« A note on the "History of Violence" | Main | New blog recommendation »

January 11, 2006

Comments

Glitch

Well, beyond what you stated, Hugo, that sort of activity descrbed by the author is completely unprofessional and, depending on how far one of these women pushed it, grounds for a dishonorable discharge for both parties involved. When I was in ROTC in college I saw cadets hooking up at training camps. If the two were caught both the male and female were on a plane back to wherever they came from that day, and their career was over before it ever began. As far as I know this is the way things are done in any active duty unit, and likely the reserves and guard as well.

Even if there is no actual sex involved, abusing your sexuality to get out of difficult duties is grossly unprofessional and should never be tolerated. It only leads to resentment among male soldiers or women who still don't manage to make the grade for "Queen for a Year." Resentment leads to poor morale, discipline problems, poor unit cohesion, etc. This sort of thing is an anethema to an all-volunteer military that prides itself on the professionalism of its members. We're not Soviet conscripts drunkenly rampaging through East German villages, fer Chrissakes. I've heard proponents of male-only military service use precisely this argument. Perhaps pro-feminists should keep it in mind when arguing on the topic, so as not to lend the anti-feminists any ammunition.

Unless you're a stripper, using your sexuality in the workplace to get favorable treatment is simply unprofessional.

Hugo

Glitch, you're failing to see that no woman can get "favorable treatment" unless someone bestows it on her, usually a superior. And superiors are more responsible than their subordinates for their actions. We miss the boat completely when we hold women primarily responsible here -- no woman could "use" her sexuality unless men in positions of power were willing and eager to exploit it.

Antigone

And what a horrible slur against the soviet army!

Glitch, I think you're missing the point here. (And Hugo, stop me if I'm misrepresenting you). The thrust of this post is that women need to resist both the temptation to use our sexuality and to stop demonizing those who do. And, that men need to stop responding to the flirtation, but not demonize those who try it.

All of us are (to varying degrees) products of the envirnment we grew up in. And, we need to be aware of destructive dynamics, and try to find ways to overcome it.

Hugo

That's spot on, Antigone.

Glitch

Hugo, I don't get your response. Nowhere did I state that men who take advantage of Queens for a Year are somehow innocent. Yes, male superiors who take advantage of these women should be held accountable for their actions, and if those actions involve sexual activity, they should be sacked.

But it does take two to tango. According to the passage you posted, a Queen for a Year was a women who became aware of the power their sexuality had, and consciously chose to abuse it anyway. We shouldn't hold women primarily responsible in these cases. But equally? You bet. If a soldier is taking advantage of their sexuality to get out of tough work, and in the process destroying morale, cohesion and breeding resentment, then they shouldn't be in the military anymore, which is the same treatment their superior would likely get.

The Gonzman

The thrust of this post is that women need to resist both the temptation to use our sexuality and to stop demonizing those who do. And, that men need to stop responding to the flirtation, but not demonize those who try it.

But, by all means, continue to slam and demonize those men who do respond to it.

Let's see - women - don't blame them no matter what. Men - well, can't blame them if they don't respond, but if they do - WHAM!

Yep, it's men's fault again. Boy, I never saw THAT coming. I guess all that egalitarian feminism, assigning responsibility to women equally - that comes in the next issue. But's it's coming. You'll actually see it preached by a feminist someday, because, by golly, it's what feminism really believes! All, that anti-male, blame the male, it's BS - LIES! It's all lies!

Oh, well. Gonzo-Meany needs to finish his lunch. Someone had to say it; my turn to take one for the team.

Glitch

Antigone: Sorry, I can't agree with that. Women who use flirtatious behavior in a military environment, or hell, any for that manner, to dodge the tough work should be condemned for it. I have no problem calling out a women who flirts with the boss to get ahead, and I'd like to think that anyone else, man or woman, shouldn't have a problem either.

When we are speaking strictly of a military environment, these behaviors can effectively destroy a small unit. It should not be tolerated from either the QfaY or whoever she is flirting with. Reassing her to a different unit and give her a disciplinary action if necessary, and do the same for the male superior if he gave her unduly favorable treatment. If they ever had any sexual contact they should both be discharged under dishonorable circumstances.

