Women on Submarines

Change is inevitable – except from a vending machine.
~Robert C. Gallagher

It’s official, the Navy will begin allowing women on submarines. I’ve seen a lot of debate on this. Many people–both Sailors and wives–are very negative toward this. Many embrace it. The Navy is definitely trying to get the word out and talk to Sailors and their families about it. In fact, the Admiral of the sub group had a town hall meeting for families to discuss it. He presented facts and then opened it up to questions/comments.

The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Georgia (SSGN 729) passes Mount Vesuvius after a port visit to Naples, Italy. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class John Parker/Released)

I, of course, as a wife of a submariner, have my own opinion on it. But before I go further, please see and read the disclosure at the top left of this page….. Have you read it? No really, read it….  Okay, now that that is done, here’s the skinny: I think it’s fantastic and about time.

Let’s get the facts on integrating women onto submarines. There will only be female officers going on submarines right now.  They are going to choose 19 with the hopes that 16 make it through all the schools (this is the normal accession/drop rate). They will be chosen in the next few months from the Naval Academy, NROTC, STA-21 and OCS (there may be one more but I forget). Like all submariners, they will all be completely volunteer.

These women will go through the normal nuclear schools and should be heading into the fleet in late 2011. There may be a few that will be brought in from surface ships but they will go through the exact same process as everyone else.

The female officers will be placed approximately two on each crew (blue and gold) of one SSBN and one SSGN on each coast (west and east).  The GNs and Boomers already have the facilities for them to integrate the women with no modifications because officer berthing is 2-3 people per room. So it works out perfectly. SSNs will not be used at this time because they would need to be modified to do this.

The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Florida (SSGN 728) arrives for a routine port visit to the island of Crete. (U.S. Navy photo by Paul Farley/Released)

At this time, it is only officers who are being integrated. They are watching to see how well this works and only after then would they consider integrating enlisted females. However, there would be a lot of modifications that would need to be done and that would cost a lot of money. Right now, that’s not on the table. And frankly, my opinion is that by the time they are ready to integrate enlisted women onto submarines, it’ll be time for them to design a new submarine class and they will probably just design it so they can easily be integrated. But who knows, maybe they’ll do it sooner.

Now, I know many women are worried that their husbands will be tempted to cheat. Let me reiterate: only officers are being integrated and only 19 of the top candidates will be allowed to go on submarines. That’s pretty cream of the crop. These women are going to be so career-focused they are not going to want to mess anything up. Besides, we all know they are going to be living in fish bowls and they are going to be out to show that women can do this.

And while we are on this topic… women, if you are worried that your man might cheat because he’s cooped up for several months with other women, let me say this: you have more to worry about in your marriage than this happening. Because let’s face it, if a guy (or girl for that matter) wants to cheat, or has the capacity to cheat, he’s going to whether he’s on the boat or on land. And just remember, they also get port calls… plenty of opportunity to cheat if they want to.

Ohio class ballistic missile submarine USS West Virginia (SSBN 736) transits the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway as it returns to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga. from a patrol mission. (U.S. Navy photo Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kimberly Clifford/Released)

And the question of sexual harassment happening on the boat… well, again, these women are professionals and they are not going to be making up some wild stories. In fact, if anything, they might tend to keep any real harassment quiet because of the scrutiny that they will be under from the Navy and the rest of the world.

Now, as to the health side of it. Again, these women are cream of the crop. I’m willing to bet they are going to be responsible in family planning. The Navy is not going to knowingly take a pregnant woman underway. If she is discovered to be pregnant while underway, she will be removed from the boat when it is safe to do so. This is no different than if a man is injured/becomes extremely ill and must leave.

There is also NO evidence that the air on the boat is harmful to a fetus or to women planning to have children in the future. Of course, the Navy is going to be monitoring this quite closely, too.

Now, I know that the submarine community is basically the last Navy community that puts tradition ahead of political correctness. I mean, I hear about the stupid tricks/stuff my husband and his shipmates say. But think about it. These women know what they are getting in to. They are CHOOSING it. They are going to be pretty thick-skinned.

