Are sexy candy-stripers a good idea at a Veteran's Hospital?
January 15, 2009 7:23 PM   Subscribe

We always hear that sex sells, right? Can sex give? Can we use our sexuality to help our veterans?

For months I have been trying to come up with a creative way to help our veterans, and I thought maybe it would be nice to get a group of good-looking girls together, put them in short candy-striper dresses, and have them read to vets, talk to them, play cards, etc. around our local Veteran's Hospital. Obviously I would have to clear this with the hospital staff, but are there any reasons we shouldn't do this? Would the vets like it? I would be included in the group, so I could oversee any "sick old man" issues, although we would obviously be putting ourselves in a position to be whistled at or flirted with.
posted by junipero to Grab Bag (59 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Very cool idea.
posted by mpls2 at 7:27 PM on January 15, 2009


Quite a few of them are women, you know.
posted by mudpuppie at 7:28 PM on January 15, 2009


Response by poster: Yes, I know many veterans are women...I could definitely try to recruit some guys for the cause as well.
posted by junipero at 7:30 PM on January 15, 2009


Best answer: The whole thing sounds like a cute idea in theory, but really uncomfortable in practice. Some veterans won't care one way or the other, some will find the whole getup vulgar, and the ones that really like it are probably going to say things that make it feel really weird.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:30 PM on January 15, 2009 [13 favorites]


I mean, I'm just thinking about my grandfather. Would he like something like that? Helllllll no.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:31 PM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think, I hope, I'm missing the point?

To answer your question as best I see fit, yeah, it seems kinda, well, insulting (to both volunteers and veterans) to imply that reading and talking and playing cards isn't enough that but volunteers also have to be conventionally attractive-looking and flirty on command.

What is it you're trying to achieve?
posted by springbound at 7:34 PM on January 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Best answer: Since you asked, the idea kind of grosses me out. I'm imagining how I'd feel if I were suddenly disabled and in a hospital and a bunch of hot guys came in to pretend to flirt with me out of pity... I wouldn't feel good. Maybe you and your hot friends should wear normal clothes and come up with a regular and less SEXY way to hang out and play cards with vets?
posted by moxiedoll at 7:35 PM on January 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


Since you asked, the idea kind of grosses me out. I'm imagining how I'd feel if I were suddenly disabled and in a hospital and a bunch of hot guys came in to pretend to flirt with me out of pity... I wouldn't feel good.

With fear of being pegged a complete sexist....I think this question is very gender- and -sexual orientation-based (ie. it's about straight guys)
posted by tristeza at 7:39 PM on January 15, 2009


With fear of being pegged a complete sexist....I think this question is very gender- and -sexual orientation-based (ie. it's about straight guys)
Well no, since not all veterans are straight guys, this is not a question about straight guys.
posted by peacheater at 7:40 PM on January 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I say Ick. It's like you're trying to combine the housecall of a bachelor party stripper with the services of a therapy dog.
posted by mudpuppie at 7:43 PM on January 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


Best answer: Sex does sell and what it makes from selling can buy. Have sexy gals and guys pose for a charity calendar and donate the proceeds to your local VA. The "models" can dress perfectly normally and come play cards, etc. The vets get perfectly polite company and a financial contribution.
posted by jefficator at 7:44 PM on January 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


Best answer: OK, let me rephrase - the OPs intent is to serve straight men at VA hospitals.

And to actually answer the question - I think this is kind of a cute idea and that a lot of the straight dudes will appreciate it and think it's fun.
posted by tristeza at 7:45 PM on January 15, 2009


Response by poster: I LOVE that peacheater is considering the fact that not all vets are straight men!

But in all seriousness, I think the overwhelming responses of disgust are a good indication that this is a bad idea...but I still don't think it is a bad idea...

