This op-ed by Carol Van Houten (CALC’s Truth in Recruiting Coordinator) appeared in the 11/20/2015 edition of The Register Guard:

Don’t let military define masculinity

“I want to join the military, particularly the Marines, so I can be something, so I can be a man.” That’s an idea we volunteers in Truth In Recruiting hear from high school boys all too often.

That “something” is exactly what Debra Merskin was addressing in her Oct. 17 guest viewpoint: masculinity defined as being violently strong and in control (“Our society equates masculinity with violence”).

As coordinator of the Truth In Recruiting project of the Community Alliance of Lane County, I want to commend Merskin for bringing those connections to our attention, and for her suggestion that our young males need other images of masculinity. They need all our help to find them.

The military PR machine is not the place to find alternative images of masculinity. Hence, one of the things Truth In Recruiting does is to urge high schools to limit military recruiters’ presence in high schools to that which is specified in law — the same access to students that other recruiters, such as college recruiters, have. That means no strutting around schools socializing with the students, no chin-up bars, no pizza, etc.

Instead, we promote apprenticeships, colleges such as Lane Community College, other post-high school skill training, and travel, all of which connote the many ways one can be successful and be male.

CAROL VAN HOUTEN

Eugene