Coddling Is For Toddlers, Not Grown-Ass Men

coddling-is-for-toddlers-not-grown-ass-men

I was listening to this story on NPR’s Morning Edition a few days ago about the debate over whether the military should lift its ban on women in combat roles. Currently, women are (obviously) allowed to serve in the military, and might end up in combat, but they aren’t assigned specifically to combat positions. In places like Iraq and Afghanistan, this line is apparently blurred all the time. So there are women in combat right now, but they aren’t getting the career benefits from it.

There are several issues and factors to consider, and people against the whole notion have trotted out the usual excuses. What if women — oh horrors! — got pregnant? What if they decide to leave the military and go raise a family? What if women don’t sign up at all? But, my favorite is this one:

And there are the perennial concerns about unit cohesion. Will allowing women into intense fighting situations undermine the morale of all-male combat units?

Now where have we heard that kind of argument before? Let me see…. OH RIGHT. When we debated Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Oh my, if we let gay people stop hiding their gayness, straight men will feel uncomfortable and it will undermine their morale!

Let me just take a moment to call Bullshit on this argument. Say it with me, people: BULLSHIT.

Just from a military standpoint, anyone who enters the armed forces is trained to do a lot of things that many civilians never even dream of. If you can learn to do this:

“… ground combat, nose-to-nose with the bad guys, living in the mud, eating what’s on your back, no hygiene and no TV.”

And not whine, then you can learn to deal with some ladies in your unit.

But beyond that, I would really like us to get away from all this damn coddling going on. Yes, coddling. A whole chunk of the DADT debate was shaped by this sense that men’s sensibilities are, apparently, just too damn delicate to deal with the possibility that Joe over there might like to look at penises now and then. My advice to these men is: SUCK IT UP.

Even if the men in our military are ill-prepared to deal with the thought of having to serve in combat units with women, that does not mean we should continue to keep women out. It means we need to make the men in the military better people. It means that we have to stop privileging the hurt feelings and, frankly, silly whining of a bunch of backwards-thinking people in general over what is fair and right.

Coddling has never helped anyone, in the end. And, honestly? I’m so tired of everyone having to tiptoe around dudes in order to get shit done in this country. Just do what’s right. If certain of us want to whine and cry about it, treat them like the toddlers they so obviously are.

Coddling Is For Toddlers, Not Grown-Ass Men — Originally posted at The Angry Black Woman

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62 Responses to Coddling Is For Toddlers, Not Grown-Ass Men

  1. 1
    Robert says:

    I agree. We should equalize the gender treatment in the military, including draft registration, and stop coddling everyone.

  2. 2
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    I’ve heard of a different type of sexism: the concept that it’s more distressing for men to see women hurt than it is to see men hurt. Obviously this needn’t be true; women don’t inherently need more protection,and a woman screaming in pain isn’t any more worthy of assistance than a man. But it’s also true that many men are socialized to think that way–and perhaps the type of men who would volunteer for the U.S. military may be more likely than the average to think of women as requiring protection. I don’t know (not in the military) but thought I’d toss it out there.

  3. 3
    Chris says:

    Robert, I agree. We should eliminate draft registration for everyone.

  4. 4
    goshawk says:

    Really, these idiots are selling military men short. Sure, there’s always a few delicate flowers who can’t handle the change, but overall? I think these guys can take it. In fact, as a woman in the Canadian military, I know they can.

    On the subject of gays in the military, well, this study seems to say that the “cohesion” argument is kind of over…

  5. 5
    Robert says:

    Eliminating draft registration for everyone would be great – I’m a libertarian, and if the state can’t survive with voluntary soldiers then it doesn’t deserve to survive – but we have draft registration now.

    If combat jobs are opened to women, as they should be, since the government needs to treat people the same, then that applies to all aspects of military life. Women and men can meet the same standards and follow the same rules.

  6. 6
    RonF says:

    So there are women in combat right now, but they aren’t getting the career benefits from it.

    Oh, well, then, let’s change the structure of the military. Because it exists to provide career benefits to it’s members.

    Oh my, if we let gay people stop hiding their gayness, straight men will feel uncomfortable and it will undermine their morale!

    Wars have been won by forces that had inferior supplies, manpower and training but that had superior morale. “Morale” in the military is not a euphemism for how good the parties are. It’s not a joke.

    I’m so tired of everyone having to tiptoe around dudes in order to get shit done in this country.

    I’m tired of people forgetting that the purpose of the military is to fight our country’s wars and defeat it’s enemies, often by killing them. Providing opportunities for gays and women is a “nice-to-have”, not a “must-have”. Setting the priority of giving gays and women the privilege of serving in the U.S. military over that of it’s ability to achieve its core mission is what fans the flames of those who hold that the true objective of those pushing that priority is to destroy its effectiveness.

  7. 7
    Simple Truth says:

    I don’t believe allowing gays and women to serve in the military in any way “destroys its effectiveness,” nor do I believe that it has been proven it will. Instead, that just seems like some off-the-cuff speculation – do you have any studies to back it up?
    My family is a military family, and I believe every one of the strong men in it has handled 1) working in a team with people who don’t share their core beliefs and 2) working with orders they might not have agreed with. Adding women and LG is just a subset of that.

  8. 8
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    If someone were to ask me “do you think women should be allowed to volunteer for combat slots?” I’d say “sure! Let ‘em in!”

    But if someone were to tell me “Here. You’re now in charge of policy for the world’s best and largest and most powerful military force. Your most important task by far is to make sure that military effectiveness does not waver. With that in mind, you should consider whether we should allow women to volunteer for combat slots” then I’m not so sure that I would do it right away absent more information.

    We do have an unusually good military, especially considering its size. And when you consider its size and technology, we have the best and most highly trained military in the world.

    That status gives at least a bit of logic to people who support the status quo. Status quo for the US military is excellent; there aren’t a lot of examples of better militaries anywhere and there certainly aren’t any which are excellent comparisons. So people are scared of messing with it and they understandably say “prove this will be OK first.”

