“No women in combat,” said President Bush. “We’ve got women flying choppers and women flying fighters, which I’m perfectly content with.”
Why does Mr. Bush apparently think it’s OK if female troops risk death and in fact sometimes die in military service, but not OK if they engage in direct-ground combat roles? Perhaps he can handle the idea of some women getting killed but not in the same horrific number the men do. Or perhaps, like many people, he disdains the idea of women serving in the more physically demanding direct-ground combat roles because he believes men are stronger than women and hence more competent as warriors.
“Women don’t belong in combat, because men are stronger.”–Bill O’Reilly on his radio show, February 28, 2007
“The most often cited reason for continuing to exclude women from combat,” writes Jesse Leavenworth in at Courant.com, “is their physical strength, compared with men.” But can we really say “men are stronger than women,” as if no women — or not enough for the military to bother with — can be men’s equals in combat?
Consider: Jill Mills, training to become 2002’s world’s strongest woman, did 10 flips of a 600-pound tractor tire, loaded four kegs on a platform, then did a couple of more rounds, all with just short breathers in between. Cynthia L. Morrison, as a professional athlete at only 5′ 8″ and 150 pounds, ran up a hill with a 225-pound man in a fireman’s carry. “Surreal Life’s” Joanie Laurer, also known as Chyna and wrestling’s former “mistress of muscle,” fought men in the ring as equal opponents. With 14-inch biceps and the ability to bench-press 365 pounds, she says, “I could take a man’s head and squash it between my legs like a pumpkin!”
Once we acknowledge the world’s many robust women, “men are stronger,” which to many implies (as does a male-only combat law) that every man is stronger than every woman, an impossibility) begs to be rephrased along the line of: The strongest men are stronger than the strongest women, and the weakest women are weaker than the weakest men, but in between are legions of men and women who are strength equals. (The same is true of size, as author Gene Marine pointed out in his 1974 book A male guide to women’s liberation.)
“Women can develop strength quicker than their male counterparts, so feeling ‘not strong enough’ is even more of a reason to take up weight training.” -Queensland Weightlifting Association
Our military, fixated on “men are stronger,” disqualifies even the Chynas and the Cynthia Morrisons for direct-ground combat roles, women who could subdue and outperform many of the qualified men.
My idea of a military would accept into ground combat all female recruits who qualify under the same physical standards for combat the men must meet. If our military thinks not enough women would qualify to justify including females, it could give female recruits extra physical training, including weight training — just as schools give lagging students extra tutoring. Those passing a single physical standard should be classified combat capable and trained to fight wherever men do. (The military’s lower standard for women creates resentment and reinforces the “men are stronger” notion.)
“British women soon could battle enemy forces in face-to-face combat if Britain lifts a ban on women serving in the most dangerous warfare roles.” -Sun-Sentinel
Replacing “Men are stronger” with this new way of regarding female strength won’t be easy. Yet “Men are smarter” was overcome, along with nearly all of its impediments to women. Once the replacement is made, though, most if not all of the other arguments against women in combat may collapse. Take male protectiveness toward women. How many male soldiers will believe a female soldier needs special protection if she qualified under a single standard for fitness and bested many of the males in physical tests? How many will harass her? (Go here for more on sexual harassment and true gender equality.)
Some people may never believe any women can cut it on the front line. A Washington Times editorial, “No women in combat,” said the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services should be restructured to deny women combat roles. It rightly objected to the lower female physical standard, which “dumbs down the high male standards and causes resentment.” However, it could have argued for a single standard and additional physical conditioning for women. That it didn’t makes me think the Washington Times editors believe people should be judged not by their individual merits but by the statistics of their group, that even with strength-and-endurance training, no female soldier can cut it as a combat soldier.
If they do believe this, let them say so in front of Jill Mills or Cheryl Haworth.
- An argument in the American Thinker against women in combat: “Sex, Human Nature, and Women in Combat“
- “The Pentagon’s decision to allow women to join combat units is expected to reopen a legal debate the Supreme Court settled in 1981: Should women have to register with the government so it knows where to find them in the event of a new draft?” -TwinCities.com, January 26, 2013
- Women In the Line of FireThe Coming Draft (see the chapter on women in the military)
Here may be the real, underlying reasons women aren’t in the military’s direct-ground combat roles fighting along side the men:
Many liberal women advocate for women in combat, but most deep down seem not to support the idea. The same goes for most liberal men, who I believe are, to a degree, victims of the Stockholm Syndrome when it comes to women in general and feminists in particular — are too afraid to oppose liberal women. (I suspect that many liberal women fear that a push for women in combat could undermine one of their cherished notions: domestic violence is something only men do to women. If women are capable of combat on a par with men, they are capable of committing domestic violence on a par with men.)
Most conservative women outright oppose women in combat, and most conservative men do, too, largely because they are too afraid to oppose conservative women.
If a man is thinking about asking out a woman who he later learns is stronger than he is, he might feel threatened by feelings of unworthiness born out of a fear that she won’t value or need him as partner. A woman might think, “If I tell him I am a strong woman, he may reject me” — for the same reason above.
(Now please read “By Remaining Silent on Women’s Tennis, Feminists Show Dishonesty About the Gender Wage Gap.” Ask yourself: If feminists say female soldiers should be allowed to fight along side the men, how can they also demand that female tennis players get the same prize money as the men where the men must play the best of five sets and the women only the best of three? Feminist’s silence on this is an implied argument for equal pay for unequal work, which is the same as unequal pay for equal work.)
If a feminist argues for women in combat, she or he implies that many women can hold their own at home and are capable of domestic violence. That implication alone may account for battered-women’s advocates’ reluctance to debate the idea of putting women in direct ground combat alongside the men. And if a man uses “men are stronger” to argue against putting women in combat, he may have a hard time saying his wife committed domestic violence against him.
(Read also Paul Elam’s eloquent April 2010 statement at A Voice For Men of the price we pay for not requiring women in combat roles: “Women in Combat: On Suffering for Suffrage.” At the same site, see the commentary posted January 25, 2013, “The joke of military equality.”)
The military’s physical fitness test requirements for both sexes: http://www.military.com/military-fitness/