We continue the "my summer vacation" spiel with some reflections I didn't have time to get down to words then. Namely, the matter of subcultures. Yes, this is what I promised last week.
Now, I found that visit brought me into a crash course in modern lesbian culture while staying with friends. I've spent most of my life in circles of varying degrees of cultural traditionalism, but almost universally of the "oh, a couple folks in the group/family/whatever prefer to water on their own side of the pasture, no big deal" worldview. Inclusive and loving, but generally not celebratory.
This was the first time though I've found myself immersed in very self-identified lesbian culture though... even the old "Suffragette Hall" of college days had boys over. Here though - the music was sapphic, the art was sapphic, fathers and sons and brothers are loved, but as my friend's sweetie said (paraphrased) "I can't recall the last time I heard someone say gosh he's handsome.."
Now sure, the line just enough love to cover my own... lept immediately to mind in conversation (mild family friendly warning on that link,btw) - but mostly it was just new - and a fascinating study of talking past each other.
Let me give a couple examples to make the point - Melissa Etheridge's song "Tuesday Morning" my friend played one day, and the movie about Margarethe Cammermeyer we put on that night. In both cases I found high respect for the principals involved - Mr. Bingam and Col. Cammermeyer respectively - and yet can't help but feel a little (or very) off-put at the artworks based on them - the former particularly.
Let me explain.
First - argument from the experience of growing up in the Volunteer State, and years spent around many military men (and a few military women). With not a single exception I can think of, all when it came to their service had one ethos held above all - mission first. What's fair to the soldier, what's right to the soldier, whether there's decent food and enough naptime - all those took a distant second place to the mission at hand. Self-sacrifice wasn't a desired outcome - none of them aspired to martyrdom.. but they were to a person willing to do it, if that was the price.
Secondly, the nature of military service is by definition using the threat of KILLING PEOPLE to achieve a desired outcome. A desired outcome such as not having Hawaii overrun by the Japanese, or more US cities attacked and civilians murdered by Jihadis. That's not something that comes from speaking nice, that comes from finding people that are trying to harm one's countrymen and proceeding to kill them.
That is a responsibility our culture traditionally takes very seriously, and with good reason -there are no higher stakes in mortal life. And because those stakes are so high, the services have every right - indeed, the responsibility - to be as particular as they believe they need to be in order to effectively carry out that mission with a minimum of trouble and risk to their own personnel.
And yet... not only were those arguments not answered in any of the material presented, they weren't even addressed. No, it was entirely "this is what's fair."
But the question was not about fair. It was never about fair.
But trying to explain that I might as well have been speaking Greek. "The argument you want to make," I say, "is 'this policy costs mission effectiveness more from lost expertise than it gains in morale and discipline concerns.' Not 'this is what's fair.'"
"Yes" they nod...."silly military.." assuming I mean "this is what the policy should be" not "this is what your argument needs to be." And I give up. No sense fighting friends in their own home*.
But as with any real conversation at cross purposes, the funhouse mirror eventually reflects both ways.
And that my dears, is for Part II.
* Since I've been chastised on more than one occasion for being too coy about my own beliefs, here they are - I prefer the military base its hiring practices on whatever they believe best advances the mission assigned to them. They don't tell me how to do my job, I won't presume to know how to run an army.
That said, as our culture has shifted over last couple generations, I expect the time will come in the near future (if it has not already) where the aforementioned cons of the present policy will outweigh the pros - if only because human capital becomes more important with ever-increasing technical specialization, and the servicemen of 2020 are coming from a decidedly different culture from those of 1940. If and when that line has been crossed though should be a question for the people who have to actually pay the bill if the wrong call is made - not what plays well on a Lifetime movie or White House press conference.
See? Public commitment. :)