Milk Milk Lemonade
And if, like me, you’ve dared to wander over to “the other side of journalism” to see the conservative imagination run wild, you probably know that, like we saw with the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, dozens of op eds are being printed that say a lot more about the people writing them than they do about the issue at hand.
Ryan Smith, whose lurid op ed in Jan. 23rd’s Wall Street Journal attempted to make the case against women in combat by appealing to our natural aversion to all things poopoo-and-peepee-related, couldn’t help but spill his guts:
Marines were forced to sit, in full gear, on each other’s laps and in contorted positions for hours on end. That was the least of our problems.
The invasion was a blitzkrieg. The goal was to move as fast to Baghdad as possible. The column would not stop for a lance corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, or even a company commander to go to the restroom. Sometimes we spent over 48 hours on the move without exiting the vehicles. We were forced to urinate in empty water bottles inches from our comrades.
Many Marines developed dysentery from the complete lack of sanitary conditions. When an uncontrollable urge hit a Marine, he would be forced to stand, as best he could, hold an MRE bag up to his rear, and defecate inches from his seated comrade’s face.
He goes on for a while to talk about how he doesn’t want girls to see his wiener, and how wieners should be shown to other boys only, and only when it’s absolutely necessary, and how other boys’ wieners are gross and make him want to throw up just thinking about them, and how we shouldn’t be thinking about his wiener right now, or anyone else’s wiener for that matter, unless it’s our own wiener, which is fine to think about because it’s ours and it is special and private and unique and no other wiener is quite just like it, no matter what the size–and all the while this blogger is trying to figure out how this guy was able to focus on the task at hand long enough to survive active doody.
While Smith’s essay, perhaps accidentally, says a lot about how woefully unprepared and under-equipped the Bush Administration sent him and his fellow wiener-havers to battle, it also adds yet another brushstroke to the rather unflattering (and, as I’m sure many current and former service men and women feel, unfair) portrait of our armed forces that has, unfortunately, threatened to replace any more realistic assessment the average American might have.
Intentionally or not, the Marines Smith writes about come across as trained professionals who are willing to do whatever it takes, even adapt to the most extreme of living conditions, to accomplish a mission, but who crumble to psychological pieces when forced to contemplate peepees, googies, poop, or tinkle–men who might have felt perfectly comfortable alongside Lynndie England in Abu Ghraib, as long as they didn’t have to whip it out in front of her.
Were I a soldier, I would probably want to kick Smith’s ass and tell him, for as much as I dislike the sexist phrase, to man the fuck up. Having worked as a caregiver for adults with developmental disabilities, and having recently spent two months in the hospital battling pancreatitis where, on more than one occasion, I shat, pissed, or vomited in the presence of nurses of both genders, I can attest that millions of people, most of them earning far less in the way of compensation than our men and women in uniform, deal with other people’s genitals and bodily functions on a daily basis without being “traumatized,” as Smith himself puts it.
And were I a soldier, I’d be increasingly alarmed by what appears from the outside to be an increasingly hysterical minority run amok, but who nevertheless hold an unjustifiable amount of sway in the military: men who can’t work with women, who can’t work with gays, and who can’t work with anyone who isn’t an Evangelical Christian, when there is, indeed, a lot of work to be done.