Friday, October 9, 2009

Asking Lesbians, Telling More than Gays?

While Don't Ask, Don't Tell is now facing some debate within the Department of Defense, today's news indicates that its application, surprise, surprise, is uneven--women are being drummed out of the services disproportionately than men. What is very much unsurprising is that the Air Force seems to be the worst offender.

The USAF Academy is located in one of the most conservative parts of the US, and it is not out of place. I visited there as part of their annual event where more than a hundred undergrads are brought in and have a few days of discussions about a variety of issues (just like the other two academies), and some profs are brought in as well to moderate the discussions. It was incredibly striking how, well, Christian the place felt--and not just Christian in the Judeo-Christian sense, but evangelical Christian definition. Over the years, a number of stories have been reported about the domination of evangelical Christians at the academy and the ostracizing of non-evangelicals there.

The academy also has the worst rep for its treatment of women. Again, over the years, a series of news stories have focused on harassment and far worse. One of my colleagues on the Joint Staff had her term there shortened so that she could go to the USAF Academy and help deal with the female cadet crisis.

I have less experience or insight into the USAF at large, but given how folks are socialized at the academy, which is supposed to produce the leaders of the service, it is quite likely that these folks with their views towards gays and lesbians and towards women in general then go on to implement Don't Ask, Don't Tell in a way that hurts women more than men.

Just another reason to end it as soon as possible, although I do appreciate that Obama does have a very full plate indeed.

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