This is kind of a big deal:
The U.S. military is ending its policy of excluding women from combat and will open combat jobs and direct combat units to female troops, CNN has learned. Multiple officials confirm to CNN that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will make the announcement tomorrow and notify Congress of the planned change in policy.
“We will eliminate the policy of ‘no women in units that are tasked with direct combat,’” a senior defense official says.
But the officials caution that “not every position will open all at once on Thursday.” Once the policy is changed, the Department of Defense will enter what is being called an “assessment phase,” in which each branch of service will examine all of its jobs and units not currently integrated and then produce a timetable in which it can integrate them.
The squeals of outrage from keyboard commandos should be a delight.
Another Halocene Human
I love my president.
Wow. That is a big frilly deal! You guys may catch up yet (for good and ill: we lose women in combat, too.)
If you want a feel for what a mixed combat unit could sound like, there’s Afghanda.
One more example of how women are turning men into girls.
At least now the slam “Yeah, but yo momma wears combat boots!” may have some factual accuracy.
At this point only men have to register with Selective Service at age 18, right? Will that change?
more firecrackers. poppoppoppoppoppoppoppoppoppoppoppoppoppoppoppoppoppoppoppoppoppoppoppoppoppoppoppoppoppop (small minds no go big bang)
But, but, but…women in foxholes! Unsanitary conditions! Horny GI’s unable to control their urges! Bargle Fargleblurp!
I predict the diatribes will include something about “crying in foxholes”; “infections”; and “distracting to the men”.
@kindness: GIRAFFE HUNTING!
@kindness: DAMN YOU.
I wonder if it was getting too functionally problematic to continue. I assume certain were designated combat and other weren’t but that some of those that weren’t (on paper) were in fact closer to combat than some of those jobs that were considered combat.
Speaking of the movie starring Demi Moore, I know it was god awful, but anyone else secretly find it amusing when she told her commanding officer to “suck my dick”?
Pass the popcorn, please.
For those who have no idea of what GIRAFFE HUNTING means: take it away, Newt!
Link includes the full quiz that got John Scalzi started.
This is great! With all those new combat forces, just think of all the new wars we can get into!
I sure hope women who go into combat can throw grenades better than I could.
Was in the first female unit to be tested with grenades and, for me, “total failure” would have been too complimentary. There were a few women in my outfit who could throw, but most were not much better than I. Maybe modern women have better upper body strength and coordination.
I'm going to hell for this
“As of press time, a large portion of Tammy Duckworth was unavailable for comment.”
I would think women at 18 would have to sign up.
But the bitches go crazy once a month. How can you run a military that way? Two sets of latrines. Lack upper body strength. Oh yeah, when women fight, they are vicious and mean.
Another Halocene Human
@ET: In some cases, yes. The rules were basically blocking a lot of career military women from advancement, de facto.
Another Halocene Human
@Svensker: Historically, wasn’t it claimed that women were more likely to hit their targets because male soldiers miss on purpose?
I think Albania had female sharpshooting units at one time.
Those “Generals” of the 101st Chairborne Brigade are gonna go super crazy!
T’will make the upcoming hearings all the more interesting. I do wonder if the West Wing is plotting to push McCain to pop a cerebral hemorrhage.
Great. You know their periods attract bears, right?
Another Halocene Human
On the other hand, men are basically little piglets, you drop them in the ditch, they roll around in it, doesn’t matter, you know.
Chicken hawk has never heard of “jock itch”.
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
Yeah, just wait until black women prove they can handle a gun better than white men.
@Another Halocene Human:
I was an excellent marksman. Just couldn’t throw a grenade to save my life (literally). Nor could I lift a bazooka. I tried. Couldn’t.
You know, I always wondered about Demi Moore and that line. Was there something, well, physically different about her character?
Another thing: It’s been a lot of years since I was on the plane showing that movie, but I remember that her character wasn’t US Army and therefore not a GI. An IMDB check says the character is a US Navy Lieutenant.
I’m not happy about this at all, because I have a daughter.
@El Caganer: Good point. Looking at the larger question, with special attention to our recent history, with regard to combat maybe we should devote more time and effort considering “why” rather than “who.” Should we ever get the former correct, the latter becomes a moot point.
Wondering what Hagel’s stance on this might be?
But the selective service law wasn’t put in place by the Pentagon. It will have to pass congress, and that ain’t gonna happen for a while, unless the wingnuts think of it as a way to punish women for voting wrong and getting uppity.
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
@taylormattd: One of the funniest interviews I saw had Kat Dennings talking about Chris Hemsworth and how he had built himself up for the role of Thor. She took the microphone, placed it between her legs and raised it as if she getting an erectshun (no idea if the original word will set of the filter).
When I was in the army 20 years or so ago, the biggest problem I saw with mixed units is that NCOs would allow some women to not pull their weight. I occasionally saw sergeants doing manual labor while female privates sat and watched. This was not the fault of the female soldiers; it was a failure of leadership.
He can mouth the words, then subsequently either impede or assist the implementation in a gazillion ways.
I suspect so. I mean, it’s always been like that to some degree. My grandmother was a nurse in WWII. She was wounded when the troop ship she was on took fire as they were evacuating some wounded. She’s the one who earned the medal, rather than her husband who spent 3 years island hopping in the Pacific and managed to not sustain anything more than minor injuries, other than a terminal case of PTSD.
In Iraq, many of the women serving were part of logistics units, so while they weren’t on the front lines slinging a rifle, they were driving fuel tankers over IED and RPG infested roads to the front lines. I think if given the choice between driving one of those tankers and carrying a rifle, a lot of people would have considered the rifleman job the safer one.
As combat has evolved, the concept of a forward line providing reasonable protection for everyone in the rear has really been undermined. If insurgency and terrorism is the new normal, then everyone becomes a front line troop to a large degree.
But its interesting that Obama is going with this without consulting Congress. I guess they’ve altogether worn our their usefulness.
Hegel would say, “The Thesis is the Male-Only combat units. The Antithesis is putting women …”
You said Hagel.
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
@cathyx: I have three boys. Welcome to my world.
@cathyx: So you would prefer that, if your daughter were to chose to join the military, her career options would be limited?
@Belafon (formerly anonevent): Does misery love company?
rut roh, many many conservative pee-pees just went forever limp. The whines will be deafening.
@Omnes Omnibus: I prefer that if there were a draft, I don’t have to worry that my daughter’s number comes up.
Will foxholes have tampon dispensers?
Here’s hoping that military continues to make in-roads on addressing rape and sexual harassment.
They’ve got a long way to go (so does the civilian world for that matter).
@Anoniminous: Win! I knew I should have overridden my self-censorship program and gone there. I’m glad somebody did…….
@cathyx: I would prefer your daughter had all the rights and responsibilities of a citizen.
