One of the inescapable facts of modern life in the military in general, and the Army & reserve forces in specific, is SHARP class. SHARP has been mentioned before, it is “Sexual Harassment And Rape Prevention” and it is an ongoing program within the military to reduce, and hopefully eliminate, sexual assault and rape. These have been huge problems in the past and they continue to be problems, but it really does seem to be that the military is making an earnest effort to eliminate the problem.
Of course, you have the opposite problem developing. I myself am a SHARP qualified instructor, and I have had to give a lot of briefing in the past– to the point where classes and awareness have become just another source of boring “white noise” for troops to endure. The detached expressions, the glazed eyes, the lack of interest… there can be too much of a good idea.
Now we have young Private Alvarez pondering how long this has been going on, since he came into the Army Reserve as SHARP is a high-profile, ongoing thing. He has never known an Army without a lot of SHARP classes. Of course, back in the 1970’s, there were no SHARP classes, and the problem that SHARP is trying to address was deeply rooted already. The notion at the time was “it’s a man’s world, and if women aren’t prepared to handle it, they shouldn’t join the military”. So, this is why we are here today, facing the problems that were ignored before.
On an aside, though, the 1970’s is seen through a particular lens, that weird mesh of hippie flower-power grooviness and the early seeds of the disco era that makes it visually distinctive and full of easy to identify stereotypes and tropes. I can’t resist applying some of the imagery to Rock’s and Alvarez’s imagined views of what the ’70’s Army must have been like, given what they know of pop culture from the time. Of course the real deal had to put up with Vietnam (definitely not fun) but I’ve got to admit I also have seen old unit pictures of my Reserve Combat Engineer battalion from the 1970’s and early ’80’s and… well, long hair and sideburns weren’t unknown, let’s just say.