In any other context, I still don't see why it is that women need to resist the temptation to demonize a civilian version of the QfaY, nor do I understand why men should not be able to condemn it. Are the actions of a QfaY not directly contrary to feminist ideals of women being judged not on the basis of gender, but on merit? Do the actions of a QfaY not make it more difficult for women who are trying to work their way up the corporate ladder or class rank through hard work and determination. The QFAY is, after all, getting ahead at the expense of a women who refuses to sink to the same level. Furthermore, by tolerating this sort of behavior you are effectively condoning it. Or, in the words of Publius Syrus, "Pardon on offence, and you encourage the commission of many."

The QfaY simply makes things harder for everyone involved, both their superiors and their contemporaries, and they should be roundly condemned (yes, and the men who respond to them, too). I have no problems calling any QfaY I see out on her behavior, and I would like to think that others should do the same.

Vacula

Glitch, you make good points about morale and the importance of equal treatment and discipline, but I think Hugo and Antigone are talking about something else when they say "demonize."

Disciplinary action is important to make it clear manipulative behavior
(whether flirting to avoid work or picking up her chores to gain points) is unprofessional, but it needs to be fair and include all the participants. If you "demonize" one of the people involved, condemning them personally without looking at the power dynamics (personal, social, professional, whatever) that lead to their actions, you won't solve the situation and the group dynamics might suffer just as much.

mythago

but not demonize those who try it

I don't know about 'demonize', but I don't see why manipulation via cuteness should be treated differently than any other type of slacking or BS.

Arwen

Awww, Glitch, if suddenly you looked like Marky Mark - all buff & chiseled and stuff - that wouldn't be heady? ( You may already look like him. In which case, imagine you look like Bill Gates, and then flip back to yourself. )

I'm in comp sci. When I first hit campus, I'd been used to being considered good looking, but I was/am no budweiser advert. I'd spent my teen years worried that I was a "dog" or a "pig" or someone else laughable. I was a size eight worried that I was Roseanne; I was five four, and brunette, and not airbrushed.

Being one young woman (with shared interests) in a sea of young men did garner me a level of attention I was utterly unused to. I'd grown up looking at those leggity blonds with the six packs and various gyrating music stars; the male artists on MTV were not held to the same attractiveness standard! To be suddenly (and inappropriately) be treated like the gorgeous and talented and famous Gwen Stephani was absolutely heady. I was suddenly, oddly, a *girl*. There were no work related benefits such as this woman speaks of, but then there's not a tradition of men opening up women's hex editors in popular culture and all assignments were marked against a student number.

As for responsibility or punishment: well, hey. If the guidelines say "don't fraternize", then you shouldn't fraternize. I'm not sure that Hugo's saying the women caught for violating rules shouldn't be held accountable. Since he's a man, though, he's doing the analysis from a place where he can help.

Demonizing anyone rarely makes sense. People aren't generally demons. It doesn't require demonization to discipline, otherwise three year olds would be awfully treated. I usually know where my kid's coming from and I don't think he's a bad kid; still, behaviours can be less than ideal or utterly unacceptable.

Glitch

Arwen:

Awww, Glitch, if suddenly you looked like Marky Mark - all buff & chiseled and stuff - that wouldn't be heady?

I used to be. There was a time, about four years ago, where my body fat was in the low single digits, I ran ten miles a day and did freeweights every day of the week. My motivation has declined as of late, and I'm getting pretty pudgy. I never used my body to get ahead with female or gay male professors or managers. Hell, even with my looks I still didn't get much attention from women, so maybe I didn't have the option anyway (I have been catcalled on the street and sexually assaulted in bars by gay men, though. Make of that what you will).

Regarding "demonizing," since I didn't see Hugo suggest anywhere in this post that QfaY should be held accountable or disciplined for their behavior, I took "demonize" to mean, "be punished." Hugo flat out states that, "It's too simplistic to insist to young women that they ought never use their sexuality, no matter what the potential rewards." Hugo's solution to this problem is to teach men not be such shallow jerks. Nowehere do I see any suggestions that we should teach women that using their sexuality to get ahead it wrong and bad for women in general, a lesson that anyone with a room-terperature IQ could grasp.

