Australian Defence Force gender guidelines invoke Xena, Warrior Princess

Soldiers are being lectured on gender awareness and how to handle sexual chemistry, with a famous TV character held up as an example of a female personality type.

SOLDIERS are being lectured on gender awareness, with a defence force document defining female recruits as Xena personalities and setting sexual chemistry guidelines.

Army recruits are taught about gender issues during induction week at the training centre in Kapooka, near Wagga Wagga.

“Recruits are inducted into the army, and attend a number of lectures on issues such as gender awareness and appropriate behaviour, and personal security and army safety,’’ the army’s 2019 training module states.

New soldiers are pointed to the Australian Defence Force’s 237-page gender guide, which likens female recruits to the fictional TV character Xena, Warrior Princess.

“Army should aim to be the home of ‘Xena’ personalities,’’ the military document states.

“Don’t be scared of Xena, enable her and get out of the way.’’

The gender guide, called Teaming, aims to prepare the military for the “coming era of equality’’ and calls for more attention to “herstory’’ as well as military history.

It recommends that the army consider social media searches for background checks to identify recruits with “deeply troubling attitudes’’ such as racism or antipathy towards women or gay recruits.

And it calls for more focus on emotional intelligence in the army.

“Greater understanding on women’s strengths and unique approaches will only come from more attention to Herstory as well as History in military history, ethics and leadership curricula,’’ it says.

The gender guide warns that male soldiers could perceive charismatic females as a threat, or regard them as “hot’’.

“A preventative strategy in this area is to prepare the ground for the current and future ‘Xenas’ of the army by conspicuously pointing out to men that such charismatic female personalities are not sexual objects, nor threats, but just leaders and therefore, calm down and treat her as such,’’ it says.

“The reverse of course applies to female soldiers at risk of ‘falling in love’ with charismatic males.’’

To help army leaders deal with “sexual chemistry’’ and “awkward scenarios’’, the defence gender guide includes a discussion topic on “the touching issue and personal space’’.

It suggests that soldiers describe themselves as The Cactus (who dislikes workplace touching), The Sophisticate (who greets with airbrush cheek kisses), The Sports Buddy (who prefers back slaps), The Bear (who likes to give all-body extended hugs) or a Cuddly Bear (who is physically affectionate).

The guide includes the hypothetical case study of a civilian IT specialist, a busty Salsa dancer named Concertina, who works with soldiers on cyber warfare.

“She has large breasts and in working with army colleagues often touches people and presses herself into them as she talks,’’ it says.

“Some males, like Corporeal Smith, joke about how they like to work with Concertina around.

“If you were (the) warrant officer … how would you address this situation?’’

A defence force spokesperson said the guide was one part of a national action plan to “integrate a gender perspective into defence operations, missions and planning processes’’.

“Recruits are made aware of this guide during training,’’ the spokesperson said.

“As part of (army) training, recruits are made aware of appropriate behaviours between individuals, including between genders.

“Inappropriate relationships and fraternisation are defined for the recruits as part of this training.

“There is no stand-alone gender awareness training, as the topic is integrated into other training modules.’’

The army ended its ban on women in combat in 2012, and has recruited 106 women to combat roles since July last year – nearly 10 per cent of combat recruits.

Twenty-nine women and 650 men have been recruited to the roles of artilleryman, armoured cavalry, combat engineer and rifleman since July last year.

“Applicants are selected based on merit and their physical capacity to do the required work,’’ a defence force spokesperson said yesterday.



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