Soldier Soldier

There is a UK series from the 1990s (1991-1997)  called “Soldier Soldier” I have begun watching recently which is about an infantry company in a fictional army regiment. It’s an interesting series, about rather ordinary aspects of military life in Britain during a time of cutbacks, changes in how women fit into the army and so on. I liked some aspects better than others, but there was one that particularly intrigued me—how it depicted male and female relations.

First: there is the adultery aspect. In the first season, there are two cases of outright physical adultery on the part of the wives of soldiers, in another case more of an emotional affair being conducted.

In the first example, we have the company commander’s wife, who is cold and touchy with her husband when he comes back from a tour of duty in Northern Ireland. It turns out that he can be stubborn, rather proud and occasionally hard to get along with but is basically a good and honourable man. One of the things I found interesting about this case is that she ends the affair though one gets the impression it is mostly because she doesn’t want to change her life that much, and she and her husband have no Hollywood style honeymoon resurgence. You get the impression that they are giving the marriage some time to work again—there is an awkwardness between the couple to some extent but the wife a few times in following episodes when talking to other wives emphasizes  that there is a choice to be made and followed through on. I also found the husband’s response interesting. Apart from one punch delivered to the other guy, (another officer who was planning on leaving the army) he is pretty calm about the whole thing. He’s upset, but he says to her after she starts getting upset back, “I have to go. When I get back, either stay or be gone,” or words to that effect. It’s also interesting to notice that he doesn’t really change or try to please her in any way; he clearly loves her but his view of it is that he’s an army officer, that’s who she married, and she can either like it or lump it. He is also a kind man, clearly a good father to his son and a good leader to his men. I found this extremely interesting.

The second case is also curiously banal (in what I thought was a good way). The Company Sergeant Major is having an emotional affair with the wife of a sergeant in the company. The sergeant has PTSD. He and his wife are getting a divorce—when you see their home it is full of packing boxes. The wife says “You need to get some help.” The sergeant bitterly says, “If I do you’ll say, will you?” He is haunted (it doesn’t say directly but I felt it was clear enough) by the deaths of some of his men in the Gulf War.  In the second case, it’s not clear to me why the Sergeant-Major and the wife are carrying on—they’re not having sex, the show demonstrates, but are basically dating. Others around them accept this. This gave me the impression that everyone knew that the couple were getting a divorce anyway. What I found sad and touching about this was that the sergeant has bad nightmares, and here is the thing: the wife knows that when he wakes up from his PTSD nightmares that his instinct is to protect his home. It is clear that he is not violent towards her, is not cruel towards her.

In the third case, one of the private soldiers has recently married the girl who is depicted as being the sexiest girl on the base. She is a very passionate person who doesn’t give her mouth a holiday; she dresses in a provocative way (for the time period), and at one point when he gets back from a training exercise early he realizes she is delaying him while another guy slips out the window. He goes berserk, ends up charged with striking his squad leader (who tried to calm him down), and has to do six months. The wife is never shown being repentant, in fact when talking to a female friend about it she says “what was I supposed to do? He was away for months!”

What I was really struck by during all these episodes though was this: the women feel that they have the right to slap, shout at, vilify and damn men at the slightest turn, for something as little as coming home drunk, because the man was rumored to have done something bad when he was a teenager, for not saying the right thing at the right time—but when the women actually cheat on their husbands, the women are not only protected but very gently chided.

There is actually not one married relationship depicted in this series that shows the wives being supportive of the husbands. It is always done reluctantly and with resentment. They appear to only be capable of showing love when they are in a good mood and things are going well.

I contrast this with the depiction of the Brodys in “Jaws”, my favourite on screen couple I think. In Jaws during difficult times the wife is shown supporting the husband; the husband is shown being caring towards his family but balances this ably with doing his duty to his office. There are two scenes that exemplify their relationship tome. One is where he is brooding about the shark and his wife says, “you want to get drunk and fool around?” and Brody says “Aw, yeah….”. Another is where he is about to go on the shark fishing boat and she is fussing and nervous about it but supports what he is doing. You hardly ever see this in a movie anymore, but the stuff in “Soldier Soldier” marches on.

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19 thoughts on “Soldier Soldier

  1. Well, the one distinction I would point out is that it is in the UK, so the men and women are colder and less emotional in general. If this were taking place in a Mediterranean country like Italy, Greece or Spain, there would be massive amounts of yelling, shouting and household goods being broken.
    Same if it took place in most average American homes.