The Ancient Randonneur
I will take this “integrating” combat arms more seriously when the Selective Service laws are amended to reflect the integrated units. But, like the end of DADT it will take time and then a process will take place to make it happen. Women should be allowed to die for their country just like them men. I wonder if Pam Geller would be willing to enlist and go kill a people for us? Certainly Liz Cheney would want to remove the draft dodging stain from the family name by sending her female family members to a combat zone in a line unit.
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
@cathyx: I would prefer for there to never be another war. Since that will never happen, I think all capable adults should be eligible. My sister was a far better soldier than I was.
peach flavored shampoo
@Face: They’d better have really good maps to the other foxholes.
@cathyx: What does the end of sex segregated units have to do with a draft? And if there is a draft, why should your daughter be exempt when Belafon’s sons would not be?
@? Martin: When my son was in charge of an ordnance unit if Iraq, half the troops under his command were women. All of them had to reach certain qualifications in terms of marksmanship. And hauling around cases of ammunition is not exactly a job for wusses. He never once questioned their ability to participate in a combat situation if one arose. And I should point out he iswhat I would consider a moderate chauvinist. Fortunately, the closest they came to any combat (as generally defined) was mortar shells falling into the base. The lieutenant who was there before him was killed by one. All my son’s people came back in one piece.
OK, can someone with more military experience than this lifelong civilian answer a question for me? In our present all-volunteer services, do women who sign up
A) Get a chance to volunteer/train for direct-combat arms?
B) Get assigned to said arms at random?
C) Get a chance to decline?
D) Some other process?
Haven’t women been flying combat aircraft for years, e.g., Tammy Duckworth?
@MikeJ: This isn’t fairness in sports or work promotion or where they can sit on a bus. This is life and death, and I prefer the inequality to stand in this situation so that my daughter doesn’t have to die needlessly.
The pentagon is going to Congress with the women in combat decision. Congress can make it law and then women will have to register with the Selective Service.
Could they maybe fashion an armored battalion around the Dykes on Bikes? Because that would be cool.
If there are to exploding heads, I’ll bet they’re the most explodiest among our Afghan and Pakistani “allies.”
@Omnes Omnibus: I don’t care if this is fair or not. I like it that it isn’t fair because that means my daughter doesn’t have to fight in a war.
I can understand cathyx’s viewpoint. I also have a sense that, even if there were a draft, women, at least for a while, would have to volunteer for combat duty.
On a train, just riding by West Point. Waved in solidarity to what I imagined were some women celebrating there.
Yes and that opened the door for women to be drafted.
I’m not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, I don’t have a problem intellectually with personnel of either gender being allowed to do whatever job they are physically or intellectually qualified to do. A rifle does not care if it is fired by a male or a female. Similarly, a bullet does not care if it hits a male or female.
As long as the physical standards are the same for both genders for combat arms, I wouldn’t have a problem on that level. There are a lot of men who couldn’t hack being a grunt, and I couldn’t today if I had to. The enemy won’t hold his/her fire on a female to make things easier, so we can’t do that to our troops before they get on the battlefield.
Of course, they are talking about unit level integration, not MOS integration, so while you may see female Intelligence Specialists and Combat Medics pushed down to the Infantry battalion or even the company level, you aren’t going to see females as 11B Infantry.
The obverse side of that coin is my own personal experience in dealing with female Soldiers. Some of the best NCOs I ever knew were females, and they generally have a way of dealing with people that is more oriented to problem solving and rehabilitation than blame as opposed to their male counterparts
But as many of you know, I had a less than wonderful incident with a female Soldier who was my subordinate, in my brief time in a medical unit. I can’t imagine how that possibility will play out under full integration. The combat arms and the combat service support really are two different armies. They just wear the same uniforms.
You mean Sully will enlist?
@cathyx: Do you have a son?
Then you want your daughter to be a second class citizen.
Who’s to say she’d die needlessly? Most people who were drafted didn’t die. Many of those who did die died in defense of their country.
As Professor Van Creveld would tell you-there is no free lunch. This change comes with a cost, and its not one American society truly understands at all. http://www.amazon.com/Men-Women-War-Belong-Front/dp/0304359599
Scott de B.
Right, it’s something even more important, so equal rights and responsibilities are of greater import here than anywhere else.
Black men fought and died for the United States before they were allowed to vote. In fact, that fighting and dying helped to secure and defend that right. It’s the highest form of citizenship.
@cathyx: As this does not involve a draft, you are in favor of restricting your daughter and all other women to careers and advancement in careers to those you approve of. Thrilling. Inequality is fine so long as you’re on the side that benefits.
@scav: You are naive if you think that once this changes, and then there is a draft in the future, that women would be spared.
@Face: That’s pretty crude, but simply put, units that have female personnel attached order that stuff with the rest of the toiletries and it comes through the supply system.
Side note-most Infantry troops I know carry two tampons in their IFAK pouch (large new style aid kit) because they are wonderful for plugging bullet holes.
@burnspbesq: Aviation and Air Defense Artillery are combat arms branches that currently are open to women.
@cathyx: If your daughter can join the army and become a helicopter pilot, why shouldn’t she be able to be a tank commander? I get that you don’t want your daughter to join the military. I wonder why, if she were to do so, you want to limit her opportunities? Also, this isn’t about the draft; we don’t have one.
@burnspbesq: My blood ran cold when I read her story. I don’t think I could have done one-tenth of what she did under those circumstances.
@scav: And yes, I am willing to put up with inequality in this field because I am on the side of that benefit.
@cathyx: Well hug yourself but don’t expect respect and admiration. Not a style of controlling mothering I find honorable either.
@cathyx: Good to know. Let us not hear anything from you about male privilege in the future.
@scav: You’re like the type of person who thinks that since you can’t have good benefits at your job, no one should. And not having to fight in a war is a good benefit.
A draft can be put into place quickly.
Cris (without an H)
You guys are missing cathyx’s point. We draft-dodgers are being legislated out of options. First they stopped taking “I’m gay” as an excuse. Now they won’t take “I’m a woman.” Next thing you know, “I’m a felon” and “I’m deaf in one ear” will be off the table. What are we supposed to do, physically run to Canada?
I think everyone’s being a little too hard on cathyx here. I’m not eligible for the military or any draft (my asthma alone would do it and I have significantly more than that to fall back on if need be) and while my parents are of course not happy at all about the limitations I’ve had to face in life due to various disabilities (not talking about asthma anymore here) they are nonetheless glad that I am spared that particular eventuality. It’s okay to have conflicting feelings and a little bit of values dissonance when the life of your kid is on the table. That said, I do not believe we are ever going to face a draft again, at least not in the foreseeable future. There’s no reason to pick on cathyx for not wanting her daughter forced into harm’s way against her will. Doesn’t mean she wants her daughter to be a second class citizen or denied any rights, just means that when the life of a loved one is thrown in the mix things can get a little muddled.
