PC sex

From Dr. Joy Bliss at Maggie's Farm, about sexual harassment panic in the military:
The PC attitude seems to be to overstimulate children, but to de-sexualize adults.  Or de-sexualize heterosexual adults, anyway.  Does that make sense?


Grim said...

She links to John Derbyshire, who has some interesting arguments on the subject. I think his point (1) is very good. Point (4) I'm not sure about, though. I think a lot of women who join the military are eccentric, but a lot more of them (especially in the USAF and Navy) are single mothers for whom the social programs of the military are very appealing. They're not particularly eccentric at all.

Cass said...

I see precious little evidence of trying to de-sexualize adults. It is, after all, adults toward whom the vast majority of sex-drenched media content is aimed, and adults who consume it.

Kids do too, increasingly so, but we're not supposed to worry about that or we're being prudes, or self loathing, or yada yada yada.

I'm having a very hard time with how much a lot of folks on the right are sounding like the left these days. We just differ in what sets us off.

Maybe it would be more accurate to say we're all sounding human :p

Other than that, I'm with Grim. Derbyshire's point 1 is sensible. Point 4 makes very little sense to me and doesn't conform to what I observed in the Marines. Most female Marines I've known are quite normal and rational and well grounded.

Maybe the other services are different - did Derbyshire ever serve? If not, on what does he base his conclusion that military women are "eccentric"?

Grim said...

I'm having a very hard time with how much a lot of folks on the right are sounding like the left these days. We just differ in what sets us off.

You've said that many times over the years, but I'm still not quite sure just what you mean by it. What do you take to be characteristic of how the left sounds?

I think there are people of all kinds on both sides of the divide, because it's not really what kind of person you are that determines your politics. It's some combination of accidents, usually, not something essential to your nature. One of the most devout progressives I know has a personal character that would lead you to believe she was intensely conservative and religious. But she was born into a progressive family, raised in a progressive state, and had an immigrant mother who was borderline socialist. So she is religiously, conservatively progressive. She believes in it with the rigor of a Southern Baptist, and enforces it on herself (and would enforce it on the rest of us) with equal conviction.

What I mean is that she talks politics with me, she sounds exactly like my Baptist friends who would prefer a society in which their moral views were legislated and enforced. That's not a left/right thing, though. It's just a kind of person.

Do you see what I mean? I'm not sure if you are trying to reference a particular approach to government, or reference instead just a kind of tone. If it's the tone, I would be shocked if we didn't find people on the right who sound like people on the left. If it's content, though, I'm not sure which content you mean.

DL Sly said...

Nothing about the "PC world" makes sense to me.

Grim said...

I do think there is a problem with a culture that is both loaded with sexuality in one sense (Cass' complaint) and yet sets up rules that will destroy your career, and possibly your life, over any expression of sexuality that anyone finds offensive (Tex's). Both of these things are problems, but the two of them together really create a tremendous stress on the people who have to live in the culture. You're surrounded by sex all the time, but if you say a word about it.... harassment!

In other words, I think both of your complaints are valid; and rather than contradicting each other, you're describing overlapping forces.

Cass said...

I'm not sure if you are trying to reference a particular approach to government, or reference instead just a kind of tone. If it's the tone, I would be shocked if we didn't find people on the right who sound like people on the left.

I think it's more the tone. Personally, I've never seen any generalized moral superiority in conservatives. We're a mixed bag just like liberals - some good folks like the friend you mention and some jackwagons.

What bothers me is hearing people (and this isn't aimed at anyone here) on the Right criticize tactics used by the left and then turning right around and doing the same thing. The War on women meme I mentioned the other day is a perfect example.

Folks on the right cry "War on Men!!!11!" all the time. So is the tactic itself inflammatory and unhelpful? Or do we only object when someone used the tactic against us?

I frankly don't see a war on anyone. I see people with different values arguing about what's best for the country (and interpreting every obstacle as a deliberate conspiracy to oppress them). As I've mentioned a time or twenty, the modern Right favors more traditionally masculine, hierarchical values: competition, personal freedom, independence. The Left favors more traditionally feminine values: cooperation, sharing, caring, group hugs...

OK, that last wasn't serious. But a war on men/women? Really? Do lefties hate their husbands/sons/fathers/brothers/male friends and co-workers?

I don't think so. They just differ in the values they hold dear, and they're really not so "gendered" (God, I hate that word) as civilization has always required a balance.

