Category: Judge Advocate General

“These acts of insolence, her refusal to date male airmen, her outspoken belief that she deserved the…”

“These acts of insolence, her refusal to date male airmen, her outspoken belief that she deserved the same opportunities that men had, all contributed to certain suspicions. As it was, the other airmen were convinced ‘all’ the WAFs [Women’s Air Force] were dykes, and they were not shy about saying so. Finally, the base commander decided to move. [Penny] Rand recalls being called into the JAG [Judge Advocate General] office and being greeted by two young male lawyers, both captains. One opened by saying a terrible sickness was spreading among the women on the base, lesbianism. Lesbians had  been harassing the other women, he said, and they wanted to put a stop to it.
          Penny did not believe a word of it. She had seen plenty of sexual harassment all right, and it came from heterosexual males, not lesbians. Given the fact the women all lived in one barracks, she did not think there was much going on that she did not know about. But the lawyer said that, yes, it was happening, and he wanted to know who in the barracks was lesbian. ‘We’re doing this to protect you,’ he said.”

Conduct Unbecoming: Gays & Lesbians in the U.S. Military by Randy Shilts, page 142.

Penny Rand realized she was a lesbian during her junior high years. After seeing a woman in military uniform, she decided that perhaps she would find women like herself in the military. Those who were independent and would not rely upon a man. She found that in the Air Force, but she also found that the opportunities she thought would exist there were not as widespread and advanced as she thought. Not only that, but the WAFs were told they were to support the men’s morale and this meant accepting their advances. Rand began to reject the acts of femininity that her officers tried to enforce on the women.