@Maude: That is true. And if it is, I would say that my niece should be just as much at risk of being drafted as my nephew. I don’t want it to happen to either, but fair is fair.
@Omnes Omnibus: So far keeping women out of combat has not hurt their advancement in equal rights. Why are you saying it will in the future?
@cathyx: And why the holy fuck do you assume I would be against a draft? Rights and Responsibilities for all citizens, even unpalatable ones.
@Cluttered Mind: The parents of sons aren’t exactly crazy about having their children drafted either. If you don’t want a draft, fight against the (non existent) draft. Sex should not be the issue.
You people are sick. You are saying that since you can take my sons and put them on the front line, its only fair that you take my daughters too.
@cathyx: I’m not sure you can really make that statement without backing it up somehow, and I wouldn’t even know how to begin testing such a hypothesis. We don’t exactly have access to a view of how the country would be if women were granted this right in 1913 instead of 2013.
Certified Mutant Enemy
GI Jane has go to be better than GI Joke…
A) Get a chance to volunteer/train for direct-combat arms?
NO. Combat Arms MOS’s are closed to female personnel by federal law. They do however get training in operation and maintenance of small arms weapon systems, as well as first aid, land navigation, and other skills that all Soldiers need to survive on the modern battlefield.
The exceptions are Air Defense Artillery (which is usually a Division or Corps level asset) and Military Police, which have combat missions of traffic control, law enforcement, and convoy support.
SGT Leigh Ann Hester was awarded the Silver Star for her actions repelling an enemy ambush of a convoy in Iraq as a Military Police Soldier.
B) Get assigned to said arms at random?
Female personnel in certain specialties can be assigned down to the level of a Combat Arms brigade. Brigade HQs are ‘usually’ in relatively safe areas. From there, their duties make take them closer into the action.
SGT Monica Lin Brown was awarded the Silver Star in Afghanistan for her actions as a Medic, tending to wounded Cavalrymen under direct fire, including using her own body to shield the wounded from further harm.
C) Get a chance to decline?
I don’t know. Supposedly when an MP Company in Panama was ordered to attack their counterpart unit in the Panamanian Defense Forces, several female Soldiers refused on the grounds that they couldn’t be ordered into direct combat. That unit was commanded by a female Captain. I do not know if that story was true, and if it was, if the rules were changed since then or what. I have no personal knowledge of any female Soldier of my acquaintance who was downrange to refuse a mission on those grounds.
D) Some other process?
See my answer to C.
Jesus. You would have made a great slaveowner. Harsh, but I hope by going there it will actually sink in what you are arguing.
@MattR: How is that the same as being a slave owner? I’m sparing the possible death of half the population and you want to offer them up for fodder.
@MikeJ: Considering I’m male, I wasn’t disputing that in the slightest. I’m just saying that it’s unfortunate but true that a lot of the time people don’t really think much about things that they don’t perceive as affecting them or don’t perceive as a possibility, and sometimes it can take some time to get their feelings sorted out about it. I can tell you right now that if I had a daughter of an age to be affected by this I’d be awfully conflicted too.
I get where you are coming from. I don’t think any one’s sons or daughters should be drafted. But that’s the ideal world, the one I live in is supposed to require equal responsibility. It doesn’t of course but that should be removed, not continued.
Just so you know I enlisted during Vietnam
before the draft lottery for two reasons. First, I was tired of not knowing every day what the mail might bring. Second, 1/3 of draftees were being inducted into the marines and their life expectancy was less than 2 weeks in Vietnam. Then they held the first draft lottery. My number was 15. And I was 1A. I would have gone in less than 2 weeks.
Now for the unfair part. Why should your daughter not have to go any more than I or my son should? Why did rich/politician’s kids not have to go? And I did. Either none of us should have to go or all of us should have to serve. I don’t want your daughter or anyone’s to go. But I also don’t want anyone’s son to have to go either.
@? Martin: Isn’t there a significant case where a woman is suing because she was in a functionally combat unit, but because of the rules, was losing pay and promotions?
I remember they talked about female teams in Afghanistan that had to recycle back to a main base in order to maintain the fiction that they were non-combat. It was an expensive waste of resources to do that.
This could be a response to that.
@cathyx: You are saying that you are willing to put up with inequality when it benefits you. I am arguing in favor of people have the same options regardless of sex.
Also, within the military, having women barred from certain jobs creates an impression that women are not as capable as men. Or else why would they be kept away from those jobs, right? It is pure sexual discrimination. And you are in favor of it.
I understand that you do not want your child in the military. That is perfectly reasonable, but don’t you see the larger implications of your argument?
I suppose Sophie should have told the gestapo to take both of her children, when they only wanted one of them. Then it would have been fair to both kids.
@cathyx: All he’s saying is that if you’re against inequality you have to really be against inequality, without any exceptions for personal benefits. Basically it’s an argument for ideological purity and intellectual consistency, an argument that I agree with…but I also think that humans just aren’t naturally hardwired to think that way and your point of view isn’t really that hard to understand. I may disagree with what you’re saying now but I can’t honestly stand here and say I wouldn’t be saying the same things if I had a daughter of age to be sent off to war. I just don’t know how it would affect me.
I see a few problems, which may or may not have been worked out: 1) what happens in the case of capture, rape, and pregnancy, 2) pregnancy in general (would women be immediately be excused from a combat tour?), and 3) will men behave the same in a combat situation with women in their unit, and if not, can that (and should that) be trained away?
I do agree that men & women should be equally subject to being combat troops. However, we haven’t sunken to the level of Heinlein’s “democracy” from Starship Troopers (wherein one had to serve in the federal government – usually military service – to vote & even procreate). Maybe I’m reading your use of the term second class citizen too literally…
Thanks. Very helpful. Though by C), I meant “decline assignment to combat arms“, rather than in the sense of “refuse missions”.
I wasn’t drafted during Vietnam because I’m female. I used to talk about that because I was so grateful not to be drafted.
@cathyx: What’s sick is that you don’t want your daughter to ever face that, you want her protected, but you seem to be OK with your sons (and everyone else’s) facing maiming or death.
@cathyx: That justification you gave would have worked perfectly for a southern slaveholder explaining why he was not going to free his slaves.
If I could ban both men and women from combat, I would. But I can’t. Since I actually believe in true equality, I think both men and women should be given equal oppotunities in this field, just as anywhere else, even if it means that more women will unfortunately die. True equality does not mean demanding to be treated as an equal only when it suits your purposes. You have to take the good with the bad.
@Soonergrunt: I never said I was ok with men being drafted. And this discussion isn’t about that. Since men are already in combat, it’s much harder to change that. But we can do something about keeping women from having to fight in wars and therefore sparing half the population.
