E.J. Graff, the author of What Is Marriage For? The Strange Social History of Our Most Intimate Institution, is a visiting researcher at Brandeis University's Women's Studies Research Center and a contributing editor at the Prospect.
The Marines are about to be hit by the same kind of sexual-harassment scandal that rocked the Army, Navy and Air Force. As yet, no Marine has gone on record talking about rape. But someone willand I bet it will be soon. Documents I recently obtained show that the same hostility found in the other services is deeply embedded in the Marines. Worse, this past February, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld purged the committee that reported on the corps' miserable climate, and stripped the committee's charter of key investigative powers. The Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, or DACOWITS, long targeted by the radical right, isn't exactly a feminist innovation; it was established by Secretary of Defense Gen.
You're making love. Suddenly the police burst into your apartment, arrest you for engaging in "deviate sexual intercourse" and haul you off to jail in your underpants. Are you in: a) Afghanistan; b) Saudi Arabia; c) Cuba; or d) Texas?
Yes, it's Texas. On Sept. 17, 1998, the Harris County sheriff's office got a complaint about a gunman in a Houston building. After being pointed to apartment 833, a cop pushed open the unlocked door, drew his gun -- and found two men in flagrante. Off to jail for the night went John Lawrence and Tyrone Garner, each paying a $125 fine for violating section 21.06 of the Texas criminal code (aka the "Homosexual Conduct Law"), which bans oral and anal sex between two men or two women.
At least Pfc. Jessica Lynch got her wounds on the battlefront. Back on the home front, Air Force Academy women have been taking friendly fire. Rape, it seems, is the price of graduation. To many civilians, that news from the Air Force Academy sounds like déjà vu all over again. Didn't the military -- the nation's largest employer of women -- get the message after Adm. Frank Kelso lost his career over the gang grope at the Navy's 1991 Tailhook convention? Or after the press revealed in 1996 that Army drill sergeants were regularly raping trainees at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds?
Laughing at marriage, that age-old comedy staple, is trendy once again. The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Joe Millionaire and the "reality" genre's latest entry, Married by America: Watching what fools these mortals be is setting Nielsen records. And why not? Unlike the terrifyingly high-stakes disputes over Iraq, smallpox vaccinations, airport security and secret detentions, marriage has an easy-to-follow story line -- one we're all sure we understand better than the players do.