  9. 9
    Ampersand says:

    Setting the priority of giving gays and women the privilege of serving in the U.S. military over that of it’s ability to achieve its core mission

    You’ve yet to show, in any way at all, that these priorities are objectively at odds with each other.

  10. 10
    Dianne says:

    I agree with Robert @5: I don’t think we should have a draft or draft registration. But if we do, it should apply equally to all. But the same is true of combat troops: I don’t like having them, especially not when they’re used for aggressive, first strike wars, but if we’ve got to have them might as well make them as fair as possible.

  11. 11
    goshawk says:

    Gays serving openly in the military have had a negligible effect on unit cohesion and morale. See the study abstract I linked above re: gays in the Canadian Forces. We’ve been doing it since 1992, and um, we’re still here, still combat effective, still doing our jobs, and the whiners are in the minority.

    As for women, the concerns about strength and fitness are easy enough to fix: One Standard for combat roles. Everyone, male or female or trans, gay or straight or other preference, has to meet one universal physical and training standard. Will that exclude a lot of women? Sure. Will it exclude a lot of men? Sure. There, I fixed it.

    As for the career benefits problem, well, I believe that if you’re going to ask people to go get shot at, you should pay them for it (or provide other fair recompense). And I think it’s a pretty straightforward concept that if people are doing the same job (eg. convoy guarding, MP patrols, etc) and taking the same risks, they should receive the same compensation. This particular problem disappears once you get rid of the “girls and gays can’t fight!” bullshit, though.

    On a pragmatic side-note, the US is recycling troops through combat at an astonishing (and exhausting) rate. They are scrambling for combat troops – and yet still excluding a lot of people who are volunteering to do it. Seems a bit counter-productive.

  12. 12
    Robert says:

    Goshawk is quite right.

    I am something of a pragmatist on this. In 1941, admitting (openly avowed) homosexuals and women would have been terrible mistakes with huge impacts on readiness.

    But society has changed. Gays have changed. Women have changed. Men have changed. What was unthinkable and would have had huge impacts on readiness in 1941 would have had smaller impacts in 1971. The impacts would have been smaller still in 1991.

    Today? I really don’t see them as having much, if any, negative impact on net – if the changes are made sensibly and with an understanding that standards aren’t going to slip in the area of “what does it take, bona fide, to be a combat trooper”.

    “Has to be able to pack 60 pounds up a mountain” is bona fide; “has to have a cock that gets hard when it’s owner looks at boobies” is not.

  13. 13
    X says:

    I’ve been out of the Army a while now but it seems to me a woman MP with a medal or three(Bronze Star, Purple Heart and an Afghan campaign ribbon, say), a combat action badge and a patch on her right sleeve is way ahead of the game, career wise, than a male MP who does not have those things.
    The thing about a deployed Infantry Platoon is it’s a bunch of young dudes; vulgar, crude, sex starved, insensitive, compassionate, evil, idiotic, brilliant, afraid, bored, lonely and all of that. A troop today and a greek hoplite have that in common and the thousands of years of experience between have taught us how to make those platoons function in the worst imaginable circumstances. A gay man is still a man, and he’s going to get busted on for that just like the short guy, the smart guy, the braggart gets busted on for their differences. In the end, if the NCO’s are any good and the officer is not completely a fool, all those guys will become a dysfunctional family that is extremely close. They may at times hate each other, but they will at any time kill and die for each other, and since the job of combat arms to to kill and hopefully not die, it usually works out.
    How does a woman fit into that environment? Because it is up to the woman who wants to be there to make it work, to fit in, not the job of everyone else to accommodate her. What I have read about women serving combat is they are currently and successfully pilots, arty, medics and naval crew. Infantry is not like those ‘pogue’ gigs, medics excepted. I think there is still some segregation there in that a woman medic isn’t permanently assigned to an infantry platoon, but might walk a patrol or fill in on a convoy as needed. And let me now render a crisp salute and say that is more in the shit than I ever was . . .
    My personal opinion is that if a particular woman can pass the physical quals then go for it, and I’d like to hear more about the Canadian scene specifically, and more in general from women who have ‘been there and done that’, since, as I said, my light fighter days are long behind me and I honestly don’t know how this has been done elsewhere. I do know the Israelis had a problem with guys totally freaking out when a woman comrade got blasted, and I don’t know what they did to ‘fix’ that. Something obviously, since woman are back in the IDF combat arms as of ten or so years ago. Sorry for such a long post. If I was a little better informed it would be even longer . . .

  14. 14
    mythago says:

    By all means, make the Selective Service Act gender-neutral. Of course, good luck getting that past the overwhelmingly male Congress and support from the overwhelmingly male military leadership. Clearly, the Feminazi Mind Control Ray is doing its work.

    Somewhere in the garage I probably still have a letter written by some poor harassed ADA in response to my insistence (at age 23) that I be permitted to register for the draft. It was the legalese version of “Lady, we don’t make the rules, we just implement them. Take it up with Congress.”

    The reason I still have this letter is that it was a magical ward of STFU +5 against the kind of whiners who liked to insist that women shouldn’t be allowed to be treated as fully human because, like, THE DRAFT. “Okay, find me some men’s rights group willing to push the issue and I’ll be a test case,” I’d say, “I tried to register and they wouldn’t let me.” That always broke the 100-meter Changing The Subject World Record.

    Oh, and on standards, let’s do abolish the age-graduated restrictions as well. There’s no reason a 35-year-old soldier should be permitted to meet a lower standard than a 19-year-old soldier.

  15. 15
    Ledasmom says:

    You know, I think I actually did receive a letter telling me to register for the draft. Being young and fairly ignorant at the time, I did not (these days, it would strike me as amusing).
    I can’t imagine that the current fitness requirements would be too difficult for most women to meet – if my mother can pack forty-plus pounds for a week at 69, I’m confident most women could do it at 20.