Birth control pills can now be set up so that no menstruation occurs, ever, unless and until the user wants to become pregnant.
Apparently, that’s been possible all my life, but Big Pharma (all men, I suppose) were sure that women wanted to have a monthly annoyance.
There is precious little evidence ( but some!) that a draft, especially an equitable one (I kill myself), will limit the willingness of the
people close to those drafted to start extra wars.
If women are eligible for the draft, it may increase that tendency.
Our present draft-free system involves about 1% of the nations’ people closely (emotionally) in those decisions.
@Soonergrunt: Re “C”, that was two truck drivers and, while the unit was ordered to drive to an area under active sniper fire, the drivers’ concerns were over having driven for something like eight hours straight. They were replaced and a subsequent investigation found their concerns legitimate and their request to be relieved appropriate.
The military police company, under a woman, was ordered to seize a Panamanian military police kennel at the airport and is said to have come under some fire, the specifics of which remain under dispute.
@cathyx: That was a terrible analogy .
Wow. 1. Women are in combat. All the time. As collateral, or as aid givers, they are in combat. I’d prefer that the ones out there are armed, trained and ready-as they can be.
2. I’d prefer no war. I have no clue what is in anyone’s head to preserve the right to go die in something foolish for one gender. Screw that. The poorer you are, the more likely you’re going to take the military as a way out. It’s not right and it’s not fair, but if everyone is at risk, then I bet midterm elections will become a dash more important.
3. Our stupid bassackward allies in the Middle East may have a problem. However, since Israel has female combatants, I don’t think it will be a huge problem. Plus women serve on base and have a for a while. They’ll get over.
4. Equal pay for equal risk.
@Soonergrunt: The female MP captain who commanded combat troops in Panama was one of my TAC officers at OCS a year or so earlier. Interesting lady.
@cathyx: You seem to be operating from a point of view that military is inherently bad.
@cathyx: Were you also opposed to allowing gay men to serve in the military, because it was better that they be protected (by homophobic bigots) from being made cannon fodder than that they be allowed to make their own decisions about such things?
@cathyx: That ship has sailed, they’re already fighting, they’re already dying at it because some choose to be there and you’re in favor of maintaining an artificial glass ceiling on their careers.
Today there is no draft, and there is no mandatory service requirement. I’m happy about both of those things.
Citizens are required to do some things. You have to pay taxes. You have to serve on juries. Men are required to register with Selective Service. If a man fails to register for selective service, there are federal loans he can never get (including student loans), he can not take a federal job, and if not a citizen, can not become one.
Women have to serve on juries, even if they don’t hunt giraffes. They should have the same responsibilities as men. Which doesn’t mean I want anyone to be drafted. If drafted, some women should not be put in combat (some men too) as not everyone can meet the physical requirements.
@cathyx: Then what are you doing on what is ostensibly a liberal blog? You should be frequenting blogs on the other end of the spectrum. After all, you happen to be on the side that benefits, so fuck anybody else that has to suffer from inequality. I know this is harsh. It is also true. Learn to think past your emotions. It’s painful, it makes life complicated, but I submit to you that you might consider the idea that you owe it to your daughter to confront this issue.
@Maude: I wasn’t drafted either. It always seemed silly to me that the Pentagon was trying so desperately to draft my skinny husband with poor eyesight yet wasn’t at all interested in sturdy, hawk-eyed me.
@MattR: Your slave analogy is ridiculous. Letting women die in war will make everything equal among us. It’s like winning is really losing.
I’m opposed to allowing black men to play football. They could hurt themselves!
@cathyx: This discussion is absolutely about men being drafted. If it’s about the draft at all, it’s about men being drafted and sent to fight and kill and be maimed and die for one reason or another that the nation’s leaders (rightly or wrongly) will have decided to be worth the effort and sacrifice. We won’t ever draft for any other reason again.
So we either have true equality with all sharing in the risks as well as the bounties, or we don’t. But do not pretend for one minute that this isn’t about men dying.
Well, I have my doubts as well and I say this as someone who served in the Coast Guard. As a member of a small boat crew, I had to pass a survival test which I did, barely. I ended up using my knife to remove the cap from the rescue flare because I lacked sufficient strength in my hands pull the cap off. In the calm waters of our station in full daylight, this was doable. In the rough waters of the ocean at night, maybe.
If we were talking about a scenario where every individual had to pass the same test, I would be less apprehensive but my gut instinct is that most women could not pass such a test and soon there would be pressure to ease the requirements to make the numbers look better. Since, in my experience, the senior officer corps is largely indifferent to the well being of enlisted people, they would put up little or no fight.
After decades of women being allowed into the military, the vast majority are still found in clerical, medical and cooking fields. I think that opening combat to women is something that is driven by the desires of women officers whose careers are seriously impacted by current law. I have never met any enlisted women who wanted to be in combat. I’m old though, and I am prepared to discover I’m wrong.
Also, given the number of women who were raped in Iraq, I think we need to be less casual about “men not able to control their desires”. There is so much pressure on women not to report rape as it is; how much more so would there be in a combat unit where reporting a rapist might mean reducing the readiness of the unit.
@cathyx: News flash: Sometimes winning does feel like losing. Sometimes victories have a cost. Life is not always fair.
To go back to that initial quote I highlighted, let’s put it another way. How would you react if we were talking about equal pay for women and I said “I am willing to put up with inequality in this field because I am on the side of that benefit.”? Would you be find my POV acceptable?
(EDIT: Or another question – why should men want to assist women in their fight for equality if women insist on being exempted from that equality whenever it benefits them (and harms the men as a result)?)
@Erik Vanderhoff: Thanks. I’ve known of truck drivers refusing missions on crew-rest grounds, just as do aviators. I don’t have a problem with that. I want my truck drivers awake and alert. That’s a risk factor that I as a leader can control for.
As to the MP unit in Panama, I was a dumbass Private in an Infantry unit when that happened, and what I knew about it was from Stars and Stripes and Old Sergeants’ tales.
@cathyx: The Gestapo is not rounding up our children.
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
@Sasha: I had a friend in high school who could have bench pressed me while I was bench pressing the small amount of weight I could. She was one of those you just didn’t mess with. We were also in a lot of honors classes together.
Sure, but when you spare half the population, you’re doubling the risk for the other half. I would hope you’d understand why members of the half whose risk you’re doubling might not be thrilled by that.
IMO, Children of congressmen should sign up to serve in the military when they reach the age of eighteen. Only then are representatives in a position to vote to send another’s child into conflict.
only you’re not sparing half the population.
You’re exempting half the population, and letting the other half take the casualties that would otherwise be shared equally among both halves.