DL Sly said...

I guess this is just me seeing things through a completely different microscope. I've always seen the phrases as just that - phrases. As in a common reference point for general understanding of what I'm talking about...so to speak. Kinda like the current usage of saying *Google* something on the internet, instead of *search* for something; or, for those "cubicle gophers" of a *certain* age, asking someone to Xerox something off for you instead of making a copy. The phrase "War on Women" was coined to give rallying cry (so to speak) to "someone's" ideological social justice goal. I've seen the recent use of "War on Men" as using common phrasing for the same purpose.
But, like I said, I see things through a different microscope anyway.

Cass said...

Well, your microscope makes more sense :p

It's just so over the top that it turns me off, even if I happen to agree with whatever goal I'm supposed to be rallying to (public policy shouldn't unduly favor men/women).

If you favor some goal that's perceived to disparately impact blacks, you're a racist. If you favor some goal that's perceived to disparately impact women, you're a sexist/warrior on women. If you favor some goal that's perceived to disparately impact men, you're a misandrist/warrior on men.

It's not an argument - it's essentially meant to invoke group loyalty and bypass critical thought. I just find that so offensive, no matter who does it.

Texan99 said...

"I do think there is a problem with a culture that is both loaded with sexuality in one sense (Cass' complaint) and yet sets up rules that will destroy your career, and possibly your life, over any expression of sexuality that anyone finds offensive (Tex's)."

This sums up the point I took Dr. Bliss to be making. There's a style of anti-sexual-harassment that starts to sound as if it were allergic to anything with sexual overtones. We seem to have a hard time pursuing the goal of eliminating what I consider to be the real problem of sexual aggression (in the workplace and otherwise) without imagining that the solution is desexualization.

Wouldn't it be nice if we got comfortable with the idea that sexual desire is a strong and important part of our lives, without concluding that it should be given free rein at every moment and in every context? Or conversely, if we could get comfortable with the idea that we are responsible for controlling sexual appetite as we are every other kind of appetite, without concluding that the best strategy is to repress it into oblivion?

Cass said...

I must be incredibly dense, but I don't see anyone trying to suppress sexuality into oblivion. I see adults being expected to act like adults during the work day (adult in the sense of "grownup capable of self restraint" rather than "adult in the sense of XXX").

I do see various people maintaining (quite reasonably, I think) that there is a time and a place for sexuality and sexual behavior, and there are times and places - in public, in the work place - where it's neither helpful nor appropriate. I see outraged articles on Christian News about the military searching the workplace and removing overtly sexual materials that have *always* been against the regs and I just shake my head.

And then I look at the employee handbook at my civilian office and note that these things are off limits where I work too. They're off limits in most offices.

What standard are we advocating here? I'm really confused. How is being asked to restrain one's behavior to match the time and place (and getting a paycheck while doing so) "desexualizing" anyone? Isn't this pretty much the foundational concept behind getting along with other people?

Grim said...

The military regs were always out of order with the final character of the military. Lots of military bases are really office parks, where you can enforce rules like that without harm (and with some good). Those are mostly populated by older officers and senior NCOs, for whom these demands you are characterizing as 'adult' aren't a particular stretch.

But the final character of the military is young men, chiefly, deployed under fire for a long time and a long way from home. Asking them to live and speak like monks is simply a bridge too far. That's why military commands have always ignored the regs to some degree. (As you say, the regs are now being enforced -- which means they've always been ignored.)

I'm increasingly convinced that we should go back to sex-segregated units, but I don't see how the gays in the military thing can work even there. We've insisted on introducing actual sexuality (and not merely imagined sexuality) into these final units, and then we're brutally punishing those who can't ignore the temptation we've forced them to accept living with as a daily reality. Human nature is greatly strained by this approach, as is any notion that the resulting punishments might be connected to anything like justice.

Grim said...

But the university is even worse than the military. The new standard there is that harassment is defined as 'anything of a sexual nature that anyone finds offensive,' at any time or place in which anyone connected with the university is present. That's incredibly wide: it means, practically, that undergraduates (again, young men and women) need not to socialize with any other students at bars after hours. Courtship, very natural and even appropriate at that age and place, transgresses the boundary any time anyone is 'offended' by something said or done.

It's a kind of madness, a combination of all the worst aspects of zero-tolerance approaches with robust temptations (some of which, like courtship for young adults at college, are temptations that ought not even to be resisted).

