Against Women In Combat Paper

1883 words - 8 pages

Women in the United States have fought extensively for equality of the sexes. Many struggles have been won, from the right to vote to breaking into male oriented professions. Apart from all others is the battle to allow women to serve in combat in the United States Armed Forces. Still, many have raised questions about military integration. The primary fear is that the proposed change would significantly weaken and decline the cohesion and effectiveness of the troops, which could ultimately mean the difference between life and death. A report to Congress points out that:Civil society protects individuals' rights, but the military, which protects civil society, must be governed by different rules. Civilian society forbids employee discrimination, but lives and combat missions might be put at risk by service members who cannot meet the demands of the battlefield, and the military must be able to choose those most able to survive, fight, and win (75).Not only are women simply physically and emotionally incapable of the tasks and strains that come along with combat; they are at risk and must deal with the consequences of pregnancy, at risk of sexual misconduct and rape both by the enemy and fellow soldiers, and of the problems caused by intimate relationships that may develop, and have an unfair advantage over the men by accommodations made for them and basic training standards.Despite technological advances, ground combat is no more refined, no less barbaric, and no less physically demanding that it has been throughout history. The soldier relies heavily on his physical strength and mental toughness for survival. No one would argue the fact that men and women are physically different. Weight, shape, size, and anatomy are not political opinions but rather tangible and easily measured. The physical differences between men and women provide functional advantages and have survival value. Men have a 50 percent greater total muscle mass, usually build muscle easily, have thicker skin, bruise less easily and have a lower threshold of awareness of injuries to their extremities. Men are essentially built for physical confrontation and the use of force. Their joints are well suited for throwing objects. A man's skull is usually thicker and stronger than a woman's. Women have less bone mass than men, and their pelvic structure is wider. This difference gives men an advantage in running efficiency. On average, a woman's heart is 25 percent smaller than the average man's. Thus, the man's heart can pump more blood with each beat. For any given work rate, the faster heart rate of a woman also means that most will become fatigued sooner than men will. The lung capacity of men is 25 to 30 percent greater than that of women. This gives men still another advantage in the processing of oxygen and in doing aerobic work such as running (Commission Report 8). Women would also be unable to drag wounded comrades from the battlefield to safety while under fire. Men and women are built differently, and it is a physical fact men are better "equipped" for combat.Women are also emotionally different than men. Men are more aggressive than women. This is why most violent crimes are committed by men, and it is also why men - rather than women - fight wars. Because of this natural aggressiveness in males, male-dominated institutions, like armies, are full of male-bonding rituals and customs that reinforce masculinity, the unity of the group, and the virtue of fighting. Studies show that women are not naturally inclined toward violence. When they are violent, they tend to use it in a resolute fashion, such as protecting themselves or their children (Dye 1-2).Many young, inexperienced soldiers' only perception of real war comes from movies, videogames, and textbooks. On the battlefield where bombs explode, guns fire, and missiles are launched, the fighting environment is much more hostile and personal. Those unfortunate enough to be assigned to combat serve one purpose - to seek out and destroy the enemy by whatever means available. The combatant must aggressively reduce other human beings to mangled dead flesh. Can most women emotionally handle this? Probably not. Feminists argue for "equal opportunities" declaring equal rights. Although equal opportunity is a noble American idea, it has nothing to do with real war on a bloody battlefield where the issue is plainly to "kill, win, and survive." An appeal to "gender equity" will do nothing to help a woman soldier against an enemy who is trying to impale her on his bayonet.The idea of women in combat also conflicts with beliefs that the female role is to give life, not to take it. Ironically, one of the biggest risks of integration is the chance that a woman in a combat role could become pregnant. There are actually two problems associated with this issue. The first is that men may assume women on the front lines are getting pregnant to avoid combat. As it stands, men can volunteer for combat, but they can also be assigned. If women are allowed to volunteer, in the interest of fairness, they would also have to be subject to mandatory deployment on the front lines. If a woman does not want to go to combat, all she needs to do is become pregnant and she will be re-assigned. A man has no such means of getting out of the line of fire. The second problem is that once a woman becomes pregnant, the kind of work she can be exposed to is