It wouldn't be forced, and maybe I didn't present my idea clearly...I don't mean stripper-like pixies prancing around in low cut, lace trimmed dresses and fishnet hose, and I didn't mean to call my friends and myself "hot"...I just thought it may brighten some peoples day to have a friendly, pretty girl to talk to for a little while (and YES, I do mean straight men; and YES, I do realize not all vets are a) men or b) straight).
posted by junipero at 7:48 PM on January 15, 2009


What's wrong with just going in and volunteering dressed normally? I'm sure they would love the attention of attractive young things (male and female alike) full stop. Costumes? Not really necessary.
posted by minus zero at 7:51 PM on January 15, 2009


Best answer: It wouldn't be forced, and maybe I didn't present my idea clearly...I don't mean stripper-like pixies prancing around in low cut, lace trimmed dresses and fishnet hose, and I didn't mean to call my friends and myself "hot"...I just thought it may brighten some peoples day to have a friendly, pretty girl to talk to for a little while (and YES, I do mean straight men; and YES, I do realize not all vets are a) men or b) straight).

This idea is bizarrely 1950s, but then, so is hooters.

I think that just one major concern is that this is like inviting volunteers to be sexually harassed. You say you're okay with this, but would everyone be? And are you sure you'd be cool with it, when it was actually happening? This also might make the veterans who weren't into it--whether they were straight dudes or not--uncomfortable. Are you willing to risk that?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:53 PM on January 15, 2009


Response by poster: PhoBWanKenobi -- really good points...certainly to be taken into consideration.
posted by junipero at 7:55 PM on January 15, 2009


I'd also like to flag potential discomfort to the nurses who remained after the event. Might they afterwards cop unwelcome comments from some of the guys comparing them and their services to those offered by the visiting sexpots as a result of this sort of redefinition of the way in which people can/should help lend a hand (...leg... bum...)?
posted by springbound at 7:59 PM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


A lot of those "straight men" are married, you know.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:00 PM on January 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


Best answer: I'm convinced it's well intentioned but it still makes me think of that desperate scene from Apocalypse Now.
posted by ezekieldas at 8:03 PM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: Okay, so I suppose we'll focus all attention on UNmarried, straight men, because of course if anything were to go awry, it would be the fault of the slutty sexpot coaxing innocent men into cheating on their wives.

AGAIN, I did not mean to imply sexpot, stripper, hooker, or any other kind of raunchy or vulgar get-up. I guess by "short" candy striper dress i meant not to mid-calf as is usually seen. And what if I threw out the costume idea...is it okay if young girls go into a hospital in "normal" clothes and just talk to people?
posted by junipero at 8:06 PM on January 15, 2009


It wouldn't be forced, and maybe I didn't present my idea clearly...I don't mean stripper-like pixies prancing around in low cut, lace trimmed dresses and fishnet hose, and I didn't mean to call my friends and myself "hot"...I just thought it may brighten some peoples day to have a friendly, pretty girl to talk to for a little while (and YES, I do mean straight men; and YES, I do realize not all vets are a) men or b) straight).

Well, your title is "Are sexy candy-stripers a good idea at a Veteran's Hospital?" and your first statement is "We always hear that sex sells, right? Can sex give? Can we use our sexuality to help our veterans?" . . . so that's a pretty distinct difference from having a "friendly, pretty girl to talk to for a little while."

The vets that really need extra attention simply aren't going to care about your candy-stripe outfits and good looks. They just need company, and having someone to chat to or having someone read to them would be a fine gift no matter what the wrapping. So why cheapen it?
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 8:07 PM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: And before it is brought up, by "young" I mean mid-twenties...
posted by junipero at 8:08 PM on January 15, 2009


Response by poster: Dee Xtrovert...perhaps you are correct, but in my opinion "sexy" doesn't have to be quite so overstated.
posted by junipero at 8:09 PM on January 15, 2009


Maybe you should visit a VA hospital to find out what the people there would actually like before showing up in a sexy candy-striper outfit.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:12 PM on January 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Many of the "young" straight men will be there with psych problems, head injuries, paralysis, lost limbs; many have their families/SPOUSES there every day. The local VA hospital may not even have any "young" veterans, as the ones with chronic problems are mostly being put in specialized centers for their problems, and the ones with acute problems usually aren't admitted since they're mostly young and healthy or are back in active duty.
posted by gramcracker at 8:17 PM on January 15, 2009


Best answer: This site and the associated project have been making the news lately, sort of the same idea.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:18 PM on January 15, 2009


Also: there are plenty of lonely, isolated, depressed older veterans admitted with pneumonia, COPD, heart failure, etc, who would LOVE someone to talk to.
posted by gramcracker at 8:18 PM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: I have visited a VA hospital, and on several occasions to visit my grandfather. He would have loved this idea, but then again he was one of the sick old men...