@Sasha: ” I have never met any enlisted women who wanted to be in combat. I’m old though, and I am prepared to discover I’m wrong.”
I’ve met a few. Female MPs, Truck Drivers, Medics, other types. They’re like the men inasmuch as they spend a significant part of their lives learning a skillset and then they finally get to a place where they might be able to put that training to use, and see for themselves if they’re really as good as they think they are.
Grumpy Code Monkey
The draft is history. Done. Kaput. Ain’t coming back. If 10 years in Mesopotamia wasn’t enough to get Congress to dust it off (outside of Rangel trolling the chickenhawks), it’s pretty safe to say that it’s no longer an option.
That’s not the point. Most women don’t or can’t. In my company at boot camp, one woman, just one, was able to do chin ups. The requirement was waived for females. And that is the problem. Once it becomes clear that women cannot pass the current test, the requirements will be waived for women. If they constructed a test that was really predictive of an individual’s ability to perform in combat and required everyone to pass it, I would be more in favor of this.
Not only that, but she’s doing it on a wholly artificial justification with the additional “we’ve always done it this way” thing.
What did your dad do, and what can we force you to do as a result?
@Soonergrunt: with a strong whiff of I can control the decisions of all other women because I know what’s in their best interest thrown in.
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
@Sasha: Well, except it really is your point. Your current story points to a failure in leadership and training. As for your previous post, I don’t know of any men who “wanted” to be cannon fodder. My father volunteered in ’67 to avoid become a grunt. What we volunteer for is to be soldiers and sailors.
Sometimes it sucks when you find out what you asked for.
ETA: Isn’t that the premise of a lot of “I found a genie” stories?
@Sasha: I hope that what you’re saying is that at this point chin-ups have nothing to do with combat, so it’s time to make up a new physical-fitness test for combat troops… and not that people who can’t do chin-ups are obviously disqualified from combat.
It’s likely a moot point since one of the last things Congress or DoD want to do is re-institute the draft, for any of a number of reasons. Pick any or all…
– use of a draftee army in combat is more politically problematic, in that families of said draftees are going to be less inclined to support the ‘splendid little wars’ of which Bill Kristol and Michael Medved are so fond.
– times being what they are, more affluent (and influential) voters would be affected – if a war is bad enough to require drafting people, ain’t gonna be any student deferments.
– unlike volunteers and/or lifers, draftees (according to what i’ve heard and read, anyway) have no problems with bitching about problems which would cause some professional soldiers to hold their tongues for fear of hurting their careers.
If I’m wrong, tell me….
This isn’t really about the decisions of women. Did you see the photo of President Obama with the five enlisted heads of the services? White men all. As, of course, are the five heads of the military (don’t know about white but definitely all men). Women are not making this decision. At best, some women may have been given and opportunity to weigh in but unless Leon Panetta has had a sex change, I’m pretty sure the decision makers were all men.
@cathyx: Then you surrender the right to criticize men for doing the same in 98% of gender equality issues.
ISTM, given the large number of support roles that exist in a modern military, there’s no reason for women to be exempt from either the current Selective Service requirement or any future draft, if such a thing is ever instituted. Both are now separate from whether or not women should be in front-line combat roles
@MikeJ: Retired military.
Congress might have thought twice before invading Iraq if it was their family members they were sending.
@cathyx: You are, but would your daughter be?
Chin ups are a measure of upper body strength. There was one physical fitness requirement that was not eased for women; we had to be able to tread water for five minutes. Otherwise, we got more time to run, had to do fewer sit ups, were allowed to do push ups from our knees.
There are three issues that I think are being conflated: the supposed desire of women to be in combat, the suitability of women for combat and simple fairness. I would agree that simple fairness requires women to share in the same risks, if a way can be found to protect them from the predations of their fellow soldiers. But it’s not clear to me that most women desire to serve in combat and I just don’t think it should be a given. As for suitability, as I’ve said at least twice now, if they can come up with a fair test that everyone must pass then I think it’s reasonable for those women who pass (along with those men who pass) to be considered fit for combat.
@Sasha: Well, unless we’re willing to exempt everybody from obeying rules made by a committee that doesn’t exactly mirror their personal characteristics, I’m not sure what we can do practically speaking. Lower level personnel will have to vote with their feet if they wish to continue under the changed conditions. Happens all the time in business.
That might work on normal people, but not politicians. I wouldn’t put it past some politicians to risk their own children in exchange for more money and power.
The politician will probably point to his own child serving in battle as justification to send another’s child into conflict.
I’ve heard chatter that the all volunteer military is too expensive for Republicans–all those bonuses and entitlements. A draft service would not require all the bennies.
@JPL: You act as if the kids have no agency. Shouldn’t the year old men and women decide if they want to join the military on their own, regardless of what job their parents have?
@El Caganer: Yep, in the name of equality, why shouldn’t women be deployed in combat positions? Maybe our grenade-throwing arms aren’t as strong, but like Demi Moore, we can work on that. As a female, I’ve no problem going on camping trips where I haven’t been able to shower for many days, without severe psychological problems. But I remember a phone-in on BBC radio a few years ago, when they were talking about should women be assigned combat positions, and I asked ‘Why are people so concerned about women in combat positions? Why not worry about how we consider it not a problem that we put men in combat positions? Do we think that men won’t have any problem with being asked to kill people, but that women will? It’s pretty insulting to men to imply that they would be the only ones who would be perceived to be capable of killing.’ (Obviously, I want neither women OR men to be in that position.) The reply was a bit of a splutter, and ‘oh, I never of thought of it that way…’
@MikeJ: I swear that said 18 year old not year old, but the edit window has closed. herderp.
Sasha, knee pushups haven’t been acceptable for women in the Army since at least 1994, when I went through Basic. I’m guessing some of your other information is also outdated.
@Sasha: I agree that women should have to pass the same fitness test men would. I would just like to have some kind of thought process engaged to determine whether calisthenics-like stuff (the kind of thing we did in gym class in the ’70s and ’80s: chin-ups, sit-ups, rope-climbing) has a lot to do with the precise kind of fitness modern combat soldiers need to possess. I would say the same thing about cops and firefighters. How about having a lower standard initially for women, to let them get into the pipeline, but then slowly raise it until there’s a single standard?
I was not saying that. I just pointed out that this particular decision was not made by women, as another poster suggested.
I would really like to hear from other women who are/were in the military. My perspective is formed by my experiences. Men and women have different physical strengths and weaknesses as a general rule. There is a reason why you don’t see nearly as many women firemen as you do males. It’s just anatomy. If the same issues come up in combat then how do you address them? Because what I didn’t point out before is this: Men who fail the physical test are kicked out the military. If women were required to pass the same test as men, most would be kicked out. So how do we address this?
