Saturday, December 4, 2010

What's really not being asked or told? Hint: It's not the shower, stupid.

About this whole DADT business....

The concern is not about showering with the homo. Can we all please be clear about that? I'm also pretty sure it's a boy thing, only. The voices that are sheltering naked straightness are really only interested in keeping males from feeling uncomfortable. And that's the part I want to talk about now.

People know perfectly well that public showering means being seen, possibly, on a good day, being appreciated. It's true in grade school, high school, college, summer camp, the beach, the pool. It's true everywhere. And consider, wouldn't it be sadder to be stark naked after painstakingly building your body to be "Army strong" and then have nobody appreciate it? Seriously.

The fear is not of dropping terry-cloth in the locker-room. The fear is of dropping homo-hate rhetoric everywhere else. Straight male culture isn't scared of being ogled for being strong; in fact, it likes that. It's scared of acknowledging two things:

First, that it is weak enough to need "faggots" as necessary points of orientation (don't you love that?) in order to define itself. People who are scared of Queer people don't really care who looks at them. They just want some non-straight other against which to define themselves. Otherwise they won't know where to find themselves on the map. Scary, that.

Second, straightness has no exclusive claim on strength and manliness. That's right, God was a fairly equal opportunity distributor of power. It's only patriarchy that has felt the need to hoard and deny it. (I have no idea whether straight women's culture has a correlative need to scapegoat lesbians -- I imagine not, but would love to hear feedback on this question.)

Can the DADT crowd be content with themselves as men if they can't console themselves by saying "Well, at least I'm not a homo..."? What does it mean to be a marine, if you don't idolize (and fictionalize) your butchness? John McCain doesn't want to admit that a man doesn't have to be straight to do what he did.

The fear is not about welcoming faggots in the lockerroom. The fear is of ushering "Faggot!" out of accepted cultural vocabulary. That's the work that requires genuine leadership and some genuine strength.

The recent survey makes clear the troops are ready to do their work. Is military leadership ready to fulfill its role?

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