  2. It’s tempting to say that the market draw of lurid fiction is why this stuff gets shown, and it becomes normalized that way, so life imitates art. But I don’t think so. Art generally imitates life, and for both men and women who watch that show, the characters need to be relatable and strike familiar chords. Unfortunately, the reality reflected by the show is men being in a bad position.

  3. Empath:
    The adultery aspect isn’t at all surprising. Anglosphere women hate heroes and throw themselves at lowlifes. This has been going on since Vietnam—guys were wading through rice paddies and going hand-to-hand with the Vietcong while the women were back home riding the Cock Carousel with every drugged out hipster they could find, who only bathed twice a year and lived in a bus whenever they weren’t in jail.

    I remember reading on The Spearhead once about an Iraq veteran who came home and found his wife doing some thug on the living room floor, with the kids watching TV in the next room. My cousin was in Iraq; he told me divorces are common and soldiers go home on leave to catch their partners in bed with lowlifes all the time.

    Just look at any posters papering a young woman’s bedroom wall and you’d be hard pressed to find one soldier there. Plenty of creepy celebrities who look they couldn’t fight their way out of a paper sack, though.

  4. Off topic:
    At the Orthosphere is a good discussion regarding whether salvation is from faith alone. Emp, I wonder if you can, with a degree of accuracy, hypothesize who of your regular contributors would concur that salvation is from faith alone, apart from good or bad works.

  5. I ‘m in the Life imitates art camp. Movies have always been used to push for less morals in western society. The stories often depict a point of view that paints the current moral standard in a bad light for one reason or another. Or the narrative will be used to make an exception to an obvious moral standard due to some extenuating circumstance. The effect over time has been to desensitize and demoralize the populace.

  6. The big sell of feminism is fairness, from the male point of view. One of the things feminists push is the notion of female sexual freedom. There is a false perception spread by most of them that men can act freely without real consequences sexually. The problem is that this has never really been true. There has existed corruption, but that has never been something simply established by law. Nearly every civilization on Earth has had laws against adultery, restrictions regarding fornication.

    So you’re right, art imitating life does happen, and I think it does in this case. The film “Grown Ups” (which is a sort of unhfunny Adam Sandler comedy in my opinion) showed similar themes–women blatantly flirting with a hot guy they see but then being hypocritically angry with their men for even THINKING about other women–even though later on these same wives are calling out the name of the hot guy during sex.

    In a subsequent episode of “Soldier Soldier” one of the wives is outraged to discover that a husband of her friend is cheating on the friend with a woman he met in New Zealand. The problem of course is that this was the same woman who had to delay her husband while her lover dove out a window. The outrage didn’t surprise me, but I do find it interesting that there are no calls from feminists for women to behave with more sexual integrity.

    Of course in the end they’re shooting themselves in the foot. Men, increasingly realizing that there is no reasoning with people who think they control the sexual commodity and refuse to do it with integrity, will sort out how to work out relationships on their own, and will only ‘buy’ what they want to buy. Men realizing that the system is not merely corrupt but terribly damaged will rework how they approach marriage and relationships, and are already doing it.

    I put up this post because I wanted to emphasize the importance of the fact that little has changed in depictions of relationships in twenty years. People have been talking about it since that time and little is really changing. Because of this, MGTOW and PUAs are going to in my opinion dominate the relationship landscape increasingly until there is positive change.

  7. I’ll put this here.

    First, thank you sojourner. for seeing the vacuum and filling it. This is the second time in the last few months that i have been so consumed by work that I even avoided looking here when i had a minute because I didn’t want to get tempted to engage.
    Its a blessing, my job, and the promotion and all the attendant responsibility that goes with it, but, I never dreamed Id ever be this busy. Thankfully its not one of those things where we work late into the evening or weekends or any of that show-ish stuff that the huge corporations seem to breed into their people, but, for the first time in my 30 year career I am finding it very hard to switch off when I come home.
    I’m not complaining. But I do wish i could write more. Vasc. I’ll figure something out for the humor and sarcasm. Just may be another few days

  8. Emp:

    My (virtual friend), congratulations on your career! Successes such as this feel very good. We all need the positive stuff to help counter all the negative.

