I’m sure you’re all aware of the recent repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), a groundbreaking decision that will allow gays and lesbians to openly serve in the United States armed forces. Over the past eighteen years, 14,000 soldiers were dismissed from the military for being gay, and estimates show that 70,000 soldiers were forced to lie to keep their jobs because of DADT. (http://westhollywood.patch.com/articles/dont-ask-dont-tell-repeal-ceberated-with-march-and-rally#photo-7850846

Hearing about this in the news, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Michael Kimmel’s “Masculinity as Homophobia.” He actually said that manhood is “so chronically insecure that it trembles at the idea of lifting the ban on gays in the military.” In his view the insistence on masculinity in our culture leads men to exclude those who are “less than manly,” in order to reassure themselves that their own sense of masculine inadequacy will not be exposed. This concept is epitomized in the soldier, the apparent hyper-masculine red-blooded American man, strong and heroic in protecting our nation. The ban on gays in the military served as the ultimate example of homophobia, an institutionalization more obvious than most of the terrible fear of feminization.

Theoretically, then, the average soldier should be terrified of being identified as part of a group that includes gay men, lest he be accused of homosexuality or even sympathy for homosexuals. However, a surprising amount of soldiers, when directly asked, do not seem to find it an issue, according to multiple sources. A majority of soldiers suspected or knew some of their comrades were gay or lesbian under DADT, yet had not reported them or had any issue serving with them. (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44607 673/ns/us_news-life/) Another poll said 30% of soldiers would rather gays and lesbians be allowed to serve openly, and another 30% had no opinion one way or the other. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content article/2010/ 09/17/ AR2010091702444.html)  Though there are certainly many soldiers who did support DADT, results of polls like these seem to contradict the absoluteness Kimmel's theory suggests.

If we were to take Kimmel’s words as law in predicting the behavior of men, the repeal of DADT would have never come about. He said, “Shame leads to silence – the silences that keep other people believing that we actually approve of the things that are done to women, to minorities, to gays and lesbians in our culture…Our fears are the sources of our silences, and men’s silence is what keeps the system running.” Perhaps this repeal is a sign that our society has finally moved past some of its fears, or perhaps people have just realized that their personal insecurities do not justify silence in the face of blatant injustice and discrimination. Either way, the repeal of DADT is an enormous step in our country that I can only hope is a sign of things to come.

- Emily Attubato