  16. 16
    RonF says:

    Simple Truth:

    I don’t believe allowing gays and women to serve in the military in any way “destroys its effectiveness,” nor do I believe that it has been proven it will.

    Amp:

    You’ve yet to show, in any way at all, that these priorities are objectively at odds with each other.

    What one may believe is immaterial here. And the fact that it hasn’t been proven that permitting open gays to serve or permitting women to serve in combat hasn’t been proven to be a problem is also immaterial. The burden of proof is on the proponents of such action to prove that it will not reduce the military’s effectiveness. It is not – or at least should not be – the obligation of those opposing it to prove that it will. This is an excellent example of trying to fix something that is not broken. Gin-and-whiskey makes the point in detail very well.

    As far as the Canadian experience goes – Canadian society is not the same as American society and the Canadian military, while valiant, is not the same as the American military. I don’t accept the argument that “It works in the Canadian/German/Norwegian army, it’ll work in ours.”

    Finally, let me reiterate that I have no problem with the concept of open gays serving in the military or women serving in combat if the people in charge in the military think it’s a good idea. But there were plenty of people both on active duty (including the current Commandant of the Marine Corps) and recently retired (who are rather more free to offer a public opinion that opposes the Administration and Congress than serving officers are) who said it was a bad idea. Making a change like this in the face of highly divided opinion placed concerns of political correctness and the privileges of gays over a concern for what’s best for an effective military. That is what I object to.

  17. 17
    RonF says:

    This is not the only change made in the military that places concerns for “inclusivness” over those of military effectivness. SecDef Gates has recently commanded that women be assigned to submarine duty. Up until this point sub crews have been all male. The problem with this is that this will require subs that were not designed for accomodating mixed sex crews to now accomodate such. Space in a sub is very precious and very expensive territory and carving out space for separate bathrooms is going to take away from something else – and there’s no unessential something else on a sub.

    Again – design and build a sub to accomodate such a thing from the start and I’m fine with it. Shoehorn women in just to satisfy some “diversity” goals with disregard for what a sub is for and we’re sacrificing military effectiveness and thus quite possibly military lives.

  18. 18
    mythago says:

    I am so goddamn sick of “political correctness” being a euphemism for “anything to the left of my personal politics”.

    Concerns about social experimentation, The Troops Are Too Bigoted to Cope, and all that were raised in response to racial integration of the military, too.

  19. 19
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Isn’t “fighting ability” (or whatever) the proper analysis?.

    In my view, it doesn’t make sense to lump in the military with society at large. It exists to kill people. It isn’t democratic, it isn’t a right, it isn’t an open-to-all career path, or any of those things. If folks are coming into an argument based on a characterization of the military as something OTHER than what it is (and is meant) to be–a scarily effective fighting force–then it’s no surprise that those folks aren’t getting a lot of traction.

    The reason that DADT repeal was supported by a lot of military folks is because they felt it affected the ability of the military to do its job. They were losing (or failing to get) a lot of highly qualified volunteers because they were gay.

    So if you want changes in the military it makes a lot more sense to say
    “Women should be encouraged to enter combat because they will be good at combat, thus enhancing the military’s ability to fight*” and not “women should be allowed/encouraged to enter combat because it is holding back their career advancement.”

    If you’re talking about “fairness” and “politics” it seems that you’re having the wrong conversation.

    *which is my personal view, FWIW. War these days doesn’t involve sword-hacking and therefore physical size is less of an issue than smarts, training, and self-control. Women are equally smart and trainable and, from what I understand, are somewhat MORE self-controlled than men in a military setting. That would seem to be a good thing.

  20. 20
    RonF says:

    Then let me say that in this case I use “political correctness” as shorthand for “putting goals of ‘inclusiveness’ and ‘diversity’ and ‘equivalence of career opportunities’ above ‘effectivness in defending our country’”.

    War these days doesn’t involve sword-hacking and therefore physical size is less of an issue than smarts, training, and self-control.

    Review narratives of the Battle of Fallujah. Certainly there are a lot of jobs that do involve killing people but that don’t involve personal application of physical force. However, there is still plenty of need for kicking down doors and running around a combat zone with 50 pounds of equipment on your back while shooting at people. A number of American citizens – including, incredibly, the Vice President – seem to think that modern warfare allows wars to be fought and won by remote control. While planes and bombs and UAV’s and cruise missles and modern artillery permit a lot of combat to be done by people who will not be directly exposed to enemy fire, territory cannot finally be taken and held without boots on the ground.

  21. 21
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    However, there is still plenty of need for kicking down doors and running around a combat zone with 50 pounds of equipment on your back while shooting at people.

    Sure. Infranty has a lot of demands, and it would make no sense to change that. But any women who can meet the physical standards that are set for those activities–whatever those standards are–must therefore be able to do those things, or what would be the point of the standards?

    And also, a hell of a lot of “combat positions” don’t involve infantry work. A partial list would include people in planes, choppers, tanks, subs, carriers, etc. I don’t know what the standards are for those things, but I have trouble believing that physical size is as important in contexts which don’t rely on it as much.

    For a list of how it can get, take a look here:
    http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2011/01/air-force-woman-in-combat-roles-011811w/
    From the article:

    The Air Force lists nine specialty codes that restrict women’s role in combat operations. Restrictions include:
    • Women cannot become combat control officers because they would be exposed to combat.
    • They can serve as air liaison officers, weather forecasters and air liaison officers only if they are assigned with non-combat units such as an Army infantry battalion.
    • Enlisted women cannot become combat controllers, tactical air control parties, pararescuemen or special operations weather forecasters.
    • Radio frequency transmission systems airmen slots are closed to women when the job requires deploying with a special operations or infantry unit.

    Unless I am missing something very strange, I am entirely confused about what people’s vaginas or penises have to do with their tactical air control abilities.

    I’m not antimilitary and I’m not unaware of the counterarguments. I certainly understand issues with, say, submarines. Or potential issues with infantry. And I understand that SOME of the things above actually relate to direct face to face combat, i.e. “deploying with an infantry unit.”

