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Apparently women in combat is still a huge controversy

January 22, 2011

We recently saw this clip and were astounded, among other things, at the arguments used against including women in combat roles:

Jim’s arguments, as he stated in this clip, boil down to two problems:

1. Men cannot separate their (debatable) psychological evolutionary urges from logic. In other words, if a woman is around, they cannot help but infantilize her and ensure that she’s safe from all harm. Even if she’s carrying a weapon and is much more adept at its use than he is.
2. Men cannot separate their biological evolutionary urge to spread their genes as far and wide as possible, and therefore are incapable of acting professionally when there’s a potential womb receptacle for their seed.

To be honest, I find this a very difficult set of objections to debate simply because I do not see evidence of this fact in the civilian world, much less in the military world. I also think it’s an unfair generalization to paint all men as Neanderthals when I’ve known guys who can very much forget that there is a vagina in range when there are other dangers, and the woman attached to the vagina is more than capable of taking care of herself. In addition to this, I tend to think our humanity means that we’ve evolved beyond the point of acting in strict accordance with our animal natures. One can argue for adherence to traditional gender roles and still acknowledge that our psychological and spiritual selves have the ability to override animal instinct. After all, do we not move in this world without urinating on our houses, holding physical contests to see who can out-muscle the CEO for his position as alpha guy, and indiscriminately killing someone who threatens our position, property, or mate? There might be urges, but our logical, higher-functioning minds bring on the kibosh.

Other objections I’ve heard elsewhere that sound as ridiculous are:

* Newt Gingrich telling a classroom full of college students that women can’t serve on the front lines because they get infections.
* They might be tortured, and they can’t handle that. So…who has the babies here? Who can do so without any drugs and be just fine?
* They might be raped. If you’re a woman, that’s an everyday fact. Rape happens to civilians and women serving in the military, even when they’re not in combat. To say that a combat situation makes a woman more susceptible to rape than when she’s walking in her grocery store parking lot at night is illogical. The world is dangerous, but in a combat situation, at least the guys around her know damned good and well she’s carrying.

One thing that angers me about the discussion is the double standards. Why aren’t we concerned about men who might be raped on the front lines? That happens. So maybe men shouldn’t serve in combat roles. Men might be tortured, too, and given how 75% of the men I know react to the everyday cold, I’m concerned about their ability to withstand that pain. Maybe they shouldn’t be in combat roles! Dudes get infections, too. I know this because I’ve seen Gold Bond Medicated Ointment commercials my whole life. Dudes get infections on their feet, scrotum, and gods know where else!

Another double standard: What if a woman is captured and beaten and shown on the teevee, and all of a suddenly everyone will be shocked and spazzed about OMG a woman was beaten! First, I think we spaz anytime we see someone, regardless of gender, who’s been captured by the enemy and treated so abominably. Second, why is a woman’s life or well-being so much more valuable than a man’s? That’s not okay.

A double standard that others bring up as a reason to discriminate: the physical standards for women are easier than they are for men. In general, they are. But they shouldn’t be, not if you’re expected to carry 65 pounds of body armor plus a rifle while performing strenuous activity. If they can do it according to the same standards as men, shouldn’t they be allowed? And if they can’t, then let them stay behind. Just as dudes who can’t meet the standards are left behind.

My arguments for a woman’s right to take a combat role boil down to one essential truth: some of them want to. If a potential service member doesn’t want to see combat, s/he shouldn’t sign up. If someone goes Navy, s/he should expect to spend time on a ship, and that ship might find itself engaged with the enemy. Ships are dangerous even when they’re not dealing with a combat environment. If someone goes Army, s/he should expect to spend time in a combat zone in general, and with the right rate, s/he might even expect to spend time in combat specifically. If none of this appeals, maybe they ought to think long and hard about what it means to be in the military. If they’re too scared or the job just seems unappealing, there’s no reason push their hesitations on those who are more than willing — and more than capable — to do the job.

Why should the rules change? Because they’re outdated, and they discriminate. Women are already serving in combat, but their job descriptions mean that service isn’t recognized. They’re punished within the military environment when they’ve been in more danger than some of their fellow soldiers, but those who never saw armed conflict get promotions women are denied anyway.

