Senator Jim Webb declines USNA Distinguished Graduate Award due to criticism

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by BDHuff09, Mar 29, 2017.

  1. BDHuff09

    BDHuff09 5-Year Member

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  2. DrMom

    DrMom 5-Year Member

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    Yes, all of us have been watching this.
     
  3. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 10-Year Member

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    I recall the original article very well, having had the same experience as Wendy, Barb and others, in terms of how that article was used to launch discussions or legitimize actions.

    On the other hand, Sec Webb opened up thousands of officer and enlisted jobs previously closed to women. I was the first woman in seven different billets/commands, never had a woman above me in the chain of command until my final tour in the Navy, and she was the planet's first 3-star admiral. Most of those newly-opened jobs were shoreside. Part of that was driven, I understood at the time, by the challenge of attracting qualified men in the aftermath of the Vietnam War into the still-new all-volunteer force. It was a staffing issue as well as a societal issue.

    The line officer women who went in large numbers to non-traditional jobs at naval stations, communications stations, recruiting and personnel commands, computer and data commands, and restricted line in intelligence, crypto, EDO and other areas, and staff roles in Supply, JAG, etc. laid the foundation for the communities open to women today. Their success and rising to command created the weight on the doors opening for the first women in ships in the late 70's and lifting of the combat vessel/aircraft restriction in 1996. More and more doors have opened reflecting civilian society changes.

    Reading some of the comments on the current article shows there are still a lot of nasty (to me) undertones in the spectrum of opinions.

    I am not a USNA grad, so I will leave this to the grads to debate the rightness or wrongness.

    I hadn't realized USNA had not named any female grads as Distinguished Graduates, just assumed they had. I am mulling that one.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2017
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  4. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 10-Year Member

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    These are some of the line officer barrier-breakers from that era, commissioned in the decade before women attended USNA and ROTC. All have gone on to successful civilian roles. The Foremothers?

    VADM (Ret) Pat Tracey
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patricia_Ann_Tracey


    VADM (Ret) Ann Rondeau
    http://www.navy.mil/navydata/bios/navybio_ret.asp?bioID=252


    RADM (Ret) Ronne Froman
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronne_Froman

    RADM (Ret) Marsha Evans
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marsha_J._Evans
    She was first female BattO at USNA, I believe.

    And a memorable officer I met just once, Captain Jordine Von Wantoch, a formidable woman. Used to be, if a woman got pregnant, she was automatically discharged for humanitarian reasons. She bucked that system, and was also part of the group of female military officers who lobbied for payment of with-dependents BAH to military women with civilian husbands. Military women, regardless of status always received BAH at the single rate until it was successfully challenged several years before I came in.

    https://www.history.navy.mil/resear...-v/papers-of-captain-jordine-von-wantoch.html

    There are SO many of these women - their sea stories when I was a JO brought tears and laughter. And lest we forget, enlisted women were forging parallel paths in new ratings and rising up to be command master chiefs and beyond.

    More than you ever wanted to know, but it's part of history that led to where we are today.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2017
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  5. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Super Moderator 5-Year Member

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    Yes as a female USNA grad I have watched this closely and my Facebook, email and texts have been non-stop on this topic. I was more disappointed in learning that there have been no female grads named as a DGA and the lack of diversity on the DGA board. There are some amazing female grads, Wendy Lawrence should be one. She has definitely earned it. Admiral Howard also has, but will need to retire before receiving the award. Capt MJ crossed posts with me, but she named some amazing women.

    Mr Webb had an amazing military career. He has also served a life of politics and was a huge part of the current 9/11 GI Bill. Those efforts I applaud. I remember reading that article as a teenager when thinking of going to USNA. I didn't know what to make of it then. As I have aged the article probably angers more and more. I understand it was written in a different time and society has evolved. We recently celebrated 40 years of women at USNA. My room mate said a gentlemen who graduated with one of the first few classes of women came and shook her hand with tears in his eyes. He admitted he was a very large advocate of keeping USNA all male and was extremely vocal about it. He admitted to being brutal to the females. Now he has a daughter who attends USNA. He apologized for his treatment and is thankful for the road paved for his daughter. I know Mr Webb has sort of apologized for it since, but none of my female USNA friends or myself believe it is sincere. Plenty of women have fought and will continue to fight. So will men. Not every person is made to be front line infantry just as not everyone is made to be an intel analyst. Its about finding the right fit for someone to succeed. His article served as a platform for many to fight women serving. I still can't fathom what those first few classes of women encountered. I find it odd that a man was nominated and approved for the award that was at one time banned from the campus for a lengthy period of time. Its been an interesting week to say the least. I saw an email from a USNA Alumni Chapter President who compared the women and men who spoke up about the award as snowflakes who we normally see at UC Berkeley. If he only knew these women he would know these many are combat hardened women who have proven themselves on deployments time and time again. He can call them snowflakes all he wants from a keyboard.

    EDIT - Realize my post sort of rambles. In Summary... Mr. Webb is certainly entitled to his opinion as am I. I just find it hard to believe that an institution that is really trying to recruit and bring in the best qualified females (and males) they can would honor someone who single-handedly created so much push back for the women who paved the way for those of us who came behind them and will continue to come behind them. Why honor someone who has created such an issue that against the core of equality that USNA is trying to advocate?
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2017
  6. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 10-Year Member

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    Ooh rah, Hoops!
     
