It feels like gauntlet meets ground when I see my post and its comments referenced as if it were an intelligent or logical discussion/debate of this issue. So I feel compelled to lay out some of my objections to Jim's objections and to make a statement regarding the rights of women to serve in the same capacities as men.
Jim's arguments, as he stated in this clip, boil down to two problems:
- Men cannot separate their (debatable) psychological evolutionary urges from logic. In other words, if a woman is around, they cannot help but infantilize her and ensure that she's safe from all harm. Even if she's carrying a weapon and is much more adept at its use then he is.
- Men cannot separate their biological evolutionary urge to spread their genes as far and wide as possible, and therefore are incapable of acting professionally when there's a potential womb receptacle for their seed.
Other objections I've heard elsewhere that sound as ridiculous are:
- Newt Gingrich telling a classroom full of college students that women can't serve on the front lines because they get infections.
- They might be tortured, and they can't handle that. So...who has the babies here? Who can do so without any drugs and be just fine?
- They might be raped. If you're a woman, that's an everyday fact. Rape happens to civilians and women serving in the military, even when they're not in combat. To say that a combat situation makes a woman more susceptible to rape than when she's walking in her grocery store parking lot at night is illogical.
Another double standard: What if a woman is captured and beaten and shown on the teevee, and all of a suddenly everyone will be shocked and spazzed about OMG a woman was beaten! First, I think we spaz anytime we see someone, regardless of gender, who's been captured by the enemy and treated so abominably. Second, why is a woman's life or well-being so much more valuable than a man's? That's not okay.
My arguments for a woman's right to take a combat role boil down to one essential truth: some of them want to. If a potential service member doesn't want to see combat, s/he shouldn't sign up. If someone goes Navy, s/he should expect to spend time on a ship, and that ship might find itself engaged with the enemy. Ships are dangerous even when they're not dealing with a combat environment. If someone goes Army, s/he should expect to spend time in a combat zone in general, and with the right rate, s/he might even expect to spend time in combat specifically. If none of this appeals, maybe they ought to think long and hard about what it means to be in the military. If they're too scared or the job just seems unappealing, there's no reason push their hesitations on those who are more than willing -- and more than capable -- to do the job.
Why should the rules change? Because they're outdated, and they discriminate. Women are already serving in combat, but their job descriptions mean that service isn't recognized. They're punished within the military environment when they've been in more danger than some of their fellow soldiers, but those who never saw armed conflict get promotions women are denied anyway.
As for Jim's argument that women would be a distraction, I have a hard time believing that those bulky camouflage uniforms and the armor that goes over them will reveal enough feminine cues to distract anyone but the worst kind of horn-dog. I suppose it could happen; but if someone's willing to endanger their cohorts to sniff out a woman they can drag by the hair back to their man-cave, they shouldn't be serving in the first place. They're a danger in general if they can't keep their minds on the task at hand.
There's no call to infantilize women, to hold their physical beings in higher regard than a man's, or to make broad assumptions about their abilities when there are quite a few exceptions to every generalization I've heard. To do any of these invalidates the arguments.