Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sexual Objectification in the Military

Back when the US military was a bastion of male heterosexuality, sexual objectification (if Andrea Dworkin thinks that using this term makes people appear smart, then why not use it?) was a key feature of military life, as illustrated in these clips from Full Metal Jacket:

From Robert Eberwein's book Armed Forces: Masculinity and Sexuality in the American War Film

...The earliest instance of the rifle/gun chant and practice I have been able to find documented in records from the U.S. military appears in personal histories of wartime experiences by William T. Paull and Leonard E. Skinner, who were in marine boot camp in San Diego in 1942.  Both offer versions of what happened to anyone who mistakenly called his rifle a gun. 
According to Paull, "there were two standard punishments for this sacrilege.  The first time the DI heard a recruit say the forbidden word, 'gun', the hapless offender would be required to sleep with his rifle beside him in the narrow cot.  If he slipped up again, he would be stationed in front of the company headquarters with rifle on shoulder, fly open, and pecker hanging out.  He'd recite to all who passed by: 'this is my rifle' while pointing to the rifle, and 'this is my gun' while pointing to his crotch, then 'this is for fighting' and 'this is for fun.'"
Skinner discusses a similar punishment: "One evening a recruit from another platoon opened the door to our hut and stepped inside, holding his rifle in one hand and his penis in the other.  First, presenting one, then the other, he loudly recited the following poem: 'This is my rifle and this is my gun. This is for shooting and this is for fun.'  He then went on to the next hut, as he had to repeat his performance to everyone in the entire recruit depot!"
 Prostitution used to be a common diversion for US soldiers (in fact, I know of one Vietnam War veteran who received a Good Conduct medal for having been the only soldier in his unit who didn't catch a venereal disease!).  The play Miss Saigon brilliantly objectifies (sure, I can overuse that word, too) the activities that used to take place outside US military bases the world over.

A brief documentary on how things used to work in Cam Ranh Bay:

Some of the largest American military bases outside the USA used to be in the Philippines. Quite a lot of sex workers were employed in servicing our brave military service members.  A lot of the excitement quieted down after the Yankees went home in 1992.  However, Angeles City, just outside the former Clark Air Base, remains something of a destination for sex tourists, who (I think) mostly come from South Korea, Japan and Taiwan these days.

Hooker Hill, located just outside America's Yongsan Army Base in Seoul, used to a busy place, particularly on pay day when the soldiers had a bit of money to spend.  The activities of the whores were something to see.

During the 1980s, I lived in the South Pacific Kingdom of Tonga.  A couple of times per year, a navy warship would stop for a port call.  A seaman, when he had a bit of shore leave, generally had two things on his mind: one of which involved getting drunk; the other of which involved ejaculating a bit of semen.  Watching the drunken sailors staggering around town was always quite entertaining.

In 2002, the famous Langtree Brothel in Perth was forced to close temporarily, because the whores were much too worn out from trying to service thousands of horny sailors who had disembarked from three American warships.  I'm sure that Tonga wouldn't have been able to handle that many seamen at one time, either.

With the rise of Feminism, increasing numbers of women became attracted to the pay, benefits and lifestyle offered by the US military.  Which meant, of course, that male sexuality had to be reigned in and repressed.

Consequently, on 15 May, 2005, President George W. Bush issued Executive Order # 12473, which made the patronizing a prostitute by a military member a crime, punishable by dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 1 year.  Since then, as one might expect, Seoul's Hooker Hill, which is now off limits to American soldiers, is reportedly going down hill.  Moreover, indecent exposure is now a crime, the maximum penalty for which is a bad-conduct discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 6 months.  So, no more displaying your penis and reciting the little "This is my rifle, this is my gun" poem.  This must make it difficult for men who are off on a mission somewhere and who have to pee.  Particularly if they didn't bring along a port-a-potty.  With our Military Academies open to women since 1976, quite a lot of effort has to go into modifying the military-academy culture to accommodate them.

 When asked about his stance on gays in the military, Jesse Ventura quipped "I don’t care about gays in the military. If they do the job, what do I care for? In fact, I wish there were more! I was single then. And when I got to the Philippines, I’d have more pickings!"  Well, if he were to return to the Philippines as a military member today, current regulations would limit his pickings to nil.

As one might have anticipated, reports of sexual assaults within the military have been rising sharply.  However, a lot of the sexual-assault figures reported by the Department of Defense may have been inflated by poor statistical methods.  Indeed, I used to work on personnel surveys for the Department of Defense, and I have reported on the Departments shoddy statistical practices.  I really wouldn't trust any of the figures.  I do know that results from personnel surveys usually aren't made public, unless the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness has a point to make.  My suspicion is that Mrs. Jessica Wright, the acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness

was trying to make a point to justify further restrictions on male sexuality in the military.  Fairly clever, and she should keep a lot of people very busy for a few years.

Another result of the restrictions on sexuality has been an increase in marriages among young recruits: partly to have someone with whom to have legally-sanctioned coitus, and partly to take advantage of the extra allowances enjoyed by married military members.

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