Macho Military Mentality

The military and other ‘manly’ jobs often have a (well-deserved) stigma of being crass.
I would like to share an instance from my time in the United States military. This took place at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The fort’s recruit population was exclusively male, though plenty of seasoned staff were female, including the Colonel in charge. This gender discrimination among recruits had something to do with the fact that artillery (which this fort specialized in) was one of those jobs segregated to males only. Why this affected Basic Training recruits I have no idea, though I heard that those rules changed shortly after my group graduated.


We were standing in formation, the stern and impassive face of one of our drill-sergeants relating the plan of the day when suddenly he paused and turned to look off in the distance as a group of ROTC Cadets — mostly female — went marching by. I do not know why they were there, and it was the only time I ever saw them. Perhaps they were on some excursion from their college. Either way, the formality was broken as our drill-sergeant removed his hat in order to ‘take in the sight’. This unofficially gave everyone in formation leave to rubberneck and grin and talk.

I looked over like everyone else as the women marched by. I even smiled as some of them looked back, though my gaze did not linger. Seeing them reaffirmed the knowledge that I greatly missed the company of women, but I was soon looking attentively back at the drill-sergeant, awaiting further instruction.

By the way, when I say ‘missed the company of’, I mean several things. Sexually, sure. But that was not the actual sentiment. I decided that I generally preferred female company in literally any environment or activity. My reasoning for this was validated a moment later when a comrade who was standing next to me, who had evidently taken note of the fact that I had not gaped at the passing females as long as the others, decided to comment while the informal atmosphere of wistful and vulgar murmuring continued to swarm around us.


He said something to the effect of “Whats the matter, K? Not interested in female ass?”
“Indeed,” I replied dryly, keeping my eyes fixed on the drill — who had made the rare act of breaking the hardass character of the drill-sergeant and was grinning and making lewd comments along with the rest of the boys, “I am more interested in the entire package.”

Laughter howled around me as my compatriots judged that I had made a good retort and retained my ‘manhood’. Knowing that they had misunderstood however, I continued, “I do not know any of those women, as such they are of no interest to me. I have better things to do than act like a savage.”

“What did you say?” He asked with an edge in his tone, knowing full-well what I had said.
Perhaps he though I had meant it as an insult based on our different ethnicities.

I looked at him coolly before clarifying, “As in, it is barbaric to drool over women like a jackass.”

Everyone quieted down. The drill-sergeant was watching closely now, with narrowed eyes. Clearly, I’ve managed to offend most if not all of them.

“We’re supposed to be savage!” my fellow soldier sneered, breaking the silence.

“HOO-AH!” cried a few of his friends, in support.

Before voices could join the supporting cries and the conversation come to a close, I hasted to correct him.

“On the contrary,” I snapped, perhaps too sharply. “This is as civilized and disciplined as society gets.”
What I meant was, the military SHOULD be as civilized and disciplined as any place in society could be.

Nothing more came of the conversation. The scoffing died down immediately soon after the drill-sergeant replaced his wide-brimmed hat, and my peers merely thought of me as even more tight-assed then before. Also possibly homosexual.

I was perfectly fine with both or either of these assessments. Though neither helped me win any off-clock popularity contests, they did not impact any leadership duties I was to be assigned thereafter. Thankfully, there were some among my future superiors who still valued performance over popularity-polls.
Maybe it was a harmless incident and the drill-sergeant was just giving us a rare moment to be silly.
Maybe its important to set a fucking example and throw the boys club attitude out the airlock when in just the last year alone 26,000 soldiers reported being raped in the United States military.

Personally, I do not see how a difficult profession is an excuse for sexism (or worse). If anything, it should instill a greater sense of dignity the harder the tasks.

PS: I know women can be vulgar too. The difference, it seems to me, is that when guys do it there tends to be more of a creepy under-current that makes me go

  1. Christina says:

    What can I say? Civility and chilvary, as in, civilian population ought not to be killed, practices were abandon, many years ago by the United States Army. Therefore women in the military are a sure target.

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