Sunday, 7 February 2010

Auntie Seraphic & the Long Letter

Poppets, I have been writing a very long answer in response to an email. In short the email read:

Dear Auntie Seraphic,

I am a young woman. I want to get married one day. Retaining my femininity is very important to me. Should I join the Marines for four years?


And, in short, I replied,

Dear Gruntette,


Grace and peace,
Auntie Seraphic

I forgot to ask Gruntette for permission to reproduce our correspondence, so this is all the detail you're getting.

Here's Mulieris Dignitatem.

I totally respect Gruntette's urge to serve her country, by the way. If there are any American (British, Canadian, et al.) servicewomen (or even servicemen) who would like to add their two cents in the comm box, be my guest.


Alisha said...

Seraphic, would you be able to elaborate on your reasons, without giving personal detail?

sciencegirl said...

If gruntette wants to join the military, she'll be able to 'retain femininity,' however, the Marines will not value it and it will at least occasionally be a liability. I would recommend the Air Force, and to a lesser extent, the Navy. I know several very, very feminine women (they give me advice on Hair, Clothes and Makeup! they talk about babies and collect dolls!) who have come through both the Air Force and Navy, did a great job in the service, and met their husbands there, too. The Marines are incredible, and I respect the heck out of both male and female Marines, but I think anyone who would ask gruntette's question is already, off the bat, *not a great fit for the Marines.* Women who make good Marines would not be asking such questions - they would either not care about femininity so much, or they would have total confidence in themselves and their ability to be a great Marine and a great woman and have good future relationships. If anyone reading this takes offense at my saying that, then she is far too thin-skinned for the Marines as well. If, on the other hand, she laughs at that statement, and wants to make a crude joke, then maybe she would be a good fit after all! Good luck to gruntette!

The Sojourner said...

I have no personal experience, but I do have maternal advice.

My mother was in the army for 4 years back in the early 80's. She met my father when they were stationed together in Texas. Her experience was overall fairly positive. But she has said to me that if I expressed an interest in the military she would discourage it because she felt it did not help her foster her femininity. Since I have no particular military aspirations, I didn't ask her to elaborate, but that's somebody's 2 cents for you.

Anonymous said...

As Sciencegirl suggests, a woman's fit with the military will depend a lot on their personality and the character of the service (Army, Navy, Airforce or Marines) and probably the trade that they'll enter into (which for women in the US military is restricted to non-combat roles...though it doesn't always end up that way overseas). I think you also have to consider the terms of service, since a couple year's commitment after college versus a twenty year career has even bigger implications for a "feminine" woman who might value motherhood higher than the general population.

Another factor that might play into the equation is whether the woman is going in as an enlisted soldier or seeking a commission (becoming an officer for your civilian readers). After all, taking a four year degree program at Annapolis, for all of its challenges, might be an easier fit for such a woman than the earthier, blue collar world of 17-18 year old enlisted men.

I suspect that a good resource for "Gruntette" would be to try to get in touch with one or more military Chaplains who've got experience of living within the culture and could probably better ascertain her particular fit with the Marines or some other service. Since my experience with women in the military is limited to Canada, I really think that she needs to speak to someone with a closer connection to the US military in order to make an informed decision.

Incidentally, I was just watching a documentary today about the University Officer Training Corps of the British Army titled "For Queen and Country" which highlighted the program at Cambridge. There were a high percentage of women in the Cambridge UOTC, and they certainly looked rather feminine and elegant when decked out for the unit's annual dinner in the Great Hall.

Frank Monozlai

IA_ said...

Is she interested in marrying a marine?

Seraphic said...

Thanks, everybody, and thanks to the U.S. servicewomen who sent emails for me to forward to Gruntette.

IA, Gruntette did not say she wanted to marry a Marine. I can say, however, that I have found out that her father was a Marine, which puts a different spin on the whole question of her signing up. It also puts a spin on the question of marrying a Marine, rendering your question not as offensive as 50 coffee-sputtering women are likely to find it.

I do not believe that women should be in armed combat. I do not believe that men should be in armed combat, either, unless it is totally necessary. War may be a necessary evil, but it is still an evil. And when nursing mothers are ripped from their babies to be sent to Iraq, that seems to me very evil indeed.

However, I appreciate that women want to serve their countries in the military, including in such services as I would approve whole heartedly, e.g. medics, chaplains. But it is my belief that servicewomen's particular needs (such as not being raped by servicemen) are not as respected now as they might have been with the existence of Women's Corps in the 1940s. Indeed, sexual assault of women in the armed forces of Canada and the USA (the only ones I know even a bug's nostril amount about) is a crying scandal.

However, I am happy to have given space to servicewomen whose opinions will differ from mine. The military does not occupy as central a place in Canada and the UK as it does in the USA, and I understand that giving oneself to the military is the principal way lower-income Americans can get decent job training and a college education.