Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Jim Webb Was Right

Jim Webb, our junior Senator was pilloried by his Republican opponent for criticism he made a little over 20 years ago regarding admitting women into the Naval Academy. One of the things he called that institution was "a horny woman's dream." He then went on to say how the different standards and sexual tensions would injure morale and readiness.

USA Today now has this story about a female graduate of the Naval Academy who left that institution about 20 years ago. According to the story (which I'm sure cable must be going insane over) she is a navy Captain infatuated with fellow astronaut and Lt. Commander. I wonder what the effects on morale are going to be in the shuttle program from this little epic?

Now what does NASA say? "Her status is unchanged" and they want to help her get through this. A woman has just driven 900 miles, using diapers so she did not have to take bathroom breaks, in order to kidnap, threaten or off her perceived romantic rival. But NASA doesn't want to hurt her feelings. Her son in high school and her husband's feelings are not discussed. The effect on the other members of the astronaut corps is unmentioned.

She and the other folks in this story are the creme-de-la-creme of the military. They are all in their 40's. How many other disruptive relationships are likely occurring among 20 somethings in a mixed sex, and shortly, mixed sexual orientation military?

I was stunned some years ago at the pregnancy rate of female sailors after a deployment. Of course the media will not do a story reflecting the permanent problems of mixed sex armed forces but every now and then, like in this delicious story, Old Adam (and Eve) can not be hidden. From the nature of things this sort of jealously and disfunction is likely greater than we are aware, but neither I nor Jim Webb could hope for a more spectacular example of what he was talking about.

Operation Petticoate is a failure. But boy does it serve up juicy stories.

Finally, I am in no way against female astronauts and have seen Barbarella on numerous occasions. It is the military aspect of fraternization that caught my eye.


Anonymous said...

IMNSHO, not one of your better rants. For a variety of reasons:

(1) Trusting sensationalist newspaper accounts to be accurate representations of what is going on in people's lives is a dicey proposition at best. It's quite possible that this woman/astronaut is indeed severely messed up, and has spectacularly torpedoed her life and her family along the way. There are other possible explanations as well. To expand this story into an indictment of women in uniform is almost as breathtaking as Gingrich blaming
liberals and other secular humanists for the woman who drowned her three babies in a car a few years ago. Only to discover that she had mentally unbalanced ever since her repeated childhood sexual abuse by her father, a local Republican party bigwig.

(2) Military officers (male and female; straight, bi and gay) have been engaging in misconduct involving relationships for as long as the military cared about such things. These relationships should be dealt with as necessary to maintain discipline within the services, regardless of the nature of the relationship. Superior-subordinate relationships are the most problematic, but others raise legitimate issues that the services have a right to act upon.

(3) Rates of pregnancy after deployment are irrelevant to me as a measure of impact on the armed services in completing their mission. I'm much more interested in unit effectiveness. While I have not studied this extensively, my brother (a career air force officer, and full Colonel) has. Indeed, part of his portfolio in the past few years has been future planning and effectiveness. For reasons I can't quite figure out, he is also a Republican. Despite this background, he is a firm supporter of women in the military. I am more inclined to take his views on this topic more seriously than I am those of a sideline cheerleader interested in scoring political points - no matter what political points they might happen to be.


Anonymous said...

Oh, and as an aside, I note that the military didn't always care about such things. The Spartans, for example, had a very different view of foxhole relationships, and yet by all accounts had a kickass military. Just ask Xerxes and the Persians. I'm not advocating the Spartan model for a variety of reasons, I'm just pointing out the fallacy of assuming that military effectiveness is automatically impaired by sexuality of whatever kind.


jjv said...

The Spartans are an interesting example and can be used for all sorts of purposes. I will be seeing the 300 for sure. However, I am pretty sure the concept of "gay" simply did not exist in the Greek world.

I knocked off this rant quickly as the article is just too perfect to let lie. When I was young this is the sort of story that would lead people to say"God Loves the N.Y. Post."

Anonymous said...

I will admit that, when in NY or passing a news stand, I will often check just to see what fun headline the tabloids have come up with that day :)


Dave S. said...

The day after Noriega was arrested in 1989, I correctly predicted the subsequent NY Post headline: "GOT HIM!" I have always been inordinately proud of that.

Of course, it may be impossible to beat the headline "HEADLESS BODY FOUND IN TOPLESS BAR" for sheer tabloid goodness.