I think I'll limit myself to making monetary donations instead.
posted by junipero at 8:19 PM on January 15, 2009


Response by poster: ikkyu2 -- thank you!!! this site is great! i tried to mark you as best but it won't do it for some reason.
posted by junipero at 8:22 PM on January 15, 2009


Best answer: I can see both sides of this. The idea does seem a little retro, and not to everyone's taste. And kind of like chocolate pickle, I (N.B: preceding does not mean "I kind of like chocolate pickle") think this is a little different stateside and in range of wives. Plus you would need to make sure that the whole thing was tasteful and not lewd, for some of the reasons mentioned.

But goodness, I strongly disagree with the suggestion that this should be eschewed simply because it better matches the sexual preferences of some. The unattractive answer is that this is how entertainment is already tilted, and especially so in the military -- see how balanced your average USO show is (I strongly suspect that they remain skewed toward high testosterone stuff like sports heroes, cheerleaders, and starlets).

The better answer is that it isn't the responsibility of every volunteer to ensure a balanced menu. I can play the uke, but I would be the last to champion a daily dose for the troops or a nursing home; supposing a Spanish-language entertainer were available, he or she should be invited even if a majority wouldn't get it. All you can ask is that the hosts be open to complementing the program somehow. I read somewhere that the Israeli troops received a visit from some gay porn star, so . . . .
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 8:22 PM on January 15, 2009


Also, I think it's a good idea. The outfits will be appreciated by mildly lecherous straight male veterans - of any age - and by gay male veterans with a sense of camp.

But I think the outfits have another function, they are sort of a uniform for the young women who are coming, to sort of set them apart and to point out that they are people who are coming into the hospital with good will and the intention to provide a little bit of friendly company for the vets who are stuck there. They are useful for not only the others in the hospital, but for the women themselves, to bolster their own confidence in their role as candy-stripers.

What is and is not an appropriate outfit is debated here but is probably self evident to any adult who did not grow up under a rock, in other words anywhere but MetaFilter it would not require debate.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:34 PM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd check with the psychology professionals and social workers who work day in and day out with veterans.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:38 PM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ya know, I think I have to revise my previous answer - as I read the answers here, I realized that I have this weird image of a VA hospital as full of 60 year old white guys......how different an actual hospital must be. I agree with the majority - prolly not the best idea.
posted by tristeza at 8:50 PM on January 15, 2009


Are you going to have, like, an age limit and weight limit and such? Requirements for what is sexay? Because based on the language you're using, you sound like a recruiter for Hooter's. And are you going to give them some training on how to deal with the grabby ones?

A friend of mine works at a VA and she has enough squicky interactions with patients as it is, so I can only imagine what fun it would be if such behavior was openly encouraged.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 8:58 PM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think I'll limit myself to making monetary donations instead.

Um... what? are you saying that if you can't go visit vets at the VA and dress in a skimpy outfit when you do it, you won't do it at all? Forgive me if I'm misunderstanding, but that's just dripping with "I'm really doing this for my own amusement, not to help someone else". I hope that's not your intentions. The whole original idea seems demeaning to both them AND you.

What's wrong with going to the VA in jeans and a sweatshirt and playing cards or just talking to some of the vets there? Both men AND women? If I was a vet... not that a donation wouldn't be appreciated, but personal time with someone would mean SO much more.

If you really feel you have to dress sexy to make a difference, take jefficator's advice and produce a pinup calendar; sell for donations. Then put your clothes back on, and go to the VA with the donations and a small supply of calendars that you can offer to the residents while you introduce yourself and ask them about their day, ask them to share some stories, play some cards, and thank them for their service.
posted by SquidLips at 9:01 PM on January 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


Well, I tend to think that girls can be totally sexy in their normal clothes and don't have to slut it up to make a man feel good and make a difference in his morale. But that's me.