A friend who went through an advanced firefighters course said that there was a woman in his class who beat every man at everything except for chin ups. They were told by their instructors that something in the way women are built is different enough that it makes chin ups very difficult for women. This woman was apparently very frustrated by it. She was faster and stronger than all the men in the class and could only do a few chin ups.
Since hearing that story I don’t fell all that bad that I suck at chin ups too.
Isn’t it your daughter’s decision? You seem to want to control her.
Or, to redraw it in a Sophie’s Choice format, two children, one boy, one girl, the choice is double the risk of your son dying in combat so that your daughter has close to zero chance of dying in combat, or to spread the risk of dying equally.
One alternative is to work hard against war. (And perhaps to discourage kids from joining the military, even if drafted.)
My only experience is the Coast Guard and my husband, who retired five years ago, says that women still get more time for the mile run, he’s not sure about the other stuff. If any active duty want to weigh in, we might get better information because in my day, if women had to pass the same test as men, for the coast guard, there would have been an almost total failure rate; We just couldn’t do the chin-ups and only one female in our company was in anyway competitive with the guys.
I would like to point out that we are not talking about amped up GI Janes, here. We’re talking about average girls who’ve lived average lives. I am fairly confident that women cannot pass the men’s fitness test. And if they cannot, that opens a whole new can of worms because it wouldn’t be fair to let those who fail stay in if we kicking out the men but the military cannot meet it force requirements without women.
@Sasha: Not all combat roles call for the same combination of physical, mental or psychological skills: instituting physical, mental and psycholological tests for those exact positions to sort people into the positions they’re best suited for isn’t the issue, or it isn’t for me. A single physical test for all positions in the military might be a bit of overkill, and they’ve certainly been lowering the bar elsewhere to keep up male numbers. But basically, I’m more concerned with equality before taking a realistic suited-to-purpose test, not numerical equality of outcome afterward.
And I can’t think of any group of randomly polled workers would realistically vote for the nasty part of their jobs, although there are others that genuinely enjoy the same challenges. Let’s take a vote on KP and latrine-cleaning!
I think we’re at the dead horse phase. I don’t know what the average military woman wants but neither do those who are trumpeting this decision as a victory for women just because it is a victory for women officers. Maybe the days when American soldiers are expected to haul a lot of weight on their backs and march all day are gone but if they’re not, that’s going to be a problem for a lot of women.
@Sasha: I don’t know. I have seen a 5′ 100lb women hump a ruck with her equipment and her share of M60 rounds. Look not every woman is going to interested in, or qualify for a combat MOS. The same is true of men who enter the military. I don’t see why those who can do and want to do it should be prevented from doing it. As far as the draft goes, I don’t see any reason to especially privilege one sex over another. If a draft is needed, we need the best people we can get. If a draft is instituted and isn’t needed (or is instituted in service of an immoral or illegal war), then we should have both men and women protesting and burning their draft cards.
I am a female. I was in the U.S. Army from 1975 to 1978 stationed at Ft. Lewis, WA in 9th Supply and Transport Company. My job was driving a 2-1/2 ton truck. We were trained right along with the guys in our unit. My 1st Sergeant always told us we would be behind the front lines, however the enemy is known to break the front lines. Hence that’s why we were sent to the field to dig foxholes, shoot M-16s, get gassed, and all the other things that we would need to know to survive.
Yes, when I look at Newt Gingrich, I can immediately see that he is more biologically fit to hunt giraffes than, say, Serena Williams.
I would not have a problem with that but right now, at least in the Coast Guard, a man who passed the female physical fitness requirements but not those for men, would be kicked out, but not a woman. And even if you’ve seen a few women who could pass the male requirements, most can’t or there wouldn’t be two sets of standards. So we need to decide if men who cannot pass the men’s standards should be retained. We need to figure out how we can make sure that some men and women are not failing the combat test because they don’t want to be called on for combat. It’s been a long, long time since we’ve committed our full force to war and maybe we will never need to do so again.
The bottom line is this: those women who are physically unsuited to combat are more likely to die in combat or be seriously injured. So I think it’s worth it to make sure that they aren’t pushed into combat because senior military want to look like they’re good on women’s issues.
Did the women in your unit do as well as the men did on the physical fitness test? Were there two set of standards?
@Sasha: I’m pretty sure I couldn’t pass the fitness tests in the military, and they’d kick me out for it. I’m male. It seems to me that there’s no reason not to hold women to the same standards, as long as those standards are relevant to the physical requirements of being in the military. It’s not like anyone’s demanding a 50/50 quota of women on the front lines.
All of this is distinct from the question of whether women should be allowed in the armed forces (they should, and they are) or whether they should be allowed on the front lines (they should, and they pretty much are already).
Why don’t we split the difference and just not support any of the troops? Male, female, whatever, just don’t send ’em into combat. No endless unwinnable wars.
If America gets attacked by some foreign government, fine, mobilize the troops, send ’em off. Until then, as General Smedley Butler of the Marine Corps pointed out, all we need is a good coastal defense. Nothing else.
Demobilize. End all these goddamn useless pointless self-destructive wars.
Right now, the military could not meet it’s force needs without women, so kicking out women who do not pass the male standards is not feasible.
Seems to me that a question worth asking is whether chinups are an appropriate measurement of the kinds of tasks requiring upper body strength in the military. If a female firefighter can haul ladders, hoses, and victims, but cannot do more than a couple of chinups, maybe the test needs to be changed for men and women.
@mclaren: I would totally back that.
I’m sick of us offering up our children to fight endless wars to support corporatocracy and everyone here is ready, willing, and able to supply not only their sons, but now their daughters, in the name of equality.
@cathyx: You have entirely misinterpreted the reaction to your statements throughout this thread. You want to decrease the military and scale back/eliminate involvements worldwide. Great. People here will agree or disagree with you to various extents on that.
That issue has nothing to do with the fairness of allowing women to have the same rights and responsibilities, opportunities and obligations, in society as men. That is what we have been discussing. If we have a military, and we do and probably will for the foreseeable future (even in mclaren’s conception, we would need a core of a standing military), why should the benefits or detriments of it be restricted to one sex?
@Omnes Omnibus: I haven’t misunderstood anything. The reason to restrict the benefits and detriments is because the detriments far outway the benefits. I don’t care if it’s not equal. I don’t want more people to be available to fight in a war.
That’s disingenuous at best. People are saying that if anyone’s children have to be drafted then there should be equality in the process. You want your daughter to be a responsible citizen? Then she should have to pay the same price that a male child should. The reward is the same why isn’t the cost? You are arguing that women should not have to pay that price and that is wrong. Part of my complaint of the last time we had a draft was that it wasn’t fair even to the men, let alone that half the population was not even subject to it.
I am still pissed that I had to go to war to support corporatocarcy but I had very little choice and at the time none of the other choices looked reasonable at all. My sisters on the other hand never had to make even a bad choice and had little comprehension what it was like that I had to.
