Reading through some of the commentary, a couple of repeating messages caught my eye. The first is the low value assessment the mainstream conservative commentariat continues to make of men:
To believe that soldiers, officers, and policymakers will react identically to female casualties — or to videos of female troops being tortured by al-Qaeda — is to deny human nature.This theme was echoed across the Right, from the web to television shows to talk radio. The unmistakable message: we value our daughters more than our sons. So much so that we don't give second thought to sending our sons off to die, but tie ourselves into knots at the mere prospect of doing the same with our daughters. No wonder women are outpacing men in nearly every significant metric...except as homicide and suicide vics, and war dead of course. Our daughters are simply more important to us, and our sons know it, so why bother, really? Moreover, dead female soldiers will be mourned as dead female soldiers. Dead male soldiers...well, they don't exist. They're just soldiers, after all, and if they die, they might merit a brief mention in the local news. They, apparently, are expendable. I've argued the opposite--that it is men who are the indisposable sex nowadays. But I'm in the minority, clearly.
The second is that the drive to more military jobs open to women ignores long-available objective data:*
The "USMA report on the Integration and Performance of Women at West Point", cited by Mackubin Thomas Owens, in Proceedings (July 1998) reveals sex-norming schemes whereby women receive A grades for the same performance that earns a man a D. Navy women pass physical readiness tests by performing 11% fewer sit-ups, 53% fewer push-ups, and running 1.5 miles 27% slower than men. The Marine Corps discovered that only 45% of female Marines could toss a hand grenade beyond its burst radius; one Army study reported only 12% could. Navy studies show that only 12% of women can accomplish the two-person stretcher carry, a requirement critical to ship security. Women may be able to drive a five-ton truck, but need a man's help if they must change a tire. Women can fire field artillery pieces but often can't handle the ammunition.and the testimony of those men
Senator Olympia Snowe (R.ME) says, "Every time a woman is excluded from a position [in the military], she is devalued." That's the kind of stupid thinking that ignores important physical and psychological sex differences and has compromised our military readiness. A partial listing of those differences include: the average female soldier is five inches shorter than her male counter-part, has half the upper body strength, has significantly lower aerobic capacity (at her physical peak, ages 20 to 30, the average woman has the aerobic capacity of a 50-year-old male), and 37% less muscle mass. Women have a much lighter skeleton that means, among other things, she can't pull G forces as well as men and is at greater risk of skeletal injuries.
Women soldiers are four times more likely to report ill. The percentage of women being medically non-available at any time is twice that of male soldiers. Then there's pregnancy. Each year, between 10 and 17 percent of servicewomen become pregnant. In certain posts the rate is higher. In 1988, James Webb, Secretary of the Navy, said 51% of single Air Force and 48% of single Navy women stationed in Iceland were pregnant. During troop deployment in Bosnia, between December 1995 and July 1996, a woman had to be evacuated due to pregnancy every three days. These and other factors mean that women suffer a higher rate of attrition than men...
The invasion was a blitzkrieg. The goal was to move as fast to Baghdad as possible. The column would not stop for a lance corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, or even a company commander to go to the restroom. Sometimes we spent over 48 hours on the move without exiting the vehicles. We were forced to urinate in empty water bottles inches from our comrades. Many Marines developed dysentery from the complete lack of sanitary conditions. When an uncontrollable urge hit a Marine, he would be forced to stand, as best he could, hold an MRE bag up to his rear, and defecate inches from his seated comrade's face.and women
During the invasion, we wore chemical protective suits because of the fear of chemical or biological weapon attack. These are equivalent to a ski jumpsuit and hold in the heat. We also had to wear black rubber boots over our desert boots. On the occasions the column did stop, we would quickly peel off our rubber boots, desert boots and socks to let our feet air out. Due to the heat and sweat, layers of our skin would peel off our feet. However, we rarely had time to remove our suits or perform even the most basic hygiene. We quickly developed sores on our bodies.
When we did reach Baghdad, we were in shambles. We had not showered in well over a month and our chemical protective suits were covered in a mixture of filth and dried blood. We were told to strip and place our suits in pits to be burned immediately. My unit stood there in a walled-in compound in Baghdad, naked, sores dotted all over our bodies, feet peeling, watching our suits burn. Later, they lined us up naked and washed us off with pressure washers.
As a woman and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, I’m not so sure. To those who have been agitating for this step, I say this: be careful what you wish for....who've been there and done that.
At this point, we only know the broad outlines of the new policy. The service branches have until 2016 to implement the new policy and to determine if some positions should remain closed to women. Many women will find out in the long haul that combat entails unprecedented physical stress. As it is now, many women have greater duress on their bodies than men with the physical requirements and are discharged at higher rates from the duress on knees, hips, ankles, and joints. That reality will only be exacerbated in combat. Will physical performance standards be adjusted (that is, made less stringent) to accommodate women? And then there’s the emotional duress that troops in combat endure. I’ve seen many women in the Marines who chose not to reenlist due to the extreme emotional hardships of service. It isn't an easy culture to handle.
It goes beyond physical limitations—the object of military culture is to defeat the enemy and kill anything that is a threat. There is a constant mode of aggression; I’ve seen too many women who enlisted and completed training, but soon learned they simply couldn’t face that dark reality on a daily basis
On the upside, perhaps with this move, the hybrid have-cake-and-eat-it-too women-in-the-military situation will be finally rectified. Perhaps sex-normed physical performance standards will finally be ushered out. Perhaps fathers will receive the same post-partum leave as mothers, doled out with equal amounts of career impact. Perhaps also that women will, finally, be required to register for Selective Service...and at long last be able to serve their Republic in the same manner that their brothers have done since the Founding. No more suffering the indignity of being a civic halfling...the shame of being able to vote others into combat while being ineligible to perform the societal duty that suffrage requires.
I'll close this post by noting that it appears to be a small cabal of feminist agitators that want women in combat branches. As usual, the demo of these activists is precisely the same as the core of feminism in general...UMC women. They want combat billets open, not because they'll do as good or better a job as men, but because they want the career opportunities (i..e, combat, command) garnered there, LMC/poor women and all men be damned. Don't worry though. The traditionalists and complementarians will work hard to ensure that said women will get their combat job opportunities while continuing to minimize/eliminate the risks that come with it.**
Once again, we see feminists and trad-cons tag-teaming to cement the socio-politico-sexual supremacy to female sex of the species. Have cake, eat it some more.
* Factory at Hunting for Archetypes wonders if progress in exoskeleton technology will someday soon erase or greatly shrink the strength and endurance differentials between men and women.
** Women were 2% of the casualties in Iraq, despite being around 15% of the active-duty force