I was reading this story on news.google.com today. Apparently, Guantanamo still isn't being as hospitable to its detainees as the naval officers who work there might otherwise have us believe. Surprise, surprise. However, this wasn't what caught my attention. The article briefly discussed the investigation into the treatment of the prisoners back in 2004 and 2005 when this type of abuse first became publicly known. Here's a clip:
"...they confirmed abusive and degrading treatment of a suspected terrorist at Guantanamo Bay that included forcing him to wear a bra, dance with another man and behave like a dog."
Isn't it interesting that traditionally heteronormative female behavior like wearing a bra and dancing with another man are considered "abusive and degrading" to men. So much so, in fact, that they are used as torture methods?
Now, don't get me wrong, my point here is not to propose that these men weren't being tortured. I merely wish to highlight the disturbing and dangerous perspectives about women that seemingly permeate our armed forces.
Traditionally female behaviors are being demonstrated in a way that says women are no better than dogs. Anything "feminine" is viewed as abhorent to (male) soldier pride and dignity. It is "humiliating" for a man to act like a woman, and even moreso to actually force a man to. Even the author of the breaking news story above says so.
There is also not a gender-based reversal of this treatment. Female prisoners are never made to wear men's underwear, have mustaches or beards drawn on their faces, and start dancing around with their fellow female inmates. Rather, sexual terrorism is the technique of choice when dealing with women. So the domination of both male and female prisoners hindges on attempting to prove inherent weakness or subordination. A male prisoner is already in a highly acute state of inferiority, yet soldiers will push this further by making him act like a woman, thus, in their eyes, displaying the ultimate presentation of subjucation.
Obviously this attitude isn't relegated purely to the military, but is pervasive throughout our society and the world, as demonstrated by drawing clear battle lines between the sexes from a very young age in order to maintain the system of domination and subordination. But I think that they way we approach training our troops, and the fact that service to the country is still primarily a boy's club where women in uniform continue to be treated like sexual objects instead of fellow soldiers, only allows further perversion of how we treat women and men here at home and around the globe.
How can we demand the utmost respect of our soldiers around the world, when they've repeatedly proven themselves capable of being so brutal and mysogynistic?