arvan's picture

Psych Ops of the Sexual Kind in an Army Barracks

I would like to talk about a psychological experiment I conducted on my fellow soldiers, involving sexuality and beauty.

When I was in the Army, I was every bit the smartass that I am today, if not substantially worse.  My tastes in politics, arts, music, food and just about everything else did not fit the the 'culture' and mindset of my fellow ranks.  I grew up in Chicago, NYC, NJ and was into punk rock, new wave, tattoos, piercings, literature, art films, science, reason.  I was a smartass who had a chip on his mental and physical shoulders.

So many people in the military give the impression that they are all from some town in Alabama where the cultural hightlights include: Jack Daniels, bass fishing, NASCAR, strip malls, pickup trucks and Lynyrd Skynyrd.  Even people who were not from such places seemed to adopt the mores, values, likes and dislikes of that demographic.  It was often very hard to find any original ideas, tastes or opinions.

When it came to talking about women, most conversations were no different than chatter in a high shool locker room.  A chorus of juvenile, unoriginal fantasies of strippers combined with farmer's daughters bandied about with alcohol induced bravado and inexperience.  I did my best to avoid such conversations by either leaving the post or drowning the roar of the amateurs with headphones and alcohol. 

In the service, as in locker rooms - guys like to talk about what a bad-ass they are.  In reality, most of these guys had been with only one or two mild-mannered girlfriends and probably only when both parties had been completely drunk.  It was enough of a hell to be stuck on a post in the middle of nowhere, but to listen to a bunch of low-speed Romeo's chattering about sex they'd never had - was too much. 

It is very common for men to hang a pin-up girl on the inside of their lockers.  That tiny wall space is all that most of us have to display anything.  It's always milquetoast and usually consists of a famous swimsuit model in a wet bikini.  Mass produced and mass consumed, these images are the elevator music of erotica.  The world is full of billions of individual people, unique, special and beautiful.  To look at the lockers around me, you would think that the planet has less than 10 women - each wearing all-american-girl outfits or a bathing suit.  Blecch.

I was fairly certain that most of them didn't know the first thing about sex or beauty.  So, I set out to test my theory.

rabbitwhite's picture

PTXD: Post Traumatic Sex Disorder

Because I apparently have to stop working every 15 minutes to check blogs and social networking, I found myself reading about an ex-sex-worker coming out in an interview about her experiences. The write-up was on and the writer  opened with her abhorrence at the interviewer’s ignorance, who took the typical talk-show “oh my god, people do whaaat” naivety + silent shaming approach.

Pretty typical sex-positive “the media sux” fare so far, but then the writer laid this one on us “We are expected to cheer The Good Sex Workers on because they are subverting paradigms and confounding out expectations of what a stripper is. But while the media loves this story,  it marginalizes all of the women who aren’t doing sex work to put themselves through college, or to pay for art supplies. The women of color and trans women and men who are forced into prostitution or who “choose” it because of a lack of other options. I feel like the more I read and hear about privileged women who really did chose to become sex workers, the more invisible those who didn’t have such a clear choice become.”

Wow, now this was a conversation I could get behind. Er, not that I am going to, because I think that the same white, privileged women theorizing over sex-work could be seen as part of the problem. Also being an anarchist, I am not going to prescribe the easy “prostitution should be legalized” tripe, which is what I think the Bust writer was going for.

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