We’ve got a great week shaping up, with both new and old authors alike–add your voice as a contributor! Please send your articles or ideas in by Wednesday, or contact the week’s editor if you would like more time.

Beginning on Women’s Equality Day (26 August), the Naval Institute Blog will be running a “Women in Writing Week,” highlighting the writing of female commissioned officers and enlisted personnel in the sea services.

Women comprise more than half of the US population and 18% of naval officers between O-1 and O-4, yet they make up fewer than 1% of writers at the Naval Institute Blog.

We invite ALL females–active, reserve, retired, civilian–to write for the Naval Institute Blog on any topic of their choice. We also invite all writers of any gender to write about their favorite female writers in the military, and those role models who have paved the way for others to follow.

Blogging is not a gender-specific sport. We invite all men and all women to participate, to share in their equal voice and contribute to our great naval debate.

Interested authors may submit their writing (whether it is a final product or simply a draft with which you would like a little help) to blog@usni.org or roger.misso@gmail.com. Thanks for writing!




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  • Gman79

    Geesh – down right depressing that you have fallen prey to the Diversity Mafia. A “Women in Writing week”? Seriously? Followed by a “Men in Writing” for equal time? We can come up with 50 more differentiators so we get one special writing category each week.
    If today’s Fleet women have something to say I’m confident they would have zero hesitation at putting down their thoughts and hitting “send” and that they don’t need another artificial equalizer like “Women in Writing Week”. All that does is create the impression of a lowered bar. You can do better.

    • Chris O’Keefe

      Hiding behind the anonymity shield slinging barbs… why not write a well-defended article about why you don’t think women should be in the force… it would be a much more productive add to the discussion, and force a public defense of your position instead of simple posturing.

      • Gman79

        Mr O’Keefe – you really missed the point. We don’t need to segregate ANY writers/contributors based on gender/race/culture. i in no way denigrated the women in today’s Navy, and I don’t believe we need to selectively set aside certain members in an effort to get those to contribute. How you read my post and erroneously conclude “I don’t think women should be in the force” is beyond me. Go kick that dead mule elsewhere. Maybe the bigger question is WHY today’s women in the Fleet are not contributing.

      • Chris O’Keefe

        Fair enough on intent. Maybe we are coming at this from two different approaches, apologies if I again misinterpret.

        Your view: few women writers means they have nothing to say, and that is an acceptable state – no further action required.

        Mine: there are few women writers, therefore I’m not aware of their thoughts and viewpoints. Are they similar to mine? If not, how are they different and might I able to learn from that so as to better understand a relatively silent population that nevertheless makes up a now significant proportion of the force.

        Furthermore, were I a woman and I headed over to the comments on many publications, I personally wouldn’t want to say anything. It’s often a highly caustic one sided environment. Recommend reading Lean In. It’s illuminating.

      • Chris O’Keefe

        Couldn’t agree with you more on the WHY though… I would like to understand this better

      • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDR Salamander

        Chris, I’ve had two female writers recently tell me exactly why they would like to write, but they won’t. The reason? They do not feel that their point of view, specifically concerning their fellow female servicemembers, would be “politically acceptable,” and from their perspective, the cost/benefit ratio just did not make it worth it. I tried to convince them otherwise – but adults make decisions for what they believe is in their best interests.

        That is part of the WHY. All institutions and those who support the free market of ideas need to ask themselves, how open are we to contrary opinion – and more importantly, those who hold them? Do we support a vigorous debate, or is there a desire to control the flow and direction of thought? Do we want writers, or only writing that is within certain defined boundaries?

        As for “Lean-In” that you recommend, I have already had people complain to me about the aggressive pushing of “Lean-In” circles at USNA. Not surprising given the highly socio-political nature of its major wellhead, the Clayman Institute for Gender Studies at Stanford University. It has a defined perspective and is agenda driven.

        By all means, people should research who supports and funds “Lean In.” It is quite illuminating.

        I don’t think it will be all that helpful for many – especially latchkey kids like me of entrepreneurial mothers who built and sold companies her whole life, and as adults married scary smart attorneys who brought in to this world wonderfully confident girls to make the next generation’s progress even greater.

        Spending your life around successful women is a great school. What tools and methods they need/needed to succeed had and have little to do with what Lean-In is selling. $.02.

      • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDR Salamander

        1. Attack the commenter. 2. Accuse them of saying something they did not.

        Net 2 below.

        G79 has a contrary opinion, and one that is valid. One does not have to agree with it, but his observations are well within accepted norms. Each issue in the marketplace of ideas in a republic of free people can have more than one valid and acceptable opinion concerning it.

        Seperating opinion in to a multitude of non-inclusive intellectual ghettos based on something as intellectually arbitrary as race, creed, color or s3x has a troubled history.