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  7. BDHuff09

    BDHuff09 5-Year Member

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    How would you feel about giving Mr. Webb the DGA after Wendy Lawrence or one of the other notable female grads mentioned? Perhaps it would be appropriately ironic to have Mr. Webb and Ms. Lawrence be recognized in the same year, given his expressed opinions about women at the Naval Academy. Still, the man won the Navy Cross and was a Senator, and I can't help but think he should be recognized by USNA at some point, if not with the DGA, then with something else.


    Also, I'm still scratching my head at this quote that Mr. Webb got from a former midshipman.
     
  8. pleber16

    pleber16 USNA 2016 5-Year Member

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    Female academy grad and this is honestly the first I've heard of it. Granted I'm currently in the bubble of flight school and not really knowing what is happening outside of whatever is next on the syllabus, but I'm still a little surprised I hadn't heard about it. Not totally sure my stance on the award in the first place, but I understand him turning it down to avoid making a scene. I'd like to assume all in attendance (considering the vast majority in attendance is the Brigade) would be able to maintain a professional demeanor during the ceremony, but I've unfortunately been proven otherwise in past experiences, so may the call was right.
     
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  9. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Super Moderator 5-Year Member

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    I don't believe Mr. Webb should ever be given the DGA. Yes, Mr. Webb had a great military career and is highly decorated. So are many other grads. His article provided a platform for many to launch attacks against women and still does to this day. It made some of the early classes of women lives absolute hell. They already had alot on their plates and this made it worse.. alot worse from what I have gathered from some of them. As I have stated before, I am fine with his stance on women not serving in combat roles. I believe when we lose the ability to have a conversation and not be okay (doesn't mean I have to agree) with an opposing view we have lost our way. I also understand this article is nearly 40 years old and society has progressed. Not sure what Mr. Webb thinks today. His comments have been very small and vague on this topic.

    I could go on for hours and hours on his article breaking it apart line by line on items I agree with (and there are probably more than many would guess that I do agree with), disagree with, exaggerated, very one sided and also how I think 40 years has changed a certain point. But I have to work for a living and don't have time for that. The line that gets many of us is the "horny woman's dream". I mean seriously... yeap we put ourselves through USNA so we could find a man. Not even close. Those first classes of women faced some extremely tough conditions and rough treatment. I can't imagine any of them staying because they wanted to find a man... they could do that at any school without less work.
     
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  10. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 10-Year Member

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    My first CO - and it was during the time of the earlier article - which reverberated everywhere - told me during a performance review, "I'll never rank you ahead of a man, because they are going to be heads of families, and you're only going to stay in long enough to find an officer and marry one."

    I have mentioned here on SAF he and the XO told me to "stay away from the married men" during my reporting aboard office call.

    In later years, BUPERS had to create guidance to officer promotion selection boards on early-year fitreps on women which completely avoided the use of words such as "leader" and powerful adjectives used to describe even the lowest-performing men, and used phrases in the women's not used for men. One of mine: "Ensign Me was an adornment to the wardroom. Her cheerful and pleasant demeanor ..."

    I swear, though, all that crap created an enormous fire in my belly and built up a gritty resolve that served me well.

    I also met many men who changed their minds over the years, who wanted the world for their daughters, or whose f2f working environment experiences made an impact. I cannot count the number of senior officers' wives, who, over the years, would comment quietly to me about their support, and often, "I would have gone into the Navy/service, but the time was not right," or other social reasons. One of my favorites was the wife of a 3-star who told me to call her if her husband did anything stupid about women, and she would square him away.
     
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  11. usna1985

    usna1985 10-Year Member

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    As a member of the 6th class of women, I was one of those who personally endured the vitriol Webb's article engendered. He has never retracted the remarks made in the article. Moreover, his “apology” (made this week) was insufficient. He apologized only that some women were offended by his words. Notably, he did not apologize for what he said or indicate his views had evolved to support women at USNA and in combat. It is important to note that the women in the Class of '83 (who were plebes when the article was published) had the highest rate of attrition of any female class before or since (higher than the first class of women).

    Also telling is that, in his statement declining to accept the award, Sen. Webb essentially blamed those who opposed his selection. Blaming the victims is always a winning strategy. Moreover, it was not only women who opposed his selection (though we were the most active); many men, including grads, held the same view.

    Senator Webb served honorably and did many good things as SecNav and Senator. But he also made the lives of many women mids a living hell -- some of whom remain scarred by actions taken against them by midshipmen, officers and others who opposed gender integration and who used Webb's words and views as their platform. We endured. We persevered. We succeeded. But because of Webb's article, our experience was much, much more painful than it needed to be.
     
  12. ktnatalk

    ktnatalk Sailor. Shipmate. Parent.

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    Females Sailors are still making history today as we speak:

    http://navylive.dodlive.mil/ewis/

     
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  13. DrMom

    DrMom 5-Year Member

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    Thank you @usna1985 . You say it so brilliantly and succinctly. For so many of us it was a living Hell that the SecNav empowered.
    My classmates' daughters tell me it is different now.
     
  14. conrack

    conrack Member

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    personally I think its silly and classless for NA grads to make a stink about something that happened almost 40 years ago and its unfortunate that Mr. Webb played into their behavior by declining the award. PC is alive and well in Annapolis.
     
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  15. AF6872

    AF6872 10-Year Member

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    DD (USNA Graduate USMC) just turned over her Company today and on to another assignment. She could probably kick some A** and probably Webbs
     
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  16. Sledge

    Sledge 5-Year Member

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    Well, he is 71 years old, so I guess maybe.
     
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  17. AF6872

    AF6872 10-Year Member

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    Not maybe but I am the same age and she could do mine.
     
  18. AF6872

    AF6872 10-Year Member

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    Bdhuff nice reference on those that wander.