DADT and Gender Equality

Now that gays will be allowed to serve openly in the military, the command will have some new issues to address.

Pat Lang proposes Equal Treatment for Women Soldiers. To wit:

The Department of Defense has announced that its response to the repeal of DADT will include a policy that there will be no separate facilities provided for openly gay service members. In other words, no separate; living space, shower facilities, latrines (bathrooms), etc. Since the provision of such separate facilities for women was predicated on the sexual attraction between heterosexual males and females, the open service of male and female homosexuals who are sexually attracted by people of their own sex should call into question the existence of any separate facilities in the military for reasons of gender difference.

The proponents of repeal have argued that military policies with regard to fraternization, assault and public sexual behavior will be sufficient to prevent misbehavior under this change. If this is true then what is the rationale for not expecting the same with regard to heterosexual relationships and facilities in the US military?

One presumes Pat’s tongue is planted firmly in cheek here and that his objective is to point to the hypocrisy of the command structure’s ignoring the realities of gay integration rather than the ending of separate facilities for women.

A couple commenters suggest the two are different, in that

  • The vast majority of young male soldiers would be sexually attracted to the vast majority of young female soldiers when seeing them nude, especially with the enhancement of long non-availability of nude female civilians whereas most gay soldiers aren’t attracted to heterosexual males.
  • Females being ogled by males are much more likely to be uncomfortable than males being ogled by other males
  • Anatomical differences make segregation necessary for reasons aside from sexual attraction.
  • Oh, and homosexuals have been in the service showering with people since the dawn of military showers, so the DADT repeal isn’t really anything new.

I haven’t the foggiest idea whether the first two of these are true, having been exclusively heterosexual and male.  The third and fourth of these, however, strike me as reasonable if not dispositive.

Clearly, we’re not going to eliminate gender-segregated facilities any time soon. And we’re certainly not going to transition from a policy excluding gays from service to one that renders them second class citizens with their own drinking fountains showers.   So, that means some growing pains as we get used to open integration.  Presumably, the end result will be a breaking down of stereotypes and an increase of cross-cultural understanding.  In the meantime, expect an uptick in “don’t drop the soap” and dick jokes.

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, Military Affairs, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Derrick says:

    The real, if ugly, reason are the high incidences of rape that occur for female members of the military. I forget the name of the study done early this year, but I was stunned by how many women in the military were sexually abused and unfortunately not stunned that many did not report these incidences. It’s not to say that rape can’t occur in an all-male population, but women are in much more danger of this if they were to share facilities.

  2. ponce says:

    I’ll wager 20 Quatloos that the percentage of gay and lesbian military personnel is several multiples higher than their percentage in the general population.

    10 Quatloos say the U.S. military is at least 1/3 gay and lesbian.

  3. just me says:

    Well honestly it doesn’t make sense to segregate the straights and the gays based on fraternization since the straights aren’t interested in the gays. Makes the most sense for the gays to be housed and sharing facilities with the people that aren’t attracted to them than all together.

    I do think the issue of bathrooms and sleeping quarters will just work themselves out-and there aren’t issues now, and if they develop then UCMJ rules should cover those harrassing or fraternization problems.

    I suspec the UCMJ will need to be overhauled to make sure situations reflect that gays are allowed to serve openly and fraternization rules apply to them.

    But I am not sure sharing a shower today with the in the closet gay is all that different from sharing it with the openly gay person. My dh says as often as not they generally knew who was gay and who wasn’t anyway-it was just more suspicion than confirmed.

  4. PD Shaw says:

    Since the district court initially enjoining DADT enforcement ruled that members of the military are entitled to sexual privacy, the military may not have any choice. They will be sued if they don’t provide separate facilities.

  5. PD Shaw says:

    just me, when I went off to college, I was assigned a dorm room with a closeted homosexual. Had I been known he was gay and been given a choice, I would have asked for a transfer. Instead, he said nothing, I didn’t ask, but suspected, and we didn’t switch rooms away from each other at the end of the semester. By the end of the year, we went our separate ways.

    To me, there would have been a wide difference between not knowing the bunkmate as a person, but knowing he was a gay and slowly getting to know him as a person and suspecting he was gay.

  6. just me says:

    To me, there would have been a wide difference between not knowing the bunkmate as a person, but knowing he was a gay and slowly getting to know him as a person and suspecting he was gay.

    Not really to me, but then I wonder how much this is a gender issue. I am a woman and don’t really care one way or the other. I sometimes think men care more about this stuff. Maybe I am off my rocker since I don’t have research or anything, but I am not sure I see a big deal with sharing a barracks or bathroom (also I have never been in a situation where there wasn’t the privacy of doors on shower and bathroom doors-not sure I would feel comfortable sharing without the privacy with people of the same gender and straight much less gay).

  7. An Interested Party says:

    “Had I been known he was gay and been given a choice, I would have asked for a transfer.”

    Why? Were you worried he would hit on you or something?

  8. JKB says:

    Of course, the normalization of gender treatment won’t happen in the near term but long term, there is little justification. Many of the comments reveal the commenter has never lived in a barracks, an open berthing area or even a room the size of a closet with other people. Or how about hot bunking as they do (or did on subs).

    Now one, hopefully, immediate effect may be that no longer will the reporting of same-sex sexual harassment be inhibited by the fear of being labeled anti-gay. I’ve read anecdotal, so take them for what they’re worth, accounts that lesbian harassment of straight girls in the Navy has been prevalent. In actuality, not much will happen for gays who keep their private and professional life separate but those who feel a need to look for love in the wrong places will cause a lot of disruption, whether it be unwanted attention or coupling in the unit.

  9. An Interested Party says:

    “In actuality, not much will happen for gays who keep their private and professional life separate but those who feel a need to look for love in the wrong places will cause a lot of disruption, whether it be unwanted attention or coupling in the unit.”

    As if the same can’t be said of heterosexuals looking for love in all the wrong places…the comments of some reveal that the commenter has no clue about the majority of gay people and would prefer to trade in crude stereotypes…

  10. G.A.Phillips says:

    ***10 Quatloos say the U.S. military is at least 1/3 gay and lesbian.***it one of the fastest growing religions.

    lol Gaydar.net, nice add………