As for Jim’s argument that women would be a distraction, I have a hard time believing that those bulky camouflage uniforms and the armor that goes over them will reveal enough feminine cues to distract anyone but the worst kind of horn-dog. I suppose it could happen; but if someone’s willing to endanger their cohorts to sniff out a woman they can drag by the hair back to their man-cave, they shouldn’t be serving in the first place. They’re a danger in general if they can’t keep their minds on the task at hand.

There’s no call to infantilize women, to hold their physical beings in higher regard than a man’s, or to make broad assumptions about their abilities when there are quite a few exceptions to every generalization I’ve heard. To do any of these invalidates the arguments.

What do you think? And though I don’t think it needs to be said for our regular readers, let’s just make sure we’re on the same page: speak reasonably, no flames, no threats, as if we’re all adults. Thanks!

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Michelle permalink
    January 22, 2011 9:21 pm

    well said! I only disagree with peeing on our houses. apparently you’ve never sat around the backyard fire and watched as one after another another the guys go mark their territory. It’s like some sort of equation “fire+men=neanderthal” HAHA. Otherwise, you hit the nail.

    • snarkynavywife permalink*
      January 23, 2011 2:25 am

      Ha! No, I’ve never witnessed this, and now my estimation of humanity has dropped a bit. LOL

  2. Kitty English permalink
    January 23, 2011 5:39 am

    Well said! *round of applause*

  3. January 23, 2011 7:08 am

    exactly. and as I heard somewhere, there are women who are being requested for units that are in the combat arms classification. They are being sent to these units because of some skill they have, and they don’t get the concentrated training that they need to keep them safe! If you are a professional, in any way at all, you do your job! If a woman can pass the same PT standards, can get through the training using the same standards, and is as good as or better than the males in the unit, I still don’t get the problem!

    Hearts and minds? in the places our military is at the moment, a man cannot talk to a woman in these villages without the permission of the male head of household and then has to be accompanied by that man… so who is winning the hearts and minds of the women and young children? and even in those areas of the world, the woman of the house has influence, has her husband/son/father’s ear. Who can treat these women medically? a male medic? no.

    LAW

  4. January 23, 2011 9:41 am

    Like my husband and I have discussed, and he’s already seen, the battlefield is now asymmetric. Women already are fighting in combat even though they aren’t serving in combat arms units. Frankly, if they lifted the ban and allowed women to serve, say in the infantry, doesn’t mean there’s going to be a rush of women signing up. They’re still going to have to meet the same requirements as the men. I’d just be happy if they’d recognize women for what they’re already doing out there on the battlefield. If these lawmakers and pundits think we’re still fighting trench warfare where lines are clearly drawn, then we’ve got even bigger issues, and they need some serious education.

  5. kayla permalink
    May 31, 2011 11:15 am

    as a marine corps spouse i have come upon some very staunch protestors of this change including my husband and i can honestly say that 95% of them feel the same way as this guy. coming from a woman who would have joined the service if i would have been allowed to fight as an equal it really irks me. unfortaunately there are other concerns that have been voiced wether they be justified or not such as “it shouldnt be the military’s problem to fly in tampons while your out on a mission”. some of the arguements have merits however including the “neanderthal” excuse. i mean if a general contest of men to get the girl happens in everyday life then why wouldnt it happen in a combat enviorment? and yes there are more than enough military skanks out there to be worried that it is justified.

    • May 31, 2011 11:44 am

      The “skanks” who are serving in the military? That’s nice.

      The tampon excuse is easily avoidable. Birth control pills can prevent a period easily.

      The Neanderthal excuse is shameful. If a man can’t think with his brain instead of his penis on the battlefield, HE’S the one that shouldn’t be on the front lines, not the woman/women who want to be there.

      Lots of things “can” happen anywhere. Preventing a woman (or a gay man/lesbian/etc) from serving his or her country is discriminatory and downright dumb. Maybe our spouses wouldn’t be serving 3+ tours in Iraq or deploying during their so-called “shore” tours if we allowed the military to enter the 21st century.

      I do absolutely believe that the physical requirements should be the same for men & women, especially for combat. You have to be able to carry your own weight in the military and I think it does women a disservice to have a lower minimum standard.

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