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No place for women: The Skype affair and women on the frontline

By Brian Holden - posted Thursday, 9 June 2011

Before the media stood the Minister for Defence, and next to him was the Chief of the Defence Force. While the Air Chief Marshal looked glumly on, the Minister declared that the bingeing, bullying and blokey culture in the armed services and at Duntroon must change. It seems that extensive and unreported sexual harassment is the dark side of mateship.

As he stood before the media, the Minister did not propose that the hormone level in male blood in the armed services be chemically altered or that the neural networks in their brains should be reset through high voltage shocks. So, how does he think that a change will be achieved?

The plan is to enforce a policy created some years ago in the minds of those sitting in comfortable offices in another sphere to what is happening on the ground. It is currently one of the darling policies of the bureaucrat because it not only adds to what he craves - the fantasy feeling of being in control - but also promotes the phony image of righteousness. This is the policy of zero tolerance.


Ask any employee in the public service who is working at the coalface what their thoughts are on their organisation’s zero tolerance policy. The response will be that it is nothing more than ink on paper. It is that conviction in the workplace that is behind so much harassment going unreported.

The media getting hold of a grievance seems to be the key. Then the bosses suddenly become horrified. But key to what? What future has the Skype victim?  

Exposure can be problematic for the effective management of the mixed-gender military workspace. After the drama that was observed to follow the Skype incident, then just the talk of zero tolerance could create a workplace where there is a maladjusted female who enjoys playing power games, and males who feel that they are walking on eggshells. 

The escalating problem is due to females steadily moving into ‘forward positions’ where men and women are co-habiting the same workspace 24/7. So, the Minister’s plan of zero tolerance is to enforce the unenforceable in a highly contrived environment where the same uniform covers two differing biological structures - one of which was designed a few million years ago to pursue the other.

It would have been instructive to be a fly on the wall aboard HMAS Success. I had to settle for watching a few episodes of the American documentary Carrier. That was enough for me to conclude that there is nothing to gain whatsoever by having females in forward positions. They are not there to do a job males cannot do. They are there purely as a defensive reaction to accusations of discrimination.

Carrier revealed that there are several hundred females on board the USS Nimitz, which has a crew of about 5 000. They have no privacy and no real bed. They dress the same way every day. They continually feel intimidated in a sea of males. They do not see their families for up to six months at a time. This is not the type of job the average girl should aspire to.


Women with bayonets! Now gender equality becomes madness

Coinciding with the Skype incident there was something more ominous occurring. It has been decided that there will be full and unrestricted gender equality in the armed forces.

If the strict application of the zero tolerance policy will gradually turn blokes into sensitive and caring creatures, there will be a companion policy to give potential mothers the chance of flying a helicopter gunship and blowing the limbs off Afghani children and burning the flesh off their faces.

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About the Author

Brian Holden has been retired since 1988. He advises that if you can keep physically and mentally active, retirement can be the best time of your life.

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