Women in Combat Decision Confirms the Irrationality of the Left

The Obama administration is making a major push to “fully integrate” women into the military, including most ground combat roles. This is the culmination of an effort that began with the rise of the current wave of feminism in the 1970s, and even though the range of problems with it were debated and aired fully at that time the current media and commentators seem unaware of that. While the Church obviously does not condemn women entering the military and is not likely to wade into a public policy question such as this, there are many issues present that should concern Catholics. The best place to start might be a long-forgotten encyclical by Pope Pius XI in 1929, Divini Illius Magistri (Christian Education of Youth), in which he laments the military training required of boys in school in some countries—but he is even more critical of this for girls since it is “contrary to the very instincts of human nature.” Human nature has not changed since 1929.

Perhaps the best, extended critique of this question is Brian Mitchell’s 1998 book, Women in the Military: Flirting with Disaster. Mitchell addressed most of the pertinent issues. In spite of much more experience with women in the fighting forces, no new evidence has shown his conclusions to be inaccurate. If anything additional troubling facts have emerged. He talked about the significant physical disparities between men and women and the much greater susceptibility of military women to injury, the considerably greater number of health problems that military women as opposed to men encountered, the much higher attrition rate from the military of women than men, the serious problems of out-of-wedlock pregnancies by military women (which was the major factor in attrition), the bending of rules and double standards put in place by the services to insure that military women could complete training and even be able to qualify for commissions, and the erosion of morale and readiness as a composite result of all these developments.

Another point he mentioned was how the sexually integrated military was diminishing the traditional fighting culture so essential to readiness. This seemed underscored when a female cadet from one of the service academies told my daughter that she had sought an appointment there so she could take part in humanitarian work. I thought that the purpose of a military was to be prepared to fight wars.

We witness these new realities since Mitchell’s book: apart from the pregnancy problems, there are a significant number of single mothers in the services with the burden put on the military for child care and the attendant complications when they are deployed (all too little attention seems to be paid to the effects on their children as women implant themselves generally in fields formerly limited to men); the growing problem of sexual assault in the services; and the possibility that military women and women veterans are more prone to mental health problems, especially when they have been deployed to war zones.

The military has scurried to address the sexual assault problem with new prevention and victim-assistance programs—the solution of government seems always to be a new program—but they are oblivious to the need for strong personal moral standards by military personnel, which is the basic cause of such a problem. (My late father-in-law from the World War II generation used to say that even in those times the military was not a wholesome environment even for young men.) Obviously, it does not help that large numbers of young men and women are put together in close proximity during training and deployments, which will become a much more acute problem with women allowed into ground combat roles. Indeed, the military’s primary response to sexual misconduct in its ranks—most of which is consensual—has been to make all forms of birth control readily available. Also, now Democrats in Congress are pushing legislation to fund abortions at U.S. military hospitals.

Then, there is the problem of false accusations of sexual assault—as likely a development in the military as in civilian society in an age of pleasure-orientation, easy sexual liaisons, and easily brewing jealousies. It is just one more factor in the undermining of readiness.

Obviously, these are serious moral issues from a Catholic standpoint. Most of them concern problems of sexual morality from within the military’s own ranks. The push for women in combat also shows an astounding disregard of the dangers of sexual assault, rape, and other torture of women captured in combat—even though we should recall that some of this happened to Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, the army surgeon captured during the first Iraq war. Feminists, who are major crusaders against rape in the U.S., are strikingly silent about this. Columnist Jonathan Emord of U.S.A. Today Magazine asks another question: What might happen to the children of women conceived as a result of rape when in captivity. (Again, is anyone concerned about the good of children?)

How come the left-leaning journalists who always mention the threats to women and children when reporting on a conflict somewhere in the world are silent about that here?

As far as readiness and combat effectiveness is concerned, does anyone seriously believe that the men serving on the front lines with women would not go to extremes to prevent them from facing this fate, even if doing so meant that they would be diverted from their main concern of going after the enemy? This is just an obvious example of the crying tendency in this entire debate of—to go back to Pius XI—ignoring human nature.

More of a routine problem in combat situations is the ready likelihood of the compromising of personal privacy and modesty. Trenches and foxholes are not very private places. Former Marine Ryan Smith’s recent Wall Street Journal op-ed about the conditions of infantrymen during combat operations (he was involved in the 2003 invasion of Iraq) is telling in this regard. There was no way of maintaining even the most basic kind of personal modesty. Already, in a much more limited way we see such problems in the integrated hand-to-hand combat training—men matched up with women—that sometimes takes place in the military. What stands in the background of all this is the sexual revolution almost as much as feminism.

Is it not likely that just treating men and women as one indistinguishable mass of people in combat, with no attention to even such basic concerns as these, will have the effect of coarsening relations between the sexes? If feminists are really concerned about women’s dignity and avoiding anything that might tend to objectify them, why are they for this?