The Admiral was asked if he truly thought women could do everything the men could do on a submarine. And he said there was nothing on the boat that he has ever seen that would be compromised because a woman was on board and doing a job as long as she was physically fit. He said that hey, there are some men on board that aren’t the strongest of people. If there is something heavy to move and a woman can’t do it, there are going to be men who aren’t strong enough either. They just go and find the strongest person on the boat for the job 😉

Here’s the thing, though. It wasn’t until the ’70s when women were even allowed in the regular Navy. And it wasn’t until the ’90s that women were allowed on surface ships.

Guess what? I’ll bet you anything that the same worries/excuses came from the ranks/world… “women can’t do the job like men,” “women are going to entice men to cheat,” “women are going to get pregnant and leave an open billet,” “women need special care” and so on and so forth. And you know what? It’s all been de-bunked.

Ya know… a hundred years ago, it was thought that women weren’t intelligent enough to vote. They weren’t smart enough to own property. They weren’t to be trusted to make political decisions. And it wasn’t until 60 years ago that women were thought of as anything but only capable of only running a home… and surely not a business.

Civilization has come a long way. Women being allowed on submarines is just another step in the direction of progress.


20 thoughts on “Women on Submarines

  1. This is an example of how hearing the same thing from someone else changes things, lol.

    My hubby’s first ship was the USS Constellation it was an all male ship, oh how I LOVEd the fact that I didn’t have to worry about the added fear, lol. Later the ship accepted Female officers, I was a bit hesitant but obviously had no choice, lol. Man, did I hear stories on board, so i wished for the rest of his carreer that there only be all male ships. Hubby got off of that ship to go to a new one, and they turned the ship into a co-ed ship. Let me just tell you, over 20 girls came back pregnant from the deployment, that weren’t pregnant before they left!
    As a wife it got to my nerves, logically like you said, if it’s going to happen it will happen anywhere.

    As soon as I read that subs were going co-ed, all these thoughts were running through my head, the poor wives!!!
    After reading your post, it’s so true, Women have come a long way from not meaning anything in social life, and as a woman I am now, thanks to your post, proud to read that we will be allowed on Subs 😉

  2. Thank you for a calm, cogent analysis to cut through the histrionics surrounding what will, in a few years’ time, seem like a non-issue.

  3. I disagree with you, but life isn’t very fun if we all agree anyway, right? =)

    Civilization HAS come a long way, and I’m so grateful for the opportunities woman have now that we didn’t 100 years ago. 50 years ago. 25 years ago. That being said, the fact that topics like sexual harassment are being brought up is because it is a very real possibility. Yes, the officers will be very career minded and we probably won’t have to worry about THEM, but in 5-10 years when we go from 16 or so officers to enlisted women, the issues that don’t seem like a big deal now will be huge.

    Thank you for posting this though – it’s nice to know how the wife of a submariner feels about it instead of people like me, who aren’t really affected by it.

  4. But you realize that these were the same worries that happened in the ’90s when they were integrated into the surface fleet? It’ll happen. It does. But it won’t be any different than the way it already is on surface ships.

  5. My hubby is on a sub – a fast attack now so we have a bit before women would come on board.

    I have no question of my husband’s faithfulness. The ones that would cheat have port calls for that.

    I do have my hesitations though.

    – The boats are gone a long time. Like 8 months straight is normal for us here in Groton. While I know Hubby would never physically cheat, it’s sad to realize there are other women who know his day to day routine. Misery is a great bonder. I like that his confidants are all male.

    – The women. I know I’m a bit old fashioned, but what girl would want to live with 150 guys in a metal tube?

    If all these worries and angst are for nothing, then why can’t homosexuals be in the Navy? Obviously, people can control their feelings and actions. If you’re letting women on there is absolutely no reason to not let a gay man on.

  6. Stephanie, I totally agree with you… GLBT’s (Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Transexual) should absolutely be allowed to serve.

    And honestly, I’d rather serve with 150 men than 150 women. Women can be bitchy! LOL

  7. I really dislike how every article I have read puts the cheating all on the guys. I’m sorry, but it takes two to tango, and there are just as many unfaithful women as there are men. Cream of the crop or not.

