowed to openly serve, and they should do it beside women. When was the last time you heard of a gay man raping a woman? Women don’t seem to have the cognitive drop issue men have, so separating lesbians from the rest of the female soldiers is not necessary.
Having lesbian soldiers work with straight male soldiers like Rehyansky suggested is dicey, as even a particularly butch lesbian risks activating a primitive male soldiers “must stick penis in something” switch. Some would argue Rehyansky hints at lesbian soldiers being raped by their male counterparts as a positive thing, but I am hard-pressed to think Rehyansky is stupid enough to believe sexually assaulting a lesbian makes her straight (counter-intuitive much?)…
So what should be done? Common sense states: Keep straight male soldiers away from every other gender and orientation in the military to ensure they commit no crimes, aren’t frightened by the sexual glances of gay male soldiers, and they maintain optimal levels of cognitive performance. It’s the best solution, really.