The contradictions of leftists abound on this subject. Why does the left, which is so ideologically committed to something like gun control, want to push women into a killing role in combat? Also, if the left is so much against warfare and violence, why does it want to encourage a militaristic spirit in the half of the population that pacific attitudes most naturally come from?

There is another issue. The public should consider that in its 1981 decision upholding the national policy that exempts women from draft registration against a Fourteenth Amendment challenge, a decisive point for the U.S. Supreme Court was the fact that Congress prohibited them from combat. That exemption is now all but gone. Further, President Obama is on record as believing that women should be subject to Selective Service registration. With these developments, it is almost certain that if international crises cause the draft to be resumed women will be included. Perhaps people should pause for a moment to consider if they will really be happy when their 18 and 19-year-old daughters are forcibly sent into battle. Will virtually anyone—other than the collectivists among us who want to see children essentially reared by the state—be eager to see young mothers separated from their children in large numbers all around the country? There is no assurance that draft exemptions for mothers will be forthcoming. If they are, is it possible that we’ll see even more out-of-wedlock pregnancies and hasty marriages as young women try to avoid the draft and combat?

If women are drafted and put on the front lines in combat in a major or even other extended, limited wars, they are almost certain to die in large numbers. That will mean fewer women of childbearing age. The U.S. birth rate, just barely at replacement level (below it for the native-born population), would sink even further.

All this brings into stark relief a central reality about the contemporary left: its abstractionism. On many issues, it turns a blind eye to the facts, evident failures of policy, clear contradictions in its thinking, and even the obvious realities about how people are and how they act in different situations. They are driven by ideological imperatives, which themselves do not often even hang together consistently or sensibly. It is curious that they are the scions of the Enlightenment, which claimed to be exulting human reason. In the interests of ideology and hostility to traditional ways of understanding things, they are almost anti-reason.

The specific ideological imperative of the left on this issue, like so many others, is equality—or at least a shallow, unreflective notion of it, which cannot even distinguish between the equal humanness and human dignity of men and women on one hand and sameness on the other. Tocqueville presciently saw equality trumping liberty, and here it is the liberty and well-being of potentially whole generations of young American women. We can readily say that women have a place in most professions, but might there not be some, like the military, whose very nature by and large are perhaps unsuitable and even offensive to their dignity?

Finally, as the left has driven this issue over more than four decades to its near final culmination now in women side-by-side with men in close-in ground combat and prospectively being forced into this role through a draft, the Republicans in Congress seem to have taken cover. Even conservative commentators aren’t saying much about it, as if it’s not really an important issue. If male-female relationships, human sexuality, the good of children, and the family—which the Church calls the “first and vital cell of society”—are not important, what is?

Stephen M. Krason


Stephen M. Krason's "Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic" column appears monthly (sometimes bi-monthly) in Crisis Magazine. He is Professor of Political Science and Legal Studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists. He is the author, most recently, of The Transformation of the American Democratic Republic (Transaction Publishers, 2012), and editor of three volumes: Child Abuse, Family Rights, and the Child Protective System (Scarecrow Press, 2013) and The Crisis of Religious Liberty (Rowman and Littlefield, 2014); and most recently, Challenging the Secular Culture: A Call to Christians (Franciscan University Press). His latest book is Catholicism and American Political Ideologies (Hamilton Books). He is also the author of a new novel, American Cincinnatus.

  • Angry male

    Women wanted this. They want to be equal with men. How is it that the author seems to think that its OK to kill and destroy men. Is it that a male soul isn’t worth as much as a female soul. Women have takes our jobs, our homes and our children and that’s fine for the weaker sex. How is it that we seem to think women as weak and helpless whereas they are anything but. They want full rights as citizens so give it to them leave my son at home.

    • Scott Waddell

      The anger you admit to in your choice of handle appears to have caused you to read into the article things that are not there or even implied.

    • Ms. Heather Barrett, OP

      I assure you, sir, not all women want this. Some of us just want to be ourselves and let men be men. Some of us respect, and indeed hold sacred, the differences between us and our brothers. And we definitely respect the hard work and sacrifices that men give.

    • musicacre

      The media wanted this. You’ve bought the story that was being sold. Women who are women still, don’t want this. Normal men have always felt protective over their property, their homes, their wives, their families. How is this showing their souls are worth less?

    • To be honest, I think this should be taken as another knife in both the male and the female soul. The repeal of DADT along with this odd desire to put women in the front lines of combat seems directly ordered towards the acknowledgment that government no longer believes in God or in the human soul. We are simply so many things to government, to be ordered to do their will.

