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Norway’s military cut down on sexual harassment in the most remarkable way

It’s so crazy, it just might work.

That’s how I imagine the conversation ended when the Norwegian military decided to go ahead with its radical new approach to curbing sexual harassment within its ranks.

What’s so crazy? Well, rather than separating men and women, as one might expect in such a situation, the Norwegian military has put them even closer together. Like, in the same room.

Unisex dorms are the Norwegian military’s answer to the problem of sexual harassment.

At the military base in northern Norway where they are trying out this new approach, two female soldiers live with four male soldiers in the same room.

And female soldiers say it’s already working, according to The Local, an English-language Norwegian news source.

Rather than highlight gender differences, sharing a room seems to make them less of an issue. A case of humanizing the “other,” if you will.

“You have to be a team here, and then you have to live together in order to be able to trust in one another,” one female soldier told The Local. She called unisex dorms a “damn good idea.”

Women say the shared rooms help them feel like “one of the boys,” wrote Ulla-Britt Lilleaas in her report, “The Army: the vanguard, rear guard and battlefield of equality.”

They enter a “common mode where gender stereotypes had disappeared, or at least they were less obvious,” Lilleaas wrote.

Now, just because the solution works for Norway doesn’t mean it will apply to other countries (the Norwegian military is unique in more ways than one), but it certainly is food for thought.

The U.S. Department of Defense estimates there are about 19,000 sexual assaults in the military per year. Sounds like a problem that needs a radical solution.

Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 03/27/2014 - 01:54 pm.

    The problem

    with this arrangement happening in the U.S. military would never be between the men and women themselves. It’s that it would be a tough sell to the military husbands and wives. There’s no way they would stand for their partner being close quarter billeted with members of the opposite sex. I’ve seen the reaction to the suggestion of such a thing being the cause of a minor riot.

    For this reason and others, if I had my way, I would limit service in the armed forces to unmarried, childless people. If you want to get married or if you get pregnant, you get discharged. Period. Think of all the money we’d save that is currently being spent on military dependent-related costs (housing, medical care, commissaries, etc.).

    • Submitted by Lance Groth on 03/27/2014 - 06:08 pm.

      No Marrieds?

      Wouldn’t this rather limit the pool of career officers? Most people want to have a family life at some point. You might be able to make some kind of case for this for enlisteds who just want to do 4 years and out, but what about those who want to make a career out of it & ascend the ranks? I wonder how many senior officers are single – probably not many. My uncle, for example, enlisted in WW II and retired as an Air Force colonel in the 70’s. He wouldn’t have stayed if he couldn’t have a family.

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