    I can only imagine how many women will pop up pregnant right before a patrol. How many sexual harrassment suits pop up because she didn’t like something that someone told her, or someone brushed up against her in a hallway. How about all the possible cases of rape? Real or fake?

    I am also a submariners wife, and I think that you have a slightly different perspective seeing as how you are also an officer. I’m not for women being on subs at all, but seeing as how it’s out of my hands, it is what it is. I can only hope that my husband is not on one of the boats that gets female officers or that he is on shore duty.

    Of course I am sure though that the first women will be all out to prove that they can do it, to show that this little experiment is a success, but then when they start putting enlisted women down there, I can’t see it being very successful. I really can’t. A submarine is no place for a social experiment.

  8. I totally agree that it takes two to tango. Therefore, if your husband won’t cheat, you have nothing to worry about! Just like if women going on the ship won’t cheat, then THEIR husbands have nothing to worry about.

    As for getting pregnant before deployment… my guess is LESS than what happens on a surface ship. Because these women would all have specifically volunteered for a submarine since no one can be put on a sub without volunteering. So they’d know that going in. As opposed to some women who might think they can enlist and get only shore duties and then *whoops* are sent on a ship.

    As for sexual harassment… the surface ships rock and make unexpected jerks that throw people off balance way more than a submarine that is below the surface. Besides… again, I’m guessing the “real” and “fake” instances will be just about what they are on the surface.

    All your arguments are the EXACT same ones that were voiced 20 years ago when women were integrated into the surface fleet. 😉

    And what about me being an officer gives me a different perspective? My husband is still enlisted, still on submarines and will still have women coming aboard the boat. And I’m still a woman. With all the thoughts/doubts/fears that women have. So how do I get a different perspective? And don’t take this the wrong way, I’m not mad or upset or anything… just genuinely curious as to how my being in the Navy Reserves myself would change my perspective.

  9. Great post! I’ve been reading some articles here and there about this subject and I hadn’t formed a full opinion yet. I can see pros and cons to both sides.

    I think the overriding factor for me is the advancement of women. Isn’t this just the next step in advancing a women’s career and opportunity? Why shouldn’t a woman who is capable of performing her job mentally and physically have the opportunity?

    In addition, I think our society focuses too much on the “bad apples” – putting policies in place to prevent things from happening instead of punishing those to do the wrong. Let’s give these women the opportunity to succeed without worrying about the “bad apples” who will at some point show their true colors.

  10. “GLBT’s (Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Transexual) should absolutely be allowed to serve.”

    They are allowed to serve, so I’m not sure where you’re getting your information.

    Also, it’s perfectly okay for women to feel uncomfortable or anxious about their husbands being on a sub with other women. This doesn’t make them bad people or sexist or anything like that. I’m willing to bet a lot of women aren’t worried about their husbands cheating, bu instead are upset about the fact that their husbands will be spending a long period of time with other women and may form an emotional bond with them.

    You can certainly argue that, but if that’s how another woman feels, you should respect her feelings and not argue with them. People have respected your opinions, so I would hope you would do the same.

  11. They may be ALLOWED to serve… but not openly. That’s what I was getting at. They are not allowed to say they are gay or lesbian or anything. They have to hide a part of them. And that’s what I was getting it… they should be allowed to OPENLY serve.

    And of course it’s okay to say they are uncomfortable with men serving with women. I wasn’t arguing with her and I was absolutely respecting her feelings… all I was doing was pointing out was many women are having the exact same feelings that women had 20 years ago when women integrated into the surface fleet. And that it worked out just fine. That’s all. My biggest question was wondering what me serving as a reservist and having a submariner husband would change my opinion vs me being a submariner’s wife without serving in the reserves.

    And besides, even if I had chosen to argue… I can. It’s my blog. I have a right to say what I want on it.

  12. I truly hope you didn’t think that I was trying to start an argument on your blog. That was never my intention.

    What I meant by you possibly having a different viewpoint of it was that I believe you are an officer, right? Maybe, to me, I feel like you being in the Navy as an officer, it might give you the oppurtunity to serve on a sub. I don’t know if reservists deploy, I really don’t know how that works, but I am sure the oppurtunity is there, could be there in the least. Maybe by being in both worlds, your thoughts on it are different from someone who doesn’t have the oppurtunity to see both sides. I was wrong in thinking that maybe you had a different perspective, I should have assumed your thoughts or feelings.