  • Amanda

    I have 4 little girls and a sick husband I care for. The thought of myself or my children being drafted to shoot at other human beings and to be shot at by them is the stuff of nightmares.

    To address Angry Male: I agree it’s crazy that so many complain about the job situations, when if the women who want to stay home could afford to stay home and free up more jobs for the men who want to support their families, then the issues would be better resolved. (Sorry this is so incoherent. My kids seem to know when I’m trying to type something and try to grab all my attention!)

  • Thomas Q. Word

    Also, consider the problem of adultery when men and women are deployed together and separated from families for long amounts of time and forced to share everything with a woman with modesty being limited etc.

  • A sinner

    Grueling physical demands, emotional abuse and sexual harassment have always been seen as essential to military discipline. If there are women who want this and can pass the grade, I suppose they should be allowed. But to force anyone into this system is cruel and inhuman.

    • Jeff

      The good news is that nobody is being forced into this system. Why would you think sexual harassment is essential to military discipline? Emotional and sexual abuse are always unhealthy. Assuming they’re somehow essential leads to abuses, such as what happened at Abu Graib.

  • Marion_Upon_St_Blogs

    I believe that more and more our government institutions such as the military are becoming enterprises in which Christians may not in good conscience participate. It’s so sad to see our once great nation become increasingly secularized (mostly by judicial fiat) and thereby increasingly at odds with the tenets of fundamental Christian decency.
    To be forced to choose go to prison or to live in exile rather than to be drafted into a military that disdains the sanctity of marriage and human life may be the scenario that confronts young Christians even in our own lifetimes.

  • A sinner

    Also… Why is it that the Obama administration is so serious about human rights when it comes to giving all Americans the right to fight in battle, but feels no obligation to arrest, try or convict citizens before assassinating them?

  • Ms. Heather Barrett, OP

    This whole situation makes me sick. Of course, it is the logical conclusion of what passes for “feminism” these days. True feminism doesn’t seek to destroy women (and with women, our entire society)! I believe in the genuine feminism of Holy Mother Church, so beautifully taught and expressed in our days by Blessed John Paul II, the Drs. Von Hildebrand, et al. This true feminism seeks to give life to women by honoring our difference from men–instead of saying we have to be *like* men in order to have value and fulfillment.

    • musicacre

      The “feminist ” movement in the States has always been an ugly movement to de-frock women of their veil; their mystery, their nurturing nature,and complementary role in society. The ever-advancing agenda of soft Communism in the States and elsewhere seeks to quash differences between men and women and making it look like it was a popular movement instead of the top-down,(well-funded) abnormality it’s always been. It came at a particular sudden time, thrust into the public eye by a series of eye-catching outrages. Not an organic movement at all. The mainstream media acts in concert when shoving swill sown the throats of Americans. It seeks to destroy protection for women, children and babies. It was never a movement that was feminine; it’s been harsh, brutal, lewd, and crude from the get-go.

      • Bob


        ……..in times of threat and danger, we do we naturally/instinctively look to men to defend us? Here’s a funny (yet intriguing) story:

        I was on one of the first USAirways flights after September 11, 2001 when commercial airliners where able to fly again. Everyone in the waiting area was nervous. Once we were all seated and you looked around, it was obvious what the airline was doing. The first 20 rows (plus first class) where seated with nothing but men, with almost all of the women in the back of the plane. A couple of us looked at each other shaking our heads and chuckling, but no one was complaining! For USAirways, “political correctness” went out the window. They wanted, big strong young men in the front of the plane in case a terrorist tried to rush the flight deck!

    • Bob

      Agreed. Men and women are equals in God’s eyes and society’s eyes. But we are made/wired differently. Why can’t we celebrate this complimentary difference?

      And war is hell, every combat veteran will tell you they do not want their children to experience what they experienced in an active theatre. My question is this: are men, by their basic instinct and internal wiring, more naturally “killers” than women? An example is a Navy SEAL. Members of elite SEAL teams will tell you there is one thing they have in common: no hesitation to kill. They will tell you that this “killer attitude” was not something that was developed in their training, but was always a part of them and brought out through their training. So…..are women “wired” as killers in the same way as men are? Women do kill, but are they instinctively “killers” the same way men are? Even though women will be given the equal opportunity to be on front line duty, will they shy away from that duty once knowing what is involved? In Afghanistan, Marines and Rangers often are involved in very gruesome and bloody hand-to-hand where the Marine has to viciously slice with his K-bar the neck of his enemy almost decapitating him. I personally don’t know one woman that is “wired” for that viciousness.

