On the eve of Memorial Day weekend, news came to us that two female Army Reserve officers have sued the U.S.Department of Defense and the Army in a bid to reverse military policies banning women from serving in combat roles.
The lawsuit filed on behalf of Command Sgt. Maj. Jane Baldwin and Col. Ellen Haring accuses the government of violating the constitutional rights of servicewomen by excluding them from certain ground combat units and other positions solely on the basis of their gender.
To venture into this deep abyss may prove to be unwise, but the differences between a man and a woman is relevant here and must be taken into consideration. Although, much like issues of race, far too many will see this as a no-win situation better left alone.
It has become taboo in today’s progressive world to dare acknowledge our differences as human beings. The ‘gender-neutral’ school in Sweden “on a mission to break down gender roles — a core mission in the national curriculum for Swedish pre-schools”, being a product of this mindset.
A mission “underpinned by a theory that society gives boys an unfair edge”, where teachers avoid using the pronouns like “him” and “her” when talking to the children.
While one must cringe at the very thought of an entire generation awash in confusion, we didn’t get here by accident – in every way, it’s a product of design by those who see it as their cause to move society forward.
A cause rooted in this utopian belief of a paradise on earth, a real-life Shangri La where all man’s shortcomings have been eradicated and we become one… one love, one life, one need in the night as Bono so eloquently penned.
It brings to mind another great song, the classic Staple Singers tune, ‘I’ll take you there’;
I know a place, y’all
Ain’t nobody crying, no
Ain’t nobody worried
Ain’t no smiling faces
Lying to the races
The only problem with this theory are the inherent traits of human nature, initially intended to ensure the survival of the species. Built in qualities that cause us to be selective, discriminate in our actions and prejudice toward our surroundings.
That and the physical realities of the equipment with which God has endowed each of us. Yet, to dare broach said differences in today’s world opens you up to being called a bigot or sexist, labels that can ruin reputations and destroy careers.
Not that I am a neanderthal when it comes to the opposite sex. In fact, I would argue the very opposite. I grew up in the post ‘Father Knows Best’ generation and counted among my favorite television shows ‘That Girl‘ and ‘Rhoda‘, groundbreaking shows that idolized young, single career oriented women.
I married a woman who would come to open her own business and had two amazing children, both daughters. Along the way we ended up with two cats and a dog, all female. I’ve also been blessed with a granddaughter as well, although reinforcements are on the way with a grandson due in just days.
When I found my way into the corporate world, my first boss was a strong, competent woman of accomplishment who was making her way in what was then a male dominated world. A woman I had much respect for who played a key role in my development. My initial training came at the hands of another strong woman I had great admiration for and hoped to one day be of equal stature.
And as a father and grandfather, I jealousy guard against anyone who would place limitations on the goals and aspirations of my progeny simply because they are female.
Yet, there are some differences that simply can’t be overcome. It’s not realistic to think that a woman can play in the NFL. By nature, males are bigger, stronger, faster and capable of superior physical endurance.
I tread carefully because I have never served in the military and have never been in combat, but it’s only logical to assume the same here.
Looking past the potential of disrupting a combat unit’s critical esprit de corps, where soldiers have said that they could not trust a woman to perform her duties in front-line combat situations, or the concern that romantic relationships between men and women may disrupt a unit’s fighting capability, the physical realities alone are telling.
The female skeletal system is less dense, and more prone to breakages. The Center for Military Readiness states that “female soldiers [are], on average, shorter and smaller than men, with 45-50% less upper body strength and 25-30% less aerobic capacity, which is essential for endurance”.
While combat has become more of a long distance endeavor because of today’s technology, the possibility of up close, hand to hand fighting still exists and this is where physical traits take on even greater importance. It’s a very ambitious argument to suggest having women in the ranks under such brutal circumstances does not place soldiers at greater risk.
And who among us doesn’t bristle at the thought of a woman being taken prisoner of war?
Rhonda Cornum, then a major and flight surgeon, and now a Brigadier General and Command Surgeon for United States Army Forces Command, was an Iraqi POW in 1991. She would eventually disclose that she had been molested in captivity, although was initially asked not to mention it.
As it is, the Supreme Court last addressed combat exclusion issues in 1981, when it ruled that sex discrimination in Selective Service registration was constitutional because women were unable to serve in combat units.
In defense of the U.S. Military, it has made strides to blur the gender line substantially by allowing women to serve in Artillery roles and in most combat flying positions, as well as in direct support roles.
While trying not to sound like Archie Bunker, who believed “men were men, and girls were girls”, men and women were created by God to be different with each sex bringing individual strengths designed to ensure the survival of the species. We should celebrate these differences and the unique role each plays.
Society should strive to ensure equality in as many ways as possible, and while an individual should not be limited based on gender alone, we must have the common sense to realize that in some ways we can never be truly equal – just as nature’s God intended. And combat is one of those ways.