Ark Royal: Sex and the Single Spacer

5 Nov

Yes, I used that as a title. You can all throw things now. <embarrassed shrug>

A couple of people asked about this, so I thought it was worth a brief blog post.

I don’t know how the present-day Royal Navy handles such matters, but the Royal (Space) Navy of Ark Royal has two firm guidelines for sexual relationships between its personal.

-You can’t have sex with someone in your chain of command.

-You can’t have sex with someone in the same unit as yourself.

The former prevents sex being used for either bribes (“give me a good evaluation and I’ll give you a blowjob”) or blackmail (“give me a blowjob or I won’t give you a good evaluation.”) The Royal Navy takes a dim view of both as they undermine discipline – crewmen will be wondering, with reason, if Midshipwoman X was promoted because she sucked Lieutenant Y. There are clear procedures for reporting such sexual contact and, if proven to be real, everyone involved would be in deep shit.

The latter prevents sex from interfering with a fighting unit’s cohesion. A mixed-sex group intending to fight together cannot do so if some of its members are sleeping with other members. (Or at least that’s the RN’s view on the matter.) Again, there are clear procedures in place, although these are deemed less effective because there isn’t such a stench of rat around such affairs. (And because some units tend to close ranks around the offenders, making it hard for outsiders to prove anything.) The RN tends to transfer people involved to other ships rather than make a fuss about it, at least the first time around.

(These regulations apply equally to straight and homosexual sex. The RN doesn’t give a damn if someone prefers women to men or vice versa. What it cares about is combat effectiveness in the face of the enemy.)

By these lights, the relationship between Kurt and Rose was flat-out against regulations and, to be fair, they only entered into a relationship when they thought they were both going to die before they could be put in front of a court martial. The best they could reasonably expect from a court would be dishonourable discharge, which would have ensured they wouldn’t have much chance of finding a second job in space. This is why it was an effective blackmail weapon, all the more so as they kept on the affair even after returning to Earth the first time. They showed astonishing moral courage in going to their superiors after the blackmail episode began.

Henry/Charles Augustus’s relationship with Janelle is more complicated. On the face of it, they’re not in the same chains of command and there are no grounds for their superiors objecting to the relationship. Even if it were doomed from the start, it wouldn’t be seen as a major problem, as long as it didn’t interfere with their work. Ted might have rolled his eyes – he’s old enough to see quite a few relationships shatter when one party is transferred to another ship – but he wouldn’t do anything about it.

Complicating matters, however, is the simple fact that Henry is a member of the Royal Family, perhaps the Heir to the Throne. Janelle does not know this. Ted and James hit the roof about this when they find out because this relationship will literally ruin Janelle’s life – the press will be after her, the Royal Family will probably dissect her life to see if there’s anything that renders her unsuitable to be the next Queen, everyone will insist she’s too thin or too plain … in short, her life will no longer be her own. (Remember those facebook photos you posted when you were drunk and how they can pop up years later to ruin your life?) This happens in real life. Diana went through hell because the media saw her as their plaything, while nude photos of Kate made their way onto the internet.

As far as Ted’s concerned, Henry’s desire for a normal relationship, for a girlfriend who isn’t either a gold-digger or someone willing to brag to the press about nailing the Prince has shattered Janelle’s life … and she doesn’t even know it! When Henry’s presence is revealed, someone will remember that he was dating Janelle … why should she try to hide it when she doesn’t know what she’s actually doing?

I don’t see anything particularly wrong with Ted being steamed over the whole affair. By regulations, they’ve done nothing wrong. But morally, the whole situation stinks like a piece of meat that’s been left out in the noonday sun.

But what can they do?

Hopefully, that makes sense.



9 Responses to “Ark Royal: Sex and the Single Spacer”

  1. Kurt Schneider November 5, 2014 at 10:44 pm #

    That ‘astonishing moral courage’ was nice, but my wife is still upset that a fictional character named after me was sleeping around…

    Just kidding. I enjoyed running across my name; the goosebumps were memorable.

    Also, in the US Army at least, the expression is “in your food chain” As in, “That new supply sergeant is hotter than Ft Hood in August, but she’s in my food chain, and I kinda like breathing.” (Add expletives as necessary.)

  2. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard November 5, 2014 at 11:03 pm #

    Made sense to me before and makes sense to me now. [Smile]

  3. Andrew Crossman November 7, 2014 at 4:57 am #

    I really liked Kurt and Rose. I was sorry to see them go. As to the topic, I believe that a co-ed military is a fundamental mistake.

  4. Fridolin Hanf December 3, 2014 at 12:33 pm #

    Actually, there are alot of militaries where its allowed and absolutely no problem to fraternise. And it is working, too. so maybe, just maybe, you could take a different tack in your books. It’s getting way too american military as it is, which, I noticed, annoys not just me, but alot of your european readers, too.

    And just for discussions sake: its allowed in the german military and doesnt cause problems. And reading your books I cannot fail to notice that alot of the “frat probs” feel “constructed”. Like, its two consenting adults who know exactly what they do and it only impedes on their performance because you write it that it does. You could also write the opposite and it would still maake sense and feel realistic.

    I wish you would give it a try, at least. This alone would clearly set you apart from at least 90% of the market in a positive way.
    Just reading “Hard Lessons” and its the same all over. Solar Union forbids it and you make a big deal out of it. Why? Why not go the other road and allow it? It’s not the american army, after all, its a fictional army with fictional rules and tech and nano tech and what not.

    I like your books very much, but this is one of the points I totally dislike, because its narrow minded.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard December 3, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

      First, Chris is British not American.

      Second, how do we know that there’s no problems with the German army regarding this? Would the German Government, German military, News Media, etc report it?

      Third, students of military life and history know that there are differences between militaries that don’t expect to go to war and militaries that do expect to go to war. Many times there are problems with “peacetime armies” that don’t show up until said armies actually get involved in the fighting. Problems that can be overlooked in peacetime become major in times of war.

      Fourth, IMO a person saying somebody else is “narrow-minded” often says more about the person talking. In other words, people who are closed to other people’s ideas often accuse the other people of “narrow-mindedness”.

      Fifth, I have rightly been accused of lacking tact. [Smile]

    • chrishanger December 3, 2014 at 7:44 pm #

      Narrow-minded … is such a narrow-minded term

      I’m not an expert in the current state of the German military (although, with Russia slowly building up the power to threaten Europe once again, it might be a good time for the Germans to start taking their military seriously once again.) Reports from Afghanistan, from what I recall, have been very much a mixed bag.

      However, Germany has not had to fight a serious war since 1945.

      Fraternisation between people of equal ranks may or may not be a problem. What IS a problem, and what has occurred in real life, is sex between different ranks being used to cause fractures in the military that result in major problems for morale and readiness. You’ll notice, in Hard Lessons, that Martin and Yolanda do have a relationship and no one has a problem with it. They’re NOT in the same unit.

      For example, if Midshipwoman Suzie is sleeping with Lieutenant Bob, did Suzie get that coveted promotion because she deserved it or because she was sleeping with her superior officer? Her former rivals for the post will be highly suspicious, even if Suzie happens to be as good as Honor Harrington. Suzie will find it harder to command respect from her new subordinates because they don’t know she earned her post. Even if this is completely unfair, they will not be inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt.

      This is barely scraping the surface of the number of problems it can cause. The military I devised prefers to avoid the problems altogether.

      You mention consenting adults. Problem is, said adults have committed themselves to the military and thus have an obligation to honour its rules. If you will excuse a cliché, soldiers give up their rights to preserve yours.


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