    My biggest concern for this is that of morale. I’m sure you’ve seen how a bunch of subbys act when together. They will not be able to “be themselves” for a while, and I think that will have a huge effect on how they fare while underway. They will probably feel like they have to act very “prim and proper” so as not to offend the woman on the boat, and I don’t think that they should have to change they way they act so as not to offend one person. Plus, it sounds like these officers they have chosen will be fresh out of school. I was under the impression that these would be “seasoned” female officers, not someone who had just graduated.

    Also, surface ships are nothing like submarines. And the fears that were out there 20 years ago? I was only 10 at the time, so I had/have no clue what surface wives worry about. All I know is that on a sub, you can’t go outside to get away from someone if you are getting upset or aggravated. You’re stuck with them for 3+ months.

    I know this is going to sound sexist, and honestly, I am okay with that, but I really do not see how this sets back woman-kind by not letting them serve on a sub. I do not understand why any man would want to, let alone a woman. Sorry, but that’s just how I feel. I totally respect your feelings and thoughts on the issue though.

  13. Sue… absolutely no way did I think you were starting an argument. I was responding to the person below you 🙂 You stated your opinions, I stated mine no biggie. I LIKE to hear different opinions.

  14. Every few weeks or so I Google search this issue for new articles and blog posts. I think it’s a good idea to know your opposition. I just came across this blog for the first time, and I just want to say that, as one of the first women chosen to serve on submarines, I greatly appreciate the objectiveness of this post.

    Wifey, you are one of the first bloggers I have encountered to be pro women on submarines, and certainly one of the first supportive wives I have encountered. The key difference between you and many other bloggers, and even journalists, is that you have analyzed actual facts. You have not taken gossip or heresay as fact and based your opinion on those sources.

    I respect and appreciate your objective view of the situation. It seems that many of the objections are based on emotions and not on analysis of actual fact. People FEEL that women shouldn’t be on submarines. When someone makes a valid argument against women on submarines based on fact, I am the first to concede that it may be an issue. The problem is, this rarely happens. Not only that, but the sheer magnitude of positives and non-issues tends to outweigh these potential “issues”.

    I would like to confirm your belief that we ARE aware of what we’re getting into. We all have our own reasons. For example, I genuinely believe that submarines are one of the most valuable military assets and that the challenge that being a submariner presents would provide the best leadership training and development as an officer/person that I can possibly hope to achieve in the military. Not to mention, a submarine is a tight-knit group that focuses on teamwork and keeping each other alive and the mission on track. What could be more rewarding as a professional? On a surface ship, there are rumors of cutthroat behavior and a lack of camaraderie. Pilots essentially work for their selves. The Marine Corps probably provides a close second as far as these ideals, but some of those jobs that provide the kind of leadership and professional training that I am looking for are closed to women. That leaves submarines. And in no way was it a second choice. Had I been a man and able to place it in my rankings it would have been first.

    Then there’s the question, “Why would a woman want to go down into the ocean in a steel tube with 150 men.”

    That’s the wrong question. It’s a loaded question. It’s assuming that what we specifically WANT is to be in a tube with 150 men. It’s like asking:

    “Do you enjoy beating your wife?” If you say yes, it insinuates you beat your wife. If you say no, it STILL insinuates you beat your wife.

    The real question is why does ANYONE want to go down into a steel tube at all? The question should be applied to men just as much as it should be applied to women, and I’ve already answered it. Leadership development, contributing to the mission of the United States Navy in a vital role (one of the most vital roles, in my opinion), the challenge, the camaraderie, and the opportunities it provides for the future.

    And the simple answer is, submarines are just plain cool. A juvenile word, but apt nonetheless. They operate in a 3 dimensional plane, hidden from the world, fulfilling top secret missions nobody is allowed to talk about. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this?

    Yes, it happens to be hard work. But asking the question why would a woman ever want to do that/work that hard, is somewhat offensive to women if you think about it. As if suggesting that women cannot do the things that men do and SHOULD not do these things. Because we can’t/don’t want to work that hard.