    But come on. Why not start with the low hanging fruit?

  22. 22
    Vk says:

    Space in a sub is very precious and very expensive territory and carving out space for separate bathrooms is going to take away from something else – and there’s no unessential something else on a sub.

    You think that men and women need separate bathrooms? I’ve worked in theater – men and women are completely capably of dressing, showering and peeing in exactly the same situations that men and men are.

  23. RonF says:

    Then let me say that in this case I use “political correctness” as shorthand for “putting goals of ‘inclusiveness’ and ‘diversity’ and ‘equivalence of career opportunities’ above ‘effectivness in defending our country’”.

    Let me take the opportunity to say that you are using the term political correctness incorrectly, then, and perhaps you should stop while you’re ahead. I would also encourage you to find stronger arguments than the straw men you’re throwing up. And finally, I would point out that arguments that gays or women or black people or whoever would not be able to contribute to the effectiveness of the military are often used to keep these groups out without any proof that such bugaboos are real. And, no, it’s not on the proponents of allowing gays or women in the military to prove anything, because when injustice is what’s perpetrated, those who wish to defend the injustice are the ones with the burden, not those who wish to erase it. Discrimination is Not Right. Ever.

  24. 25
    RonF says:

    And also, a hell of a lot of “combat positions” don’t involve infantry work. A partial list would include people in planes, choppers, tanks, subs, carriers, etc. I don’t know what the standards are for those things, but I have trouble believing that physical size is as important in contexts which don’t rely on it as much.

    True to a certain extent. But not completely. Planes get shot down. Tanks break down. The fact that you start out physically isolated from the enemy doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to remain so – in fact, that’s part of the original premise, that women who theoretically are not in combat positions sometimes find that they are. The exigencies of warfare can put you in combat directly facing the enemy regardless of what your MOS is. There’s a reason why the Marines’ philosophy is “Every man a rifleman”. Are there positions where you don’t have to worry about that? Sure. But not as many as the examples you cite indicate to you. I agree with you that I have no idea why being female vs. male would affect one’s ability to fill a tactical air control billet. But at least in my case that’s because I have no idea what the requirements of that billet are. To my mind the proper approach is to ask why and to not make a change until the question is answered, not to blithely assume that it’s because of sexism and change the standard so that women can be assigned to such a position.

    I’ve worked in theater – men and women are completely capably of dressing, showering and peeing in exactly the same situations that men and men are.

    Submarine warfare isn’t exactly the theater – and you don’t get to go home every night, either. Again, my point isn’t “It shouldn’t have been done”, it’s “It shouldn’t have been done for the primary purpose of improving career prospects for women.” When the senior officers running the Submarine Services say “Yes, we can put women in submarines without affecting combat effectiveness” then I’m cool with it.

    But any women who can meet the physical standards that are set for those activities–whatever those standards are–must therefore be able to do those things, or what would be the point of the standards?

    That’s a question that needs some investigation. These are the Army Physical Fitness Test Standards. Click on down through and you’ll see that they are different for men and women. It is a common thread on many milblogs that it is observed that men and women are held to different standards in the military – and not just in physical fitness, but in management and behavioral standards as well. Specifically, that they are granted leiniency so as to meet diversity goals. Now, I’m willing to presume that 90%+ is sour grapes. Hell, I’ve seen that in the BSA. But that link alone shows you that there are separate standards. If your proposition that women should meet the same physical fitness standards as men were put into place you’d see a lot fewer women in the military. And to my knowledge, there are no separate physical fitness standards for a given MOS, including the infantry, unless you are in one of the special forces such as the Rangers or the SEALs.

  25. 26
    RonF says:

    Amp, I don’t understand. This time I was very careful to put

    left-angle-bracket slash a right angle bracket

    in there, but the link still didn’t close properly. What are you seeing in that?

  26. RonF:

    When the senior officers running the Submarine Services say “Yes, we can put women in submarines without affecting combat effectiveness” then I’m cool with it.

    The problem with this argument is that it assumes, implicitly, that those officers are somehow immune from the cultural, social and political biases that keep women out of combat (or blacks in segregated units or gays out of the army, when those rules applied) and that they can somehow therefore decide whether a female presence on a submarine would reduce combat effectiveness independently of the sexist attitudes that exist in society.

  27. 28
    Charles S says:

    Given that we aren’t in a war where submarine combat effectiveness has any effect whatsoever (the last submarine to engage in combat in anyway whatsoever was?), perhaps it would make sense to give submarine commanders experience with commanding women in non-combat and mock combat conditions and allow them to use that experience to judge whether it affects combat effectiveness?

    Believing that submarine commanders will be able to accurately judge what things with which they have no experience will affect combat effectiveness seems a little foolish.

    Have we ever really proved that mixed-race units don’t decrease combat effectiveness? I mean, obviously I believe that to be true, and so does almost everyone else, but have we ever really proved it? And is there any way that we could have proved it before we implemented it? Would submarine commanders back in the 1940s have said that having mixed race submarine crews would not decrease combat effectiveness (No.)? Are we even sure that desegregation of the military did not decrease the combat effectiveness of any units anywhere when it was first implemented? If there were some units somewhere where desegregation decreased combat effectiveness, does that mean Truman was wrong to implement desegregation (against strong resistance from his commanders)? Given that most of the military commanders at the time believed that it would decrease combat effectiveness, was Truman wrong to implement it even though his commanders were basically wrong? RonF’s submarine commander standard would seem to suggest so.

  28. 29
    Dianne says:

    I would think that women would be at an advantage in submarines, tanks, and other small spaces, due to smaller average body size. If it comes down to needing single sex units, why not make most submarine crews all female?

  29. 30
    Charles S says:

    Answering my own question (the first one), submarines did fire cruise missiles into Iraq at the start of the invasion of Iraq. I’m sure having women on board would have caused the missiles to miss… somehow.

