What would the ramifications be if the separation of men and women in the military was suddenly no longer enforced. Imagine a fighting force in which they showered together, slept together, and used the same latrines (restrooms for you civilian folk). Frankly, it would be logistically cheaper- what a great idea! I can’t calculate the additional costs associated with arranging separate billeting, time wasted planning a camp around separate accommodations and the annoying “police work” of nabbing those persistent violators of discipline who just can’t seem to keep their hands off each other. In this era of economic uncertainty, this idea should be welcome- especially for those who seem to feel the military is our largest financial drag line. Screw the ramifications! Anyone who isn’t mature enough to handle this change should just get out of the military anyway (thank you for that nugget of, er…wisdom, Lady Gaga).
Here’s another question: Why do we separate men from women? There are copious details, but the answer is simple. It is how we are culturally wired. For the most part, women certainly would not want to share some of their more intimate moments with random members of the opposite sex. Many men may invite the idea of sharing showers with women, but I guarantee they would quickly tire of that as they find that it ain’t all that and, oh by the way, you aren’t all that either! Even more ridiculous is the notion that much of anyone would be even slightly comfortable with sharing some of the more humble activities involved with the porcelain throne. However, in the grand scheme of things are any of these ideas really enough to justify separating men from women? Couldn’t we all just be adults, get past the discomfort and drive on? Wouldn’t answering these questions alone be missing the point entirely?
The point is sex. We are very sexual creatures and the vast majority of what we do is in one fashion or another related to our sexual drive. In some cultures, sex is an openly accepted part of life and much of what we find indecent isn’t an issue within those cultures. When I was a child in Germany, I remember some lockers at public swimming pools being unisex and open (that is, no walls). I also remember children being allowed to swim naked and, if I recall correctly, some were older than just toddlers. Is there anything wrong with this? No, not for the Germans. Here in the U.S., however, there would be ample fodder for devastating sexual harassment or child abuse lawsuits.
So, back to the question of couldn’t we all just be adults and share amongst the two genders. Of course not! The act of sharing alone is not the issue, the issue is the sexual associations. The argument could be made about American sexual maturity, but it’s not like sexual harassment isn’t a problem in Germany and other countries as well. While sex is THE driving factor for what we do, we like to feel as much in control as possible over when we are the object of another person’s desires. This is, in part, to do with the “push-pull” behavior associated with courting, but it is much more to do with providing a civil barrier to control unwanted advances or sexual behavior targeted at disinterested individuals. In the United States, we feel that broadening those controls to societally accepted separations of proximity (separate showers, restrooms, and sleeping arrangements) and limitations on conduct (bodily exposure and sexual behavior) are key to an orderly society.
So, considering all of this, why is it that suddenly we want to ignore the effects of homosexual preference on the established and culturally accepted order of the United States military as well as the United States at large? Why is it that separating the potential sexual impulses of men from women (and vice versa) is considered prudent, but separating the sexual impulses of men from men or women from women is considered homophobic? I read an article from Time magazine which quoted Plato as supporting homosexuals in the military due to the defensive passion of “lovers”. I don’t know much about this viewpoint from Plato, but he was no idiot and would have had to think the matter a little further and recognize the damage to good order and conduct if Soldiers traded tactical savvy for impulsive passion.
I have no problem with homosexuals serving in the military. I have great admiration for anyone willing to serve honorably with our forces and I do not consider sexual orientation unto itself a dishonorable characteristic. However, the problems associated with that open arrangement are too much to ignore despite the assertions of Defense Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen. In fact, at least from Gates’ perspective, I see more political motivations than any real concern for “rights” or military readiness with Gates’ refusal to solicit input from military service members regarding repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell for fear of generating a “referendum”. We are not asking for a referendum, Mr. Gates. We are asking for the serious courtesy of our consideration because your folks are not apparently thinking this through enough. Until this is done, your review simply ignores the highly legitimate privacy concerns raised in part VI of your review in favor of very generic and emotional arguments in support of repeal. This is a bad start to a policy change- especially when our own troops are being ignored, but the policies of foreign militaries are a serious consideration.
Anyway, the situation lends itself to no comprehensive solution. No matter what we do there will be problems and legitimate concerns. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was the best compromise. I think the only changes that need to be made are in how DADT is enforced. Specifically, and I’m sure there are other issues, service members who have otherwise served honorably do not earn a path to a dishonorable discharge simply for their sexual orientation. At worst, a general discharge is sufficient.
A very good and brief essay written from the perspective of a former Air Force 1SG on the logistical impacts of repealing DADT is here. If you are serious about understanding the real consequences of this policy then please take the time to read the essay from a troop leading perspective- ESPECIALLY if you have never served in the military.