        G79 critique of the framework should be a welcome part of the discussion.

        As for a topic near and dear to my heart; writing in various degrees of anonymity in publication related to the US Navy has an honored tradition dating back to the 1830s.

      • Chris O’Keefe

        Sal,

        I presented a mea culpa on intent. However, I’m less convinced of a misinterpretation.

        Juxtaposition:

        Original statement: ‘If today’s Fleet women have something to say I’m confident they would have zero hesitation at putting down their thoughts and hitting “send”and that they don’t need another artificial equalizer like “Women in Writing Week”. All that does is create the impression of a lowered bar.’

        Interpretation: “few women writers means they have nothing to say, and that is an acceptable state – no further action required.”

        Regardless of reasoning and logic behind it, the comment is clear that this is a conversation that the author of the comment does not wish to see happen.

        To address the reasoning behind Gman’s comment (and my objection to his anonymity in this particular context, not as a rule):

        I understand there is a long tradition of anonymity, and in general I do not have much of an issue with that. I don’t choose to be anonymous, but in your case when you began you found a need to, and now it has become an effective branding device. Respected publications today still use this as a device and tool of dialogue – got it, no argument.

        What I do find troubling is what I perceive as a masked commenter wishing to PREVENT a conversation from even taking place. There is a subtle difference between defense and promotion of ideas vs preventing conversation on those ideas, and I don’t believe in preventing conversations from taking place, even if I disagree with the substance of those conversations.

        The commenter simply could have chosen, since this is a free environment, to abstain from conversation. Or, could have jumped in and joined in the conversation by writing an article on an issue (like how these conversations on gender are had). But the approach taken was to instead criticize the simple action of having a conversation on a topic.

        To pull the thread, this can easily be perceived as “conversations are ok, as long as they are conversations that I am ok with having.” Free thought goes both ways. To advocate against a conversation vs an idea is to stifle the very concept of free speech that you discuss.

        Now, I think you will agree with me in that in many areas there is a hypersensitivity in dialogue today – nobody is permitted to offend anybody. This is bad, and there is much literature that discusses the negative ramifications from this culture.

        Jonathan Haidt has a great article out in the Atlantic about this, one that I think you’ll like more than Lean In :).

        Look up The Coddling of the American Mind – can’t post link unfortunately.

        But there is a balance, and in some cases, there are very real issues of populations without a public voice for whatever reason (good dialogue in this thread already about why this is, and I look forward to more). As discussed, women are’t writing, for a variety of reasons, and I think that is worth exploring. I hope this effort will help in that understanding.

        In a free environment, we are allowed to be curious about this, and heaven forbid, speculate! But I don’t agree with you in one very specific aspect: this exploration does NOT create non-inclusive intellectual ghettos, as you profess, but the exact opposite: its working to identify pockets of intellectual thought that are untapped and in doing so connect conversations in other communities with the one that you and I are active participants in.

        Ultimately, discussions of nuanced wording aside, the intent of this effort is clearly to spark discussions, dialogue, and understanding. A discussion hopefully includes contrary opinions, including controversial ones. And I hope the effort at generating discussion succeeds, regardless if people think the conversation should or shouldn’t be held. The conversations should be had.

        Personally, I can’t wait to read the articles of fellow shipmates who may not often write. It will be educational, and I for one will be better off for it.

      • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDR Salamander

        In some aspects, we will have to simply agree to disagree – though in broad areas we have some overlap. I’ll let G79 speak for himself, but I am still perplexed why you think he has any desire to stop a conversation by stating “… I’m confident they would have zero hesitation at putting down their thoughts and hitting “send” …” If anything, that is a statement of the equality of men and women, and specifically the power of free choice to access the intellectual commons that is in general the internet, and USNIBlog specifically. No barrier, no patronizing, no assumptions of a need of special treatment and recognition not needed by others. There simply is no prenumbral emanation of a barrier in his comments – unless you believe that the only way to get a desired percentage of your writers to be women is to carve out a special place for them. Carving out a special space is a valid opinion that good people can disagree on – but one should also accept, and respect, the fact that others may not see that as a positive concept, but instead find it to be the wrong solution to an ill-defined problem. That too is a valid opinion – and one that demonstrates a sound respect for equality. To reject it as such, actually, is trying to shut down an opinion by painting it with a negative brush.

        I would offer that you re-read G79’s original comment again with fresh eyes. That, combined with the end of his second comment is where I think all three of us are on common ground and is the very interesting question, “WHY today’s women in the Fleet are not contributing.” I would offer that is a question women in the Fleet should answer. I’ve asked that question, and as I outlined in comments and Roger quoted in today’s post, I have received my answer from some of the female leaders I have been in communication with for years.

        Part of their reason for not writing is that they don’t want to be accused of something they are not, due to a discussion being pre-maturely bounded by an organizationally approved socio-political theory they are not in line with.

