rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was an informative read. I suppose that one could go to life without wanting to learn anything at all. But anyone, gay or straight, who is interested about The Marines, or notions of masculinity, issues about gender, identity and how it is influenced by all of this, can benefit from reading this book.
The estimates of gays in the military are hard to pin down. Unlike other ‘jobs’ out there, were one to be found out to be gay, that person is subject to prosecution under articles of the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice). However, it is absolutely clear from my dealings with friends and coworkers and so on, that there is nothing weak, malicious, untrustworthy, or ‘wrong’ with gays. Most that I know are of very honorable character. Why should they not be allowed to serve in the military?
I will not ‘recruit’ people into the military. I often give out my number to people intersted in signing, telling them that I’ll go with them to a recruiter (I’m going with someone on Tuesday). It is my belief that one should not go into the military under false pretenses. Face it, recruiters can feed you a line of BS. I am, however, very proud of the uniform and those comrades in arms that serve with me. It is MY ass out there on patrol in a war, not the recruiters, and I want someone beside me who understands fully what is being asked of him/her and knows why he/she is joining.
So in question of this reason for joining, think that gays don’t feel love for their country? That they don’t feel duty and honor? If you sincerely think not, you my friend have lived in a very narrow and shallow world and I hope that some enlightenment comes your way.
This book also addresses issues of masculininty for what is more masculine than a gung ho Marine? We drink gasoline, eat barbed wire, and fight bar fights at the drop of a hat. However, to set this up as the definition of manliness makes what is not this unmanly. A man who, in a bar fight, determines that it is a stupid thing (15 years bartending… drunk rabble rousers are very stupid) and that he’d be better served to go elsewhere. Trust me, knocking out a drunk person, dragging him outside and plopping him down on the curb, is very easy.
Yet is it manly to show emotion? Is it manly, as one marine in the book, a hetero marine who is the brother of a gay marine, to like feminine things like ‘art and literature’? Has our definition of masculinity become so narrow as to consider art feminine?
Must everything in our society be categorized by genitals? I wonder what genital category ketchup has, as compared to mustard? Sounds like a stupid question (it is) but consider that it is unmanly for a guy to order a lemon drop cocktail or a strawberry daquiri. Men drink whisky and beer and sometimes red wine.
It is a hundred times easier for a masculine heterosexual marine to back up a buddy in a fight, two against twelve with certain ass kicking coming their way, than it is to cry at a deeply moving scene in a movie (old yeller not withstanding), or to try to patch up the pieces of his relationship with his wife/girlfriend.
As or notions of masculinity are quite limiting and skewed to a high degree (which cuts off much of what we are able to express and feel) it is easy to fear (yes… FEAR) and condemn with all the fiery hared that fear entails (look at religious fundamentalists across the world) the actions of gays. A man that doesn’t want to be ‘a man’ is suspect. We can either look at our responses to this emotional energy from within us, or we can shut it out and condemn it from fear. Yet in looking at it we learn a few things, among them, that perhaps some of our heterosexual relations with women are not about relations at all but about power. And for more information on this one has simply to listen with open ears to a feminist.
Do not get me wrong, I am pagan and place no inherent morality on sex. I do not view it as automatically good or bad, beautiful or debasing. I believe that sometimes a good lay is just a good lay, and sometimes it is a deep connection between two people. Yet the hypermasculine world that we men in America subscribe to makes it hard for us to tell the difference between the two. And we wonder why we enter into anonymous sex looking for more, and why we have no meaningfulness in our sex with our wives/girlfriends.
Our notions of sexuality in this country are skewed. What seems normal for us is limiting, too black and white, and easily falls prey to objectifying and issues of power. If a ‘straight’ Marine cannot read this book, then I challenge him to look at his inner world and what shapes his thoughts and beliefs. Is one so unsure, so fragile, as to be threatened by a book? I’m pretty sure that I can read a book on canibalism or ease of dumping chemicals into waterstreams and not feel the urge to do so. Yet never looking at these issues, our blind ignorance, we are surprised to find the chemicals that we do dump into our streams, and the perverse morality of what goes on in our food industry.
This is a book that is for men in America, not only gays or the military, but all men.