“It’s a version of order, congratulating one’s tormentors.” There did seem a need for a kind of ritual humiliation, perhaps on the notion that it toughened a man up.

Drag shows: Afloat, some of the rituals are even more bizarre, like the Dionysian initiation rites, including simulated acts of sodomy, that sailors may undergo for their first equator crossing.

Hazing may be a way of repudiating the feminine side by a direct act of aggression.

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There is a more ingenuous transsexual tradition, almost as old as the military itself, of drag shows put on by GIs for the entertainment of GIs.

For some, the shows afford a creative outlet, for others perhaps something more.

“It is not surprising that they would seek out...pleasures they might not even have dared think of [back home].”There is, in fact, an undercurrent of homoerotic tension in the shared latrines, shower rooms and sleeping quarters of barracks life.

GIs get used to the loss of privacy soon enough, but not perhaps, to the enforced physical intimacy.

At the academy, Burke notes, male cadets often gussied up for the shows with undisguised zeal.

Freud said men are engaged in a constant struggle against what he called their “feminine or passive” side.The roommate of Seaman Allen Schindler, who was beaten to death by one of his shipmates in Sasebo, Japan [October 1992], said he himself endured “a living hell” of threats, taunts and physical abuse aboard the an amphibious assault ship.It’s not easy to figure out just what is going on in the sometimes erotic, often violent rituals young sailors and soldiers practice.“If I’m in the shower,” says Mike Tuttle, a specialist at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, “I like to know I’m not being ogled over by some guy.” It’s an unaccustomed worry for men.By imagining themselves objects of homosexual lust, they unwittingly place themselves in the feminine role—which may explain the vehemence of their objections.Yet their own off-base conduct may not be that different.