Having grown up in San Diego, I'm familiar with the mindset of military men. It's admirable that you want to actively help... many of these wounded vets are in a very lost place and are scared to death. They used to think they were invincible, and they had their youth and innocence taken away very quickly and now that they aren't active soldiers they're going through severe identity crises. Especially if they're seriously injured. If they're in the veterans hospital, I can guarantee you they're going through serious emotional distress, are very very lonely and yeah, seriously horny too.

Although I do think there are single soldiers who would dig this (good luck avoiding any serious sexual harassment though). I'm thinking about the reactions of jealous wives and girlfriends who find out that the hospital provides them with their own hospital Hooters girls. Let's just say a lot of military marriages aren't very stable. (And neither are a lot of seriously wounded people.)

Also keep in mind many of our soldiers are insanely young, barely old enough to vote, and felt enlisting was the only way they could travel outside of their small home towns or afford an education. Not to make a blanket statement, but just speaking from my experiences I met a lot of soldiers who had little real experience with women prior to joining the service. I'm just saying this because while your motive might be harmless fun "spirit lifting," if some of the men are in a particularly bad or lonely place, they might take your acts of kindness a bit more seriously than you realize.

For whatever it's worth. Just my thoughts. Take 'em or leave 'em.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:04 PM on January 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


Just to expand on my first sentence... I think a warm smile can go a long way in a hospital. And is more appropriate than boobies.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:05 PM on January 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


One of the irksome elements of this proposed scenario is its ever-narrowing focus upon service recipient characteristics.

You wish to offer services to straight, young, unmarried male veterans.

This population sounds more like a prospective dating pool than an audience.

How would you present this to the hospital staff? "Please bring all the straight, young, unmarried male vets into the television room so we may entertain them?" Or "please give us the room numbers of the straight, young, unmarried male vets?"

There are countless ways you can entertain diverse populations of vets, where all could enjoy and appreciate your efforts. Altruism is very sexy.
posted by terranova at 9:16 PM on January 15, 2009


Having spent some time recently at a VA hospital, visiting my Vietnam vet father, who was hospitalized there, I have to say I'm uncomfortable with the idea. I know my dad was out of his mind, either in pain or on morphine and acting accordingly. He was really rude to a female volunteer who tried to chat with him. I cringe to think of the abuse he would have dished out to a young woman dressed like a tart. You'd have to have pretty thick skin to be able to pull off this project. There are a lot of wives, moms and daughters hanging out at the VA hospital who I'm thinking would not be excited to see a pin-up candystripper playing cards with their fellas. How would you figure out who the single, straight patients were?

I do think volunteering at a VA hospital is a great idea. Why not do this idea, but skip the candy-stripper get-ups? I think friendly, cute female volunteers in blue jeans and t-shirts would be less threatening. You'd have the advantage of being able to visit patients of all genders and orientations without potentially making anyone uncomfortable.
posted by pluckysparrow at 9:19 PM on January 15, 2009


Oh, boy. I have worked in a VA hospital, and let me tell you that you would be diving into a place that might be a little more, um, complicated than you might be anticipating. The VA population includes a huge number of people with a) psychiatric problems; b) traumatic brain injury; c) dementia; or d) (and I'm saying this as delicately as I can) less than progressive ideas about women. This all adds up to an atmosphere in which sexual harassment of women is not a rare occurrence. I would be very hesitant to create a situation in which your volunteers would be (implicitly or explicitly) encouraging any kind of pseudo-sexual or pseudo-romantic interactions.

This is not to say that the VA is not a great place to volunteer; some of my very favorite patients ever have been at the VA, and the majority of the patients are at the very least good guys (and they are overwhelmingly guys).
posted by LittleMissCranky at 10:31 PM on January 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


I can solve this question. Have your friends visit the VA hospital in normal clothes and do volunteer things with all the vets and, if they end up doing volunteer things with hawt straight young unmarried men or lovable old grandfatherly straight men they can feel free to flirt in an appropriate fashion.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:31 PM on January 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


My grandfather would have loved this, but I have to agree that the whole thing seems a bit misguided in a Jenna Maroney sort of way.
posted by rokusan at 10:41 PM on January 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


Dressing up in costumes and adopting a forced cheer is questionable enough when you're talking about entertaining sick toddlers, much less severely traumatized adults.

