Bonds Among Soldiers, World War I



Bonds Among Soldiers, World War I


Recently, as my wife and I were leafing through a family photo album, we found two group portraits of American soldiers at training camp.

From the uniforms, the older photo appears to be from World War I. In that portrait, it is striking how comfortable the young men seem to be in physically expressing their bonds of affection. It is commonplace for a soldier to place his hands on the shoulders of the man in front of him, or even to wrap arms around him.

The more recent photo is clearly from World War II. In that case, there is little or no touching among the soldiers.

What happened in the period of less than 30 years between the two world wars?

Has anyone else out there made similar observations from family photos?


Re: Bonds Among Soldiers, World War I


This is really interesting, Tom. From what I've read here, the advent of the Industrial Age ushered in the idea of separating man from man on the basis of his sexual preferences and to establish whole new notions of identity based on that.

Some archival photos of guys who "won the west" etc, are almost shocking in the apparent comfort they present of male intimacy among what we see as extremely masculine men.

WW I was supposed to have industrialized war on a grand scale and the economies that supported it were changed as a result. People alive at the time seemed to have recognized the collapse of an older way of life.

Industrialization seemed to have demanded of men to make a choice. And, the right choice seems to have been heterosexuality (an apparently new way of identifying oneself).

Maybe "heterosexual" men are just easier to control, and one of the new found weapons with which to control them was to wield "homosexual" against them as a weapon that threatened to take what masculinity they had left from them, whereas they had really already ceded quite a bit of their masculinity (and freedom) already.

Divide and conquer.

Bill Weintraub

Re: Bonds Among Soldiers, World War I


Thank you Tom and Frances.

There's an online exhibit called Dear Friends, American Photographs of Men Together, 1840 - 1918.

It's well worth a look, as is Eric Lupin's article on this site, Men Before Freud, which references this exhibit and the change in social attitudes.

Clearly the change was enormous.


© All material Copyright 2006 by Bill Weintraub. All rights reserved.


Re: Bonds Among Soldiers, World War I



Professor of American Studies at California State University, Fullerton, Dr. Ibson's analysis of the photos and the impact of industrilization on men's relationships with men

For example, he examines how LIFE magazine photographed men during and after WW II. It seems that the brotherhood and unity needed to fight the war relaxed attitudes about men's expressions of affection in photographs. After WW II, when men resumed their roles as civilians, photos of man2man friendship became stale.

What's interesting is that somehow LIFE knew that men who were relaxed and free to be themselves was important to their enduring the war. Also interesting is that in the middle of a brutal war, the men in the photographs look like fraternity boys having fun at a party.

As Bill has noted on ths site, male companionship has been a halmark of war. Men fight better with a brother/friend.

Here are a few quotes from the book by WW II soldiers and observers:

"There's a strange closeness of the men. You've had no sleep for several days. There's pouring rain and constant fire. It's over and everybody just goes to sleep in big piles. It's a weird sight. Guys in each other's arms. You never see that except in the army." Richard Leacock, cameraman

"I made more new friends, had more sex, and thought less about the stigma of being queer between Pearl Harbor and V-J Day than at any time in my life." War Department employee

"There is indeed a fraternalism in war that is hard for people at home to realize." Ernie Pyle



Re: Bonds Among Soldiers, World War I


Let me complete a thought I made in the last entry about Dr. Ibson's book then give a few more points about his book.

"Dr. Ibson's analysis of photos and the impact of industrialization on men's relationships with men" show that the concept, the word "homosexuality" was not apart of civilians' lexicon.

Ibson notes, for example, in chapter three "Pageants of Masculinity" that photographs in late 19th century became expressions of theatricality, that men and women visited studios often to perform before the camera. Many photos of men show them in boxing stance, gun/knife fights, cowboy/Indian outfits, etc.

Ibson's book spans the Civil War to 1950, so Tom may find some answers to his question about the change in male intimacy that occurred between the two world wars.

Also, as Bill has documented on this site, Ibson confirms that force heterosexualization changed men's perception about masculinity (he doesn't use the word "heterosexualization," but the concept is present). I think the following quote summarizes the book well:

"Ibson's analysis focuses on the history of male intimacy and how these everyday photographs challenge conventional boundaries between erotic and platonic, homosexuality and heterosexuality. He explores the photos as symbols of male association from a time when America was far more gender segregated than it is today, and men felt no anxiety about showing their affection for one another. The images present men of different ages, classes, and races in a range of settings: posed in photographers' studios, on beaches, in lumber camps, on farms, on ships, indoors and out. Ibson concludes his study with images from the 1950s, in which the men begin to show a rigid and limited set of expressions."

