News,  Politics

Thank you, Kathleen Parker: Women are different

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)


  • buddyglass

    “Parker not only has the audacity to say that men and women are different, she also says that those differences should be celebrated.”

    I posted a link to this article in another thread, but it bears repeating here. It’s an editorial in the NYT that argues in favor of integrating women into certain combat roles:

    In it the author writes: “There are two truths functioning in parallel here. The first is that women are different from men.”

    While he doesn’t issue a specific call for those differences to be celebrated, I really don’t get the sense that he denigrates them or wishes they didn’t exist.

  • Suzanne McCarthy

    We do not celebrate a society in which warrior is the highest position. We celebrate a society in which leadership goes not to brawn and might, but to reason and ethics. There is no need for women to function as equals in combat in order to function as equals in leadership and decision-making. It is the demoralization of women by subordinating them which makes them seek functional equality across the board. Those who subordinate women are the direct cause of this kind of societal shift.

    When will women be celebrated as those who intellectually function as equals, as those who are equally equipped to make decisions? This is the question and the resounding answer is that by some men, women will never be treated in this way.

  • Suzanne McCarthy

    I would add that the real problem is that within the domain of domesticity, the domain which some confine women to, the domain in which women are considered to function at their best, as God has ordered – within this domain, women are not allowed to make decisions. Women are, within their own homes, relegated to submissives. This is the real problem.

    Women have no domain which belongs to them. They are broadly disenfranchised by the framework of authority and submission. Some women live lives of submissive resignation and other live lives of utter deprivation. When will this be addressed?

    • Akash Charles

      if they want to reach their goals-invariable women will have to have lower standards- and this will reduce the moral among the men-cause this is blatantly unfair

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