  30. 31
    mythago says:

    Then let me say that in this case I use “political correctness” as shorthand for “putting goals of ‘inclusiveness’ and ‘diversity’ and ‘equivalence of career opportunities’ above ‘effectivness in defending our country’”.

    Because there’s no better way to express one’s contempt for things like ‘not evaluating combat-worthiness solely on the ability to piss standing up’ than slapping a sneering, dismissive term like ‘political correctness’ on it.

    Come the fuck on, RonF. You know as well as I do that “political correctness,” which used to be a term referring to holier-than-thou, one-right-answer-to-everything lefties, is now an insult to be applied to anyone perceived as further to the left of the insulter.

  31. 32
    Stefan says:

    RonF:

    I don’t see why someone who runs 2 miles in 15 minutes is such a worse soldier than someone who runs 2 miles in 13 minutes.I understand that there must be some standards, but it’s absurd to clinge on such small differences to justify not allowing women in combat positions.

  32. 33
    Stefan says:

    That above is what I said, not what RonF said.

  33. 34
    RonF says:

    Well, then, Stefan, in that case tell me why the standard for the men isn’t 2:13 as well. You’ll note that there are more significant differences in some of the other standards.

    The problem with this argument is that it assumes, implicitly, that those officers are somehow immune from the cultural, social and political biases that keep women out of combat (or blacks in segregated units or gays out of the army, when those rules applied) and that they can somehow therefore decide whether a female presence on a submarine would reduce combat effectiveness independently of the sexist attitudes that exist in society.

    Perhaps so. But what’s the reasonable alternative? Leaving the decisions in the hands of people who don’t know whether a sub is a boat or a ship? As if they don’t have cultural, social or political biases? It seems to me that if the alternatives are “possibly discriminate against women improperly” or “possibly harm the military effectiveness of a submarine and it’s crew” the choice is clear. The latter is far more important than the former. Individual privileges are of little import compared to the military’s core mission.

  34. 35
    RonF says:

    Actually, Dianne, you make a good point. In fact, there is a height limit for the submarine service that is shorter than the Navy as a whole. It would be a worthwhile question to ask. My guess would be that there aren’t enough women in the Navy to crew all of our subs. Whether you could find (or put) enough in the right MOSs to crew one or more is not something I could answer

    I’m still thinking about the physical fitness standards. If you want to put women in any military role, I’d have to say that one of the first things you should do is to require that all persons in the service meet the exact same physical fitness standards. Why shouldn’t there be equal requirements and qualifications for equal opportunity?

    There’s also the question of deployments. Here are some facts on women in the military:

    They make up 15% of the Navy.
    At any one time, about 12% of them are pregnant.
    14% (one out of 7) are single mothers – which mostly must have happened after they enlisted, because custodial single parents are not allowed to join the Navy.
    According to a survey of female sailors, 2/3 of those pregnancies are unplanned, and most often the father is another sailor.
    Women get 1 year of shore leave after giving birth.

    Submarine deployments are about 6 to 9 months long. Remember that the mission of a submarine includes staying concealed; one of the advantages of nuclear powered subs is that they never have to surface when not in port, and our enemies don’t know where the sub is. The numbers above indicate pretty strongly that female members of a submarine’s crew will become pregnant and that the pregnancy will progress to a point (whether through the normal course of events or due to some complication) where she will have to be removed from the boat either due to an inability to perform her job or because of a medical issue. Additionally, someone else trained in her MOS will have to be put on the boat to replace her, someone will have to be put in the billet where that person came from, etc. How can this be accomodated without a great expense and without compromising the sub’s mission?

  35. 36
    Stefan says:

    <>

    Actually, I have no problem with this.

  36. 37
    Stefan says:

    I mean, with this : “Well, then, Stefan, in that case tell me why the standard for the men isn’t 2:13 as well. “

  37. 38
    Charles S says:

    How can this be accomodated without a great expense and without compromising the sub’s mission?

    Require the use of implanted long-term b.c. by sub crews?

    Additionally, it isn’t necessary to have all sub crews be all women, only to have a sub-branch of the sub fleet that is all women. That would also resolve the pregnancy problem (mostly- you’d still have a problem of women getting pregnant shortly before the deployment).

  38. 39
    Charles S says:

    It seems to me that if the alternatives are “possibly discriminate against women improperly” or “possibly harm the military effectiveness of a submarine and it’s crew” the choice is clear. The latter is far more important than the former. Individual privileges are of little import compared to the military’s core mission.

    Do you believe that those who opposed integrating the military in the late 40′s were right?

  39. 40
    Joe says:

    I’m having a hard time believing some of the objections that have been raised in this thread; I feel like I’ve gone back in time 50 years. Bathrooms? Pregnancy? Seriously?

    Cut it out, guys. It’s embarrassing.

  40. 41
    x says:

    Some disjointed points:
    Racial integration and gender inclusiveness are not the same thing.
    Requiring women in rapid or long term deployed situations to be on B.C. seems a great idea. It’s not done though, and I wonder why?
    Air Force Combat Controllers and TACP members are effectively in the Army. They are the ones supposed to be calling air support. They are garrisoned with the units they support and go with them when deployment time comes around.
    Are there really a lot of women who want to be 11 or 18 series soldiers?
    If the physical standards are the same, pregnancy generally avoided (and abstinance is not the answer. Sex will be had whatever the regulations) and the women who end up at the pointy end of the spear fit in with that culture by being as rough and tough (if not more so) than the guys, then by all means make it so.

  41. 42
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    It seems to me that the current sets of rules were made to satisfy the requirements of a somewhat-gender-integrated which limits women to non-combat roles and certain slots.

    There are many valid concerns (though not all concerns are especially valid) regarding the change of combat/inclusion. But it’s hard to distinguish whether the naysayers are saying “this can’t be done,” or whether they’re saying “this can’t be done under the currently-existing sets of rules.”

    Same goes for the pro-integration folks. “this can be done now” is different from “this might theoretically be able to be done, under a different set of rules.”