The prophet Nostradumbass
@cathyx: in short, you’re an asshole.
cathyx is just an authoritarian on this, and is fine with that. Mommy knows best, so everyone else is a warmongering nasty, and the men fighting already and dying are just acceptable collateral damage so long as she can maintain the on-paper distinction between women being on the so-called front lines — to hell with they’re already being there, dying there and not being able to benefit from any of the upsides that are limited to those that have the correct paperwork for the inherent risks of combat.
@Ruckus: So if you had to be drafted to support corporatocracy, then your sisters should also be sacrificial lambs too. No honor among siblings.
If I were a man, I would not want my sisters or my daughters to ever have to experience war. Those who are fine with it are not human.
@cathyx: You’re perfectly willing to have kids killed in wars, just not yours. Oddly enough, other people don’t think that your kids should be more privileged than theirs. People think it sucks when a congressman’s kids get out of the draft (which, btw, we don’t have any more.) Your kids shouldn’t get out of it either.
@MikeJ: I never said that I wanted your kids or anyone else’s to die in war. I don’t want your daughters to have to go. I also don’t want your sons to go either, but that’s already been decided. At least we can try to prevent you daughters from going if we speak loudly.
ETA:But you are bound and determined to put them in the line of fire. Because it’s only fair.
@cathyx: yep. because some of us are inhuman enough to see citizenship as a shared responsibility and not a compact to protect a few chosen elite.
You called it. Wimmins is icky, per Newt:
@cathyx: you’re still a sexist dolt, though. I have no respect for your position.
OK I’ll say it one more time.
I DON’T WANT ANYONE’S KIDS TO FIGHT IN A WAR OR BE DRAFTED.
Given the world we live in it is possible that at sometime in the future we may need to fight a war to actually protect our country. If that happens and we have to institute a draft it should be as fucking fair as possible. Leaving out half the population who supposedly benefit from that warfare, leaving only the other half to be subject to the cost of that is fucking wrong. It is wrong because we are a country that is supposed to be about equality, not one of inequality. That we are not one yet does not mean that we should stick our heads in the sand(or our asses) and work against having more equality. You don’t want equality, don’t take it. But don’t yell when the price you pay for that inequality is lower wages, invasive medical treatments, 3/5 of a vote or no vote at all or actual slavery. That’s what equality costs, that’s responsibility.
So, you are simply fucking wrong.
Is that simple enough for you?
@Ruckus: So let me see if I have this straight. If we don’t allow women in combat, we will start having slavery and 3/5 of a vote or no vote at all, and invasive medical treatments. We better get our children off to war then too. Then we can be even equaler.
@cathyx: There it is again. You are, I suspect intentionally, misinterpreting the comments of others.
TVTropes is wise.
Cathyx this isn’t fucking complicated. Just because someone would want a hypothetical draft to be egalitarian does not mean they actually want for there to be a draft. Nobody here has espoused a desire to see anyone drafted. That is your own invention in an effort to defend your indefensible position that the sexes should be equal, except when it is to women’s benefit that they not be.
@Omnes Omnibus: That’s because he’s being stupid with his arguments. It’s like he and you haven’t read any of my comments past the one where I said that I don’t like this because I have a daughter. It’s not a black and white issue that you want to portray it as.
@cathyx: I have read every single comment you have made here, and they are all ridiculous.
@cathyx: Like this one? Can you answer the question of why women should be exempt from some aspects of military service? Aside from saying that all people should be exempt from all aspects of military service – which is only a viable answer if you are a pacifist. Are you a pacifist? In any and all circumstances?
@Omnes Omnibus: Absolutely I’m a pacifist. I have no concerns that we need a standing army at all.
@cathyx: Any and all circumstances? WWII? Civil War?
@Omnes Omnibus: I mean from here on out.
I need to log off, I don’t want you to think I just don’t feel like replying, I have to get up early tomorrow.
Cathyx’s argument sounds a bit like saying that a segregated military is better than an integrated one because then fewer black people will die in stupid wars, because they’ll get to peel potatoes and do other scut work rather than all that dangerous fighting. Oddly enough, I don’t remember that being the position of actual civil rights leaders.
I gave it the ole college try, then I allowed myself to get mad, and now I’m just sad. But a pacifist? That’s a wonderful thing to aspire to but I would have never guessed that from the comments. I am just in wonder at the level of misreading, misdirection and misunderstanding that I’ve seen today.
@FlipYrWhig: @Ruckus: At the end, I think I finally understood where she was trying to go with her arguments. I think she was saying that war is so bad that anything, including inequality, that saves people from it is a net good.
Cathyx is just like a repug… she and her daughter are special snowflakes who deserve equality unless it’s dangerous. I’m a woman whose son was deployed 5 times to Iraq and Afghanistan and he is just as precious to me as her daughter is to her. And I insist on equality for me and other women and will proudly bear the full costs of that equality. It’s not just all about you and yours, Cathyx.
@cathyx: “I don’t want more people to be available to fight in a war.” “I don’t want your daughters to have to go. I also don’t want your sons to go either, but that’s already been decided. At least we can try to prevent you daughters from going if we speak loudly.”
Maybe you understand already and just don’t care, but here’s the reason you’re driving people up the wall every time you repeat those things: extending the draft to both sexes doesn’t mean more people would be drafted.
Supposing that I have a son – it hasn’t “already been decided” that he’s going to go to war. He has some chance of being drafted, and if women were also eligible, he would have 50% less chance of being drafted. It makes no sense to talk as if the male children are a lost cause… unless you care so little about them that 50% versus 100% makes no difference to you.
I noticed that you never mentioned having your daughters be conscientious objectors, so I’m guessing that they don’t agree with you and would voluntarily go if called. That’s too bad. I think the most valuable thing you can do about war, besides working to elect a much different kind of government, is to teach the kids not to take part in it.
I like how the guy with a PhD in history has somehow had the concept of “trench foot” entirely pass him by.
You know how the US got extra soldiers the last time they had a draft?
Australia had a draft, too.
Therefore, as an Australian and a father, extending the US draft to women sounds like a good idea.
Possibly but that you have to make such a easy to make point for someone after all this just boggles my mind. Especially considering the road taken to get here.
You can lead an asshole to water but you can’t make him less stupid.
@Ruckus: Yeah, well…
I think you might be on to something, but then there’s the fact that inequality doesn’t actually save anyone from war. It just shifts the burden of casualties disproportionately onto men. And then there was all the raving about her daughter with no apparent concern for other people’s sons.
I know you’re not saying you agree with her argument. I’m just putting it out there that even if what she’s saying is as coherent as you’ve put it, there are major league problems with it.