  9. A woman cheats = divorce. Nothing else should be done at all. A cheating wife is a wife who has emotionally left the marriage, doesn’t respect the husband and has no concept of marriage. Divorce, divorce, divorce.

  10. Here’s an interesting set of statistics that I found:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/visual-data/best-and-worst/highest-male-slash-female-ratios-states

    So how does your state rank? LOL

    The next time single men hear the BITCHES complaining loudly about ‘man shortages’ and ‘no good men left’ and how there are nothing available but thugs to chase, you’ll see the numbers and know the truth.

    And so much, BTW, for all the Game/PUA nonsense about sexual market value parity. These numbers clearly show that American women have a near monopoly on sex.

  11. Watching a few more episodes: the same standards continue to apply.

    Female adultery: at most the characters stress the importance of fixing and focusing on the marriage. Flirtation with other men is seen as a lark and the men to be overreacting.

    Male Adultery: shameful , bad, to never really be forgotten and held over the man’s head. Flirtation or even suspicion of involvement with other women cause for fury, accusation and contempt.

    Women putting careers first: opportunity to have a career–regrettable if it ruins a relationship, but there it is.

    Men putting careers first: man doesn’t love his family.

    Woman threatens man: woman is defending herself, displaying righteous anger

    Man threatens woman: domestic or other abuse

    Woman speaks insultingly to man: Banter

    Man speaks insultingly to woman: misogynist jerk

    I’m sure you all get the idea. The double standard marches on. But that in a way is not my primary concern in watching this show. It’s that watching other shows about 20 years later–no real change, unless someone cares to prove me wrong. And furthermore–the men accept it on the show. They take it on the chin.

    So to me this is a good example of how you have to do things differently. It’s a curious case of art imitating life, as said above. The men trying to please their women never generally please them on the show. Pretty much every episode demonstrates this. After a while watching it you desperately want even one of the men to stand up for himself.

    The closest you get to that by the way is the regimental commander discovering that his girlfriend while they are on NATO service in Germany is a former Stasi agent and breaks up with her. Is that how far it has to go?

  12. Off topic because I couldn’t find a way to contact you:

    I know I don’t comment much but I enjoy following your blog, especially your posts about how different ministry show feminist thinking.

    I just wanted to share a post from the Gospel Coalition that I saw was shared by a few of my FB friends. I found it interesting that they say women struggle with lust, but that their lust is after a perfect body and, thus, have self-esteem problems. Yeah, no mention of enjoying men’s bodies, female porn, Magic Mike, or 50 Shades. Imagine that.

    Sigh….when will it end?

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2014/01/08/when-women-lust

  13. Interesting you bring up the MOVIE Jaws. It was a looooooong time ago that I read the book and I recall Brody’s wife heading off for a dalliance with I believe Dreyfuss’ character. There was some establishment of a past relationship.

    Anyhow, I think it is the time of production that makes all the difference as to the depiction. I can just picture a producer in the seventies saying, “he’s the hero. We can’t have his wife doing that!”. Not so much now.

  14. Ha, javaloco beat me to it – obviously you haven’t read the novel. As is the norm in Hollywood (although admittedly “Jaws” is a good film; actually sat down w/my teenage son a couple of wks ago & watched it), they ripped the guts out of the book to simplify it into action-adventure pablum… In the novel, Chief Brody’s marriage is on the rocks, Mrs Brody has an affair w/Hooper (the marine biologist/Dreyfuss), but ultimately Brody gets symbolic revenge when the shark kills Hooper (in other words, that shark cage scene did NOT end well).

  15. Actually I did read the novel. Since I was talking about a TV series I compared with an on screen couple. The book has more clear reasons for why the mayor wanted to keep the beach open too…he’s in serious debt to some bad people. The book suggests that people are generally more monstrous in their appetites than sharks, which I guess is true. I like the movie as well.

    I don’t want anyone to think I want perfect depictions, and I don’t fault the series for reflecting reality. I think its impotprtant though to look at examples of how in entertainment you can see how chivalry blinds people to feminist hypocrisy and perpetuates ideas.

  16. “These cases are on the rise. Ironically, one of the army officers handling this matter is also guilty of domestic violence and his wife is also in our care. I think the army authorities need to look into this problem and make sure that errant officers are punished,” she said.

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