What were they thinking? Not bloody much.
Documents obtained via freedom of information show that an unnamed male officer at Army Headquarters ‘badgered’ a female officer on operations to write an article canvassing taxpayer-funded prostitutes, sex toys and masturbation rooms for Diggers on operations.
And that they were surprised it became a media story.
The article and the emails about it can be read here. The final version of the article is towards the end of the FOI.
The documents also show that the female officer wrote an email after the article was published, stating that she was misquoted and that she was:
…not in support of using sex workers in the ADF, never have been and never will be…
However, in the article the female officer stated that she:
…initially considered whether the Army could contract Australian male and female sex workers to service troops in forward operational bases and air bases…
That does not sound like ‘never’ to me, although her article did go on to say that she:
…quickly realised there were too many moral, legal, practical, medical and logistical barriers for this concept to be entertained.
I’m not sure how much research is normally required before one arrives at the conclusion that they are not in support of the idea of taxpayer-funded prostitutes. But most people who hold that position don’t need research at all.
In contrast, this article was researched for almost two and a half months before the unidentified bright spark at Army Headquarters decided it should be published on the Army’s Landpower Forum website.
The article also added this:
Opinions on the subject will undoubtedly vary, but the conversation about sexual activism and regulation on deployment is worth having.
And this is the point: even if the author was always opposed to the idea of Army prostitutes, she was still throwing it out there for the Army to ‘discuss’, which – by its very nature – implies that there is some merit in it somewhere. And, worse, the Army published it on its website to generate that discussion.
The emails also show that after this article started a media frenzy, the author received numerous congratulations for showing moral courage.
Support was given by Army Headquarters, Joint Operations Command and the Australian Army Research Centre for the contribution to the ‘debate on the profession of arms’.
That’s all well and good. But it is entirely hypocritical.
We all know the answer to these questions, but I will ask them anyway because they are the discussions that the Army should be having.
Will sexual tensions in infantry units as a result of the corps being opened to females affect morale and unit cohesion?
Should Defence be marching in uniform at a parade where other participants engage in explicit sexual embraces in various states of undress?
Ask those questions and no one will talk about moral courage. Instead you’ll be given a lecture about diversity and a notice to show cause.
So the Army only applauds moral courage when it involves discussing taxpayer-funded prostitutes, sex toys and masturbation rooms. Apparently that kind of moral courage builds the profession of arms.
There is one other point to make about this shenanigans.
When the topic was first raised, the only concern that the unidentified male officer in Army Headquarters had was that the initial draft of the article needed a better ‘balance of genders’.
It’s good to see that gender diversity has taken such a hold on Defence thinking that when articles are written for Defence webpages about masturbation rooms, all Army HQ cares about is whether the sentiment demonstrates unconscious gender bias.
It’s about all the evidence you need to nuke the Army’s diversity program.
And I’ll leave this tip for young players: if you are going to write an article titled ‘Sex and War – a conversation the Army has to have’ to generate discussions about how taxpayers can fund sexual satisfaction for soldiers, expect it to end up on the front page of every newspaper in town.
That is exactly what happened.
And the fact that officers in Army Headquarters are surprised about this shows just how little thinking goes on in there…