Bring back camp followers

The increasing amount of sexual violence perpetrated against women in the military is a topic of considerable concern as more of them seek not simply to enlist but to be placed side by side with men in combat positions. The conventional line of thought to counter this male aggression includes elements of heightened surveillance, zealous prosecution and more severe penalties.

I believe an evolutionary psychologist would approach the problem from a different perspective. Evolutionary psychology explores the sexual behavior of men and women by identifying those behaviors that are unique to each sex and asking whether there is an evolutionary basis for that behavior. A behavior that has evolutionary roots is, in essence, one that is produced by significant genetic factors.

Acquisition of sexual access by means of aggression is a tactic or strategy which has been employed by males in various degrees throughout our evolution because under some circumstances it has worked. Some men are more aggressive than others. Women do not employ this tactic since, for them, it made no evolutionary sense.

A volunteer army starts out as a collection of testosterone laden young men with high levels of basic aggression. The peaceniks and poets have been weeded out leaving only warriors. Now, toss in women soldiers, all around, even in foxholes with the men. The inevitable, unavoidable genetic chemistry starts to bubble. The male drive for sexual access will find its expression and some of the more aggressive males will employ violence.

An evolutionary solution is to allow the males convenient, nonviolent access to females, that is to say, prostitution. History’s armies have generally been accompanied by prostitutes as camp followers. But, I doubt this prudish nation would ever accept such a solution. It would entail admitting reality – not our strong suit.

Patrick Radcliff