All For One

So an article about the current House bill aiming to limit the roles of women in combat came in my email a little bit ago, and it has me thinking again. The whole notion of limiting women in combat is utter nonsense to me. There is only one point that has been made reasoning for it that I understand completely but don't agree that it should be used as a reason to institute any kind of limit.

My opinion is that equal rights is equal rights. A woman is no less patriotic simply because she is a woman. Anyone who steps up to the desk, is willing to sign his or her life away on the dotted line, and can meet the physical/intellectual requirements for any position in the military has my respect and support all the way. Currently there are several "segregration" concepts in the military between men and women, some of which I understand and some of which I don't. Frankly, in many places there have been inequalities put in place just for the purpose of making it easier for women to be able to participate in the military way of life, so I don't understand how those same inequalities can be used to keep someone out of a position.

First, in basic training all male candidates are required to have their heads shaved to 1/8 of an inch. Female candidates are not. Why? This has never been explained to me to make any more sense than from a recruiting standpoint. More women will opt not to join if they're required to shave their hair. If your patriotism is based on the state of your appearance (and on something that will grow BACK even) then you really haven't made much of a sacrifice have you? If their sense of duty is limited by their desire to have their hair cut off, then it's not likely that their commitment is going to be there at any other point.

Second, physical fitness requirements are different between men and women. Exercise positions are even different for men and women. Why? Is the job of a soldier different because the soldier is a woman? Does an M-16 suddenly weigh less? Maybe it's lighter or has less of a recoil because they get to use less than the 5.56mm round. The uniform is the same. The job is the same. The tools are the same. I don't understand why the requirements to fulfill the position should be different. They didn't make the intellectual requirements higher or lower to balance it out based on gender. Frankly, a lot of the women I knew in the military were in better shape than the men, and several civilian women I know (some of whom wanted military careers) can still "out-tough" most of the men I know (sorry, Doug, but you know you were always kind of a wuss). The job doesn't change just because a candidate is a woman, and in most cases the job has a very physical focus. In my own experience, I have had to pick up the slack repeatedly because a job was assigned to a person who didn't meet the physical requirements of the job. More often than not it was a woman, but there were several guys who didn't meet the needs either.

There is a large unspoken gender bias in the military with respect to women. It's not a coincidence that Medical and Services units tend to have a higher concentration of women. In many cases it makes a lot of sense from a logical standpoint. Yes, it could be argued that a woman who is 5'2" and weighs 105 lbs can drive a truck as well as or even better than I can. Let's see her get her ass out in the middle of a 120 degree desert and change a tire that weighs more than she does. Hell I want to see what magic she uses to pop the lugs. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with women in the military. I encourage it. Most of the most intelligent, valorous, and committed individuals I've ever had privilege to serve with have been women. However, I think the standards should be equal. I think that people in the military should be entered into positions that suit their abilities regardless of their gender.

So, I've been mentioning all the points I disagree with, how about the point that I do agree with? Combat positions have a highly physical component to their training. That is not to say that women can't do it, that's to say that there is a higher percentage of men who can and want to do that work. That's doesn't mean we should limit the few women that can and want to, but when we look at the environment we can see that we may be placing these few in "double jeopardy". The entire military is already male dominated, and the institution has shown a rabid disregard (or at least inability) to control that male component's aggressive nature. Women are assaulted at every base, every school, at every level of the military institution. There is not a single year that goes by that we don't read in the paper about some scandal involving a school or a gathering or a conference where it all went down. The combat positions hold (on average) a lower threshold for withholding violent nature. We're teaching these people how to kill. I'm not even in a combat position, and I was taught plenty about it. Now consider the fact that it's a male-centric organization. That fact alone is not going to change anytime soon. It's especially not going to change just because someone thinks it's "unfair". If you toss a woman into the mix of a 15-20 men who are trained to be aggressive, you've just given her two enemies. The one she is ordered to kill and the one who is supposed to be watching her back not staring at her ass. I agree that this additional danger is a consideration, but I don't agree that it is enough to provide limitation.

I am all for equality, but at the same time it should be equality. Let them. They might just show you how tough a woman can be.

Note: There are a couple of other reasons I've been given that I don't address here specifically, but mostly because I have, as yet, to formulate a true opinion on those aspects of the topic.

» Posted on 14 Apr, 2006 at 4:16 PM.
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This is a playground where I test new toys, ideas, and technologies. The articles published here are random excerpts from an otherwise organized brain. I only have a singular system to test things with, so if something isn’t behaving or doesn’t look right to you, by all means let me know about it.