    So IMO it’s all about the details. The specific details. Because it seems obvious that the details will govern whether or not it works out. Logistics are important, and yes, that includes pregnancy and bathrooms and the general intimacy issues surrounding the service. This should be no surprise if you paid attention to the DADT debates.

  42. 43
    Bear says:

    Actually, I’m pretty sure the folks who trot out the stale “combat effectiveness” nonsense are doing it as a nonanswer. “Combat effectiveness” is such a nebulous term there’s no real way to even know what is meant at any specific time that it’s used. Does it mean that unit cohesion will break down from a lack of trust between soldiers? Does it mean new soldiers being integrated won’t be trained effectively? Does it mean resources will have to be dedicated to shifting attitudes among the troops? Or is there some other concern that isn’t as apparent?

    Before I’m willing to accept the “combat effectiveness” excuse, I want specifics. I want to know exactly, in quantitative terms, what is meant by the person using it. Otherwise there’s no way to address those concerns, and the excuse becomes nothing more than a scarecrow used to avoid any real discussion of integration.

    BTW, Ron, when you say, “individual privileges are of little import compared to the military’s core mission” you make one major mistake. Equal treatment under the law (even military law) is not an “individual privilege,” it’s an inalienable right. And that means it’s of far greater import than you give it credit for.

  43. 44
    x says:

    Combat effectiveness is the ability of a unit to accomplish a given mission without incuring such casualties as make it incapable of follow on assignments. It’s a blend of morale, training, cohesion and proper equipment. There is nothing stale or nebulous about the term.

  44. 45
    Robert says:

    I was going to say “dead communists per hour” but @44 is a bit more descriptive.

  45. 46
    Bear says:

    x, you didn’t provide anything less vague or nebulous than the term “combat effectiveness”. All those terms you offer make for a pretty definition, but they certainly don’t speak to why integrating women (or gays or people of colour) somehow affects any of that. Unless you apply ways in which integration affects any of those facets you list, the dictionary definition you offer is still pretty much useless as a reason to oppose it.

  46. 47
    Robert says:

    People who hate and/or fear their fellow soldiers cannot accomplish their mission as readily, Bear. This seems relatively obvious.

    Generally, someone who is hateful and/or fearful is wrong to be so – but the question isn’t “who is right” but rather “can the mission be accomplished”.

    In the long term, integration of all sorts of formerly-barred types of people into the military has been accomplished, not by focusing on the rights and wrongs or on absolutist (and absolutely ridiculous) sentiments that “discrimination is always wrong”, but on reducing the level of hate and fear in the existing pool of soldiers.

    Truman was able to integrate the military after WWII in no small part because the extensive experience of white and black soldiers in the segregated Army demonstrated to a large number of the haters and fearers that their feelings were perhaps less empirically grounded than they had originally thought. If he had done it in 1939 (well, if FDR had done it in 1939) they would have been no less RIGHT but it seems very likely they would have been a lot less SUCCESSFUL.

    Roy Blount tells a story of being a small boy and hearing about civil rights and “Negro agitation”, and asking his mother whether Negroes should be allowed to be equal to white people – specifically, in the context of the integration of major league baseball, which was where his boyish attention was focused at the time. His mother said “well, I don’t know about all of that, but I do know that your daddy played baseball with Negroes when he was in the service.” That was good enough for Roy; if his daddy had played ball with Negroes in the Army, then Negroes could play ball.

    A lot of the fading of the intra-military feeling against gay people in service has come, not from high-minded principal, but from the simple fact of service with folks who, DADT or no, the other soldiers knew were gay but could see were perfectly good soldiers. A lot of people played baseball with Negroes, in other words, and recognized that no matter how they had felt about it to begin with, their feelings had shifted.

  47. 48
    X says:

    bear, looks like I wrote in post numbers 13 and 41 that I am not opposed to it provided; women can fit in with the ‘warrior’ culture, physically do the job, and not make themselves a casualty by getting pregnant.
    It seems to me that that some women can meet these challenges and succeed. Women are already aggressive and capable fighter and attack helicopter pilots, for instance. And women wanted to do those jobs, passionately. But life in an aviation brigade or fighter squadron is orders of magnitude easier than life in an infantry battalion. Which, incidentally, is where I experienced first hand what combat effectiveness means.
    The pregnancy issue, much to joe @40′s disgust, is probably the biggest problem. A pregnant women is a casualty as far as the unit goes, since she’ll need to be evac’d from the battle space and given some long term medical care. If she is any good at the job she’ll be sorely missed and not easily replaced, but at least she’ll be leaving her comrades behind with the knowledge that she isn’t dead or horribly mangled, assuming the pregnancy goes well. Maybe they would be happy for her. Maybe they would say “Hell, she bailed on us when the shit really started to suck . . .” Both of those reaction and more besides, probably.
    Speaking of casualties, I wonder what the IDF did to get over the problem of men freaking out and becoming uncontrollable when women serving with them became casualties. I also wonder if there are really that many women who want to be in the infantry. Lastly, I wish some women vets would chime in on this thread, because I’d really like to know their thoughts on the matter.
    I’d recommend, if any are interested in just what kind of culture an infantry unit has and what the war in Afghanistan is like, please read ‘War’, by Sebastion Junger. Then watch the documentary Restrepo, by the same. Then keep in mind that the next war we get into probably won’t be anything like the one’s we’ve got going on now. It’ll probably be much worse . . .

  48. 49
    lauren says:

    You know what could also help with the pregnancy- issue? If the men that have to be involved as well used protection. This whole “they could get pregnant and abandon the unit” rhetoric ignores the fact that two people would b involved.

    Also helpfull: access to free birth control and medical care that includes abortion if wanted, instead of forcing the female soldiers to search for a provider off base.

