Women in the navy are not the problem, male attitudes are

#1
Sexism within the military is rife, but no one appears to be taking servicemen to task, says Victoria Basham

Wednesday March 21, 2007
The Guardian


In her article on the jailing and dismissal of Royal Navy Chief Petty Officer Philip Coates for raping a woman colleague, your reporter Audrey Gillan perhaps unwittingly reinforces the all-too-familiar tale that the presence of women in the military causes boys to be boys (Sailor gets five years for raping female colleague, March 15).

Gillan's observation that Coates "was the first member of the Royal Navy to be convicted of the rape of a female colleague since women were allowed to go to sea in 1990" might suggest that this decision has been largely unproblematic. However, it also links Coates' indefensible behaviour to the presence of women on Royal Navy ships. That the rape took place after a "drunken barbecue held while the ship was at anchor in the Mediterranean", which servicewomen attended, should not be an issue. Yet it diverts attention away from Coates's actions and reinforces the notion that problems with servicemen are an outcome of allowing women to serve in the armed forces.

In my research with members of the British military on equality and diversity issues, a number of servicewomen told me about their struggles to have their achievements recognised. Many of their male colleagues simply saw them as out of place. As one Royal Navy servicewoman put it: "Servicemen that don't believe in women at sea treat you differently; they'll pile more work on to you just so that you try and prove yourself that little bit more." Another said: "You're constantly fighting to prove who you are as an individual purely because of your sex." For some women, such attitudes led to sexual harassment. One army officer told me: "I was gonna leave after three years because I was fed up with such sexist behaviour. Some people felt that you were being brought into the regiment because you were there as some kind of sexual object. I ended up locking my door every night because I felt safer that way."

Fears around the impact of the presence of women in the services also underline the Ministry of Defence's justification for restricting women's roles. When the ban on women serving in all-male close combat units was last reviewed in 2002, the MoD concluded that the impact of a woman's presence on the cohesion of these all-male units could not be ascertained or trialled in "real war" situations, and therefore the ban should remain in place. Underlying this conclusion was an assumption that the mere presence of women can disrupt male bonding. However, focusing on the presence of women severely diminishes the responsibility of servicemen to behave appropriately and to treat women's efforts seriously.

By continuing to see servicewomen as extraordinary, we are putting them at risk of sexual harassment and assault, while appeasing the servicemen who perpetrate such acts. Findings that 99% of servicewomen have experienced sexual harassment, in a report for the Equal Opportunities Commission, suggest that we should focus on the inability of servicemen to conduct themselves professionally, rather than on allowing women to serve. For many servicewomen, the greatest battle is to be taken seriously, something their male counterparts take for granted. If society and the military stop seeing women as out of place, maybe it's a battle they could win.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2038853,00.html

As an aside, and perhaps unknown to Victoria Basham, Audrey served as an Embed during Telic 1.
 

wet_blobby

War Hero
Moderator
#2
Re: Women in the navy are not the problem, male attitudes ar

Vicky aint a sexist dungaree wearing blinkered sexest pig then is she? :roll:
 
#3
Re: Women in the navy are not the problem, male attitudes ar

wet_blobby said:
Vicky aint a sexist dungaree wearing blinkered sexest pig then is she?
Good grief man, definitely not! After all, she writes for the Grauniad doesn't she? :wink:
 
#4
Re: Women in the navy are not the problem, male attitudes ar

Would be interesting to see how many men have been subjected to sexual harrassment. Not many probably, as we welcome it!
 

spider_monkey

Lantern Swinger
#5
PartTimePongo said:
If society and the military stop seeing women as out of place, maybe it's a battle they could win.
She finally hit the nail on the head in the last line. This isn't a problem that can be sorted out by the military; the military is just another employer and I suspect some career paths fair even worse than the military do.

If you can't take the heat get out of the job (regardless of sex).
 
#6
Re: Women in the navy are not the problem, male attitudes ar

JunglyDaz said:
Would be interesting to see how many men have been subjected to sexual harrassment. Not many probably, as we welcome it!
The problem here is surely that most men who have suffered sexual harassment do not report it because they fear ridicule - especially in the Forces?
 
#7
I met a British Sailor once and took him home. He woz not like you say here, he woz nice slim and look like sea cadet. He did not even now how to give a proper kiss so I showed him how. Alass I woz a young girl then abck in the 50s.
 

sgtpepperband

War Hero
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#8
The_French_Bird said:
I met a British Sailor once and took him home. He woz not like you say here, he woz nice slim and look like sea cadet. He did not even now how to give a proper kiss so I showed him how. Alass I woz a young girl then abck in the 50s.
"Bonjour Madame - je mapelle Jacque; I'm not like the other matelots..."

:wink:
 
#9
sgtpepperband said:
The_French_Bird said:
I met a British Sailor once and took him home. He woz not like you say here, he woz nice slim and look like sea cadet. He did not even now how to give a proper kiss so I showed him how. Alass I woz a young girl then abck in the 50s.
"Bonjour Madame - je mapelle Jacque; I'm not like the other matelots..."

:wink:
Typical reggie. Trying to nick Higs French bird :smile:
 

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