I mean, right here we see that women are not to blame, apparently, for their deliberate choice to abuse their sexuality to get perks and favors. It's the fault of weak men, and the instigating party is apparently not a fault. They're just so misunderstood and ignorant, the poor dears.

Hugo: I was also bothered by this,

On the other hand, MRAs are angry because they feel that men are being manipulated and "used" by "scheming women"; they are frustrated, I suspect, both by their own inability to gain access to women and by their own vulnerability to flirtation and arousal. They become enraged by what they desire but generally cannot have.

Holy hell, talk about demonizing. Now, I don't consider myself an MRA, but I was pretty offended by this. You don't think it's just the slightest bit possible that maybe MRAs and other people who aren't avowed feminists are angered by QfaY types because the latter is using illegitimate means that the former will never possess, in order to advance at the expense of everyone else? I certainly am pissed at QfaY types for that reason. I can't be the only one.

Hugo

Let me be clear that I'm not releasing women from all accountability here. But in a supervisor/supervisee relationship (or Sergeant/Private relationship) the burden always falls on the one with more authority.

Vacula

For what it's worth, I thought that passage about MRA's sexual frustration being the root of their resentment was pretty awful to me too. I'm surprised Mr. Bad hasn't jumped down Hugo's throat about it.

I've met people who take out their insecurities on everyone around them. They're usually very scary and obsessive. But I wouldn't assume every man that is resentful of or disapproves of "feminine wiles" is afraid of women and can't get a date. That sounds an awful lot like the arguments some people use about ugly, hairy-legged, man-bashing feminists. (Why being ugly is always equated with hairy-leggedness is beyond me, but it does come up a lot).

Vacula

For what it's worth, I thought that passage about MRA's sexual frustration being the root of their resentment was pretty awful too. I'm surprised Mr. Bad hasn't jumped down Hugo's throat about it.

I've met people who take out their insecurities on everyone around them. They're usually very scary and obsessive. But I wouldn't assume every man that is resentful of or disapproves of "feminine wiles" is afraid of women and can't get a date. That sounds an awful lot like the arguments some people use about ugly, hairy-legged, man-bashing feminists not getting dates. (Why being ugly is equated with hairy-leggedness is beyond me, but it does come up a lot).

Vacula

So sorry!

Arwen

Nowehere do I see any suggestions that we should teach women that using their sexuality to get ahead it wrong and bad for women in general, a lesson that anyone with a room-terperature IQ could grasp.

If you're not hearing that suggestion being made explicitly, it's probably because it's the bedrock of thinking for many people who'd like to see the stereotypes around women change. A first premise, if you will. I doubt "a feminist" would generally frame it like that, but some would - I have feminist friends who probably share your anger. Let me put it this way: we'd all love for women to be less dependant on their perceived sexuality in society, and I think lots of us would like to teach women not to use their sexualities in every scenario: seems to me we need to cease teaching them that they SHOULD use their sexualities in every scenario, in order to change the dynamic.

(This is why I protested the olympics legislating women in bikinis for their outdoor volleyball, even though we all know those athletes are damn hot, and I like looking at them too.)

We *do* need to teach women that their sexualities aren't the way to get ahead professionally (unless, of course, they're in a sex related industry). I'm trying to figure out how to do that in a culture where everyone female short of Janet Reno shows up on the cover of Maxim (*g*). Saying "those b*tches" doesn't help change the dynamic because - as long as every woman is compared to the Maxim lady and every magazine has airbrushed cleavage on it - *this is going to continue*. There's active feminist dialogue about this: see discussions on the Raunch Culture and the book "Female Chauvinist Pigs". I disagree with many of the conclusions, but perhaps you'd find some similarity of thinking there; the point is mainly that feminists are thinking about this issue all the time and coming to many different conclusions. Women don't let each other off the hook, but they do recognize the culture from whence they sprang. ( For example, I'd be interested to see reporting on similar behaviours or lack of behaviours in the Iranian female police force? )

I understand feeling frustrated or angry that you don't have the sexual option to help you "get ahead". Neither do I, really - the casting-couch, sleep-your-way up option lasts for a very slim amount of time in the life of a woman, if it happens at all, and won't lead you to the office of the Surgeon General. The women who exploit such traits aren't doing me any favours, and in some cases are actively destroying my credibility. That's frustrating, sure: I react by only working in places where there's no option of sleeping one's way to the top for anyone.