By the way, each chapter opens with a quote or quotes from men that show how they conceptualized masculinity. Many quotes are reflections of the way masculinity used to be, the freedom of friendship that they had at a certain time and place--e.g., boyhood friendships or soldiers--but no longer have.

I admit that this site and books like Dr. Ibson are welcome release. Every man wants friendship with men; they want and, I believe, need male companionship.

I don't know how much spousal abuse heterosexualization has contributed to, but I would guess quite a lot.

I would guess that as heterosexualization denies men as it affirms women men are seen as social pariahs, society's problems. And if society's problems, who men are naturally is condemned.

So to so-called solve the so-called problem, you redefined masculinity, connecting masculine essence to feminity through dubbing masculine fortitude as a medical problem. Hence, many boys, because of their natural aggression, are classified as Attention Deficient Disorder (ADD) and become victims of the school system and drugs.

Men can be accused of sex harassment for anything that they do or don't do, which reminds me of slavery: no matter what the slave did, he could be accused of breaking the law or of defiance. Controlling the slave to maintain power was the goal, not justice.

Attempts to quell justice, however, prove dentrimental. To enslave a few required the enslavement of all. The slaveowner was limited because slavery bound him as much as it bound the slave.

I think men will revolt. They'll revolt against the feminization of masculinity by gender feminists and the bitching of masculinity by analists. Indeed, the revolt has begun with this site.


Robert Loring

Re: Bonds Among Soldiers, World War I


I think that along with industrialization came the devastation of traditional human society which had existed for millions of years. With industrialization our society became the EXCEPTION and stopped following the NORM. Right became wrong and wrong became right. Men being affectionate with other men suddenly became "abnormal" and "queer" even though man2man affection had been the male norm since the very dawn of time.

No longer was it acceptable or normal for males to show affection towards other males with the dawn of industrialization. Homophobia became the psychospiritual weapon of the new era, gay men were demonized by society, and this drove a wedge of division between man's natural and normal affection towards other men.

No longer was it acceptable for soldiers to be not only friends but affectionate brothers of the heart. No longer was it acceptable for males to frot together or admire one another's natural masculinity. What was natural for masculine males and had been for millions of years suddenly became unnatural and unacceptable in the new industrialized society. Thus began the era of lies, myths, and deceptions which are the hallmarks of our society today. Man traded in his soul and his sanity for ease, comfort, and pleasure.

When we look at tribal societies today we still see the historical and traditional norms of manhood. Men still spend most of their time together in these societies. Warriors in these societies are still brothers. And, frot is still the norm for the masculine male in these tribal societies. Homophobia is unknown because these tribal societies have not yet been poisoned by the psychosis that comes with industrialization and a raging, rabid religion.

Before industrialization men had to depend on each other sometimes just to stay alive. Nowadays, the thinking seems to be "every man for himself no matter what!" The natural bonds and affection that exists between males has been shattered with the hammer of homophobia. Today, ANY expression of love by a male towards another male is taken to mean that both males are "queer." Yet, we fail to realize as a society that such thinking and assumption is more a reflection on our society than it is on the two males who express love towards one another.

The natural brotherhood that is MEANT to exist between men has indeed been destroyed from within. For, there is no better way to destroy an enemy than from within the enemies own ranks. Gay men have been demonized in modern industrialized society along with frot men and natural men. All this demonization has been born of hatred, greed, and self righteous egotism that shall go down in history as the hallmarks of this industrialized ABNORMAL society. When you demonize a person, ANY person, it makes it easier to justify in your own mind the destruction of that person. But, still, it does NOT make it RIGHT!

Steeped in our own comfort and greed today's society walks blindly towards a great fall as we walk closer and closer to the abyss. Guided by our own insane egotism we proclaim "love" loudly but, in practice, we fear expressing that love and, thus, it proves many people today really know nothing about real Love at all. Along with industrialization human society became a society of hypocrisy! Our own lost and psychotic egos made us think that we were somehow better than the "savages" that our ancestors were. Yet, as time moves on we see more and more that we are not better than our ancestors but, spiritually and psychologically, we are WORSE off than they ever dreamed of being. And so, led by our arrogant industrialized egos we march blindly to the broken drum of selfishness and fear marching ever closer towards the edge of an abyss of societal ruin.

Industrialization has not been the only thing to drive a wedge between men but so have all of our religions. Religions that are ALL of HUMAN invention with not even one being sanctioned by the Divine! Yet, few of us ever realize that the Divine does not want ANY of our human invented religions for, all that the Divine desires is, simply, our Faithful Love.

