I wanted to cheer when I read Kathleen Parker’s Washington Post op-ed about women in combat. Parker not only has the audacity to say that men and women are different, she also says that those differences should be celebrated. This is a courageous statement in the pages of one of our nation’s leading newspapers. It is simply anathema to utter such things in such venues, yet she has done it. She writes:
We’re potentially talking about 18-year-old girls, notwithstanding their “adult” designation under the law. (Parents know better.). . . Now, hold the image of your 18-year-old daughter, neighbor, sister or girlfriend as you follow these facts, which somehow have been ignored in the advancement of a fallacy. The fallacy is that because men and women are equal under the law, they are equal in all endeavors and should have all access to the same opportunities. This is true except when the opportunity requires certain characteristics. Fact: Females have only half the upper-body strength as males — no small point in the field…
Unbeknown perhaps to many civilians, combat has a very specific meaning in the military. It has nothing to do with stepping on an IED or suffering the consequences of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It means aggressively engaging and attacking the enemy with deliberate offensive action, with a high probability of face-to-face contact.
If the enemy is all around you — and you need every available person — that is one set of circumstances. To ask women to engage vicious men and risk capture under any other is beyond understanding. This is not a movie or a game. Every objective study has argued against women in direct combat for reasons that haven’t changed.
The threat to unit cohesion should require no elaboration. But let’s leave that obvious point to pedants and cross into enemy territory where somebody’s 18-year-old daughter has been captured. No one wants to imagine a son in these circumstances either, obviously, but women face special tortures. And, no, the rape of men has never held comparable appeal.
Parker makes the utilitarian case against women in combat—that they have half the upper body strength than men and that their physical limitations are a liability in close combat situations. All of that is true. But what I really appreciate about Parker’s article is that she makes the moral argument as well. She asks the question that we all need to be asking ourselves: Is this the kind of society that we want to be? The kind that would send her 18-year old daughters into the teeth of the horror of war? In Parker’s words:
We can train our men to ignore the screams of their female comrades, but is this the society we want to create? And though some female veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have endured remarkable suffering, their ability to withstand or survive violent circumstances is no rational argument for putting American girls and women in the hands of enemy men.
It will kill us in the end.
This is a must-read. Do so here.
(HT: Russell Moore)