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(DV) Bills: Michelle Manhart's Nudey Duty Exposes Uncle Sam's Hypocrisy







Michelle Manhart's Nudey Duty Exposes Uncle Sam's Hypocrisy
by E. Bills
February 19, 2007

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I've been struggling with how to say this, so bear with me. There's just no civil way to put it.




On February 9, 2007, Air Force Drill sergeant Michelle Manhart was demoted to senior airman and removed from active duty at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas for posing in February 2007 issue of Playboy.


Under the heading "Tough Love," Manhart appeared in a six-page Playboy spread, shouting orders and holding weapons, in and out of uniform and sometimes totally nude. A 30-year-old mother of two, Manhart believes the Air Force's decision to relieve her of her duties was based on her having appeared in the magazine with her uniform on. "I'm disappointed with our system," she said.


According to Lackland Air Force Base spokesperson, Oscar Balladares, Manhart's appearance in Playboy "does not meet the high standards we expect of our airmen, nor does it comply with the Air Force's core values of integrity, service before self, and excellence in all we do."


I just have two questions. How many copies of the February 2007 issue of Playboy were delivered to military personnel at Lackland Air Force Base and American military bases around the world, and, speaking of "service before self," how many military personnel have serviced themselves utilizing Playboy photos of Manhart?


Oh, my mistake. All those soldiers just subscribe to Playboy and Hustler and Penthouse for the excellent editorial coverage, right?


Before the Air Force puts on white gloves, shouldn't they come clean? If posing for Playboy is behavior unbecoming for military personnel, then lasciviously ogling nude women in Playboy comprises behavior unbecoming for military personnel as well, right?


And this raises other issues. Don't most overseas military bases have conspicuous access to popular prostitution industries? Isn't it common knowledge that male military personnel frequent illicit sex bars, brothels etc. when they're on R & R? Is the integrity of these men questioned?  Are they demoted for their lechery or are servicemen who frequent foreign whorehouses upholding the military's "core values of integrity?" One has to wonder if they're even discouraged. Whoring has long been a traditional military rite of passage.


I'm not a fan of Playboy. And I wouldn't want my wife or mother or daughter posing for Playboy. But Manhart is a responsible adult. And nothing she could do in Playboy could make the morale of our military forces any worse than it already is. In fact, her appearance in a nudey mag might "stiffen" the resolve of many of our troops.


The Air Force's decision to relieve Manhart of her duties is especially ludicrous in light of Uncle Sam's recent reduction of standards in terms of military recruitment. According to published reports, the Army accepted twice the number of recruits with felonies and serious misdemeanors on their records than it did in 2003 and the armed forces in general are now forced to enlist less desirable military candidates to maintain the human element of this nation's military industrial complex and keep it chugging right along.


Clearly, Uncle Sam has got bigger problems than Michelle Manhart taking her camos off in Playboy. But I guess when he says "I Want You," he's more often referring to horny, previously troubled men; not bold, exhibitionist women.

E. R. Bills is a writer from Ft. Worth, Texas. His recent works have appeared in Dissident Voice, Fort Worth Weekly and Flashquake.

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