What’s wrong with showing a little skin or even having the guts to pose nude in Playboy? Well according to the United States Air Force if you are still on active duty it’s a definite no-no. 30 year old Michelle Manhart is, or rather was, a staff sergeant in the United States Air Force. Manhart is a wife and mother of 2 children. She enlisted into the Air Force in 1994, then spent some time in Kuwait in 2002, and up until recently was in charge of training other airmen at Lackland Air Force Base.
According to a statement from Oscar Balladares, spokesman from Lackland, “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.” Manhart saw the situation completely different than the Air Force. She stated she was only trying to stand up for her own rights. She told the Associated Press “Of what I did, nothing is wrong, so I didn’t anticipate anything. So I didn’t think it would be a major issue.”
So what exactly did Manhart do with Playboy that ended up getting her relieved of her duties as a Staff Sergeant in the US Air Force? She posed nude for the February issue of Playboy, which comes out this week, which is selected as the “special love issue”. They photographed her in various poses, most of them naked and one specifically in uniform. The picture that was taken of her in uniform showed Manhart holding weapons and yelling with the caption “Tough Love”. The various other pages of the spread showed her wearing her dog tags and working out, completely nude, as well as partially nude.
So how often does something like this happen? According to the US Military Newsletter on About.com, this was not the only incident of nudity in a magazine by a service member. Sherry Lynne White, a 2nd class Information Systems Technician in the United States Navy, posed nude for a September (1999) issue of Playboy, which was released July 31, 2000. The former command junior sailor was given a 6 page spread in Playboy that was titled “Naval Engagement. Join us in saluting a woman who’s making waves.” The pictures were taken at a resort in Hawaii and included White in uniform, along with various other military backdrops. By the time the issue hit newsstands in July, she had already been relieved of her duties in the Navy. She received an honorable discharge for misconduct on July 9th, only 4 months after she had posed nude for the magazine.
This is an example of only 2 cases of military discipline over posing nude whether while in uniform or not in uniform. In both cases, the women had made the choice to pose nude in Playboy of their own recognizance. Manhart stated she was only standing up for her rights. White on the other hand stated that one reason she took the opportunity was to pay off some bills and live for a few months. In the end, I wonder if they think it was all worth the consequences that soon followed. Who’s to say if what they did was right or wrong? With controversy such as the Abu Grabe scandal or the problems in Gitmo, I would like to think that a woman showing a little skin would be the least of the US military’s concerns.
-Fox News Website, http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,243178,00.html, Associated Press Article, “Air Force Staff Sergeant Relieved of Duties After Posing Nude in Playboy”, 2007 January 12.
-US Military News at About.com, http://usmilitary.about.com/library/newsletters/blmilmatters68.htm, Military Matter newsletter #68, 2000 August 08.