    I either want to rise through the ranks of the Navy or achieve my greatness in the business world eventually. These are things that Barely any women ever achieve, at least compared to men. This is not a function of the fact that women Shouldn’t do these things or that they don’t want to. It is more a function that Less women try. Should it not go to show that the women that try are a different sort of woman? With different sorts of goals? Perhaps some women shouldn’t be on submarines, just as some men shouldn’t be on submarines. And in both of these cases, those are the people who never try to be a submariner. Those who want to be submariners and have the mental and physical aptitude, should be allowed to try, should they not?

    I am a military woman. I am not made of cinnamon and rose petals (and when I walk out of an engine room), nor do I smell like them. Granted, I am also not a man, and I am perfectly happy being a woman, but just because I am one does not mean I shouldn’t want to work hard and do my duty for my country in a way that I see as very valuable.

    Another reason I want to do it:

    I know I’m a good fit for the community. If they’re going to allow women to go submarines, the LAST thing I want is to Ruin the atmosphere and the culture. A small amount of things will have to change, but I want them to go on being their submariner selves and not be all “prim and proper” on my account. I joined the Navy… if I did that thinking that a field dominated by 85% men was going to be either completely politically correct or not in the least bit vulgar, I would be the first person to call myself a foolish and stupid woman. I think I’ll fit in. As in, if I were a man with my personality and my sense of humor, I am relatively sure that the men would accept me just as easily as any of their other brothers, and that I wouldn’t be turning them in for making inappropriate jokes to pass the time. It just so happens that in this case, I have long hair. And I’m not a brother.

    I’m a sister.

  15. I would also like to state that this is the first reponse that I have made to any blog or article online, and that it has caused me to reflect a lot.

    The manner in which this blog was written inspired me to comment and to allow people to see the opinions of a woman who was selected. So, far people have just been assuming things about us and the future. I hope I may have helped some people to see our thoughts.

  16. 1st Woman… thank you so much for commenting! I absolutely appreciate it and hope that others see your fantastic, well-thought-out response. From a Submariner Wife and Navy Officer, thank you very much for forging the way!

  17. All of you post some very interesting perspectives. But as an active duty submarine officer, I pose a different point of view. There is the issue of equality. Not for the women, but for the men. For example. A newly reporting submarine (male) reports on board and is not afforded the “luxury” of a stateroom. He must go through the daily rigors of qualification and gain experience to earn his way to bigger and better privileges (which could take up to half of an officers first tour). The typical junior officer deals in extremely high stress environments every day and has to contend with other junior officers for the simple pleasures in life on board. Like space. Now, when female officers come on board, they are shown directly to their own stateroom with more space than they will know what to do with. This may seem like a small thing to many people, but when you are responsible for dozens of binders and various administrative functions and have no room to store them in, but your own personal rack, it is difficult and adds frustration to an already strenuous environment. And this is only one small part of many small parts which will create animosity and cynicism amongst the junior officers. I am sure we will learn to deal with it, because we are all adaptable and for the most part professional.
    But again I ask… Has anyone bothered to ask us? The ones who spend months on end under the ocean… what we think? I have yet to meet a submariner (in the 20 years I have been in) who has been asked his opinion by those who are making the decisions.

  18. A very interesting subject. I have to say that this is probably the most civilized debate that I have ever read. Everyone delivered calm, rational opinions and feelings. Also, there are many knowledgeable opinions here, again all delivered calmly.

    I have no dog in this fight. I am neither a woman nor in a submarine. However, I think it is an interesting subject and I really respect all of the opinions put forth above. 1st Woman, I wish you the best. Wifey, thank you for an intelligent, dispassionate opinion. Subguy, some good points there too. Sue, I really liked your opinions too.

    Even though I am a non-military civilian I do read quite a lot on military matters. All in all, the sub force is quite different from say, the 5000 person force aboard an aircraft carrier. A carrier is like a medium sized town. A sub is more like your 5th grade class. Much less opportunity for clandestine relationships.

    Anyway, a really good conversation. I wish the best to all.