  49. 50
    RonF says:

    Bear:

    BTW, Ron, when you say, “individual privileges are of little import compared to the military’s core mission” you make one major mistake. Equal treatment under the law (even military law) is not an “individual privilege,” it’s an inalienable right. And that means it’s of far greater import than you give it credit for.

    I fail to see where equal treatment under the law is an issue here. Members of the military are treated equally under military law. Civilians are treated equally under civilian law. But membership in the military is a privilege, not a right, and that privilege can be and has long been extended or withheld on the basis of a large number of reasons – sex, age, weight, level of physical fitness, level of intelligence, the presence or absence of both physical and mental disabilities, etc. for the very reason I’ve been citing.

  50. It’s a little tangential to this discussion but I thought I’d post a link to the Supreme Court’s decision in Rostker v Goldberg, the case that was argued in 1981 in which Robert Goldberg brought suit to require that women be required to participate in selective service registration and any subsequent draft just like men.

  51. 52
    lauren says:

    Members of the military are treated equally under military law.

    They are not. When a law has one set of rules for women and another for men, this is not equal treatment. Just like it was not equal treatment when civil law had one set of rules for white people and another set of rules for black people.

    When the law says “we are allowed to arbitrarily discriminate against whomever we chose”, then one can not claim equal treatment under the law, just because that law permits discrimination.

    Now, I am not saying that the laws banning women from combat positions are completely without reason, but “equal treatment under the law” means that whenever the law dictates unequal treatment, this must be justified and proven to be necessary. Equal treatment has to be the norm and any deviation from that norm needs to be justified. Which means that it is not up to proponents of equal treatment to prove that this will increase/ not hinder combat efectiveness. It is instead always the responsibility of those arguing for unequal treatment to prove that this is necessary.

    Whether those arguements are convincing or not is another question, but the “prove that it will not hurt” approach is ignorant of the fact that, unless actually neccessary, and proven to be so, any discriminatory policy is against the right to equal treatment.

  52. 53
    james says:

    “There are several issues and factors to consider, and people against the whole notion have trotted out the usual excuses. What if women — oh horrors! — got pregnant?”

    Why is this so crazy? If someone gets pregnant at my work, we can get a temp in. If I felt I was being put upon as a consequence, I could say my contract is 9 to 5 and I don’t want to go beyond that without extra reward. Or I could quit.

    I’m not a soldier, but the impression I get is that the military doesn’t work like this. They can’t hire temps, so serving soldiers duty is extended to cover the manpower shortage. Soldiers can’t renegotiate their contracts and have to obey orders. And if you quit before your term is up, that’s gets you put in jail.

    It seems a legitimate worry that if you hire people to fight wars that they should be available to fight when needed. I don’t think I’m a misogynist. I just feel that if someone said ‘I’d like to fight a war’ and then couldn’t because they got pregnant, and I was being shot at instead of them, I would have a legitimate grievance.

    I think pregnancy objection can very easily be overcome by saying: don’t get pregnant and enforcing it. But that’s not going to happen. The people who are okay with women in combat roles would not be okay with pregancy being a punishable offense. And the people who are okay with pregancy being a punishable offense don’t want women in combat roles.

  53. 54
    X says:

    lauren, as a practical matter I suppose requiring some surgery to tie up the tubes of everyone in a deplyable MOS would be the most egalitarian way to go, as opposed to requiring that women be given a shot. And I see questions with how married vs single troops are treated, as well as officer/nco/private troop segregation. But that is all details, and a ton of resentment among the early adopters of such a policy. Until you got so men and women could just have a shot, which, ha seems like might happen with a quickness. But now it feels like I am talking science fiction . . .

  54. 55
    Ampersand says:

    But now it feels like I am talking science fiction . . .

    Maybe not.

  55. 56
    goshawk says:

    Okay. So apparently, everyone’s okay with the idea of women being physically capable of performing in combat roles, provided that they are required to meet the same physical standards as the men and that those standards are realistically related to the job.

    The pregnancy issue is a point, insofar as we’re talking about soldiers who get pregnant on or before deployment. But I’m getting this idea that the American military doesn’t automatically supply free birth control – I don’t know for sure, just something I think I’m picking up from comments. If that’s true, well, that’s catastrophically stupid, and an easy fix. Those female soldiers who decline to use contraceptives on or before deployment and get pregnant, well, it’s kind of unfair that the women are the ones who can’t hide the indiscretion, but them’s the biological breaks. So long as adequate b/c and pregnancy prevention is free and readily available, it’s going to be the female soldiers’ responsibility to use it, fair or not. I think that of those women who fight and claw their way through realistic, non-split physical standards onto combat teams, those who won’t protect themselves from a physical situation that means leaving their buddies in the lurch are going to be a minority. But that means they have to know those men and women as their buddies, their partners, their team. That means being recognised as equal soldiers by the law and the chain of command and their comrades, and that means equality of opportunity. Not result – there’s no getting around the fact that most women are smaller and weaker than most men. But equality of opportunity, yes.

    As for the “unit cohesion/morale/but the poor mens won’t be able to handle it” argument, well – that right there is the “coddling” the abw was talking about. Because men will damn well get over it, just like they got over desegregation. Men have got over it, in many countries, and are continuing to get over it. And if the order comes down that women are allowed into combat jobs, then it will be the task of the leaders to make that order a reality. Will it be tough? Will there be rough patches, bad times, mistakes? You bet your ass on it. Will the military be stronger for it? I believe it will. And the men?

    Men can deal. They are as tough-minded, as adaptable, and as intelligent as women. The men I’ve trained with and been trained by have been foul-mouthed, dirty-humoured, completely uncompromising bastards. And they didn’t give a shit what plumbing equipment I had as long as I got over that goddamned wall. Or hit that target, or answered that question, or whatever else needed to be done. If these men, these soldiers, can deal with the fact that I use tampons and wear two pieces of underwear instead of one, I think the American soldier can, too.

    Stop selling them short.

