Air Force sergeant fired for Playboy spread

Vanessa Valenti: She should've sexually harassed someone instead....
Guest post by Vanessa Valenti:

A U.S. Air Force sergeant has been relieved of her duties because she was featured in the latest edition of Playboy magazine.

Michelle Manhart modeled before entering the Air Force, in which she has been serving for the past 13 years. Now, after her recent six-page spread in the magazine, she is being investigated for her actions and will likely be discharged.

The spread includes her in camouflage uniform and holding weapons with the title, "Tough Love."

A wee cheesy? Maybe. But it is a reason to get discharged? In Manhart’s statements to AP, I like the way she keeps stressing the fact that she hasn't done anything wrong:
"Of what I did, nothing is wrong, so I didn't anticipate anything, of course…"
"I didn't do anything wrong, so I didn't think it would be a major issue."
Oscar Balladares, a spokesman for Lackland Air Force Base, made an official statement regarding their position:
"This staff sergeant's alleged action does not meet the high standards we expect of our airmen, nor does it comply with the Air Force's core values of integrity, service before self, and excellence in all we do. . . It is not representative of the many thousands of outstanding airmen who serve in the US Air Force today."
Um, I'll stay away from the fact that he can't even keep his language gender-neutral, but what exactly does this statement mean? Who gets to decide exactly what having integrity entails?

Posing for Playboy merits a possible discharge while recruiters found guilty of sexual misconduct (sexually assaulting enlistees) are merely reprimanded by a reduction in rank or forfeiture of pay. So according to the U.S. Air Force's "high standards" of integrity and excellence, a recruiter violating a woman's body has more integrity than a sergeant doing what she wishes with her own.

Maybe it's time to question who really is lacking integrity here.
Vanessa Valenti is an editor for Feministing.
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