Should “men are stronger” bar women from combat roles?

Be sure to see my comment on domestic violence in the Post Script.

“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, “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!”

Cheryl Haworth holds the North American record in the clean-and-jerk lift (319 lbs.) and the snatch (275 lbs.) and has competed in three Olympic Games.

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.)

Nadezhda Evstyukhina of Russia, on April 16, 2011, set a new world record in the clean and jerk at the European weightlifting championships with a lift of 162 kilogrammes (356.4 lbs.) in the women’s 75kg category.

 “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.


Watch this 77-year-old woman, Willie Murphy, lift more than you can:


Further reading:

  • 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?” –, January 26, 2013
  • Women In the Line of FireThe Coming Draft (see the chapter on women in the military)

Post Script:

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 a 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:

Note: As a conservative and a Republican, I may have been just the sort of person to do this commentary. I realize that a lot of conservative men may reject my view (a lot have rejected it!), but I believe many do so because they may feel “Men are stronger” is a last male bastion — a last redeemer of male pride — in an era when men, especially conservative men, are being attacked and mocked by liberals rather than being understood.


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3 Responses to Should “men are stronger” bar women from combat roles?

  1. David says:

    Trees for the forest.

    The point isn’t about strength. It is about understanding the necessity of the family, community, and government. We want mom’s to raise children, not child-care workers. We want Dad’s to go to the battlefield, or work; not because it’s better or more honorable, but because they ‘generally’ are more suited for it; it is actually more sacrificial to leave your family – ask any working mom.

    The ‘women should go to war’ folks are just on the bandwagon of state-redesign of children, and the ultimate destruction of family. It isn’t new, Plato thought the state would function similarly; the problem is that the history of mankind has told us families work the best as the foundation of society and after that town, then state, then government, not the other way around.


    • David, thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Not every woman wants to be — nor can be — a mom who raises children, just as not every man wants to be — nor can be — a dad who raises the income so mom can raise the children.

      In effect, you are denying choice to a huge degree to a huge number of people. Let everyone be what they want to be.

      Please tell me how the family would be destroyed by allowing women into combat — especially when so few women (like so few men) want to be in it and qualify.

      Without realizing it, I think, you went from thinking about a few women being in combat to thinking about all women being in combat — which is not even a remote possibility.

      Even in World War II, millions of women served in non-combat positions. Nothing happened to the family structure.

      I’ve been doing “gender business” for over 30 years. Just as I can recognize when feminists feel threatened — and boy, do many of them feel threatened by my views and want my head on a platter, literally — I can recognize when men do.

      I recommend that you read:

      “Why so few men protest anti-male sexism (Or: Why men fear women)”

      “The Doctrinaire Institute for Women’s Policy Research” at:

      I would love tor respond further, but I have to run.


  2. Marvin Sinclair says:

    Dear Sir,

    I have no idea if the women soldiers in the top photo are even physically qualified to be in the infantry. Showing photos like that, and the civilian counterpart, putting a Hollywood starlit in a roll as a superhero where she walks into a bar and beats up ten bikers/bad guys only contributes to a mythology that can get a lot of women killed.

    By the way Chyna was using steroids to get both large and muscular, bad example. And the wrestling matches are made up and it is predetermined who will win a bout. It does take good timing, and athletic abilities for any of them to be in the ring. I doubt there was any man she was ever in the ring with that couldn’t have knocked her out and killed her. They are on steroids too.

    I am an admirer of Cheryl Haworth. It is deceptive to show that photo and, although it shows great strength. It took 5 years of training to get a bronze at the Olympics. Are you suggesting four hours a day, six days a week, for maybe just two years to be ready for basic? I wonder if at that weight she was able to do 3 pull ups, climb ropes, scale walls etc. In my opinion women weightlifters, most of them not as great in size as Cheryl, generally seem to have a better fluidity of movement on the lifts, because of the lower center of gravity, and are more flexible. They have about 60% the strength of male weightlifters the same body weight.

    The Russian and eastern European women have always been noted as athletes who dope.

    I know nothing of Ms. Mills or Ms Morrison… they sound impressive.

    The Russians and Israelis tried women in combat and it was a failure, so they no longer do it.

    I served in the LRRP’s in VN 1967/68. I was 24 years old, 5’11” at about 200 lb.. I was reasonably well muscled. I typically carried an 80 lb. pack. One time I carried a PRC-25 (radio) and that added about another 20 lb.. I was on a 5 man team on a mission, in the middle of the jungle, when a grenade landed at my feet. It exploded and wounded the other 4 men, but not myself. I had the 80 lb. pack and the Team Leader called for an extraction. He said I need for you to carry this man’s pack and bring up the rear. The packs were loaded with boxes of ammunition grenades and claymores, with some MRE’s as an afterthought. There was an LZ about three-fourths of a mile through the jungle. We are doing a slow run with me bringing up the rear carrying 160 lbs in packs running forward a few feet, and then running sort of sideways looking back, and then running backwards a few feet with my CAR15 pointed into the jungle, and then to a complete stop. Now stopped I’m panting, can hear my heartbeat, listening and watching for movement in the jungle and I don’t dare set the packs down for fear of not getting them back up in time, if I have to run. Now I had to turn and run as fast as possible to catch up and go through the routine over and over again until we got to the clearing. The chopper came in & took three of our wounded, and dropped 4 fresh LRRP’s. The six of us headed back into the jungle to find the enemy & we did.

    That was a very simple exercise that day compared to many others.

    I have seen a lot of infantrymen who could do what I did that day, but I don’t believe I’ve met a woman yet who could. Even if a woman was in my place and was able to carry even a 60 lb. pack, what would she do with the extra 80 lb pack. Would we have left it so the enemy could kill us later with our own arsenal or kill some other poor grunt later. Imagine the extra time spent, if we had to open all our packs and dump out and leave great gifts for the enemy, so that we could jam the arsenal in the other packs. Personally I think you are all nuts.

    By the way: I don’t for one second believe that conservative men who have been in combat as infantrymen believe that women should serve in combat… unless they are misogynists.


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