Diaries Magazine

What Saxby Chambliss Has Confused

Posted on the 05 June 2013 by Cfburch4 @cfburch4

To our south, we South Carolinians have a state called Georgia, which is represented by U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss, a Republican.

Chambliss is in a bit of trouble right now because of something he said during a hearing on the rising number of sexual assaults in the U.S. military.

He said: "The young folks that are coming into each of your services are anywhere from 17 to 22-23. Gee whiz -- the hormone level created by nature sets in place the possibility for these types of things to occur."

Let's unpack this comment.

Yes, hormones have plenty to do with sexual drives and attraction.

No, the "hormone level created by nature" does not set "in place the possibility for" sexual assaults "to occur."

Chambliss committed one big, immediate error in that "gee-whiz" statement. He assumed that sexual assaults are about sexual attraction, that they are motivated by sexual attraction. They aren't.

"Young folks" who enter military services have an impeccable track record of riding "the hormone level created by nature" to the destination of consensual physical intimacy.

What "nature sets in place" is a drive to reproduce that subsequently has been wrapped up in social and cultural meanings and contexts -- yada, yada -- we can puzzle over where romance came from some other time.

The downside of what "nature sets in place" involves not hormones but a desire for power, domination, and control. It's a sick desire to degrade and dehumanize. That motive isn't about sex hormones. That motive is about egos and, especially in an institutional setting, intimidation.

My guess is Chambliss probably confused the motive behind sexual assault with motive behind sexual attraction.

And, he was probably speaking off-the-cuff, but he could have asked himself, "What if every declined sexual attraction became a sexual assault?" That line of questioning might have led him to the difference between two sets of motives.

In my personal experiences and observations, I think males who have their sexual attractions unreciprocated tend to sulk and go into a round of self-pity, or they shrug and move on, in legitimate hope or outright audacity, to another female. When attraction is involved, most males don't want to conquer; they want voluntary acceptance.

That's an important thing to remember in a male-dominated military. When sexual assault happens, power is the motivator, not infatuation gone overboard.

I'll take it a step further: Even if expressions of attraction become annoying, socially difficult, uncool, and awkward, they come from a different place than assault.

-Colin Foote Burch


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