Maybe the Australian Defense Force Needs to Recover a Sense of Chivalry

Over at Online Opinion, an Aussie e-journal of social and political debate, I have a piece entitled Maybe the ADF Needs to Recover a Sense of Chivalry, written in light recent reports of widespread sexism and abuse in the Australian Defence Force. I write at one point:

In a modern sense, we could think of chivalry as that code of conduct which ensures the welfare of those entrusted to our protection. A resolve to protect those in a position of vulnerability and to put the security of others above our own-and this need not be the sole preserve of men, but women as well. However in terms of what it means to be a chivalrous male, it would mean, riffing off St. Paul’s Carmen Christi – God himself becoming the ultimate servant – that masculinity is not something to be exploited for aggression and abuse, but to be placed in a position of helplessness so that others need not be. To act in such a way that no one would ever feel afraid to be in the presence of an Aussie soldier, whether in Kabul or in Kings Cross, whether in Dubai or in Duntroon.

NB: Yes, I know that “chivalry,” can sound sexist and condescending, I’m not saying its the exclusive virtue of males, I deal with that in the article.

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  • Ian Thomason


    What some people might forget is that the ADF recruits directly from the general Australian population. Consequently, we who wear the uniform are representative of our wider society: idiots, perverts, warts, and all.

    However, in my estimation there remains a significant difference between the broader Australian community and the narrower Service community. And that is, that we [i]won’t[/i] and [i]don’t[/i] tolerate such people continuing in the Army. So should a Digger prove himself/herself unworthy of bearing the title due to a lack of character and/or moral fibre, she/he will be very quickly dealt with.
    In closing, you spoke of chivalry. As a serving Army officer, I’m content to see common decency and a sense of fair play being modeled by our young (and not-so-young) soldiers.