NOTE: If you don’t like cussing, don’t read this post. I drop the F-bomb several times. I’m sorry but it’s the best way I know how to express my feelings in this instance.
Well, I can’t resist. I just can’t. You’ve probably heard in the news that women are finally being allowed to join the elite special forces like the Navy Seals, Army Rangers, etc. The predictable testosterone fueled outcry began immediately. Our local Fox station decided to read online posts in reaction to the news. One of them, a man, suggested that if women are allowed to enter the special forces that they have their own separate teams.
Even I was surprised by my immediate and visceral reaction to the comment. My thoughts went like this [paraphrasing], ‘You did not just fucking say that. Have we not been through this shit before with African Americans?! Are you really going to fucking tell me that you are going to force women who meet the same physical and mental standards as their male counterparts and still put them in “separate” groups?!?! REALLY!!!!!!!!! Holy Mother of God, that makes me angry’.
Let me spell it out because apparently a lot of men and some women just don’t get it.
1. Standards for women and men will NOT be different. Nor would any woman worth her salt want them to be. If a woman can do it, she should be allowed. Some will say only a few women can do it. You are correct. Only a few men can do it as well. Not every person can be elite. Why would it be any different for women? We don’t want to be special, we want to be given the same chance. Which leads to the next point.
2. Women have been functioning in combat roles since the beginning of time and continue to do so in modern nations. In fact, women have not only ruled their clan/tribe/kingdom/nation, but they were also soldiers and some pretty bad ass motherfuckers. In fact one of the most famous, Boudica, led an army of 100,000 Celts in a revolt against occupying Roman forces in Britain. She destroyed early London (then called Londinium) and several other Roman colonies. She was one of the few people in all of Europe to defeat Roman forces and her name was so famous that Tacitus himself recorded the tale. Furthermore, medical studies have proven that women, in many cases, can actually handle certain types of prolonged pain much better than men (There’s a reason why we’re the ones who squeeze out children the size of watermelons–we can handle it.) Don’t let the headlines fool you. Our paternalistic press will title their news stories that “men handle pain better” but when you read the fine print (or heaven forfend you read the actual study) you find out that men handle intense sudden pain better but women can handle pain that lasts a long time. Guess what? In a combat role, soldiers experience both kinds of pain. The truth is that both sexes face their own unique set of physical and mental challenges. Mentally, I give the advantage to women. Overall (again, all comparisons are overall across the entire species) women’s ability and tendency to communicate emotion gives them a greater ability to work through grief, anger, etc. Any mental health professional will tell you that talking about a problem is crucial to being mentally healthy, regardless of whether you serve in the military or not. Culturally we do men an incredible disservice and make them vulnerable to mental illness as a result of combat precisely because we don’t do a good enough job teaching and encouraging them to communicate their emotions.
3. Women deserve to have our autonomy respected. Women will die as a result of combat–as soldiers or as non-combatants–no matter what. Would you prefer that they passively sit and wait for the enemy to come to them? Why do men get to tell women to stay home (and as is so often portrayed in Hollywood, be the last line of defense)? Not all men go to war and not all women will either. But each one should have the choice–WE get to choose our battlefields dammit. See, this is about respecting women’s right to autonomy and all of the implied agency that men are automatically given. Women are not passive victims because we have vaginas, boobs and ovaries. Women are victims because they accept what men tell them and men tell them that they should be protected because women are special because of those same body parts. They also tell us that they will want to protect us because they think we are weaker or they want us sexually or because they love us. As if women don’t love men, want men and yes, think of men as weaker, as much men do. What utter horseshit.
To put a finer point on it……Where do men get the authority to tell a QUALIFIED woman that she doesn’t have the right to fight for the country she loves because HE can’t handle her being in the trenches next to him. Soldiers have every right to kick out the unqualified, I don’t care if they have a dick or not. Here’s what people are missing in their discussions about it. If women are truly equals to men (legally we’re supposed to be and ethically we absolutely have the same value) then HE has the problem, not her. So HE had better get over it. This is like a man back in the 1940′s who would say, ‘I won’t serve with black people’. Note many of the same excuses used against women were used against African Americans (they’re not as smart, strong, tough, organized, obedient, etc, etc). The only one that is different now is that men say ‘they would feel too protective of the woman to do their duty’. My answer to that is, if a man can’t handle a woman fighting next to him, if he can’t bring himself to focus on the mission at hand and do his duty for whatever reason, then he should be deemed mentally unfit to serve in a combat role. If you can’t handle another human being dying next to you, regardless of their sexual organs, you need to find another job.
4. Sex won’t be a problem if soldiers are trained properly and the code of conduct is enforced. Here’s another news flash. Sex will occur no matter what. Men and women in the military now have sex. Men have sex with female non-combatants. American soldiers have littered the world with their bastards (via both consensual and non-consensual sex) and wreaked all kinds of havoc as a result. Yep, sex happens. Even normally heterosexual men will sometimes engage in homosexual behavior in the military. This is a proven fact. If it is interfering now, then military leadership is not doing it’s job to punish those that let it get in the way. Again, the problem is on THEIR part. They need to fix their rules and/or their procedures. They need to improve training. See, sexual behavior is no different than any other instinctual behavior. The military teaches men to curb their most basic instincts. For example, one of the most important things a soldier must come out of basic training with is the ability to be obedient even when their life is in jeopardy. It doesn’t get any more basic than that. So men who say that they won’t be able to control themselves sexually or will be distracted sexually, have impulse control problems and should wash out of basic. If a man would put sexual interest ahead of his life and the life of his fellow soldiers, he’s not fit to serve. If you can stand and take fire even though every fiber of your being is screaming to run and protect yourself, then you should be able to keep your dick in your pants, your hands to yourself, your thoughts private and your mind on task.
In conclusion, consider the quote below. The meaning of “past is prologue” is not as simple as ‘what has happened in the past affects our present’. At this point in The Tempest, the character, Antonio, is trying to encourage Sebastian to kill his sleeping father and become king. He is also reminding him of those who failed to act in the past and paid for it. He’s reminding him to learn from the past. LEARN from the past. You can’t have a group of people distinguished by something they get no say in, something they get from birth like color or gender but has no bearing on whether they can meet elite standards as “separate but equal”. It isn’t legal. It isn’t ethical. It isn’t and cannot be, by it’s very definition, equal. It is, however, incredibly fucking insulting.
She that is queen of Tunis; she that dwells
Ten leagues beyond man’s life; she that from Naples
Can have no note, unless the sun were post–
The man i’ the moon’s too slow–till new-born chins
Be rough and razorable; she that–from whom?
We all were sea-swallow’d, though some cast again,
And by that destiny to perform an act
Whereof what’s past is prologue, what to come
In yours and my discharge.
–William Shakespeare, The Tempest