Supervisors, of course, need to keep their hands clean since they have the power in all of these scenarios. That's another dynamic, although an interwoven one.

Space Chick

Hugo, this may be just as much of a peer issue as a superior-subordinate issue. And I think that the female behaviour Kayla is referring to doesn't necessarily mean sleeping with someone, or even brazen flirtation. It can be as simple as asking a guy for a favor or two, smiling nicely, and maybe batting your eyes. It doesn't necessarily include explicitly or even implicitly promising sexual favors in return. But some guys will indeed fall all over themselves to oblige the Queen, in hopes she'll be willing to engage in physical intimacy later. Even if she never does, she still got what she wanted, whether it was more of a good thing or less of a bad thing. And she did it by consciously playing on her sexuality. Certainly if people are fooling around, they should and hopefully will get punished for that. But it's not always something you can punish outright. Can you imagine the resulting conversation?

Sgt Hugo: "Private Space, I'm reprimanding you for smiling at people. Stop it once. This deployment is hard enough without you being nice to people, and having them be nice to you in return!"

Avoiding/fixing the Queen phenomenon requires mentoring, not disciplinary action. You have to explain to the guys that the Queen (sometimes known as a Peninsula Princess, whether Arabian Peninsula or Korean Peninsula) is probably NOT going to deliver on any implied intimacy, or that if she does, they'll both be in big trouble; that they're being used, and that it's unprofessional of both of them to use high-school games at work. Then you have to explain to QfaY (or PP) that you see what she's doing, you've told the guys she won't get any more special favors, and she needs to pull her weight, or be branded as a slacker for the rest of her tour.

Many times people don't want to be this direct, but you have to do it, or resentment will build. Unfortunately, if this continues despite gentle mentoring, it undermines the way other women will be treated by those guys, even in future units, because they'll assume the rest of us work the same way. One thing other military women can do that the guys really can't is point that out, and tell QfaY/PP that her actions are reinforcing stereotypes that women don't belong in the military.

If necessary, you make sure that her performance reports reflect that QfaY/PP didn't do well at her job, she has not mastered her duties, and she is not ready for promotion or additional responsibility. It's all true, because she got everyone else to do her work for her, and that way you don't put yourself in the position of trying to officially punish something that isn't an offense, more like a poor way to do business.

Hugo

Let me say that while I stand by the body of the post, the bit about MRAs was a bit nasty, and not compatible with the standards I set for my blogging. I'll apologize gladly for that.

I stand by the rest of my statements, with due deference to those whose knowledge of the military is far richer than mine.

Tara

When men do this they are considered charismatic... some people can turn on the charm (and it's not necessarily sexual - at all - ) and some can't.

Without condoning sexual posturing (or condemning charisma) it seems to me that the simplest way to end this dynamic is for men to listen to their ears and minds first. Even though I am a radical feminist, I still presume they are all capable of this, including our armed forces.

Antigone

I think I need to clarify: "demonize" is different from "critize" and is way different from "not punishing".

Demonize means that you try not to understand where they're coming from, and their motivations for doing so. It means that you should not write them off as "weak and useless" and it means acknowledging they have temptation.

Critize is different: I personally don't like the flirtations for the very reasons stated: it undermines the feminist movement, and it is ultimately a double-edged sword for the one using it. Punishing it is also different: if it says no fraternizing, duh, don't do it.

