Saturday, October 26, 2013
Idle Thoughts -- Women in Combat
Apply H.T. Mills arguments to the idea of a woman in combat. Do you see the same arguments supporting the idea? Or is there a difference? Explain.
The idea of women in combat has become a really hot button issue in many political discussions today. Women are already allowed to be in many positions which puts them at risk, but are generally not actually put in combat roles at this time. The Pentagon has announced plans to begin the process of integrating women fully into the Armed Forces, including combat roles.
Some questions remain, such as, will women be allowed to serve in elite forces such as the Navy SEALs?
My own attitude is that this is a necessary and inevitable adjustment. Women will be regarded as no different from men in the services in the future. This will not happen quickly, but I believe it is an inevitable result of changing attitudes towards sexual roles and human self-realization. This is not to say that there will not be many difficulties in accomplishing this. Societal attitudes will change of necessity as we continue to grow in tolerance.
One of the most critical questions is, can women be physically strong enough to perform the required duties? The answer to this potential problem is relatively simple. Make no modification to the services' requirements. Women can or cannot meet those standards. If they meet them, they are acceptable. If they do not meet them, they are not. This is the rule for men and should be the rule for women. Of course, the requirement should be reasonable for the job, not loaded so as to eliminate women.
It is very important to note here that this is not a mandatory issue. I have serious doubts about drafting women and forcing them into combat roles. However, if a woman wants such a placement, I believe that she should be able to volunteer. This is because I do not believe that boys and girls or men and women are essentially identical. Science has shown that there are subtle, but nevertheless distinct, differences in brain structure between the sexes. It is unrealistic to assume that everyone is suitable to serve in the combat role. This is true not only as an issue of men versus women, it is also true as a matter fact for different types of human personalities in both sexes.
Furthermore, as more and more combat is turned over to remotely operated vehicles, there is likely to be less and less necessity for "hand-to-hand combat" and much more need for individuals who function well in cyberspace. This minimizes sexual differences in terms of physical strength, aggressiveness, and other traditionally male attributes.
Among the problems which will eventually develop are very serious issues such as bathroom facilities. In camp this is not a difficult issue but what happens in a combat situation? Are we willing to allow women to serve only in sexually segregated combat teams? Even if they were, how that will affect the use of makeshift latrines that will mean a great deal exposure. In the past, this was common on the streets of every city in the world. But these days, we have developed the concept of modesty with the advent of indoor toilets.
Women of the Third World are fighting very hard for access even to outhouses so that they can have some privacy as men tend to stare at them when they perform the natural functions of elimination or urination. If this is such a critical issue for women in general, what happens in a combat situation in a mixed sex platoon?
There's also the problem that when a woman is captured by the enemy, we become much more concerned about abuse than we do when a man is captured. Perhaps this attitude will change in the future and we will come to regard prisoner of war abuse as an entirely human rather than partly sexual issue.
To address the three issues in order:
1.) Pregnancy. Obviously, adjustments will have to be made if a woman soldier becomes pregnant. But it is also obvious that they can be made. The real issue here is the matter of sexual harassment which is endemic in the military at this time. We must somehow adjust to the fact that the presence of women in a subordinate position leads many men to abuse their authority. We are attempting to engage and solve this problem now. I believe we can and will eventually succeed.
2.). Unfair competition in the workplace will not be a problem in the sense that Mills originally meant. An all volunteer army requires many volunteers. During our recent combat situations the US was forced to lower standards in order to get enough qualified Americans to volunteer for duty. A larger potential pool from which to draw would ease this problem. The more likely problem will be the same one women are currently facing in the workplace. That is, that they are less likely to receive appropriate raises and promotions.
3.). Since basic training is aimed at, among other things, toughening and hardening individuals to face the rigors of military service in general, women soldiers will indeed be hardened. However, if we accept that the traditional positions of women as subservient, meek, and gentle are not necessarily appropriate, this may not be a problem. Certainly women soldiers will become "Army strong".