severely limited. Obviously she cannot be around any amount of nuclear radiation, toxic gases, or perform any hard labor because of the risk of damaging the fetus (Congress 163). This is also the reason why the abortion rates are so high on military bases; women simply can't take a maternity leave while in war (Charen 523).Allowing women to fly combat missions and ground warfare would dramatically increase the probability that the United States would allow women to become prisoners of war. There is a huge risk of sexual molestation and rape from the enemy if captured. One woman, Rhonda Cornum, was reportedly fondled and "violated manually, vaginally, and rectally" when her helicopter was shot down by Iraqis in the Gulf War ( Rape is a weapon of war and allows the enemy soldier to deface the culture of his opponent by violating the bodies of its female citizens.But rape by soldiers remains high even in times of peace. If men and women are put together for long periods of time, it is sometimes impossible for them to work and live together without any sexual tension. This tension will grow over time in an uncontrolled environment, and it is reasonable to expect that some men will start taking advantage of the women. The result will not only be occasional rape or harassment but pregnancies and conflict. Consented intimate relationships can also develop between male and female soldiers. Not only will this be a distraction from training and work, but the passionate nature of romantic love, with its instinctive tendencies toward jealousy, protectiveness and favoritism, corrodes the cohesion that makes combat units into effective weapons of war.A huge limitation of putting women in combat is the considerable changes that would have to be made to accommodate them. Special gear and equipment will be needed for women. For example, the pressure suits worn by male fighter pilots cannot be worn by women due to the difference in anatomical structures. Whether in barracks or aboard submarines, creating separate sleeping, bathing, and restroom facilities is not a realistic option. Especially in the case of attack submarines, their capacity is already near dangerous limits and there is simply no place to put new amenities. Also, giving separate facilities to the few female passengers onboard and forcing all the men to divide up the remaining ones could cause serious resentment among crewmembers if the impression of unfairness is given.The basic training standards are also set unfairly as an advantage to women. The entry level basic training, and throughout the military, female recruits are held to lower physical standards than men. Even though the tasks and conditions they are performed under are the same, these recruits are not trained as extensively or as intensely as men were traditionally trained. This is primarily to show that women can keep up with the men, and they can of course, because the standards have been lowered (Mirvish 2). These impressions of unfairness may lead to expressions of resentment toward women. The GAO's survey on sexual harassment by male soldiers found that most of the cases were related to complaints from men about dual standards (Commission Report 37).A realistic and logical conclusion against assigning women to combat is not drawn from any single factor but from the combined body of evidence suggesting that such assignments would negatively affect the military's overall effectiveness, unity, and structure. The purpose of any army is not to be a testimony of equality, to develop political beliefs, or to score points for feminism. Its purpose is to win wars, and to accomplish this, large numbers of men are taken in and turned into soldiers who will fiercely fight, kill, and sometimes die on command. Would a citizen of the United States want a passive female, with a weak and fragile body and vulnerable emotions defending his or her country in a massive, blood thirsty wage war? Would he or she want to see women raped, come home in body bags, and exploited? Would anyone appreciate the advantages held over the men, or the distractions they can cause? But feminists argue for equality, and some refuse to even consider the problems and consequences associated with integration. The need for a superior military, which is the need of the nation, must outweigh any civil rights claim, no matter how seemingly justified.Charen, Mona. "Eight Good Reasons to Oppose Women in the Military." Current Issues and Enduring Questions. Ed. Sylvan Barnet and Hugo Bedau. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2002. 523-524.Dye, Lee. "Keeping Cool." 25 Sept. 2002. 12 Mar. 2003. .Mirvish, Anthony. "Messing Up 'Man's Work' in the Military." Letter. The Washington Times 3 Feb. 2003, sec. 5: 15.Tan Tuan Loy, Alex. "Women in Combat: An Indispensible Army 21 Component or a Simple Case of Equal Opportunity?" Online posting. Oct.-Dec. 2001. Pointer: SAFTI Quarterly Journal. 12 Mar. 2003. .United States. House of Representatives. Committee on Armed Services. The Military Forces and Personal Subcommittee. Women in Combat. 103rd Cong., 1st sess. Hearing, 12 May 1993. Washington, D.C.:GPO, 1994. 75-163. (Herein referred to as "Congress")United States. Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces. Women in Combat: Report to the President, 15 Nov. 1993. Washington, D.C.: Brassey's, 1994. 1 vol. 8-37. (Herein referred to as "Commission Report")


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