I was standing at the bus stop and a taxi drives past. A man in the passenger seat yells out the open window “YO BABY!! You need a riiiiiiiiide?” “I do need a ride” I said, jumping into the back seat. “But I don´t need to be spoken to like that.” The man sheepishly said sorry and then provided the justification for his language - “I´m a soldier” he said importantly, “just got back from Iraq.” As if being a soldier gave him the RIGHT to be sleazy. I think I was supposed to bat my eyelashes and say “OH… Well that explains it… you have so much manly testosterone and must be horny as hell. Here´s my number – call me Big Boy!”
I don´t know if being a solider gives him the right to speak to women that way, but I guess in his mind it does. Ahh… just what this world needs - another arrogant chauvinistic soldier with a gun who talks down to women because he feels like Action Man. And who really lets down those true soldiers who have become the most humane and respectful of us all.
Pressing me for conversation, which was really unnecessary, he asked “so where are you from in the States?” (As why would I be from anywhere else?) “I´m not from the States” I said. “I´m from New Zealand.” He expressed how impressed he was that I could speak English so well. I thanked him. “So what do you guys speak in New Zealand… Dutch?”
I asked him if he knew where New Zealand was but he avoided answering the question. Ah bless. So now we have a soldier who automatically thinks he has the right to be sleazy, but who also has absolutely no geographical or cultural knowledge of the world. And the arrogant assumption that he DOES know everything.
Because he wouldn´t shut up, he told me that he joined the military straight out of high school, which made me wonder, how many young men from the United States have served their country´s war purposes, without a higher education? How socially damaging is it to take young men straight out of high school, and throw them into such a male-dominated, dangerous, unnatural human condition? Before they have even had an opportunity to develop their own identity as adults and expand their minds through university or other mature life experiences.
How many of these young soldiers then return from war with warped ideas, shaped during times of intense violence, high stress, gender disparity and the conviction that they are superior? For their efforts and sacrifice society will recognize their bravery and service. But I would hope that beyond recognition, society provides a continued opportunity for higher education and healthy maturation. Because this will be a legacy of our generation.
Not to generalize. But it was just a thought.
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