Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

June 10, 2013

Stumptalk: The elephant in the room

By Phillip J. Chesser
Chronicle contributor

CROSSVILLE — I recently saw video footage of the president surrounded by the heads of all the services; they had assembled to address the continuing and scandalous problem of sexual harassment in the armed forces. The elephant in the room, of course, was young women in the military serving in close quarters with young men.

In 1954 at age eighteen I joined the Navy. My reason was the same as everyone else’s in those days: to serve one hitch to satisfy the military obligation and then to get on with the rest of my life. At that time every male between 18 and 26 was subject to the draft.

Just about every boy I grew up with in my neighborhood joined the Navy; one went to law school and then joined the Air Force. Another got kicked out of the Air Force Academy when he decided that love was more important than flying jets. He got married, which was not permitted in the service academies in those days. For all of my friends and for most young men of the 1950s and 1960s, military service was a major inconvenience, so I never heard anyone complain — because no one ever did — about being denied his right to serve, only about the requirement to serve. Most served honorably and after discharge bragged about it, but few young men either enjoyed service or stayed longer than necessary. When I decided to reenlist, no one could understand and some were rude enough to say I was wasting my life. That’s the way it was in the circles in which I grew up. 

For reasons unrelated to the draft, a few women joined the services. In those days women served in administrative, clerical, or medical areas. At that time I never heard the phrase sexual harassment uttered by anyone because it was not a problem. Men and women lived separately and worked together only ashore in offices, hospitals, or clinics. Women did not serve on ships at sea or in field situations with infantry or other combat units. The armed services of those times recognized the wisdom of the ages. They did not mix hormone ravaged young men and young women together in situations guaranteed to create the problems now plaguing the armed forces.           

Why does anyone, other than pusillanimous admirals and generals and radical feminists who hate the military but want to make a political statement, think that sexual mixing in the armed forces is a good idea? What genius believes that putting healthy young men and women together in explosive, sexually charged situations is not going to cause problems? Who besides the god of political correctness benefits from these arrangements?

I served twenty years in the Navy, many of them at sea on ships with cramped living and working quarters. At sea men live and work in very close quarters. They sleep one on top of the other in cramped berthing compartments, shower in communal showers, and perform other bodily functions, always in the presence of an audience. Worse, they behave as young men have always behaved. They make crude, bawdy, and obscene remarks and they play offensive practical jokes. That’s the way men are. Why put women into the mix?

Mixing young men and young women together under these circumstances creates huge management problems, which are now causing much hand wringing and consternation among the leaders of the services who serve the god of political correctness above all others.

Young men by themselves cause enough trouble. When at sea as an independent duty hospital corpsman (a paramedic) I worked directly for the executive officer, the second in command. I saw him spend large portions of his time on personnel matters: sailors who got drunk and got into fights, sailors who got drunk and drove cars into either other cars or trees, sailors who got arrested, sailors who ran up huge debts with local merchants and then would not pay them, sailors who impregnated local girls and then refused to do the honorable thing, and so forth.

Adding women to this mix is idiotic. It increases the costs of operations and degrades readiness simply to satisfy Gloria and her progeny. Is there really a right to serve in the armed forces? Where exactly is it enumerated? Most of all, how do women benefit from the inevitable sexual harassment? Who benefits? No one; worse, women suffer, and the taxpaying citizens of the United States pay more for less.

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Stumptalk is published weekly in the Crossville Chronicle. The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Chronicle publisher, editor or staff. To contact Stumptalk, email coordinator Jim Sykes at sykes113@frontiernet.net.