What sad times we live in my brothers. We are like lost children scrapping in the darkness for some element of sanity and normalcy yet we fear them both. We desperately seek love in society today yet we fear love and fear TO love. Today's society is the historical and traditional EXCEPTION, not the historical and traditional NORM of human society! We have as a global society managed to turn right into wrong and wrong into right. But, wrong is still wrong and right is still right.

So, what it is going to take for society to correct all these things and to return to the traditional and historical norms of manhood? Must society be knocked back into the Stone Age for some element of brotherhood and brotherly love to return? Can we not have industrialization and also have brotherly Man2Man love WITHOUT all the homophobia? Cannot industrialized men love each other and be unafraid to express that love? Cannot a Warrior be a Warrior again along with his brother in arms?

Like blind sheep human society walks towards the slaughter. A slaughter that is to be born by our own hands. Society is walking the tight rope of self destruction and in the aftermath of that coming destruction it will be the dead who will be the lucky and blessed ones. Yet, all this can be avoided if only man would stop being afraid to love man!


Re: Bonds Among Soldiers, World War I


The link to the Dear Friends photographic exhibit explains the most obvious reason for the change. In 1919 at the end of WW I sodomy was criminalized and soldiers and sailors brought up with that old social norm and engaging in what had been legal, consensual sex were now receiving prison sentences of from 5-20 years for engaging in such. (They survived the war to be met by an era of Prohibition. No wonder these young men were disaffected, or "Lost". Poor suckers!).

So men had to be slapped and slapped hard, and society showed no hesitation in doing just that. The whole new nature of male interaction, or lack thereof postwar, was now being photographically documented. It's our "normal". What would these men think of our society?

Naturally, war brings out primal, raw instinct. Society relies on this and I can't imagine that America was about to start prosecuting men en masse for sodomy as long as Japan and Germany threatened the homeland. Men had to have understood the implicit deal that was struck. They did what they needed to do for themselves and for us.

I think if we ever cough up enough money for Bill to run an ad campaign so that we may return to a day like that in which great, great granddad lived free of labels that messed with his spirit, that these old photos might prove very useful. They show the way.

Bill Weintraub

Re: Bonds Among Soldiers, World War I

Thank you Tom, Frances, Redd, and Robert.

Your posts really cheered me up.

I've been feeling disheartened by the HIV is a gay disease campaign down in LA.

Because it's as though the folks who devised that campaign -- and ourselves -- are living on two entirely different planets.

HIV is not a gay disease.

It's not an African disease.

It's a disease of risk behavior, which among "men who have sex with men" is anal penetration.

Just as lung cancer is a disease of smoking, so HIV / AIDS is a disease of anal penetration.

And if you won't address the risk behavior -- you can't impact the disease.

Instead, what they're doing will heighten the identification of gay with anal -- and thus heighten the level of anal penetration among gay men -- and thus heighten both the incidence and prevalence of MSM HIV infection.

So, unless you're a major shareholder in big pharma, it's ultimately insane.

As one epidemiologist said privately,

The "official" response to HIV/AIDS has been remarkable for the way in which it has ignored telling people to avoid the behaviors that spread the virus.

Remarkable is another word for it.

What a gift then to come back to this board and read these posts, which are so rational and thoughtful.

You're all correct about how the forces of heterosexualization have played and continue to play out.

When Eric talks about "Men before Freud," he's referencing the fact that between the wars, pyschoanalytic and neo-psychoanalytic ideas about sex and men and women took tremendous root in not just European culture but cultures worldwide.

And those ideas could be found on every level of society.

Not just in psychiatry, law, and penology but also throughout "artistic" culture.

From dime novels and movies to ballet and opera, Freudian ideas predominated.

So homosexuality was medicalized and psychologized.

And men learned to be afraid.

WW II interrupted that process.

Because men are needed to fight wars.

And it's well known that not just the US military but all the militaries dropped any objection they may have had to homosexual behavior in order to keep their manpower as high as possible.

Even the Nazis, who sent homosexuals to concentration camps and then death camps, made frequent exception.

For example, in the early 1930s, the British author Christopher Isherwood had a German boyfriend named Heinz.

After the Nazis took over, Isherwood tried desperately to get Heinz into the UK.

But of course he couldn't, since immigration was severely restricted and everything about their relationship was illegal.

Heinz was eventually arrested by the Nazis, but he was treated leniently because he was viewed as a "straight" boy who had simply had sex with Isherwood for money and convenience.

He was given a light prison sentence, and then drafted into the army.

Miraculously, he survived the war, "serving" in both the Russian and Western theaters, only to end up in East Berlin, where Isherwood visited him and his wife after the war.

So the militaries needed men, and if the men had sex with other men, that wasn't a big deal.