My father goes to a VA hospital for monthly hormone injections to control a pituitary tumor. Chances are, he'd find the whole experience patronizing and infantilizing. (Not to mention embarrassing and infuriating).

Volunteer if you want, but for heaven's sake leave the phony schtick at home.
posted by aquafortis at 11:00 PM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I read the question, I imagined that you were opening a sexual surrogate service for shell-shocked Iraq vets just returning stateside. You know, they roll off the plane, get scooped up by your drivers, go back to the joint, and have a little fuck and talk with somebody beautiful to remind them that not all of life is war. It's surprising how much that can improve your outlook.

I thought this sounded like a great idea, and I was going commend your bravery and compassion, and suggest talking to a therapist about how to get into the sexual surrogate gig and set up the whole thing.

And then I read the [more inside].

This is a terrible idea. While spending time with the old folks would definitely be appreciated, I just don't see how it improves anybody's day to be reminded of what you can't have by explicitly flaunting it in their face. Yes, I know old folks have sex... but, they won't be having it with you, and that's cruel.

And if you're not explicitly flaunting unattainable sex in their face, then this isn't really about sexuality. Just go hang out with them.

(But then, I don't understand strip clubs. Maybe seeing pretty girls they definitely can't have does improve some people's day.)
posted by Netzapper at 11:12 PM on January 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


It's hard to imagine a more ironic insult to a gay soldier who was forced to serve our country in silence for his entire career, under constant threat of discovery (meaning dishonorable discharge and/or court martial and/or physical violence), and who may very well still be closeted, than a sexygram he's supposed to appreciate when he's just trying to recover in a hospital. Laughing off that reality speaks to broader issues here, not just in terms of implementation (as people above have brought up) but in terms of concept/attitude...
posted by kalapierson at 2:04 AM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Silly me, I always thought "sex sells" was viewed as a negative by many people. The Jenna Moroney comment was dead on.
posted by gjc at 4:20 AM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I feel compelled to point out that of the 46 comments above, none begin with "Having served myself..." While there's much to be said about this I think what's most immediate is that you're dealing with a very specific and isolated demographic. Having served myself I suggest you inquire within this group and be very thorough about it. Talk to both brass and stripes, talk to grunts and quartermasters, talk to volunteer social workers, talk to trauma surgeons. Get a really good feel for what's appropriate from within. Generally civilians have little clue. Do a bit of "plainclothes" volunteer work before "unveiling" your idea. I think what will ultimately prevail here is another case of principle before personality. And lastly, considering some of the stiff comments you've received, I think you know this touches on some deep controversy and that you'll have to be a fearless trooper to carry this on. Best of luck and thank you for recognizing these people.
posted by ezekieldas at 5:18 AM on January 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


For months I have been trying to come up with a creative way to help our veterans

Let the sexy idea go and decide if you really want to help or just titillate people who are recovering from war. All these months thinking of an idea have been wasted, if you're going to help, then dammit, show up and be ready to volunteer for what's needed, not what you think they need that you might find enjoyable.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:09 AM on January 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Using sexuality that explicitly is exploitative of all parties, and comes off as creepy. Providing services on the basis of gender and/or sexual orientation is discirminatory. And I agree that there are a lot of ways to be sexy beyond the "hot chick/hooker" stereotype.

But your intent is so great. Recruit volunteers to spend time with disabled or old/lonely veterans. Encourage volunteers to dress well, and behave professionally, as that shows respect and shows the veteran you value them. If that gives somebody a fresh target for fantasy, nothing wrong with that.
posted by theora55 at 6:50 AM on January 16, 2009


Having been to a VA hospital to visit a friend, I'd say that nice-looking young women dropping by regularly would'a been HELL YA appreciated. But your post comes off as having a teeny whiff of exhibitionism, like you want to sweep in and turn heads more than put in some solid volunteer time.