  56. 57
    Robert says:

    FYI, active-duty US military are on TRICARE. TRICARE covers most forms of birth control for both men and women. Specifically:

    “TRICARE covers the following forms of birth control when prescribed by a TRICARE-authorized provider:

    Contraceptive diaphragm, including measurement, purchase and replacement;
    Intrauterine devices, including surgical insertion, removal and replacement;
    Prescription contraceptives, including the Preven Emergency Contraceptive Kit containing special doses of regular birth control pills and a self-administered pregnancy test;
    Surgical sterilization, male and female.

    TRICARE does not cover:

    Condoms;
    Nonprescription spermicidal foams, jellies or sprays.”

    In addition, the military provides an outstanding birth control system known as “birth control glasses” – the available (free) frames for corrective lenses are so uniformly hideous that no person wearing them has EVER had sex. In fact, putting on the glasses reduces someone’s sex appeal so much that previously-occurring sex becomes un-had, up to and including revirginization.

  57. 58
    Grace Annam says:

    RonF wrote:

    The exigencies of warfare can put you in combat directly facing the enemy regardless of what your MOS is.

    Sure.

    For instance, my brother, who is a trans man and served as a Marine when he was female-bodied, did reconnaissance on the ground. Recon soldiers often end up taking fire and dishing it out, and so did he, several times. He still has the embedded shrapnel to prove it.

    He served with distinction, was fought and wounded for his country, and now he is inclined to be very bitter, because after all that and an honorable discharge, he went to get medical care from the Veterans Administration and they discriminated against him because he was trans.

    This entire debate is ridiculous. It’s very clear that people with female bodies have been involved in combat before, and will be again. Establish evidence-based standards and exclude everyone of any sort who doesn’t pass them. Do it for every MOS there is. Then let those who pass them serve.

    It’s as simple as that. Bathrooms indeed. I’m so sick of hearing about bathrooms. We’ve had unisex bathrooms on planes since we first thought of putting a bathroom on a plane. People seem to manage. Soldiers can, too.

    Grace

  58. 59
    mythago says:

    Robert @57: You’ve just solved the whole DADT debate. Issue birth-control glasses to ALL soldiers. The entire problem of ‘sharing a trench with a guy who wants to have sex with me’ – solved!

  59. 60
    confanity says:

    Why do you assume that male resistance to females being assigned to combat positions is some sort of wussiness or “coddling”? It’s fine to be angry, but letting your anger take the place of rationality is self-defeating and isn’t going to win over anyone to your side anyway. This may be difficult, but could you try giving the other side the benefit of the doubt and then calmly discussing the situation instead of throwing around charged language?

    Just one possibility: it’s obvious that in normal situations, men and women will behave in different ways depending on whether members of the opposite sex are present. Perhaps those who object to women being assigned to combat roles fear, not that the male soldiers would somehow be psychologically damaged by a woman next to them, but that their behavior would subconsciously change? Is that an entirely unreasonable fear? Most men feel an instinctive compulsion to protect women (and children) even at the cost of their own lives — and we accept this as perfectly normal, which is why most of the lethal jobs society offers are filled by men; we think of men as inherently more expendable than women — is it possible that a man in combat next to a woman would be more likely to take risks than a man next to a man?

    But all of that, and all of what you said, is just empty theorizing. How about finding data? If there are militaries in the world where women are assigned to active combat roles, what are the data concerning combat performance of their units? In the non-combat units that military women are currently being assigned to, when those units find themselves in combat situations, how does their performance compare to all-male units? Surely the militaries of the world keep records that someone who knows good statistical analysis tools could comb through for a definitive answer to the question, and surely a US citizen could get access to at least some of these records from at least the US government.

    If you want to effect real change, instead of ranting and using insulting and incendiary language, perhaps try assembling a body of irrefutable evidence and presenting it to the appropriate people. If your only interest is to make yourself feel superior by insulting people who are not present to explain their point of view and preen when your readers agree… well, carry on as you are.

    [Final paragraph deleted by moderator for being contentless, insulting flamebait.]

  60. 61
    Unree says:

    in normal situations, men and women will behave in different ways depending on whether members of the opposite sex are present.

    I don’t. My friends don’t. No snark, I have no idea what you are talking about. Batting my eyelashes?

    Most men feel an instinctive compulsion to protect women (and children) even at the cost of their own lives — and we accept this as perfectly normal, which is why most of the lethal jobs society offers are filled by men …

    O rly? What about killing of women and children, the majority of which is done by men? As for “the lethal jobs,” you are overlooking prostitution, a truly deadly way to make a living.

  61. 62
    X says:

    unree . . . there was a problem in the Isreali Defense Force when men and women were in the same front line units. Units became uncontrollable when women became casualties. Soldiers uncontrolled are a dangerous and useless mob, prone to getting slaughtered.
    It’s not unreasonable to assume that US men would react in a similar way. They already do but they remain controllable, after a fashion. The problem the Israeli’s had seems more serious but I don’t know much more about it than a line from wikipedia. They also seem to have figured it out, but I am pretty ignorant about this. Information about it isn’t easy to come by, I’ve looked but not exhaustively or anything.
    In the infantry, custom has it that when a new soldier arrives at the platoon he is subject to numerous initiations. He’s told to fetch non-existent items from people he normally would try and avoid, given a derogatory nickname and the worst details and jobs, sometimes ‘jumped in’. The point is to stress you out and see how you act.
    If a woman is introduced, everyone is going to act ‘differently’. but it will probably all work out in the end. It has so far with all the other jobs opened to women. And more women everywhere in the services would probably cut down on the amount of sexual assault that goes on, which is unacceptable in any case and shockingly high in fact.
    Sexual harassment? I don’t know, women can be just as crude as men, and in this particular environment the only problem I see is relationships forming within the platoon or with superiors. But I kind of think that is handled by just not being allowed. We are talking about a lot of kids here, and amped up. Stupidity will happen. New and different cases of the same old shit . . .
    The right way to do it would probably be a cohort type thing, were a gender integrated platoon or better a company or best a battalion started out from day 0 training together.