Should women serve in combat units? That’s one of the latest questions stemming out of the political arena. I had a conversation about this topic with a co-worker who had an interesting perspective on why he believed it was improper to allow women to serve in combat.
According to his reasoning, the violence of war, innocence of women and the natural duty for men to fight makes sending women to the battle lines cruel and illogical. The whole time he rambled on about male-this and female-that, my only fixation was on how relentlessly, and might I add unfairly, we gender-stereotype. I grew tired of his endless speech on the fragility of women. Who the hell said women can’t fight?
The problem is gender norms. As a culture, we are so predisposed to devaluing women as weak, pathetic, and incapable of handling the duties of men that we will literally generalize half the nation’s population into a stereotype and spread it on without question. Women are just as capable of fighting in combat as men are. There is the biological truth that men generally have more muscle mass and physical strength than women, but this doesn’t account for intelligence, stamina, stealth, speed, endurance, agility, and the remainder of the endless list of qualities essential to active combat.
Additionally, no one is saying that women should REPLACE men, but rather join them. It’s obvious that the vast majority of the population isn’t comfortable about joining the military, so what logical reason is there to reject viable soldiers from serving in combat roles? (Enter in the same stupidity behind Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.)
This whole mentality that we have to “protect” women from experiencing the horrors of war is not a token of benevolence, rather a slap in the face to the maturity and dignity of women. If it’s OK to declare a woman’s sex as an automatic indicator of her inability to handle danger, why do we let women do anything dangerous? (Or should I say, potentially dangerous) Following the logic of “don’t let the gals get boo-boos,” women should be banned from the military altogether. While we’re at it, female police officers, firefighters, electricians, even doctors (they could cut themselves with a scalpel!) should be banned. In fact, women should all be isolated within the home, with all the sharp objects removed and the floors and walls padded.
Personally, I wasn’t aware that being a woman made someone immediately prone to injury; rather, I thought women were just as intelligent and capable as men. But according to the objections of those opposing the lifting of the female combat ban, I guess I was wrong. Get your inflatable suits on, ladies, and please wait for a man to help you turn to the next page of this paper. You don’t want a paper cut!