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        I fancy this is a rather idealised view of women. Recall Kipling
        “When you’re lying half-dead on Afghanistan’s plain
        And the women come out to cut up what remains…”

        • Marion_Upon_St_Blogs

          Even the mildest of living creatures, if cruelly mistreated and subjected to brutal conditions for most of its life, will turn vicious, lashing out at the slightest provocation, or at no provocation at all. People who work with animals, especially dogs, know this. “Man’s best friend,” yes, but a junk-yard dog whose termperament has been ruined by being kicked around and neglected all its life will prove as mean and unpredictable as any wild beast.
          The disposition of human persons, too, can be ruined by mistreatment and inhumane conditions in their own homes and villages. Young girls in Afghanistan have for centuries led lives that must be hell on Earth for them, brutal beyond what any but few in the West can imagine. (Perhaps those raised in our own U.S. and Mexican drug-infested neighborhoods by crack-addicted parents can relate.)
          Most young women raised in the West, in stable homes with the advantages of reasonable, loving families will not have been so brutalized, and cannot be expected to behave in a manner so contrary to woman’s essential nature.

        • Bob

          Obviously, you’ve missed the point of my post.

        • Bob

          Reading Kipling’s poem in full, he specifically references “women” in that line to drive home the point of the incredible horror of war that even women will be pushed against their nature to finish off what men had started.

  • hombre111

    Author makes a good point, but he is lamenting a train that has gone down the track. Now conservatives need to do their best to protect the cause of women who are in the military. My nieces joined the Armed Forces because there was no work for highschool graduates and this offered some kind of opportunity. A poor choice was better than no choice. The military will continue to play this role. So, deal with the devil you have, not with the devil you want to wish away and it ain’t goin’ to happen.

  • Wilson

    The flowering of Zionism and associated degenerations.

    • musicacre

      Most people entrenched in the typical one or two positions won’t get this. Understanding this requires a very long view of history.

      • JCM

        Excellent observation.

  • Jeff

    The “all-male military” isn’t so rosy. If you watch the video released by Wikileaks at http://collateralmurder.com/ , you’ll probably agree that the male soldiers involved seem very callous and antisocial in their behavior. I believe many women would do better and show more humanity.

    • Taylor

      That is a deeply disturbing video! It makes me wonder what the heck we’re doing in Iraq and Afghanistan. It truly breaks my heart to think of my fellow Americans behaving in that way. Perhaps women soldiers would at least be more compassionate as antisocial personality disorder is less common among women.

    • Ford Oxaal

      Women have nothing to do with it. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the problems with an all volunteer army. Over enough time, an all volunteer standing army, which stands even in peacetime, becomes more and more detached from the society that fields it. Eventually, the army falls into the hands of a tyrant who uses them against society itself in the name of power. We see this happening. Government tends to augment itself through war. An all volunteer, permanent, standing army just encourages this behavior. Only a diligent, virtuous society can put up the needed check on this tendency. Our society is presently neither diligent nor virtuous. We kill our young and if they are born, we outsource the parenting of them. This is how far down the wrong road the selfish revolution has taken us. It’s a long way back to sanity, but if we don’t become a virtuous nation once again, the whole world will pay an enormous price as we morph into the bad guys with the biggest arsenal the planet has ever known.

  • sseller

    There seem to be a number of points raised that don’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

    “…a female cadet from one of the service academies told my daughter that she had sought an appointment there so she could take part in humanitarian work. I thought that the purpose of a military was to be prepared to fight wars.”

    We may have to agree to disagree here. I think that the purpose of the military is to further our national interests. Oftentimes that is through war, but not always. If our military is doing its job properly, it is striving every day for its own obsolescence, that is, it is working to make the world a peaceful place where violence is no longer needed to solve problems. In addition to using force to overcome violent enemies, the military must also try to hold on to the peace, which requires tools other than guns. One way to do this is by reconstruction or humanitarian work. After all, it was the U.S. military that led the efforts to rebuild Japan after WWII, and that country has become much more peaceful ever since. Preventing Iraq and Afghanistan from becoming threats to world security again requires not only the use of force, but also efforts to ensure peace is lasting, such as infrastructure, good institutions, and a functioning economy. And preventing a country like Somalia from becoming a threat to our national interests requires not only violence to root out terror cells, but also humanitarian efforts to make that country a more livable place, so people do not side with our enemies in hopes that they will provide a better future than we can. As long as those entering our military recognize that both fighting and humanitarian work are part of the job, I do not see what is wrong with being excited by the humanitarian half.

    “Also, if the left is so much against warfare and violence, why does it want to encourage a militaristic spirit in the half of the population that pacific attitudes most naturally come from?”

    To what degree does allowing women, voluntarily, to join the military, make women more warlike? If, as you suggest, women’s dispositions do not lend themselves towards being warlike, then women will not choose to join the military. The fact that so many women do join, and that many women want to serve in combat may suggest that notions of women being peaceful by nature are not accurate. As a male who has not served, I don’t consider the opportunity to do so an encouragement or discouragement, but rather see it as an opportunity that was not the right fit for my interests.