That's not to say that I want to remove all restrictions on expression in the workplace. However, zero-tolerance is too far when combined with these harsh punishments. You could reduce the temptations, and I'd be good with that. Or you could increase the tolerance for error, and that could be OK. Or you could maintain both the temptations and the zero-tolerance, but punish in a way that was designed to guide rather than destroy. That might even be OK.

What we've got, though, is a system that people are perfectly right to find objectionable. It's inhumane.

Cass said...

I agree on the university thing - they lost me when they abandoned the objectively offensive standard.

But I'm never going to agree that it's "inhumane" to expect people over the age of 18 to show up to work, follow the rules, etc. You don't get a paycheck for being human, Grim. It's not a human right.

While I find the notion of policing the workplace for sexually explicit materials profoundly distasteful, I find a LOT of thing distasteful (including the notion that people even have to be told to act like grownups, or that young men can't make it through the work day without porn, girlie mags, or pinups). By your standard, most of pre-internet, pre-mass media human society has been "inhumane".

As you know, I opposed integration of women into the combat arms for a whole host of reasons. I still oppose it. But this makes zero sense to me.

DL Sly said...

"...but I don't see anyone trying to suppress sexuality into oblivion."

I know of instances of simply male/female interaction -- "You look really nice in that dress!" "Hey, Handsome, how are you?" -- that were turned into harrassment cases because someone else was offended. So, I do wonder, sometimes, whether or not the final agenda isn't to literally suppress all but the officially-recognized, government-authorized sexuality into oblivion.

Cass said...

I am sure there are a few idiots out there who would like to do that, but I don't really see any evidence that the Left wants to do it. After all, they're avidly interested in educating pre-teens about the joys of various sexual practices and handing out free condoms and birth control to everyone in sight (even adults! especially adults!)

Even kindergarten, it would seem, isn't too soon for kiddies to learn about the various orifices one can explore whilst seeking Shangri-La.

Finding some instances where some people want to suppress some thing just doesn't make a very compelling case for the notion that the goal is to "de-sexualize" hetero adults. Radical feminists don't seem too eager to be "desexualized", do they? How can they exercise all this lovely, newfound freedom if all the other adults are desexualized?

I guess there will always be those newly ensmartened Kindergarteners :p

There are just some people who have an axe to grind and would find something to be unhappy about in Paradise. Our system gives people like that WAY too much power over the rest of us. The Founders worried about the tyranny of the majority. Maybe they should have worried about tyranny of the minorities?

Look, I'm sorry to be so cranky but I'm really getting sick of seeing people fixate on one thing (or one small facet of a much larger issue) and turn it into a galactic "war on sacred oxen".

My answer to, "Does this make sense?" is, "No, because I can think of a gazillion examples that don't support that conclusion". And yes, I'm having a massive sense of humor failure. Sorry.

Grim said...

It's OK that you don't find any of this funny. I don't either. It's not a laughing matter.

By your standard, most of pre-internet, pre-mass media human society has been "inhumane."

I don't think that's what I meant to say, if you think that's what I said. I offered three ways of avoiding the inhumane standard we have; I think you could get to a humane standard with any of the three, or perhaps combinations of the three. You could move off zero-tolerance, for example; or you could stick with it, but punishments could be more oriented toward training understandable human lapses (instead of destroying offenders as examples to others).

DL Sly said...

No, none of this is funny. It's flat freakin' ridiculous. Btw, I was the one brought up on harrassment charges because someone else didn't like that I greeted my boss at MWR with "Good morning, Handsome!" one day (and he is a very handsome man -- you've both enjoyed several of his jokes over the years) and someone else down the block in the parking lot heard it, didn't like and reported it. So, you'll have to forgive me if I seem more than a little harsh in my assessments.

That said, "I guess there will always be those newly ensmartened Kindergarteners :p"

I can't help but say that this gives a whole new meaning to that 80's (or was it 90's?) wall poster that said, "Everything I need to know I learned in Kindergarten".
Sorry, Cass, but I just can't help but being pickled tink to the core at today's gaffe du jour. Hell, I may be giggling for the whole weekend.

Cass said...


I hope I didn't upset anyone. Tough week.

You could move off zero-tolerance, for example; or you could stick with it, but punishments could be more oriented toward training understandable human lapses (instead of destroying offenders as examples to others).

I've never been a fan of zero tolerance. It just strikes me that any rule can be abused. That's not a reason to abolish the rule, though. We still need human judgment in these matters.

