Wednesday, January 30, 2013

But if there are girls in our unit we'll have to spend all our time and energy *not* raping them...

When I first heard that SecDef Panetta signed a bill allowing women to serve in ground combat units in the U.S. military, I wasn't all that surprised.  I didn't even feel the need to post about it on Facebook, which we all know is the generally accepted litmus test for whether a piece of news is "noteworthy".  After all, women have essentially been serving in combat for the better part of ten years, given how blurry the "front lines" have become in modern war, and they've served with non-ground combat units since 1994.  In the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, around 800 women have been wounded in action across all branches of the military, and 139 have been killed.

While I wasn't surprised, I was a little ambivalent.  My husband served with combat and transportation units in Afghanistan and Iraq, and we've discussed the issue even before this news was announced. He's expressed some concerns over what effects women in ground combat units might have, and, although I generally think I'm right in most cases, I tend to defer to him on all things military.  So, when the subject was broached during a get-together with friends last Saturday, everyone mostly agreed with what he had to say.

First, I should explain that my husband is known for his ability to give you his point of view in a way that sounds completely rational and well-reasoned.  You listen and find yourself totally agreeing with what he's saying until you have a chance to really think about it later.  Then you're kind of like:

This is exactly what happened when the subject of women in combat came up.  Points were made about the physical capabilities of women, particularly in regard to the ability to carry a wounded member of your unit to safety if they outweigh you by a lot.  Makes sense, right?

And then there's the issue of sexual assault.  Unfortunately, it's something that happens in the military all the time (a friend of Katherine's and mine works for the VA and deals with just these cases).  It's entirely possible that allowing women to serve in combat units may increase the number of cases the military sees each year.  Of course we don't want to blame the victim, but that doesn't mean we want to make something like that more likely to happen, right?  Sounds reasonable enough.

Except that it doesn't (Steeeeeeve!).  If a women who wants to serve in combat can pass the physical fitness requirements that others in the same unit have had to pass, then she has every right to serve in that unit regardless of what's under her uniform.  She's proved she's physically capable, and any hemming and hawing over whether she's "strong enough" is sexist bullsh*t, plain and simple.

I'm pretty sure they could all kick your ass. Or carry it to safety.

And the sexual assault thing?  If you think about it for half a second, that's probably the worst argument in a long list of bad arguments.  I'm ashamed to admit that I'm only now starting to realize we live in a society that tells women, "don't get raped," instead of telling men, "don't rape."  And sure, women should take precautions to protect themselves, but if there's a ground combat unit out there with members that just can't keep from raping women simply because they're available for raping, then those *men* don't belong in the unit.  Or in the military.  It's absolutely ridiculous to say that a woman should be kept out of positions that could potentially advance her career because the men around her might not be able to control themselves.  And, frankly, I think that attitude is just as insulting to men as it is to women. 

She's definitely "asking for it." If by "it" you mean the right to be treated equally.

I could go on for awhile about this, and will likely mention it again in blog posts yet to come, but I really don't think I could do a better job than was done on Monday's episode of the Daily Show. Thus, I leave you with the sage wisdom of Mr. Stewart.   ~C


  1. ALL OF THIS. Nothing is more infuriating than people trying to argue WOMEN WILL CAUSE MEN TO LOSE CONTROL. Just... ugh.

    Also, I love Jon Stewart.

    1. So true. It assumes the worst about everyone involved. Jon Stewart is the best--I'm glad he exists to put things into perspective for me. :)


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