    “If women are drafted and put on the front lines in combat in a major or even other extended, limited wars, they are almost certain to die in large numbers. That will mean fewer women of childbearing age.”

    Right, but if men are also drafted, they too are likely to die in large numbers. If only men are drafted, then you would have a situation with a much more extreme gender imbalance, where many young women would be unable to find husbands. The women would be alive, but not able to reproduce except out-of-wedlock. Are you suggesting a situation with a high gender imbalance where the only way to maintain birth rates is outside of marriage is preferable to a situation where men and women are both drafted and die together, which would do less to skew the gender ratio?

    “Will virtually anyone—other than the collectivists among us who want to see children essentially reared by the state—be eager to see young mothers separated from their children in large numbers all around the country? There is no assurance that draft exemptions for mothers will be forthcoming.”

    So are people eager to see young children separated from their fathers in large numbers? Why should mothers get an exemption but fathers do not? After all, if, as the Church suggests, mothers and fathers really offer something for children that complement each other, why should we send any parents off to die, because after all, a child without one of his parents is less likely to be raised well? Why should it matter that it is the mother being lost as opposed to the father?

    That’s it for now. It’s true that any change in how we run our military has both costs and benefits, but there are already many inconsistencies in how men and women are treated that differ from Church teaching. The argument against women in combat needs to focus not on how allowing women would turn a well-functioning system into a disaster, but rather on how it worsens a system that already does much to disrupt and dismantle families.

    • Jeff

      Excellent points, sseller. A very logic rebuttal of a very illogical piece.

    • Glenn M. Ricketts

      I’m a bit confused here, sseller. No one is arguing that women can’t perform a number of useful roles in the military, or that they should be banned, etc., etc. The question is specifically concerned with front-line combat. As I indicated in another comment posted below, what’s beyond astounding to me is that the idea is being touted as “opportunity,” as if women were being freed from yet another unjust deprivation.

      But specifically, I’m having trouble with your reasoning for eliminating that barrier. Of course men will die in large numbers, and of course we don’t want that to happen. Is it your position that men and women are indistinguishable, in bodily strength, stamina and susceptibility to injury? Does the virtual absence of privacy in close quarters, often under severe stress, pose no problem for disruptive sexual attractions, rivalries and jealousy? Are the roles of mothers and fathers – especially where young children are involved – interchangeable and indistinguishable? Or does the superficial appearance of “gender equality” trump everything else for you?

      I’m asking sincerely, not sarcastically, so I’d appreciate if you could clarify where you’re coming from. Thanks.

      • sseller

        My point was first to point out a few of the logical fallacies and mischaracterizations in the article, which I feel were rife. But more importantly, my point is this. Men and women are different. But setting down a rule that says women can’t perform front-line combat tasks is a bad strategy for our military because it prevents the best people from being in the right positions. I’m a relatively fit male, played sports throughout school, etc, but I’m well aware that there are many women who are far stronger and more physically capable than I am. On average, men are stronger than women, but those bell curves overlap a lot, and there are women who are certainly physically capable of being in combat and who want that responsibility. If we have some women who are more capable than men, by all means give them the role–they are more likely to complete the mission more successfully than less physically fit men. Having a bureaucratic rule in place that prevents those women from doing these tasks prevents commanders from doing what they think is best to keep us safe. A rule like this guarantees an outcome which is sub-par, because it applies regardless of the situation at hand. Good judgment, which is what our military commanders are trained in, can yield a better outcome.

        In addition, combat situations increasingly involve targeting the bad guys in a sea of civilians. Combat soldiers not only need to keep civilians safe, but they need to try and interact with those individuals to get information needed to complete the mission. Having women in combat roles could make it easier for our soldiers to communicate with civilian women in cultures where women are not supposed to speak with unfamiliar men. That may make it easier to gather information and complete the mission in difficult situations.

        Now if there are specific circumstances related to not being able to ensure privacy in specific situations, and that constitutes a threat to the mission, then perhaps women don’t get sent in a specific situation, but more often than not, in the type of combat situations our military is dealing with today, women can be sent without any special accommodations. It’s also possible that having women in combat positions would worsen the sexual assault problem in the military. I think those are good reasons to be skeptical of the move, though I think the best way to deal with sexual assault is to actually deal with those who perpetrate sexual assault, rather than preventing women from accepting positions that would be best for them. Good judgment, rather than rules, is a better strategy for dealing with more challenging situations.

