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Michael Peck

Laurie, is your beef with military culture, or that the military exists at all?

What qualities would the military need for it to be acceptable to you?

Laurie Essig

Both. I don't like our highly militarized economy or culture, the effects of Empire, or war. I also think that much of this world gone wrong- from unjustified invasion to Wall St. greed- has happened because of highly masculinized institutions like the military (not to be confused with men per se, but a sort of value system that values the traits we associate with masculinity-- one only need think of Condi Rice's role in getting this country into these wars).

Don't get me wrong- I can be as manly as the next girl- and believe what we call "masculinity" is useful and necessary- in moderation and when balanced with other values. Otherwise, the result is a highly aggressive and violent state/State.

In my dreamworld, I would like to see a return to humanist values- neither feminine nor masculine- but ones that represent something that is better than both.

Michael Peck

It sounds like you want the military to be independent of gender and sexual preference. But you also sound disappointed that the presence of gay soldiers won't soften military culture. That should be a good thing from your standpoint, because you wouldn't want change to be generated by sexual preference.

Be careful with the gender terms. Successful armies need "masculine" qualities like aggression. But armies that win wars, rather than just look macho on parade, also tend to have "feminine" qualities like cooperation and communications. We need to get away from words like "masculine" and "feminine."

Laurie Essig

Win wars? Seems as oxymoronic as army intelligence or feminine soldier to me.

As for the terms- well, we have to name them for what they are in our culture if we want to get away from forcing certain bodies to conform to them.


"...(they) overlaid it with their own disavowal of gayness– a cultural enactment of the military’s own conflicted relationship to masculinity and homoeroticism."

Call me crazy, but I didn't read malicious intent in this video. In fact, I think it's rather incredible (and perhaps a step in the right direction?) that they performed in this video at all and then posted it on YouTube for the whole world to see, not just for their own frat-like amusement. There was no violence, there were no disparaging subtitles, and no one seemed the least bit concerned about what this might do to their "rep". Perhaps I'm viewing this with rose-colored glasses, but is the real message here "what's the big, freakin' deal" about gays in the military? If straight guys can spoof gay guys, clearly the world does not come to an end and military life goes on.

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