Monday, December 13, 2004

Why Not?

A new Army report out makes a giant leap for womankind:

Internal Army documents advocate changing Pentagon rules on mixed-sex units in a way that critics say will risk placing female soldiers in ground-combat situations. The Nov. 29 briefing to senior Army officers at the Pentagon, presented as part of the service's sweeping transformation of its 10 war-fighting divisions, advocates scrapping the military's ban on collocation — the deployment of mixed-sex noncombat units alongside all-male combat brigades. The briefing contained the phrase: "The way ahead: rewrite/eliminate the Army collocation policy."

Some argue that this paves the way for women to be in combat units. I say, why not? If a woman meets all the physical requirements and wants to be in a combat unit--what's the big deal? The usual responses to this question are the following:

1. War is too uncivilized for women. This agument conjures up the frail, helpless stereotype from century before last. It does a great disservice to men. If it is too uncivilized for women, why isn't it too uncivilized for men? The truth is that "war is hell" for anyone with any common sense, no matter their particular gender. Let the individual male or female decide.

2. But..but..motherhood! What about..fatherhood? Children need both their parents--at different times. This is true. I see no reason why this fact could not be accommodated by the modern military. There is also a wonderful technology called "birth control" that might be applicable here. For both men and women.

3. But they might get pregnant. See above-mentioned technology. They also might get pregnant working in an office. These days, people can decide if they want to get pregnant or not. It's a matter of technology and free will. Yes, mistakes will happen. So what. The Army isn't capable of eliminating irresponsible behavior, though it tries (see Grhaib, Abu for details).

4. But men will get overprotective of women in combat and put their own lives in jeopardy! This might be true for a little while, but I suspect common sense will eventually prevail. And, maybe some of the little women might put their lives in jeopardy protecting some big, strong men. It's called comraderie, and putting yourself at risk for your fellow soldier and its a big part of being in the military.

5. People won't like to hear about female casualties during war. Again, so what? No reasonable person likes to hear about any casualties or deaths. Every individual life is precious, men's included. If we agree that there are some things in life worth fighting for, then women are as entitled to fight for them as men are. If you don't agree, then no part of this discussion has any meaning for you.

The truth is that putting women in combat requires an almost herculean effort to change one's thinking about the world. To finally admit that some women ARE the equal of some men in every way; and in every endeavor-no matter how brutal or primitive. That women equal men in their longing for justice and freedom at any price; in their fierce desire to do their duty; and in their capacity to kill, if necessary to serve their country. And that's just scary to a lot of folks.

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