At 18 years old, I was unaware of the dynamics between male and female members of the military.
When I enlisted, I thought we would be the same- equally serving our country. You and me, him and her, brothers and sisters in arms working side by side for a purpose greater than our own. I saw the military as contributing to a worthy cause like defending freedom from terrorists that wished to do democracies harm.
Specifically, I wanted to help injured and hurting Marines and Sailors. So I chose to work in the medical field as a Hospital Corpsman.
It didn’t occur to me that my gender would set me apart from my male counterparts. Not until I got called a “Corps-whore” for the first time. That’s when the blinders were torn from my eyes. None of the male corpsmen were being treated like sluts. It shocked me to be thought of as “loose” because of my job.
I realized that our capabilities and contributions to the military were not viewed in the same light. Also when I heard female service members being referred to as “good for morale” or “morale equipment,” especially if they were romantically involved with another active duty service member.
Ironically, males (married or not) could “stick their pens in company ink” without consequence or the risk of earning nicknames like “Walking Mattresses” (i.e., A Woman Marine or W.M.), or a “Barracks Bunny,” or a “Cumdumpster” only good for one thing.
It was humiliating but not worth complaining about if you didn’t want to be ostracized or labeled as “One of THOSE females-” The females that get men in trouble because they can’t take a joke or are too sensitive to work in a male-dominated field or function in the war front.
So I stayed silent or laughed it off with a grin. I was trying to fit in. I didn’t care about the sisterhood, not then. But looking back, I wish I had because there was nothing I could have ever said or done to make the guys see me as a peer or as one of them. But at least the women understood the struggle firsthand and could have been my friends.
Unfortunately, I distanced myself instead because I didn’t want to be considered guilty by association. I chose self-isolation because I didn’t want to risk sullying my reputation.
This is the way that things were between male and female military members when I was in. I wonder if the dynamics have changed in 2023 or if it’s still as degrading and lonely to serve now as it was back then.
Lance Cpl. Sarah Skiados, a Female Engagement Team member with Combat Logistics Battalion 26, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is searched during a class on the flight deck of USS Ponce, on Oct. 22, 2010. The FET is composed of female Marines who could be called upon to patrol with all male-units to interact with women in countries where women are restricted from speaking with men. The 26th MEU is currently embarked aboard the ships of Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group operating in the 5th Fleet area of responsibility. 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit Public Affairs Photo by Staff Sgt. Danielle Bacon Date Taken:10.22.2010 Location:USS PONCE, USCENTCOM, AT SEA.
Lori Butierriesis a full-time caregiver to two children with disabilities. She uses her life experiences and the medical knowledge she gained from serving as a Hospital Corpsman in the United States Navy to help others facing similar hardships. Lori is an author for The Havok Journal, an official columnist for AwareNow Magazine, and a contributor to The Mighty. Likewise, other news sites like MSN and Yahoo! News have also republished select articles Lori has written. Lori’s writing extends to children’s literature. Her debut picture book, GIFT FROM GOD, was self-published at the beginning of 2021 and placed as a finalist in two categories in the 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Lori’s long-term goals are to use her writing to educate others about, advocate for, and dismantle negative stereotypes regarding disability, mental health, and the military/veteran community.
As the Voice of the Veteran Community, The Havok Journal seeks to publish a variety of perspectives on a number of sensitive subjects. Unless specifically noted otherwise, nothing we publish is an official point of view of The Havok Journal or any part of the U.S. government.
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