I honestly don't much care what other people are looking at, at work. I simply don't have time to worry about stuff like that, though I suspect I'd feel differently if I walked into my boss's office and noticed that the wall was papered with nekkid women (or men!).

By the same token though, I'm really offended at the notion that nothing is every off limits. Limits are good for society in general. There needs to be a balance.

When I see people getting wrapped around the axle about not allowing porn/erotica in the open at work, I really do have to wonder if we've all lost our minds?

First world problems, big time.

Sig said...

Part of the problem is that when you're in a war zone, every part of your life is "at the office."

Cass said...

That's where Grim's comment about no idiotic zero tolerance policies and mine about human judgment come into play.

There was an article a few years ago in Wired about guys at a missile command who got in trouble for surfing porn sites on their (supposedly) secure work computers. I don't even know how you do that on a secure network, but I'm guessing these nitwits deliberately circumvented the network security.

The good folks at Wired were outraged... OUTRAGED I TELL YOU!!!11!... that the military dared to place any limits at all on what employees can do during work hours, on government computers.

As in every other area of life, common sense is needed. This isn't Nanny statism - it's common sense. When I see people acting as though some fundamental human right were being interfered with if they're asked to restrain themselves in any way, I really have to question the thought process.

Texan99 said...

I confess I didn't read the article that Dr. Bliss linked to, so if it treated the issue in a silly light, then I carelessly created confusion. I hope there was nothing about my original post suggesting that the "adult desexualization" process took the form of reprimanding employees for violating national security procedures in order to goldbrick while on duty. That kind of disciplinary problem could apply equally to playing poker online during office hours.

I really was referring more to "princess and the pea" complaints about casual, polite, and nonthreatening banter, like DL Sly's "Hi, handsome" remark. For me, that's the equivalent of treating a pop-tart the same as a loaded weapon in enforcing a no-shooting-people-on-the-schoolgrounds policy. It's a kind of panicked over-reaction by people with rigid philosophies and no common sense, who are as afraid of evil thoughts as they are of evil actions.

I'm about as tetchy as anyone on the planet on the subject of the sexual objectivication of women, as my sometimes tedious comments here will attest. I also have zero patience for sexual drama on the job, or for sexual gratification strategies that subordinate all issues of duty or courtesy. But even I think the reaction often goes too far.

Cass said...

Please don't take my comments as criticism of your post, Tex. If they came across that way, I apologize. That certainly wasn't my intent. We agree often enough that I just assumed (and you know what happens when people assume) you'd know my irritation wasn't aimed at you.

I already had my Irish up about several spectacularly stupid items I'd seen this week. It took all the self restraint I have not to write about them, and I must have used up my ration of self control refraining from beating those folks senseless with their own stupidity. I'm sorry I let my crankiness spill over into your comments section.

I first read about this on CNS (Christian news service???) and just couldn't help laughing a bit at the sight of a socially conservative site going nuts over the military daring (!) to enforce its own rules -- rules that pretty much every civilian employer has, too. Last time I checked, most Christian churches aren't big on sexually explicit materials at all, much less in the workplace.

The cognitive dissonance is a bit stunning.

I sometimes think we (being "humans") get so primed to look at everything through the lens of politics or "us vs. them" that we reflexively react to every issue as some life-or-death struggle between the Satan and All His Minions and a herd of sacred cows with twee halos and shiny wings.

I couldn't agree more about demonizing harmless banter. There's a guy in my office who used to say something similar to me every time I saw him. It was so obvious that it was just harmless friendliness that it never occurred to me to be offended.

DL Sly said...

One of the most frustrating things about that whole deal was the fact that my boss (later an *adopted* uncle to the VES) told me many were the mornings when my greeting cheered him up. In fact, he was more upset about the action brought against me than I was (which is saying a lot) and said as much (in a very retired Marine kind of way) to the lady who came to investigate.
I was lucky in that the subject of my harrassment spoke rather vehemently in my behalf which pretty much shut the whole thing down before it could snowball, but it cost me time on the job and a lot of stress that I didn't need at the time -- which begs the question, is there ever a time when one would *need* a lot of stress?

Grim said...

I believe the USMC is of the opinion that Boot Camp is a time when one needs a lot of stress on the job. :)

DL Sly said...

I believe you're right! Which may explain (partly) why I never joined the Marines -- says she who instead chose to fight wildland fires...no stress there, no sirreee.