Intentionally-sexy-dressin' is totally unnecessary. What, like it's a chore to use a bit of imagination when it comes to pretty girls? Dressing normally, even modestly, means that the old guys can admire you without judging you for looking like a strumpet, and it will mitigate any confusion or resentment from the younger guys or their wives.
posted by desuetude at 6:56 AM on January 16, 2009


We always hear that sex sells, right? Can sex give?
Good question, and it would be interesting to hear (from you and other posters) of other ways to do this.

Your suggestion is a good one, but (and of course there is a but) unless the volunteers are engaging in actions of a personal nature with the veterans, what they are offering is someone else's sexuality. The process of deciding exactly where to draw the line dividing acceptable/unacceptable actions would be terribly difficut, and open to misinterpretation (deliberate or not).

FWIW I'm recalling experiences of friends volunteering as candy stripers at the hospital who experienced unwanted advances from patients although their role was crystal clear and not of a sexual nature. If they were exposed to groping, patients masturbating under their clothing, or crude comments, what would happen to volunteers in the sort of program you're suggesting?

Glad you put the question up though, I've had thoughts along the same lines myself.
posted by variella at 6:58 AM on January 16, 2009


Before even getting into whether or not this is a good idea, would be appreciated by the vets, or be tolerable by the volunteers, I'm going to mention that your first concern should be whether this would even fly in a publicly funded hospital with clearly set protocols for volunteer roles.

If you think it's worth a go, I urge you to call whoever the volunteer coordinator is at the nearest VA hospitals to you, make an appointment, and come in with a prospectus to talk about your idea. It might even help to have a photo of what costume you think they should be wearing.

I say this in full confidence that they're going to tell you 'no thanks.' Like all publicly funded organizations, the VA is operating within a structure bounded by many separate bodies of federal law, from workplace discrimination and safety law to what kinds of services can be supported by public dollars. Have you looked through the material the VA has online about voluntary service? That will help you begin to get a grasp of the extent and specificity of the bureaucracy that you're looking to work within.

Personally, I think it's a lousy idea for all the reasons mentioned above. A lot of people in veterans hospitals are at a physical and mental point where their libido is not the first thing on their mind. Sexual power can be exciting for young people to offer and receive, but the hospital isn't the time or place to explore it, and many of the issues you'd encounter there go a lot deeper. The presence of titillating costumes might be as painful as you imagine it being therapeutic - one of the deepest fears of returning vets with injuries that will last a lifetime is that they've lost their attractiveness and vitality. You might make some vets enjoy the moment while you're performing for them, but you're going to leave, the lights are going to go out, and the vets are going to be wondering whether anyone who's not performing an act of charity will ever act that way with them again. Not really fun or therapeutic at that point.

There have been two good ideas that satisfy both your wishes: your wish to present yourself in a sexually stimulating way and your wish to assist veterans. The first is to do that calendar that was mentioned above, or perhaps put together some kind of burlesque show or lingerie-show fundraiser event, and donate the proceeds to the VA. Then you and your friends can go sign calendars or something, dressed in plain clothes, if the volunteer policy allows that. The other is to just volunteer in the existing program. If your true desire is to make the veterans feel better, that is the already-established and most efficient channel for you to do that. Certainly get your friends in on it.

But I'd stay away from the sexually-provocative idea. It and would definitely make some fairly large portion of people - veterans yes, but also staff, family members, and other volunteers - uncomfortable.
posted by Miko at 7:14 AM on January 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


But I think the outfits have another function, they are sort of a uniform for the young women who are coming, to sort of set them apart and to point out that they are people who are coming into the hospital with good will and the intention to provide a little bit of friendly company for the vets who are stuck there.

The required volunteer nametag serves this purpose.
posted by Miko at 7:19 AM on January 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


junipero, it's a cute idea but it will be awkward for a very simple reason: to most people their sexuality is a private matter. you'd be embarrassed to talk with your parents about it and there is a chance that especially elderly or more conservative people here would feel similarly about letting their guards down and acknowledging they appreciate this among their peers, friends and people they live with on a daily basis. there is a difference between going to see a stripper* at a club and inviting one to perform at your family reunion.

showing appreciation might work better by choosing something that is generally accepted among this group as good/pleasurable/nice. you could sing. coincidentally this is how the 'safe' tv shows come about that we all love to loathe. they just took the unobjectionable thought too far.