        As to your point about mothers and fathers, I think that those roles can often be complementary. Ideally, two parents are best. But why is the role of the mother more significant or special than that of the father? I’m not aware of evidence that having a mother as a young child is any preferable to having a father, other than being able to breastfeed. Why Mr. Krason brings up the idea of a draft exemption for women who are mothers when fathers do not get such an exception seems really sexist to me. I don’t think anyone should be fighting, but if we need people to fight, then why should one parent be treated any differently than the other? This idea that fathers are supposed to protect their families is certainly a popular traditional notion, but to my knowledge, it has no empirical backing, so why should we perpetuate it?

        • Glenn M. RIcketts

          Thanks, but I’m afraid that I see much more feminism than logic in your own reply. You advance a number of highly arguable, but unargued assertions with plenty of generalized “equal opportunity” rhetoric, which leaves me largely where i was previously. For my part, I write as one who has never served in uniform, and thus never in combat: how about you?

          As to the number of women who might be fit for combat roles, I think that it must be exceedingly small, and I can’t see the justification for making such a major change in military policy simply to accommodate them when plenty of able-bodied men are available. As for the need to mix and mingle with female civilians, don’t women in uniform already do this without being assigned to combat status? The recent experience of the two who quickly washed out as NFL placekickers leads me to think you’re more than reaching. For that matter, two women also quickly proved unequal to the requirements of Marine Corps combat training at Quantico, Va., and dropped out almost immediately.

          You really don’t address the privacy issue, either, the “chemistry” part of serving in combat. Is it your position that the quickened sexual urges of either sex serving in such close quarters isn’t an issue? If not, please explain why, especially since there would be significantly fewer men than women, with considerable disruptive effect. And since even the most fit women are significantly more prone to injury than average men are, why isn’t that a major problem? Plato theorized about the desirability of absolute equality between male and female among the philosopher-kings who ruled his Republic, but that came only by suppressing everything that made them men and women. If we’re going to try an experiment like this, I suggest somewhere other than foxholes.

          I’m also struck by your easy dismissal of basic differences between mothers and fathers – if, as you say, you believe the roles are complementary, I take that to mean that they are different and each contribute accordingly. You write as if they’re indistinguishable, and if you do, we’ll have to agree to disagree. A vast literature is available to confirm that impression, and I can only refer you to it here.

          No offense intended at all but, having re-read your reply, I still see much more egalitarian aspiration than the logic that you find so wanting in the original article.

          • Glenn M. Ricketts

            One shouldn’t type as hastily as I’m prone to do in discussion threads such as this one – please note the mistake in my third paragraph, which should read “there would be significantly fewer women than men,” Sorry.

            • sseller

              So when I think about how the military should craft policy, I think about the best way to keep our country safe, while also upholding and maintaining the values and traditions that make our country worth fighting for. The point is that sex is simply a proxy for being a good soldier. What our military cares about is not one’s sex, but rather one’s ability to execute a particular mission. There are some things that are good proxies that keep people out–I’ve had vision problems which would likely keep me out if I tried to enlist, and that proxy makes sense to me because good vision is essential to doing what it is the military wants me to do.

              On average, more men possess the skills necessary to be effective in combat. But that does not mean that some women are not capable of doing as good, or even a better job than some men placed in that position. So the military right now has a rule that is in place keeping women out of combat positions, but it’s a rule about something the military doesn’t really care about. What they care about is ability, which is measured with various proxies (push-ups, run time, etc.), but sex per se is not a determinant of one’s ability, it’s another restriction that is getting in the way of what the military really cares about. So why should sex be keeping out women who are better qualified for service than men currently in those jobs? This means that, as Plato suggests, equals are treated equally. But equality in the military is not and should not be determined by one’s genitals, but rather by one’s character and capability.

              Now in some positions, the number of women who are capable of meeting the standards is so small and/or the changes necessary to protect women’s privacy are too onerous that accommodating women may not make much sense. For Navy SEALs, there may be so few women capable of performing at the level required that letting them in creates more trouble than it’s worth. But not all combat positions are like the SEALs, and most have fewer physical demands. What I appreciated about this policy change was that leaders of each branch of service can request a waiver for integration if they can demonstrate that incorporating women would be too burdensome. For the few cases where sex really is a good proxy for determining who is capable and who isn’t, then I don’t object to keeping women out, but I suspect these are really the most extreme of cases such as being a SEAL. Making this determination about which areas of the military women do not belong in based on a sample size of two women who attempted the Marine Corps combat training program is not scientific and won’t provide any sort of systematic information about the capabilities of women in various military roles.

              What is true is that we don’t know much about how officially designating women in combat roles will affect the problem of sexual violence in the military. Personally, I don’t find the sound of rockets firing to be very romantic, but to each their own I suppose. A policy that punishes all women who wish to enter combat because of the sins of a few seems to be a bad rule because it doesn’t solve the problem of sexual activity–it merely alters how it manifests itself. Addressing those who are responsible for sexual activity against military rules seems to make more sense than making it impossible for all women to enter combat.

