Sunday, January 9, 2011

Should WWII Soldiers Have Had Sex?

Yesterday, we looked at the very factual question of "Did World War II Soldiers Have Sex?" My conclusion, as I seem to recall, was an unqualified "Yes." First, it was a yes or no question. And, second, out of millions of soldiers, it would only take two of them to exclude an absolute "No" answer.

Looked at from that perspective, it seems to me it'd be hard to find any war in history of any length in which some soldier somewhere wasn't having sex. And of course the more folks involved -- a world war by definition involves quite a few people -- the more likely it'd be that they'd engage themselves in the so-called carnal pleasures.

But a more nuanced question we could ask, however moot it may be at this point, would be, Should they have had sex? Is there anything inherent in the nature of war that sex should have been off limits? What about morale? Troop cohesion? The health of troops? Alertness? These are all important questions, but I'm going to limit myself only to what occurs to me in the next few minutes. Because I have other things to do also of importance, like cleaning my room and taking it easy on a Sunday afternoon.

I've been fairly busy recently, the details of which I don't want to get into. Plus, for the last three or four days I've had a serious cold, as in the '100 Year Cold," sore throat, tired, sweating, tortured dreams, runny nose, etc. So it's clear that I could use a day off as much as anyone. It's been like a war, probably a lot like World War II, and, no, I haven't had sex, at least nothing to speak of...

Still, I'd like to give this question some effort to answer it. Because, frankly, I'm not 100% sure they should have had sex, at least to the extent that it mattered. If it didn't matter, then I guess I have no great concern. But if it mattered -- like if it cost additional lives or postponed Victory even one more day -- then it was a questionable activity.

The documentary I saw on the Military History channel indicated that a lot of the GIs weren't entirely ready for sex, being inexperienced and fresh off the farm. So the officials at the higher echelons had to waste time (my judgment) producing films for them and waste further resources instructing them about the dangers of sex. Imagine how much more of a lean, mean fighting machine we might have had if they would have just kept themselves pure.

And anyone who knows me knows I'm not a purity freak. I firmly believe nature has its way and that we shouldn't mess around with it. But we're not blind to our nature. Part of our nature is understanding and the ability to make choices. If we have the choice to stay in the barracks and listen to records or go to town and sweet talk a mademoiselle, knowing where that will lead, we can choose the good. Or, to make allowance, we can choose to stay in the barracks, listen to records, and spend a few extra minutes in the bathroom.

A key thing to the sex drive, I believe most of us know, is the release that goes along with it. And the tiredness that follows. Some people call that the afterglow phase -- and I confess I've called it that more than once -- but I prefer to call it a potentially deadly mental, physical, and spiritual haze. There's no greater lethargy, especially if we exclude the tiredness we always get right after Thanksgiving meals. In the afterglow phase, what if Hitler showed up at the door? You're so punch drunk, of course you'd surrender.

Now, if the troops were, you know, way back away from danger, like on furlough in Switzerland, or just being deployed in Kansas or somewhere, then it wouldn't be so bad. Show them the film, turn them loose, give them a condom and a couple bucks, and let nature take its course. If they get VD at that point, you've got time to quarantine them and hope whatever primitive medicine plasters they stuck it in back in the '40s would help. Hitler's still at a safe distance.

My answer, then, on whether they should've had sex, is an unqualified "It depends," however I would qualify it by saying, more or less, I believe they shouldn't have had, so it's more or less a "No." If they had to have it -- if the circumstances were spelled out to me in such a way that I could see the positive benefits of having had sex, then I would likely have to answer it as a grudging "Yes."

In conclusion, someone might say, "What does this have to do with our current wars, Iraq and Afghanistan?" I don't hear much about Iraq anymore, so I guess it's OK for our soldiers to have sex now. But Afghanistan? We've still got a ways to go toward ultimate Victory over there, so I would ask our soldiers not to have sex.

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