Now, there is a book out of photos of guys in the US Navy in the Pacific Theatre during WW II.

It's called At Ease, and it shows these guys in various stages of undress and/or being companionable.

I have to confess that I haven't seen the book, because I live in a rural area where it's not likely to show up.

But I have seen pix on the web, and here are a couple.

The book was attacked by the right as appealing to prurient homosexual interests, and certainly it is popular among gay men.

But the sailors photographed aren't gay.

They're just guys.

What's important to understand is that the really heavy anti-homosexual persecutions and witch-hunts took off in America post-WW II, in the Eisenhower-McCarthy era.

McCarthy, who like Mr Foley was a closeted homosexual, claimed to have lists of communists in the State Dept.

But in reality what he had were lists of homosexuals.

And in 1953, President Eisenhower signed an executive order banning the employment of homosexuals anywhere in the federal government and among federal contractors.

Which cost thousands of people their jobs -- and not a few people their lives.

So what most people don't understand is that the period from roughly 1950 to 1970 was unusually harsh and punitive towards any sort of same-sex affection.

Far worse than the 20s 30s and 40s had been.

And not the norm.

That's what Gay Lib and the contemporary gay rights movement emerged out of.

That period of intense persecution.

So what you had was first a period of intense persecution, and then this period we're still living through of ghettoization.

And heterosexualization of course continues to be a potent societal force.

There was an artice on Saturday in the Times about Title IX destruction of men's athletics at a college called James Madison:

.. what made the actions at James Madison stand out most in a national trend transforming men's and women's college sports was the sweeping and voluntary nature of the university's decision. The slashing of James Madison's large athletic department in the name of Title IX adherence was startling in scale, unforeseen because it was enacted in the absence of a lawsuit or complaint and especially uncommon because the university chose the most onerous route to fully adhere to the strictest federal gender-equity standards.

James Madison's student body of 17,000 is 61 percent female, and one provision for complying with Title IX instructs institutions to have the percentage of participating athletes match the ratio of men to women on campus. At James Madison, the elimination of seven men's sports (swimming, cross country, indoor and outdoor track, gymnastics, wrestling and archery) and three women's sports (gymnastics, fencing and archery) will boost the proportion of female athletes to 61 percent from about 50 percent.

[emphasis mine]

Interestingly, the article said that women athletes at the college were outraged and shocked by the decimation of men's sports.

Which is good.

But Title IX has been especially and incredibly destructive of men's sports, and wrestling in particular, which is without question the ur-man's sport.

It's the original and most universal male sport.

Anyways, here's a pic of the guys from the swim team.

They know they've been done a profound disservice, but they don't understand the historical forces which have brought that about.

We do, and we need to do our best to let ALL MEN know what has happened.

Thank you all.

Bill Weintraub

© All material Copyright 2006 by Bill Weintraub. All rights reserved.

Robert Loring

Re: Bonds Among Soldiers, World War I 10-12-2006

Welcome back!

I find it sad that any display of affection between males is automatically deemed "homosexual." And any sort of nudity is deemed the same among males. For 7 million years males have walked around nude with each other and it's only been in the last 50 years that this has changed. 50 years compared to 7 million years is not even a drop in the bucket!

As for the HIV conference and their failure to address the behavior that causes AIDS, you're right. HIV/AIDS is NOT just a gay man disease. But, that is the MYTH that is put forth by the powers that be and it's not only a myth but a dangerous and DEADLY myth!

The BFD and Company are engaged in a WAR against all males. All males need to realize this and start fighting back! Unless we realize this war against us and start fighting back males can begin to dig their graves.


Re: Bonds Among Soldiers, World War I


I think those photos from At Ease are incredibly powerful, as well as beautiful (my God, that guy's legs are beautiful [prurient hetero interest]).

I wish every American boy owned that book. They wouldn't just be standing there with their hands on their hips looking all pouty were they ever to behave as their forebearers did. They might talk about how "gay" these photos are, but in their heart of hearts these young adults would know that granddad, or great granddad would have had nothing to prove to these pipsqueaks.


Re: Bonds Among Soldiers, World War I


I have been to this website for over two years and it's getting better every day. I wanted to share a conversation I had with someone on aol. He was a divorced dad who admits to having feelings for other guys. OK fine. However, when I was explaining to him my desire to get married and have children, but also have a close relationship with a buddy, in a frot type relationship which goes beyond the physical, he was trying throught the rest of the conversation implying that I really haven't "accepted myself for who I am". If I hear those words one more time, I swear I can scream. I even gave him a link to this site to check for himself, so I assume he didn't even bother. I would like to hear from other guys who feel the way I do, specifically about getting married to a woman and having children, but understand this need for male bonding.

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