Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Guilt in Tailhook Is Not One-Sided

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Guilt in Tailhook Is Not One-Sided

Article excerpt

Landing a plane at night in the rain on the deck of an aircraft carrier that is being rolled around by the sea is not a job for everyone. A pilot who knows says that the kind of people who do this are not like the kind of people who become accountants. You certainly are not likely to find them standing on every street corner.

When you get a large number of unusual people together, you can probably expect some unusual things to happen. But what happened at the notorious 1991 Tailhook convention in Las Vegas went way beyond some eccentricities, and it has still not been sorted out, even though heads are continuing to roll.

The full story of that scandal has still not been widely reported or discussed - and the failure to do so is itself a scandalous example of double standards in the media.

Women as well as men got drunk and carried on in sexually provocative ways in public at the Tailhook convention, but much of the media ignored this general atmosphere and reported what happened as simply men abusing women.

One female naval officer who went topless all night at Tailhook was not punished or prosecuted like the men for "conduct unbecoming an officer" but was allowed to quietly retire early.

While these annual conventions of naval aviators have had some serious sessions on military subjects, the social activities involving the younger pilots have been wild and raunchy. It was not unusual for the convention to have to pay bills running into thousands of dollars for their members' damage to the hotel. In short, this was a place where people ran wild once a year.

In earlier years, the Tailhook conventions were largely stag affairs, with the women who took part being mostly groupies, strippers and prostitutes. An unwritten rule was that officers did not bring their wives.

It was a gross scene. But the women and the men were both gross. Some women bared their breasts and some groped over men's bodies while the men groped over theirs. Strippers and prostitutes went further - and in public.

With the kinds of traditions already associated with these annual Tailhook conventions, female naval officers who attended in 1991 were either very uninformed beforehand or not very candid afterwards. …

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