The ignominious fall of Senator Larry Craig casts new light on the importance of the nation’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy banning open homosexuals from military service.
If preventing public sex in airport men’s rooms is important enough to justify the deployment of undercover cops, isn’t it similarly significant to avoid, at all costs, sexual encounters in military latrines?
Imagine the impact on morale and unit cohesion if two guys from the same barracks engaged in toe-tapping hanky-panky (and perhaps much more) while occupying adjacent bathroom stalls in the military facilities?
Of course, advocates for gays in the military will insist that any such indulgence would involve a violation of the rules, with offenders facing stiff, severe consequences. But the impact of gay GI’s on bathroom atmospherics doesn’t just stem from the real chance of actual sex acts in the latrine, it involves whole sexualization of one of the most frequented and important conveniences on any base.
If openly gay males do nothing to compromise restroom integrity and security, why not invite female soldiers into men’s bathrooms, or open the door of women’s facilities to males? Surely, the same rules that would, theoretically, prevent gay men from hassling other men in the head would prevent hetero males from harassing women (or vice verse). Just as a gay male in the military would receive punishment for bathroom misbehavior, so to a straight guy could be busted for making improper overtures to women in the ladies room – but that wouldn’t make him any more welcome in a female facility.
The problem isn’t just the chance of molestation, it’s the radical change of mood and sensibility if you know you may be checked out as a sex object at a very private moment (of urination or defecation) when most normal people prefer to avoid any and all thoughts of physical intimacy. A bathroom becomes a vastly more uncomfortable and even menacing place if it’s used for sexual encounters, whether those connections involve gay or straight sexuality.
In a column in Sunday’s New York Times, Laura MacDonald insists that toilet sex never involves one-sided, unwanted attentions. According to the research she cites (based on “a groundbreaking dissertation” of a doctoral candidate at Washington University nearly 30 years ago) “a straight man would be left alone after that first tap or cough or look went unanswered. The initiator does not want to be beaten up or arrested or chased by teenagers, so he engages in safeguards to ensure that any physical advance will be reciprocated.”