@Xantar: Well, as you can see, I spent a lot of the thread arguing with her. I disagree with what I think is her point as well, but I only hit on that as she was bowing out. War is a bad thing. I should be avoided where possible, but, when avoidance is not possible, the burdens should be shared as equally as possible. Of course, the phrase “where possible” covers a multitude of sins and will mean different things to different people. I am probably more inclined to the liberal interventionist viewpoint than many here and would view questions of US foreign affairs quite differently than cathyx as result.
The prophet Nostradumbass
For those who think that preventing women from being in “combat” roles is a good thing, and that women get some sort of advantage from it, watch the first segment from Rachel Maddow’s show from tonight, and tell the women denied promotions and jobs that they’ve been spared something, or have an advantage.
Another Halocene Human
@The prophet Nostradumbass: This thread was almost 175 posts of derp because somebody fails to get that women are in the military already, and they’ve been forming activist groups to push this change (since 2000) so they wouldn’t be discriminated against.
Usually equal pay for equal work isn’t so damn controversial around here.
My aunt didn’t deal with all the sexism and turmoil of being one of the first female NCOs in the Navy (during those lovely glory days in the US mil, late 70s, 80s, early 90s) so some pants-wetters could prevent female officers from advancing now! Btw, my aunt has super-cred–got arrested in Chicago protesting the war in the 1970s. My grandmother saw her getting dragged away by police on the tv news and nearly had an aneurysm. Think cathyx got arrested? I think not.
There is a term up here on the Peninsula for NIMBY liberals; Port Townsend Liberals. Port Townsend is a really blue city, but the second there’s something that might affect their property values or schools, like halfway houses of homeless shelters, it gets voted and shouted down immediately. When it’s time to actually stand up for people as people, with their own desires, motivations, and life choices, they flub again and again if those qualities do not fit the personal comforts and beliefs of the good citizens of Port Townsend. The same is true here of cathyx.
First and foremost, the sheer paternalism of ‘I’m okay with inequality if it keeps my daughter and half the population out of war!’ is somewhat breathtaking. We’re in a non-draft environment. Women in the military– as cathyx’s daughter would have to choose to be– have been fighting for recognition in combat roles since they were allowed into the services in any function.
Noncombat troops are (a) not exempt from risk, or even in many cases at less risk than combat troops and (b) routinely sidetracked from promotion, leadership, recognition, etc. because they aren’t “really” troops. This decision, yes, done by men, is a victory for women just like Roe vs. Wade was; the decision may ultimately have been made by men, but it was for goals that women have fought for and need in order to pursue their calling and career.
Cathyx has no more right to forbid that to her daughter or anyone else’s daughter than a conservative parent has to forbid their daughter to go to college or live independently. It’s a cruel and heartless mockery of real parental care and support that makes mock of every parent who is willing to actually support a child who makes the choice to enter the military despite the risks or the parents’ pacifism. If you cannot view your adult daughter as an independent agent with the capacity and right to make her own choices and risks, you are not trying to be her protector; you are trying to be her jailer.
That moves into the point that this is not a pacifist’s position, either. A pacifist who is also an actual liberal/progressive/feminist confronts not the inclusion of women in the military, but the decisions of those who choose whether or not anyone in the military must die for whatever cause. I do not personally believe that anyone who loves peace can be against all military use or defense, but merely its misuse, but that’s a different debate. Holding women out of combat roles will not protect the women who are in the military; you just need to look at casualty rates of “noncombat”/support troops during the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations, ongoing.
It will not reduce the troop requirements, will not reduce their misuse, and will not reduce the human misery that using the military to score cheap political points and blood-covered private profits causes. That fight is with the hawks, whether Republican thug or Blue Dog-esque traitor. If you tell the women who have been fighting for equality of responsibility that, ‘pat pat, dear little girl, don’t worry your head about such things, I’ll protect you!’ and you tell men in the military, ‘screw you guys, I’m protecting my daughter!!!’ then you make enemies of two natural allies of a pacifist– women and men both who will have to pay for the evil, selfish deeds of politicians. That’s a fight that helps only the corporations and the corporate wings of the various parties. If you want to fix the way we spend lives needlessly, fight that battle against the real villains, not against women who want career and calling advancement.
Second, it is only a repugnant blindness to the political realities of the U.S. that can lead to someone saying that the lack of women in combat roles hasn’t hurt the feminist movement. Of course it has, at both the leadership and the general population level. It helps to reinforce, again and again, that men are heroes and risk takers, that men have the go-get-it-ness and HUNTER DRIVE to succeed that is totally responsible for them being in charge politically and economically.
Is it the whole of that ugly little package? No, but the exclusion of women from one class of self sacrifice and high-drive occupations has certainly HURT. It’s one more along the lines of ‘women are victims, men are heroes’ that inundates our toxic society. Is this the only or best way out? No, but it is a way out, of disproving the lie again and again that women have less drive, leadership and bravery than men do. A line in the sand for those volunteers who are willing to take the risk. Yes, we need to protect them from needless slaughter– but that target isn’t inclusion, but chickenhawks in office.
That’s all just assuming that we’re talking about the current, no-draft situation. In a draft, the same rules apply, only now instead of just being a hypocrite where volunteers are involved, our Port Townsend Liberal on this is a coward, too. No one wants to see an unwilling child sent off to the military, but the draft numbers are not going to be less because women aren’t involved. They’re still going to be there, the same number of risks, the same amount of pain. Only– whoopee!– now you’ve reduced risks for -some- parents, but not all. We are a CITIZEN DEMOCRACY. Deferments for money or political power are probably more repugnant, but they’re at least in sight of ‘deferment for gender’. The enemy here is, again, the DRAFT in this hypothetical if it’s an unjust war; the draft and the politicians who misuse the lives of those citizens sent out to war. Telling the parents of sons ‘Well, your son isn’t as important to me so I won’t share the risk while we try to change this horror’ is yet another little divide-and-conquer victory for the warmongers.
You cannot change the world through hypocrisy. You can’t be for black civil rights but refuse to let one date your daughter; you can’t be for compassion but against anti-poverty problems. You cannot make peace by hating soldiers; they are, ultimately, people, and even the ones who succumb to madness in the horrors of Vietnams and Iraq need to be treated as sick individuals, not the symbols of problems. The problem, again and again, are the corporate panderers and the warmongers. Let women have the chance to see promotion and leadership roles. Let those who _wish_ to serve, do so, and if we are forced into a draft again, let us stand as one united nation, either in defense of good principles such as against the nazis or against our own government for a new or ongoing Iraq. And, yes, I know, our government did some shitty things in WWII, too, but that’s the real world– just as there is no untainted war, there is no peace when you ignore the suffering of others. No simple answers, but push forward to equality and intelligent, compassionate decision-making through the muddle of a complicated world.