              And in combat situations, where things are happening quickly, trying to call for backup from the “non-combat” females to help gather intelligence wastes time and can be counterproductive. Allowing women in combat roles has the potential to allow the military to execute missions more efficiently and keep this country safe.

              As to your point about parenting, I think that men and women have different tendencies, but sex is only one of many contributing factors to one’s behavior patterns, and there is a lot of overlap between the sexes. Fathers and mothers will tend to be different on average in a population, but for a given child, what they experience is determined much more by the character and personality of their parents, not their sex. What I’m objecting to is the notion that we treat one parent differently because of their gender. Mothers and fathers are different, but why was the suggestion made in the piece to only give a draft exemption to mothers? If a mother can give her child A, and the father B, why is A so much greater than B that we would force the fathers to fight, but keep the mothers at home? There’s little if any evidence that what mothers provide to their children as opposed to fathers is so much greater or more significant that the former need to be protected from a draft.

              • Glenn M. RIcketts

                Thanks again, but I think we’ve still reached fundamentally different conclusions as to how best “to keep the country safe.” As non-soldiers and non-combatants (I read your first post more carefully) you and I are both speculating, but I do so in the belief that integrating women into combat roles is pure feminist ideological imperative, nothing else, and would lead to difficulty, if not outright disaster. Neither of us knows the outcome of something that’s never been tried ( at least in the US military), but that’s where I’ll lay my money.

                Before sending women into combat how about this – why not have selected female athletes, the very best, compete on equal terms with male counterparts? Why not have them try out for football, no holds barred, no rigged outcomes mandated by judicial or regulatory intervention? Much as I favor female athletic participation, I’m sure that the ladies would be trounced very easily. Perhaps you think otherwise, but we’d learn for sure, right? On that basis, I think we’d have a pretty good idea how they’d fare in combat situations, don’t you agree? It wouldn’t remove the fact that even superbly conditioned women can still become pregnant – another irreducible difference that egalitarian hopes can’t wish away – but it should resolve some questions that, to my mind, should not need resolving in the first place.

                Thanks in any case for the interesting discussion. I’m not sure how long we can continue to impose on Crisis readers, so feel free to shoot me a line at ricketts@nas.org. As I indicated in a post last week, I have no need of anonymity and I’ll be glad to continue chatting with you.

                • sseller

                  Hi Glenn,

                  Unfortunately I’m heading on the road tomorrow and can’t easily continue chatting with you, but I appreciate your candor and reasonableness in our conversation. I would suggest that your notion of sending men against women in an athletic competition wouldn’t tell us very much about what we need to know. On average, the men are going to beat the women. But what does that tell us? While the military’s success is ultimately measured based on team performance, the military evaluates its employees individually before putting them in teams. Grouping all the women and all the men together doesn’t tell us anything about individual abilities. The men might win the game, but half the guys might be struggling to run or catch the ball. What that would tell us is that there are a few superstars on the men’s team, but plenty of others who shouldn’t be there. Rewarding some incapable men because they happen to be on a team of superstars or punishing some capable women because they were on a team of unfit women seems like a bad strategy, and wouldn’t do anything to treat equals equally.

                  While we’re at it, why not divide the teams up by height or age? A team of 25 year olds would probably beat a team of 40 year olds, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t 40 year olds who are more than capable of playing the game well. Why punish all those who are older because the tendency is for the population to perform less well as a whole? All you’re suggesting is that we need to perpetuate a rule that does not measure individual ability and character–which is what our military first and foremost cares about–and instead rely on judgement about how the population of individuals with certain characteristic performs to make determinations about who is allowed in combat. That seems silly, and once again, it seems as if it’s going to restrict our military’s ability to pick the best people for the job–most of whom will probably be men, but some of whom may be women.

                  • Glenn M. Ricketts

                    Thanks, enjoy your trip. Given the shape many 19 year-olds are in these days, the old geezers may actually be preferable! On the other hand, in the normal sequence of military service – and remember this is terra incognita for both of us – younger men may be easier to discipline and work better together in a unit. I’d also note that it’s not genital anatomy but upper body potential that is the biggest and most telling male/female divide, although the genital distinction becomes significant when you recall that the possibility of pregnancy is a constant with young women.

                    You have my email, so look me up anytime, I’ll be happy to chat.

        • Tebowfan

          Best people? YEAH, RIGHT.

