No Exceptions: An Argument In Support of US Military Women in Combat

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Written by Jason Dias

Thursday’s the deadline for military branches to present exemptions to a new rule that would open up all military jobs to women. Jason Dias argues against those exceptions barring women in combat.

jason-dias-anewdomain-amazon-kindleaNewDomain — Make no mistake: I’m a feminist.

I think women can and should do anything men can do. And when we send men into combat, there should be qualified women alongside them.  For all sorts of reasons.

As I write, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter is poised to mediate an ongoing struggle between the Army, which is ready to open up combat infranty posts to women soldiers, and the Marine Corps, which most believe will attempt to keep combat positions open to men only. The conversation is bound to get heated. This Thursday is the deadline for all military branches to present evidence for exemptions to a new rule opening all military jobs to women. 

It’s true that women are on average physically not so strong as men. That’s why we have sex-bifurcated Olympic games: women just can’t compete physically at the highest levels.  But below that level, there are plenty of women who can compete and defeat men.

But if women want to fight, there are few good reasons to stop them.

 And plenty of reasons to allow it.  One being this: when you take women out of a society, that society goes weird really quickly.

 women combat fighersWhen we examine cultures that use a lot of capital punishment, are high in violence and retribution, women are generally marginalized from those societies. Shrouded in burkas and kept at home, such women are not even permitted to drive or work. And they are held accountable for the sins of men – punished, for example, for being raped or for wearing anything revealing.

There are probably many factors making prison a bad place to be. Among them, the character of the imprisoned – although so many of our incarcerated are guilty only of minor drug offenses that this most obvious of assertions is a tricky one. 

Isolation from women must be another factor.

It seems obvious that sexual assault in prison is driven by a lack of female candidates. I propose nothing so demeaning to men.  Men minus compliant sex objects do not equal a sociopathic rape culture. We already have that (just visit any college campus). I mean that segregating the men from women makes them violent, predatory, ethics-compromised.

women3A sex-segregated military is no thing to wish upon the world. 

We already have major problems with religious abuse, with sexual abuse of both men and women.  There appears to be a culture of silence around these phenomena. 

Women have difficulty getting any action on their complaints, to an even greater degree than women in the general population.  The chain of command gets respected and things get ignored for the sake of unit cohesion.  Never mind that someone in the unit is getting raped in a decidedly uncohesive fashion.

Maybe it’s a kindness to protect women from foreign soldiers, from their predations.  A way to humiliate and terrorize soldiers has always been through their genitals.  Should we feel worse over female abuse than male abuse, though?  Male sex abuse has always happened in war just as it happens in prison, worse.

women in combatAnd women are already in combat. Security details, logistics, transportation all put women in harm’s way. Why not formalize the commitment?

In the end, though, I don’t want women in combat. 

Call me anti-feminist if you want to, despite my clarity. I don’t want women in combat and I support total equality for qualified people.

How is that possible?  Well, because I don’t want men in combat, either.

I don’t want anyone being shot at or blown up, captured and tortured, raped by colleagues. All these things you’re afraid might happen to women already happen to men on a fairly routine basis.  If it is unacceptable to put women into these conditions – and it is – then it is also unacceptable to put men in this conditions.

For aNewDomain, I’m Jason Dias.

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