The U.S. Navy and my alma mater Princeton University seem to be hell-bent on joining a national campaign on emasculation. Maybe I’m wrong, but the signs are really ominous.
The newly commissioned nuclear aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is underway on its own power for the first time. The carrier Ford has all sorts of high-tech gear equipped for 21st-century naval warfare. But there is one thing that male sailors will notice is no longer available: Urinals.
For the first time, every bathroom on the Ford — known throughout military circles as a head — is designed to be “gender-neutral,” meaning all of the urinals have been replaced with flush toilets and stalls.
The vast majority of the 5,000-plus sailors who will deploy aboard the carrier Ford are men, as women account for only about 18 percent of sailors in the Navy.
Bathroom design experts say water closets with seated toilets are less sanitary and take up far more space than wall-mounted urinals, but gender-neutrality seem to have trumped those considerations.
The Navy says there are advantages to eliminating urinals. It will allow the Navy to quickly and efficiently change a head’s assigned gender, so depending on the ship’s demographics at the time, berthing areas can be switched between male and female to accommodate the crew’s needs.
But toilet experts disagree. They argue that for men, traditional seated toilets are farther away, making them harder targets to accurately focus on, particularly during heavy seas when the ship is pitching and rolling. Thus, men who use a water closet are more likely to miss the bowl and hit the deck. The only way to ensure men accurately aim into a toilet bowl is to force men to sit down, which is unlikely to happen, Moreover, sitting down to pee makes trips to the bathroom take longer.
Whatever the merits to the debate over bathroom plumbing, the scenario on the new USS Ford is something its crew will have to adjust to.
For example, just imagine the salty old Chief Petty Officer at morning muster on the new carrier gruffly reminding his division, “Now, men, don’t forget to put the seat down!!”
Meanwhile, administrators at Princeton University recently announced the introduction of a new salaried position to be filled by a certified clinician who will help to promote “healthy masculinity” for male students.
The position, which is titled “Interpersonal Violence Clinician and Men’s Engagement Manager,” will seek to rid the campus of aggressive male masculinity that often leads to certain campus crimes. According to the job description, the certified clinician that fills the role will be responsible for developing educational programs aimed at “high-risk campus-based populations for primary prevention of interpersonal violence, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic/dating violence, and stalking.”
To be sure, sexual assault and harassment on campus are increasingly challenging issues that colleges and universities are struggling to address. Efforts to control binge drinking and to monitor social activities at fraternities and other on-campus parties have been used effectively to rein in aggressive behavior. Also, many schools have established confidential support hotlines for students to report inappropriate activities.
Many of these steps have been effective in restoring an atmosphere of mutual respect on campus. But, I for one think that the Princeton’s quest for “healthy masculinity” on campus is a fool’s errand. Frankly, the proper solution to the issue of sexual assault and rape on campus is not to force men to sit through power point presentations on why assault is bad. Young men raised in Western civilizations already understand this.
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