FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Gender Equality in the Military
Top priorities in military conflict are completion of the mission and safety of those involved. Since training is where the groundwork is laid for what will take place on the fields of combat, standards are rigid and direction is strict. These are absolute necessities.
Including women in non-traditional roles of military service, such as special forces, is still a relatively new subject to discuss. This article from Stars and Stripes regards lingering doubts about women in special operations, and reported:
Pentagon leaders lifted the ban on women in combat jobs in 2012, but gave the military services time to integrate women gradually and systematically into the male-only front-line positions. By January 2016, the military must open all combat jobs to women or explain why any exceptions must be made.
Should societal desire to promote a sense of equality into areas most heavily dominated by men push leaders to interject political correctness in military affairs? As reported here, the Army Ranger School beginning later this month will include female students for the first time. Although the women who may pass the course won’t be allowed to become official members of the regiment, they “will be considered trail blazers by many and allowed to wear the service’s prestigious Ranger tab”. Why allow women the opportunity to “try out” in the first place if their completion doesn’t mean entrance into the elite group?
Because of feelings.
For the past 2 1/2 years, the Marine Infantry Officer course attempted gender integration for the purpose of research. The result? Not a single woman is graduating from the course. That conclusion clearly indicates that equality of opportunity does not result in equality of outcome.
I had the privilege of hearing from a female member of the military, who allowed me to anonymously share some of her thoughts on this subject:
Every so often, I’ll ask the guys how they would feel about putting a woman on a team, and the answer is almost unanimous: we don’t care. Above all, the teams function on trust. No one I know has a problem with women on teams based solely on their gender. The problem is trust. The demands these men make on their bodies and psyches is phenomenal, and I know very few women, if any, who can toe that line. Each member of a team is hand-selected and put through training that makes the word “rigorous” look like a Girl Scout tea party. These men eat, sleep, sweat, and bleed together, because when the heat is on, they have to know that the ones beside them would die for them, or carry them home if they’re the unlucky one. Can the person next to them climb a 20 foot wall with a full kit (on average, 100 lbs)? Can they carry their own kit, and their wounded buddy, and his kit? For miles? Up a mountain? Under fire? While wounded? As a gross generalization, women just can’t hack it physically, and to put anyone on a team who can’t meet the requirements jeopardizes an entire team and mission. No weak links. Period. Regardless of gender. The physical demands are high, but for a reason, and they cannot change. Lowering the physical standards just so you can put a woman on a team would be suicide. Yes, women’s bodies are different than men’s bodies. That’s not an excuse for not being a trustworthy member of a team.
Not only are the physical standards demanding and prohibitive for most women, but the emotional and personality standards are there, too. These men are chosen to fit into a team based on personality as well. If they don’t “click”, there is no trust, and if there is no trust, there is no team. Can a team member keep his head up after losing someone? Can they go for weeks without a meal or a shower? Or a bathroom? If a child is wearing a suicide vest, can they pull the trigger?
The problem is the politicization of gender roles. They want “equality”, but not equal standards. It’s not equality if it’s a forced placement of a woman on a team. That benefits no one and kills good people. Literally. If a woman can be an operator first and a woman second, then we’re on the right track. But the military’s big push is to highlight and celebrate women for being women. They’ve created a hyper-awareness of gender, distinction, separation, sexual sensitivity, and political correctness.
While a gender equality push can be frustrating for non-military environments, a push for the same in the ranks of the armed forces has far more severe, lasting consequences. Lives are at stake. Objectives can be compromised. We should not be willing to do that, especially in an era of increased threats at home and abroad. The military should stand firm against pressure to accommodate anyone simply for appearances. It’s plain to see that there is an unwillingness to accept differences between genders in both the military and civilian world. It isn’t just that, though. There is an absolute refusal to admit that these God-given differences are not a bad thing. They simply exist.