You can hardly watch a cable news show or read a blog without running into yet another story of the intensifying drumbeat for repealing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy (among other signature issues for the LGBT community). Congress has finally woken up to the issue, with local war hero, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), and Clinton-replacement Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) leading the charge. Now if Mr. Nobel Peace Prize will pledge some concrete steps to get rid of the policy when he speaks at tomorrow night’s (Saturday’s) Human Rights Campaign fund-raiser, maybe DADTwill be history within the next year or so.
I bring this up (again — see earlier posts on a particularly outrageous case and my interview with the delightful Alex Nicholson) to highlight a new — but hardly surprising — finding that women are being kicked out under this daft policy at much higher rates than men. In some cases, the raw numbers of women expelled are higher, which is eye-opening when one considers that women account for a small percentage of all military.
Part of it, Nathaniel Frank suggests, may simply be due to a higher percentage of lesbians than gay men in the military. But I’d guess that it also has a great deal to do with the male-drenched military culture, and its prerogatives. Women who resist the advances of male soldiers are in peril of being deemed lesbians. For too many male soldiers even today, the idea of a powerful, resistant woman may be more threatening than a sufficiently macho gay man (as long as no one talks about it).
Or maybe gay men are just better at inauthenticity than lesbians. In today’s military, that’s a job requirement for some soldiers. Now it’s up to Obama to repeal the thing, or lose what credibility he still has with the LGBT community. Today’s NY Times analysis of the Peace Prize makes a point one hears more and more these days:
“[T]he award…was a reminder of the gap between the ambitious promise of his words and his accomplishments. It drew attention to the fact that while much of the world was celebrating him as the anti-Bush, he had not broken as fully as he had once implied he would from the previous administration…And it set off another round of mocking criticism from opponents….”
Perhaps the Prize will embolden Obama to take bolder steps, rather than to bask in the light that, so far, is generated at least partly by illusion.