I hope you are enjoying your break from blogging while your sister is in town. I am still recovering from my cold and a bit upset that I was unable to do the Witt case proper justice in my NyQuil-induced state. I’m drowning in a sea of tissue over here!
But, speaking of the Witt case, I came across a another military news story originating from the land of rippling pecks and thighs that we must discuss. That’s right, more news on Australia! Tiffany, if these two Aussie bums
were not reason enough to make you love Australia (and yes, oh yes they are!), I can now offer you one more delicious reason to love all things Aussie!
If you’re looking for something a bit more meaningful than firm thighs and pecks to make your Aussie romance complete, here is a story (receiving very little press I might add) that will make you take notice. As of yesterday, Australia offers equal rights to all sexual minorities wishing to serve in their military. While we in America grapple with the ‘Tacoma lesbian’s’ right to serve her country in the military, Australia has officially lifted its ban on Transgendered troops. This is the final barrier to admitting all sexual minorities into the Australian military, according to this Edge story. Other countries with Transgendered troops are: Canada, Israel, Czech Republic, Spain and Thailand.
Although I would love to toast a pint of Foster’s to the Aussie’s for this amazing step forward in human rights, it’s only 10:45 in the morning where I am. So, I guess my next round of NyQuil taken with an Australian toaster biscuit (they’re much softer than those haaaaard English things, you know) will have to suffice.
ps – I just realized this Tiffany, but with a name like ‘Tad’, imagine how delicious that would sound coming out of the mouth of an Aussie?
I spent some time this weekend catching up on the news and came across a story called ‘Trial opens for lesbian seeking to return to the military‘ (edited to add: the story has been updated and is now titled ‘Former colleagues testify for lesbian flight nurse’). The title of the article drew my attention because I was curious as to why the Seattle P.I chose to label Maj. Margaret Witt as a ‘lesbian’ rather than call her by her name. I wondered, what was so important to this article that the Seattle P.I felt it necessary to call this person a lesbian above and beyond all other things? What power does the word ‘lesbian’ carry that Maj. Witt’s name does not?
Tiffany, we’ve been having a lot of conversations lately regarding identity and the power that words play in establishing identity. And, I think this story is a striking representation of what we mean when we say our culture is all too willing to marginalize certain people by placing arbitrary labels on them. For example, if this story had been about a straight white woman, would it have read ‘Trial opens for heterosexual white woman seeking to return to the military’? Absolutely not. Yet, to label Maj. Margaret Witt as ‘lesbian’, and nothing more than such, is somehow considered appropriate. Could this possibly be about fear over the so-called ‘radical homosexual agenda’?
Maj. Margaret Witt has served her country in the military for 19 years. In order to do so, she was forced to hide a part of who she is. Now, unjustly, she is having to fight for her honor in a court of a law. And, ironically, the one aspect of herself that she was forced to hide is now the one aspect she is being identified as! Shouldn’t we as a society have enough maturity to respect her service, move beyond fear and understand that her struggle is a civil rights issue, and not a ‘lesbian’ issue? We should. But, apparently ‘othering’ Maj. Witt as a lesbian for the sake of a catchy, fear-mongering news headline is still acceptable.
To offer some context to this issue of words, I ran across another column that I encourage everyone to read. In her article ‘What are Words Worth?’, Princeton University Professor and Nation Magazine contributor, Melissa Harris-Lacewell argues that social and political structures at play are what truly bring power and meaning to the words we use. As examples, Harris-Lacewell looks at the cultural and political background surrounding some of our nations most historically significant speeches on social justice. Although her article doesn’t specifically focus on GLBT issues, her points are still applicable to Maj. Margaret Witt’s story.
Sadly, our culture continues to be polarized by fear of ‘others’. Harris-Lacewell ends her article with the following quote “Do not be afraid of the talking; it is time to work”. I couldn’t have said it better myself.