  19. First and foremost – subguy: Vice Admiral Donnelly (ret), while stationed out of Norfolk, interviewed several JO’s regarding their feelings and input about women on subs. He wanted to know how they felt personally, what challenges they expected, and what benefits they saw. He was open and friendly and I don’t know a single man with whom he spoke who felt intimidated or challenged to “say the right thing.” His wife talked to fellow wives, mosty JO wives. I’d like to imagine that other admirals in other parts of the country had similar disussions, but I could be wrong. I don’t intend to disregard your feelings, becaues I know you bring a valid topic to the table, one which my husband has mentioned before. I suspect you are also fast attack though and I think it’s different on boomers. I think they all get state rooms, but if I’m wrong, please tell me. My point was just that men were interviewed and asked their opinions. I hope that does make you feel a little better.

    I know this is an old thread, but I came across it while doing a search and wanted to put in my two cents.

    Sexual harrassment is real and will happen and while it isn’t a reason to exclude women, it needs to be soundly addressed and not swept under the rug. The women and men will brush up against each other in the hallway, because (and I speak only from fast attack experience), there is no other way to go down a hall with two people than chest to chest, shimmy-style. Men are prone to excitement at many incovenient time and may well reveal a little excitment which is hard to disguise. They can’t help their bodily functions when having been under water for months and months and look there, breasts just rubbed across them. This is so innocent, but what will happen. And have any of the wives out there heard the way the men talk onboard a submarine?? Ick. It makes me cringe. Do we think they will change overnight? Of course not. I would file sexual harassment against half the guys on my husband’s sub if I was stuck there with them. I’m not saying these are bad guys or sleazy girls. I’m just saying this is a real life change for these men and a potentially (most probably) uncomfortable position for these ladies to be in. Bravo to them for being willing and able, but let’s make sure we thoroughly address the sexual harassment issue. I don’t mean with one of those dreadful videos. They just make all the sub men act like my ten year old son. They giggle and joke. Let’s be real here, these men act like immature children when left to their own devices. I’m not saying they don’t run a submarine – I’m saying they giggle when they hear “penis” and they sling derogatory comments left and right like it’s perfectly fine. We need to clean them up some and we need to be serious about it. We need to not leave them as they are and then toss the women into the mix and see what happens. The women shouldn’t have to keep quiet if they are being harassed and the men shouldn’t be getting kicked out because they slip and say something which they’ve been saying for years with the Captain right there (speaking of wardroom chit chat here – please don’t say it doesn’t occur). Changing habits doesn’t happen overnight and I don’t believe this problem has been adequately addressed.

    First woman – I know you mentioned that you’d fit in and would be okay with the joking, etc. That doesn’t mean everyone will be okay with it and it also doesn’t mean it’s right. It’s got to change and it should change and I hope that women will inspire that change. Some of the things I’ve heard said are unacceptable and I hope that women inspire change. Derogatory conversation about women doesn’t make us equal in the eyes of men. It has, in fact, been shown to encourage misogynistic ideas in men and increases the overall liklihood of violent crimes against women. I’m speaking in a general sense here, but let me say this – I applaud you for your motivation and for your desire to overcome in an all male world. I say this as another woman in an all male world, in my own personal life. As a sub wife, I say that you haven’t witnessed all the “filth” coming from the men on subs. I am not just talking dirty jokes. I’m talking deragotory comments directed towards all women, directed towards some of the men’s wives, etc. I would not be okay with my male counterparts nicknaming me the things the sub man have done in the past. I would not be okay with having them lick my picture, as one sub xo did. I can go on and on, but my point here is that some things are not just jokes in bad taste, some things are grievious offenses against women and you shouldn’t tolerate that. You should report it. The Navy should have trained it out of the men first though. This part could have been handled better. These aren’t my feelings – they are my facts, things men do and say on subs that isn’t okay and isn’t talked about because it’s just a “bunch of boys being boys.” I hope I raise my own boys better than that. I hope my husband doesn’t engage because I’d lose all respect for him if I ever found out he said and acted the way some of the men do on his subs. I don’t know you and can’t predict how you’ll do. Maybe you’ll flunk off the sub and never manage to qualify, what a bummer. Maybe you’ll make the change that I hope women can make on subs. I can say that I could nanny 911 a couple of subs myself and fix the crud the co’s can’t seem to figure out to save their lives (or their careers), but I don’t like subs and don’t want to be on one. I’ll stick to my career instead. I hope you do well, but don’t ignore the fact that you deserve respect and that goes beyond dirty jokes to degradation of your character as a women. Don’t allow that to happen because it doesn’t garner any respect for women, it just makes men talk about them even worse. The fact that the navy didn’t clean up the subs doens’t mean women on them should have to suffer. And the commraderie of the men is great, but who can honeslty say they need to slander women to be able to relax and have some fun… are we really staffing our subs with men who can’t let go or bond any way other than to degrade women. That sounds scandalous.

