Sgt. Martha is a former student of mine and I now call her a friend. Martha and I are closer now thousands of miles apart than we ever were when we stood next to each other in the same classroom for a semester. I guess war does that to people: It binds you nearer to those you care about because every day there is the danger you will never see them alive again. Martha is somewhere in Iraq serving their country, and ours, in the effort to help build a Democracy in the Middle East.
In class, Martha was one of my brightest, kindest and smartest students, and I am using the past tense because she had to leave of college to attend her military duties. I have great sorrow she had to stop her studies but I have great admiration she is honoring her commitment to the United States. Martha’s mind is sharp and, as you will soon see, she will cut you up if you didn’t keep up with the speed of her thoughts.
Martha sent me a fascinating letter the other day and I asked her if I could share parts of it here with you for your insight and feedback. Martha gave me permission to share her letter with you. I have lightly edited some of her more “robust” language so this blog won’t get blocked by profanity filters. 🙂 I will forward on your comments to her so remember you are speaking to Martha and not me:
No civilian can really understand how good he or she has it until they come over here and live a lifestyle that could be identified as glorified prison. (Actually, I think in some cases prisoners have it better, but never mind.) It is also very difficult being female in this type of environment.
Men generally don’t like to hear this because they construe it as typical man-bashing woman bitching but I am not angry about this — it is just another objective observation.
I guess because of the type of chick that I am, and what I like to do, I’ve been in many situations (military, job, etc.) where I am the only, or one of the very few, women present. Because of this I’ve always felt that I needed to work three times as hard to prove myself to the men. I don’t have a problem with that at all, but the attitude of the males over here gets really exhausting.
No matter how many times a female gets sh*t right, if she f*cks up on something ONE TIME, she never hears the end of it. And it’s always BECAUSE she’s a girl. The guys drive like maniacs, crash into sh*t, lose vehicle parts — but if a chick so much as makes a wrong turn (not during a convoy, of course — I mean on post where it doesn’t really matter) it’s always “women drivers” and “no sense of direction” that, etc. ad nauseam. It doesn’t really affect me and I mostly try to ignore it, but it p*sses me off that the few women over here aren’t given a chance before they’re stereotyped and categorized.
Of course there are lazy bitches in the military who use their gender to get out of doing work, and they should absolutely be bashed. But we also have genuinely motivated and hard-working females who do the same job the guys do. And while I’m on the topic of male-female relations, how about the huge double standard concerning sex over here?
A male soldier can f*ck 20 chicks (well, supposing he could find that many willing to sleep with him) over here, and he’s just considered a “ladies’ man” or “player” or whatever other ego-boosting bullsh*t euphemism for “male slut” you can think of. But a chick will hook up with one dude and she’s forever deemed a whore and damaged goods, “field entertainment.” I’m sure you can imagine all the other names she will be known as from then forth. I think that is the biggest crock of sh*t I’ve ever heard and I refuse to buy into it or let it bother me. Despite what anyone says, I firmly believe that it is NOT different for females, that it does take two, and that a man is not just “being a man.”
Sh*t, we don’t have needs out here too? As you can probably tell, my opinions are not exactly popular here (neither are they in civilian life concerning this topic but we’re talking about the military now). But I function as a social equalizer. Every stupid comment from the men gets a counter-argument from me. The guys also don’t seem to like the fact that I talk about sex as freely as they do. And contrary to what everyone thinks I am not “trying to be a man.”This is how I am all the time — I don’t understand why something that everybody does shouldn’t be discussed by the other half of the population that engages in it!
As a result of this, though, I have a history of dating men who are a bit, shall we say, submissive. A male chauvinist doesn’t want a female chauvinist, and so I end up with guys who are into aggressive females — unfortunately this type of dude is usually submissive in all other walks of life as well. Guys who can’t make a decision, can’t stand on their own two feet. I’ve started thinking maybe I should start looking for guys with some balls, but I usually only end up arguing with them to death — I come away thinking he’s a typical alpha-male sexist *sshole and he thinks I’m a nagging femi-Nazi bitch.
Anyway, I don’t really know why I’m telling you all of this and I apologize that this letter turned out do d*mn long (it was only supposed to be a card, I swear!). This is just some of the sh*t that’s been on my mind lately. Incidentally, I apologize for all the profanity — being in the military somehow makes you swear a lot more than at home.
‘Til Next Time, Martha
If you would like to leave your thoughts for Martha here in a comment I will make sure she is able to read what you say. In your comment, if you donâ€™t mind, please make sure to include at least the following information somewhere so she knows who you are and where you are coming from…
1. Your gender.
2. Where you are in the world.
3. Age range.
i am a female here in the us (30) and working a civilian job. i’m the only female and have the same problem. all the guys save two of them do everything half-ass and i have to go behind them and check everything. and that’s because if anything is wrong the boss tells me about it. it drives me insane but i can’t say anything about it because they’ll act like i’m just bitching at them.
so unfortunately it isn’t just the military. it’s any time you have a bunch of men together and just a few women.
i wish i had some advice for you but i’m at my wit’s end myself most of the time. the only thing i know is that we need to start raising our sons differently and maybe they won’t end up being such *ssholes.
Thank you for posting your thoughts for Martha here.
I know this issue can be uncomfortable and difficult and the expression of those human conflicts in your comments is welcome and invigorating.
“the only thing i know is that we need to start raising our sons differently and maybe they wonâ€™t end up being such *ssholes.”
You hit the nail right on the head, Royal. I’ll also add that we need to raise our daughters differently so they won’t be doormats for these *ssholes. 😉
Excellent post, Deborah!
You are square on target!
Well I hope Sgt Martha the best. I’m over here to, I’m not quite sure where all the sex is going on since it is against General Order Number One and I would expect every leader in every unit to ahere to all the orders of their superiors.
Now that being said, I simpathize with her. I’m a bit older and I must say that the younger guys and gals are terrible drivers, they do things differently than I was raised and they little respect for themselves. I also remembered that I was there, 20 years ago. Doing th same thing, more interested in chasing tail than my job. I could probably still drink these kids under the table, but then again I don’t have to.
Standards, when a leader follows the standards then people around them generally do to. Keep up the good work, but do the right thing.
Hi Kevin —
Thanks for your note to Sgt. Martha.
Your honesty, built from experience, is terrific and also gives great humor and real perspective to the situation. Thanks!
I am pleased to announce Sgt. Martha is back from Iraq! She is doing fine and will attend school next semester and make up for lost time by overloading on credits but not work. I’ll let you know more as I know more.