Up until a few days ago, women have served in combat for some time — yes, think Iraq and Afghanistan. Before a few days ago, however, there was a ban against women serving in combat. Which means that many women who served before the ban was lifted, were not able to advance their careers in positions for which combat experience was required. For many of women — the ones who managed to survive combat — it was pretty much like being a free slave in America without the full status of citizenship afforded to “certain people” by birth. Yes, before the ban was lifted, for many women fighting in combat, it was like Jim Crow.
According to the Rutgers Institute for Women’s Leadership, as of 2009 women made up 15.5 percent of officers, averaged across the four military branches. And currently, some 80 percent of generals in the Army have combat experience. Spending time on the front lines is, even if unofficially, a critical stepping stone for those looking to advance their career. One need look no further than the recent attention given to Chuck Hagel’s time as a “grunt” in the Vietnam War to see how such experience stands out when it comes to nominations to higher posts.
The value given to combat experience is understandable. The more leaders can identify with the actual jobs of the people they lead, the better they can consider the front-line point of view when making decisions, budgeting resources and implementing strategy. If you’ve actually worn the shoes of the people in your organization’s most dangerous job, you’re better equipped to lead them. As a result, one hopes that allowing more women to take on combat roles will clear the way for more women in the military’s top brass. (source)
Thankfully, because of the Pentagon’s decision this week, for many, the glass ceiling has been broken. The move is being touted as being one that will strengthen the country. And according to outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta it is “the responsibility of every citizen to protect the nation.” Panetta also added that “If they can meet the qualifications for the job,then they should have the right to serve.” And to that, I say Amen. But of course, not everyone agrees with this assertion. Case in point, take what columnist David Frumm had to say on CNN’s OutFront program on Thursday night as he argued against the idea of women in combat.
The people we are likely to meet on the next battlefield are people who use rape and sexual abuse as real tools of politics. In Iranian prisons, rape is a frequent practice. Women are raped before they are executed. In Iran, in Pakistan, in Afghanistan rape is a conscious tool of subjugation and it is something women will be exposed to. In the name of equal opportunity they will face unequal risk.
I don’t know how you may feel about women in combat, but I’d like to think that if you’re not, you at least believe that women should be protected from rape as expressed by Frumm. Which is quite peculiar, because the risk of a woman in the military being raped by enlisted male personnel is higher than that for civilians. That said, isn’t it ironic that Frumm’s point of view comes at a time when Republicans are blocking attempts to renew the Violence Against Women Act? I mean, if Frumm is truly interested in protecting women, at least he’d be consistent when it comes to the re-authorization of the aforementioned law languishing in Congress as we speak, no? And why? Because Republican lawmakers are opposed to Democrats’ support of the law being used to cover Native American women, and female undocumented immigrants.
But hey, per the following from the leading conservative editorial board National Review, at least our conservative brothers and sisters are consistent. After all, it would be quite hypocritical of them to support any legislation intended to protect women from domestic violence and rape, all the while supporting a new “feminist friendly” policy to benefit women in the military, right? To do differently would call into question the DNA if the GOP. Which is silly because as bad as they polled with women recently, one would think they;d “get it.”
The Obama administration has doubled down on its social-transformation agenda, unilaterally deciding to overturn longstanding policy and integrate women into combat roles in the military. Give the administration this much: Unlike the question of gay marriage, the issue of women in combat was never something that Barack Obama felt obliged to pretend to be against until it was politically safe to evolve on the matter. As a candidate in 2008, he signaled his intention to change the rules if elected president.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta draped his announcement in the all-too-familiar language of “diversity,” but the U.S. military is neither a social-justice project nor a laboratory for feminist innovation: Its job is to secure the national-security interests of the United States, and neither Secretary Panetta nor the president nor any member of the administration has offered a single serious argument that this measure will increase our armed forces’ ability to do their job with maximum effectiveness. On the contrary, there are many reasons to believe it will accomplish the opposite.
The administration has promised that there will be no reduction of physical standards to accommodate women in combat roles, but that promise almost certainly is false — and Senator McCain, who has endorsed the move, should know better than to pretend otherwise. The political mandate to integrate women into the military had disastrous consequences for standards at West Point, as Walter Williams documented the last time we had this debate. The use of “gender-specific” physical standards meant that female candidates were given passing marks on tests when underperforming their male counterparts on such common benchmarks as push-ups, sit-ups, and running 1.5 miles.
This repeats the experience of similar civilian agencies, such as police and fire departments, in which standards have been lowered under the guise of revising them for professional relevance. One particularly comical feature of these developments has been the authorities’ insistence that they are acting independently of political pressure while simultaneously acknowledging that they are motivated by the fear of litigation brought by feminist groups. The ideological absurdity at play here is hard to exaggerate: When members of the Los Angeles city council demanded hiring quotas for the LAPD and a consequent relaxation of standards, they argued that concerns about physical difference could be overcome by implementing a “feminist approach to policing.” We pray that we may be spared a feminist approach to national security.
[...] There are immutable differences between men and women, and they are on display every day from the classroom to the corporate office. In most environments, the accommodation of these differences is benign or even salubrious. But the theater of combat is a very different sort of environment. It is true that we have had women in dangerous front-line roles for a decade now, thanks to an act of poor judgment by the Bush administration. But door-to-door combat is a very different thing from flying a helicopter. To believe that soldiers, officers, and policymakers will react identically to female casualties — or to videos of female troops being tortured by al-Qaeda — is to deny human nature. But denying human nature is of course at the center of the feminist agenda.
I imagine that much of this sexist rhetoric is very similar to racist views expressed by those opposed to the racial desegregation of the U.S. military. That said, it’s not by accident that today’s Republican party recently held a meeting to discuss minority outreach at their winter retreat, at a onetime plantation — yes, they’re consistent. Uh huh. apparently it’s perfectly okay for women to be victims of violence and rape by Americans, but on the off-chance that they fall into the hands of the enemy? Well, for that, they shouldn’t be allowed on the front lines.