*I know this is different. sorry, I'm just trying to illustrate the point and couldn't think of a better example.
posted by krautland at 8:10 AM on January 16, 2009


Just another voice in the choir to say that the sexy dressing is completely unnecessary.

I volunteered at a veteran's hospital for a few months when I was in Americorps. My team had a wide swath of responsibilities, but I lucked into doing exactly what you are suggesting - just hanging out with the veterans.

I played cards with some Vets, watched their favorite TV shows with them. One veteran really liked to walk down to the golf course and pick up golf balls that players had lost - it reminded him of his youth, and it also helped me sneak in his daily exercise without him realizing it.

I was dressed in baggy jeans and my Americorps T-Shirt every day and still had numerous offers of marriage from my geriatric friends. You cannot overestimate the power of just sitting with people and letting them tell you their stories.

I really treasure that time I spent with the veterans and I hope the few that are still alive (they were quite old and this was over ten years ago...) remember me with some fondness.

I really hope you follow through on your plans, minus the sex kitten aspect.
posted by Julnyes at 10:47 AM on January 16, 2009


From reading the OP and some of the follow-ups... I feel like you don't want to understand that other people might feel different about sexuality than you do.

Try to remember that public displays of sexuality make plenty of people, even some old straight men, uncomfortable. There's a reason why every restaurant isn't Hooters, offices have dress codes, or why cities have zoning laws specifically for strip clubs and the like. We keep the flirty sexual places where people can go seek them out if they want that sort of thing; we don't bring them into places people have no choice of being, like hospitals. When I go to a hospital, I have a reasonable expectation that I won't be submitted to overt displays of sexuality, and I would be offended if that were broken just because someone decided it would be fun or cute or helpful, especially after being warned that others would not feel that way. If you can't accept that on any sort of empathetic level, at least try to take people at their word on an intellectual level when they tell you that.

And like others have noted, some of the men are going to be married. While some married people like that sort of things, others find it distasteful or upsetting, or insulting, and even more of them will worry what their wives will think. On top of that, you're going to have at least some upset wives whether they worry about it or not. Some of the guys enjoying it doesn't outweigh that. Risking trouble like that, when you can avoid just by volunteering normally, is the part that makes me feel like this is more about you than the vets. If you really want to make sure the vets are happy, you won't do something that will alienate some of them or cause them trouble, right?

In other words, to just go into a hospital and subject everyone to your sexuality, whether they want to be subjected to it or not, is not a nice thing to do.
posted by Nattie at 1:03 PM on January 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


I work in a VA hospital. I am not even a VA employee (my lab uses the facilities). I can tell you a number of reasons why this is a terrible idea:

1) you won't get in the door. seriously, volunteers can't just decide to do something like this. they get background checks and badges. even visitors check in with the onsite police and patient wards are controlled areas.

2) many of the men here are older, and chronically ill. most of them are not freshly back from Iraq, and while many would love to talk to anyone, this is not quite the way to go about it because it doesn't best match the needs of your intended vets.

3) I have been sexually harassed (in a non-serious way) by patients before.

4) as many above have pointed out, vets often get visits from their family who wouldn't appreciate even non-sexed up pretty young things talking to their older male relatives.
posted by slow graffiti at 4:22 PM on January 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's not a bad idea because some people might be creeped out by it or the other reasons listed here. It's a bad idea because it just isn't right. Sex shouldn't be *used*.
posted by gjc at 7:39 PM on January 16, 2009


It's a bad idea because it just isn't right. Sex shouldn't be *used*.

Yes, one should definitely never, ever use sex to make a person feel good or beautiful. Or to make them feel loved. Or to strengthen or reaffirm a relationship. Or to produce a child. Or because you're both bored and snowed in. Or to make yourself experience pleasure

I do agree that the bait-and-switch, "I'm a pretty girl, watch me prance, but don't touch" can result in all sorts of angst. But, only because of the bait and switch.

How puritanical.
posted by Netzapper at 7:51 PM on January 16, 2009


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