Sexuality can be weaponised.
Spies exploit sex to gather military intelligence. Sexualised imagery can be a persuasive recruitment tool or used to undermine an enemy’s morale.
Servicewomen and LGBTQI+ personnel have often been victimised and excluded from military power structures.
Keep mum, she’s not so dumb! CARELESS TALK COSTS LIVES, 1942
by Harold ‘Hal’ Foster (1892 – 1982)ON LOAN COURTESY OF THE AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL ARTV00807
The disarming power of sex has made it a powerful weapon of espionage since Samson and Delilah. Female agents using ‘honey trap’ techniques to beguile and compromise their targets are known as ‘sparrows’. The male equivalent is a ‘Romeo’.
Former Australian Defence Force Chief Admiral Alan Beaumont (1993–95) retired to his hotel room one night during an unofficial trip to Indonesia at the height over tensions over Timor. A young woman was waiting for him in bed. Beaumont asked her to leave. A young man was waiting for him the following night. ‘They [Indonesian intelligence] wanted to find out which way I'd go if I'd go at all.’ Beaumont ‘went’ with his country and sent the youth on his way.
Hey! You diggers! He came, he saw, he conquered! c 1942
collected by Leading Aircraftman Leo Clarence Hudson, 1 Communications Unit, Royal Australian Air ForceSHRINE OF REMEMBRANCE COLLECTION
‘Darling, I will dream that you are coming back to me this Christmas’ 1953, thumbnail, ‘Darling, I will dream that you are coming back to me this Christmas’, 1953
Communist propaganda leaflet distributed in no-man’s land on the Korean frontier, collected by Warrant-Officer Leslie Moore MBE, 2nd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (2RAR)SHRINE OF REMEMBRANCE COLLECTION
Where were you there then?, 1916
by Harry J Weston (1874–1938)ON LOAN COURTESY OF THE AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL ARTV00818
Armed forces have always exploited contemporary notions of masculinity and femininity to enlist troops. This First World War (1914–18) poster insinuates women will only marry heroic returned soldiers.
The Victorian Premier, Alexander Peacock, asked the townspeople of Koroit in 1916 ‘…what man would not risk his life if his wife or sister’ [was] subjected to the kind of treatment the Germans had meted out to the women of Belgium[?]‘
Reviewed 11 February 2022