    Cheating… a fun topic. True – men who will jump into the ladies’ bed on the first chance will get a whore in the first port call. As an aside… I know of a few boys who cheated on their girlfriends/wives with the resident homosexual (I realize gays were not allowed at the time of this original post and that they are now, but I also am aware of several homosexual men serving openly on my husband’s previous boats – the sub guys seem to not really care about this). I guess this is the prison mentality here – supposedly straight men having sex with gay men because they are just so hard up or whatever. I don’t expect the one night stand style of cheating will be the big concern. Here is the real difficulty though. Subs are close knit little families. Hubands get jealous of the wives relationships with each other and vice versa. We wives bond tightly to the other wives. My husband missed our daughters birth but my best friend didn’t. We know more about each other and are closer with each others’ kids than their own fathers. We share intimate life moments and details of our personalities, our deepest fears and insecurities. We are confidants and lean on each other and are bonded so tightly that it’s hard for the husbands to find their place when they come home. Our husbands get jealous and sad. The same thing holds for the men. I remember my husband sending me e-mails (sometimes a month after the fact when blackout periods were over and e-mail was restored) about how he shared major career milestones with other men. I have never pinned anything on my husband since his commission because he put on every award and every rank out to sea. I am jealous. I am sad. This is the way of the submarine life and we all cry sometimes and continue to bear the burden and make the sacrafice because we are proud and we are strong. (We here refers to both the husbands and the wives.) This lifestyle isn’t an easy one though and despite all my faith in my husband and my security with myself, I can tell you that if those moments of his were shared with a woman, it might be more than I can bear. I can tell you that if I shared those things with the husband of that woman, it might be more than my own husband could bear. I say this knowing that based on my husband’s place in his career, I will never personally face this issue, lucky me, but it’s a real one nonetheless. My husband in one of the best officers the Navy has, and if he was 10 years younger, I might be asking him to leave because I can’t handle this. I’m not a weak woman. I’m not emotional (a frequent criticism) and I’m not dramatic. What then will the couples do if the lady is all these things? Again, I’m not citing this as a reason not to allow women, but as a major issue which needs adequate time being addressed rather than being ignored. It’s patronizing to tell the wives that they are insecure whiny women because they worry about this. It’s degrading to call the men cheating man-whores and dogs because they are human. We are human, we are flawed, and so we need some safeguards in place to make sure we have the best chance we can at succeeding. Is that so much to ask?

    All that being said… I know subwives have noticed that we send off civilized men and get back ones that communicate with grunts and groans by the end of deployment. I expect that adding women to subs will help temper this interesting dynamic a bit. I expect women to significantly improve some of the issues with management and cooperation. The current method of “teaching” and discipline on a sub seems to be more like yell and scream and huff and puff. Those of us who are parents know this is highly ineffective as is evidenced in the number of men getting kicked out of the navy, fired, disqualified, etc. I’d like to think women have a different and more effective style, naturally bred into them – not being sexist here, but I think we can say this is true in general. Women can offer many things to the submarine community and I look forward to seeing some major improvements brought about by putting them on, but I wish the other issues were better addressed so that we don’t get lost in the drama, missing out on what women can bring and what changes they can affect.

    Hopefully it’s clear that I’m a proponent of women on subs. I just think the Navy could be doing a bit better in their attempt at placing them. It almost seems destined to fail and that’s a shame.

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