Vital Signs

Sex Scandal du Jour

Remember Gwen Dreyer? No, of course not. She was the poor, unfortunate midshipman who was "chained to a urinal" at the United States Naval Academy in the winter of 1990. The incident came at the end of a long day of snowball fights and practical jokes, in which Ms. Dreyer had willingly taken part. Sometime later, Dreyer left the academy and used her humiliation in the men's room to explain to her father why she had left. Her father complained to the academy, which investigated and reprimanded the midshipmen involved.

It did not end there, of course. The local papers heard about the urinal, and what began with a snowball fight quickly snowballed into a national scandal. Before long the academy was facing two internal and two congressional investigations into the incident. Nine months later, l'affaire Dreyer culminated with a press conference on Capitol Hill, at which the academy's board of visitors, led by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) and Representative Helen Bentley (R-Maryland), certified the academy's conversion from callous disregard for feminine sensitivities to fervent champion of the rights of military women.

All of this happened before Tailhook, and before the humiliating aftermath of Tailhook (which forced a Secretary of the Navy and a Chief of Naval Operations out of office), and before the Navy's abandonment of Admiral Stanley Arthur for his alleged insensitivity...

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