Gonzaman:
Ah, of course: I'm the big mean feminist for saying the one who holds the power and authority should actually USE the power and authority. Yes, it is a temptation, but it doesn't really need to be stated that we should show some empathy with them: the superior doesn't suffer negative consequences, and isn't actually lacking in advocates. Who do you empathize with most: the poor kid who steals because he needs to or the rich kid who does because he feels entitled?

Antigone

I think I need to clarify: "demonize" is different from "critize" and is way different from "not punishing".

Demonize means that you try not to understand where they're coming from, and their motivations for doing so. It means that you should not write them off as "weak and useless" and it means acknowledging they have temptation.

Critize is different: I personally don't like the flirtations for the very reasons stated: it undermines the feminist movement, and it is ultimately a double-edged sword for the one using it. Punishing it is also different: if it says no fraternizing, duh, don't do it.

Gonzaman:
Ah, of course: I'm the big mean feminist for saying the one who holds the power and authority should actually USE the power and authority responsibly, and *gasp* deal with the consequences. Yes, it is a temptation, but it doesn't really need to be stated that we should show some empathy with them: the superior doesn't suffer negative consequences, and isn't actually lacking in advocates. Who do you empathize with most: the poor kid who steals because he needs to or the rich kid who does because he feels entitled?

Mr. Bad

vacula said: "For what it's worth, I thought that passage about MRA's sexual frustration being the root of their resentment was pretty awful to me too. I'm surprised Mr. Bad hasn't jumped down Hugo's throat about it."

Actually vacula I did write a scathing response to that point earlier in the day but decided not to post it because I figured if Hugo was stooping that low then surely he's a lost cause and any response I might make would be a waste of time and energy. However, I'm glad to see that I was incorrect on that score - thanks for the apology Hugo.

In deference to the Good Doctor I've tried to chill out a bit, pick my battles, and tone things down while here.

alexander

The key to ending the entire problem is conditioning adult men to see beyond the surface appearance of the women around them.

And this is why I have long since abandoned feminism. What you are calling for is totalitarian style thought control, because that is what it would take to overcome the biological basis for men finding nubile females attractive.

Supposing I do not want to be "conditioned"? Will I be hauled away to the gulag or a psychiatric hospital? Do feminists have a Room 101, ala Orwell, in the future?

alexander

OK, now that I have gotten beyond the mandatory rant, let me give my thoughts on this:

I was in the Army some time ago, so I can not vouch for what is happening today. But back in the 1980s, it was women who maintained discipline on other women re trading in on sex. A big no-no among female troops was crying. If a female turned on the tears, she'd be taken down by other female troops.

Why? Aside from endangering the mission with hysterics, tears and other traditional female emoting also led to men (rightly) to consider women unfit as equals in the brotherhood of arms. And in fairness, most women were up to the military's standards.

Now from what I see, a lot of this has changed. With all the hysteria over "sexual harassment", traditioal female roles, i.e., "woman as victim", are now more acceptable. With it is the Queen for a Year business.

Of course, the obvious solution, having a 50-50 mix of men and women, is out of the question politically, unless we had an affirmative action draft, conscripting women.

stanton

Thank you, Vacula, for calling this one. Of course, I too was offended by the reference to MRAs being "frustrated, I suspect, both by their own inability to gain access to women and by their own vulnerability to flirtation and arousal." First of all, this MRA is happily married, so finding dates has not been a problem in years. Sadly, no lovely young ladies have chosen to give me the opportunity to demonstrate my ability to stand firm in the face of furious flirtation, but I am certain that I would come through with flying colors! :-)

Some persons cannot resist insulting or baiting persons with whom they disagree on sensitive (to them) issues. The "hairy-legged" thing is an example. This is often done by assigning malicious or unsavory motives to the ideological foe, but also via attributing perceived insulting physical characteristics. Hugo is generally above such things, but he slips every now and then, and I'm glad to see him apologize. (At Pandagon, for example, it's common to see MRAs referred to as "mouth-breathers", which insults millions of asthma and severe alergy sufferers and serves the same purpose as the "hairy-legged" comment. No apologies will be found there, of course.)

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

Regular reads

Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 01/2004