        I may be misreading it, but the response to G79’s comment may validate that fear as those prospective female writers (from 2LT to CDR) expressed to me they had.

        In any event, as this week outlines, it is a bit silly to have a 40-something guy and a 20-something guy arguing why women do or do not join the conversation in the commons at a ratio in line with their participation in the profession.

        As for the corrosive effects of special standards, I think the recent article by Kyleanne Hunter is an outstanding addition to the conversation. http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/08/25/the-cost-of-lower-standards-for-women-in-marine-recruitment/?_r=0

  • Gman79

    Chris – I apologize for opening the dialog as I can clearly see that the idea of SPECIAL treatment reserved for a selected cross-section is clearly acceptable in today’s Navy. I just don’t see today’s female officers and enlisted ‘struggling for a voice”, i did not intend to simply “blast” the intent, but then again, where is the Institute’s call for articles by those male minorities who failed to select for DH or O-4? Don’t they have a valid opinion on performance versus timing as it relates to selection?

    When we start separating ourselves into special categories – even temporary ones – I believe we subtly erode the gains the Navy has made. How does “BZ LT Smith – I see you had two articles published in Proceedings” differ from “BZ Lt Smith I see you had two articles published in the SPECIAL Proceedings issue reserved for Women Writers”? If you see no difference – well then we’re done. I see TRWs ahead and no divert. Rant out, and i look forward to the special edition.

    Full disclosure; got 2 daughters, both raised in the belief that their gender was never an obstacle, including on the college skeet/trap team (hint – girls can out-shoot boys). One has a business with employees in 5 states and has been featured nationally in two magazines, the other buys $500 million a year for a major worldwide company and has 6 PEs working below her – 5 males, 1 female. I asked both of them last night if I was out of line – they both agreed that they would not want special attention based on gender alone – maybe by community, or year group, but not by gender as the sole qualifier.

    • Chris O’Keefe

      Gman / Sal,

      I think we are 90 % aligned here, actually. I’m glad to see my perception was incorrect! That said, I’m sticking to the fact that its ok to broaden the conversation, and I don’t equate that with lowering standards.

      Sal, great article rec, concur.

      Gman, to your point, folks on the blog actually ARE asking those types of questions. The survey that some fellow JOs put together last week (final results being collated) garnered over 450 responses, men and women, with incredibly thoughtful comments and discussions, including about DH screening.

      Surprisingly enough, I also know women in the military, and I have had feedback that differs from that provided by Sal. Enough so that I am interested in hearing more feedback from ALL sides.

      I personally believe that the fact that this conversation has occurred is a net gain resulting from the original post. Gman, I’m glad you posted. I think I was a harsh in my initial reaction… happy to admit that.

      People are asking questions, about warfare areas, strategy, war fighting, etc. Points of view differ based on experience, makeup, etc. and this is just one of a myriad of questions and discussions going on.

      Dead mule beating done, thanks for a great conversation. I look forward to more.

      • Gman79

        Concur, and look forward to seeing your name on a future article.
        Cheers. Keep the blue water outta the brown shoes.

  • Tenley Lozano

    I appreciate that one of the editors of the USNI Blog reached out to women to hear our opinions. I don’t see this as special treatment, but an open call for a minority voice that hasn’t been heard in this venue. Personally, I hadn’t written for the blog because I didn’t know it existed. When a friend in the Air Force forwarded the call for female writers on Sunday morning, I immediately started working on a post. I hope to see it on the site this week.

    The Internet isn’t often a safe place for women in the military to express our opinions. When we do, we are personally and professionally attacked. When I was Active Duty I feared retribution from my unit for voicing opinions that differed from the command’s, and there is no such thing as anonymity when you are the only female Dive Officer at a unit, and one of only 5 women at a unit of over 100 people. Just thought I needed to add my voice to this argument.

    • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDR Salamander

      Tenley, I would say it is more of a discussion, vice an argument. I would also offer, that the internet is not a safe place for anyone – especially if you write opinion bits. That is good.

      Part of the marketplace of ideas is the creative friction that comes with addressing difficult issues. No one has the perfect solution. There is a problem. On person puts down a solution. Then another puts down their solution.

      Good chance, neither one is the optimal solution. Through an ongoing discussion – the best ones get heated – both sides start to move towards the optimal solution set.

      If you put your ideas out there without reaction, then there is a good chance that either the topic you put out does not address a problem, or it never really makes an observation worth responding to.

      Winston Churchill has a great quote: “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

      You don’t have to be a woman to be, “… personally and professionally attacked.” That’s been happening to me for over a decade. You should actually welcome attacks. Consider it Salamander’s 3rd Law: For every opinion of substance, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

      That is good. That is meaning you are contributing. That is the difference between conversation and lecture.