  • Emily

    As a teacher at an inner city high school, I see students (male and female) motivated because of the opportunities the military presents. There is a place for women in the military, but certainly not in combat positions. My boyfriend is in the infantry. Women simply do not belong there. Not only is their risk for PTSD and other mental health issues increased, not only are they physically incapable of carrying the load that infantrymen must be able to carry, not only would the presence of a sexual feminine being undermine the morale and readiness of soldiers in combat positions…but come on, infantrymen poop in holes in with their dairyers hanging out for all to see. They don’t shower for weeks. They cuddle up together to retain body heat. They carry injured soldiers over their shoulders. And not only in Afghanistan…they do all these things during training here in the US. Imagine how exacerbated this would be in the mountains of Afghanistan, where explosives are a part of everyday life and the close quarters is not for a 2-week or 1-month training session, but an entire 9 month deployment. Babies should not be made in a situation like that, but I guarantee you that when women are deployed to combat positions, many babies will be conceived among the explosions. What type of prenatal care exists up in the mountains of Afghanistan? At least there are no Planned Parenthoods there.

    • Bono95

      Yeah, I’d much rather go to jail for draft dodging than be shipped off somewhere to die and/or kill other people.

  • Ford Oxaal

    I believe there should be a draft anytime we get involved in overseas action — no exemptions for the children of congressmen — so that government, which naturally tends to augment itself at the expense of liberty and peace, is checked in its adventurism. But they will draft my daughter over my dead body! This is insanity — there is something in the water.

    • Taylor

      And they will draft my son over my dead body! I love my boys just as much as I love my girls. If any of my kids chooses to join the military, however, I will support him or her in that choice.

      • Ford Oxaal

        Why? If there were an actual threat on the country, (that actually benefited the youth, not perpetual adventurism by the gov/corp war machine) you would sacrifice whatever it took. A volunteer army is for misuse. A drafted army means there is a real threat. You don’t draft young women to protect a culture, nor do you draft old ladies and old men — the young women are absolutely the last thing you give up — they are the ones that will produce the next generation. It is irrational to risk them in the name of an absurdly misguided notion of equality.

      • Jeff

        An excellent point, Taylor! Let it be hoped that future wars will be fought by drones and machines, rather than by our own dear children.

  • TPS12

    If woman don’t want this they better stand up and be counted before it’s too late!

  • Tony

    Has anybody pointed out that a sexually active woman may be carrying an unborn child into combat? What about that?

    A former student of mine has told me that men in the Army must commonly take precautions against false accusations of harrassment, by making sure that they are never alone in a Jeep with certain known accusers. The whole thing is an exercise in madness.
    And now I don’t want to hear, from any feminist, about Violence Against Women. You can’t sing that song on Monday, and then sing When the Caissons Go Rolling Along on Tuesday. Either women require special protection by men (since it’s men, not women, who make up most of the victims of violent crime, as well as being the prime perpetrators), or they don’t. You can’t have it both ways.

    • Jeff

      This is totally illogical. What does abuse of women have to do with women being allowed to fight in a war? The first involves unacceptable abuse that the woman has not agreed to; the second involves a decision to take a risk that is made by all soldiers with open eyes. We have to respect the right of soldiers, male or female, to make that choice. They understand going in that they may have to kill or be killed.

    • Since when have leftists ever cared about unborn children?

  • jacobhalo

    Marion, Christians are in the world, but should not be of the world. We are Christians first, and Americans second.

  • Capt. Death

    Only a polity which knows when and where the next war will be can afford such foolishness. We are Soviet now….

  • SJM

    Genevieve Kineke, (website: feminine-genius.com), has written an excellent article on “Women in Combat” in the Anchor News, the Catholic diocesan newspaper of the Fall River Diocese.


  • Glenn M. Ricketts

    What takes my breath away is to hear gleeful feminists and their ever-compliant media supporters rejoicing that “combat opportunities” are now open to women, as if they’d been missing out on all of the fun. While I myself have never served – the furthest I got was registering for the draft during the Vietnam war – I had learned growing up that military service and the possibility of participation in combat was a man’s duty, similar to protecting and supporting his family, a very nasty job that someone – always young men in the flower of their best years – had to do for the sake of everyone else.

    One of my uncles participated as a Marine in the assault on Iwo Jima in 1945, and he never spoke of that experience except for recurrent nightmares in which he would call out in his sleep the names of close friends who died in front of him there on the beach. I can imagine his reaction if he were told that he enjoyed an “opportunity” denied to women at the time.

    Amazing, simply amazing.

    • Bono95

      I know! It’s bad enough that we have to send out young men to fight and die. Why do it to young women too if we can possibly avoid it?!

  • Tebowfan

    Finally, someone who actually figgered out that men are better than women in combat!

  • KC

    I am a women and a veteran, I am glad there is a difference between men and women however there are more similarities than you might think. I may not have been allowed assignments in combat but I was there and wish to God that I had been allowed to train as special forces. I had some opportunities for hand to hand to hand combat training with them, and I was very good at it, and am glad for it because if I had not I would have been one of the unfortunate POWs. Every man I have ever met says they do not understand women and they do not, I would kill an enemy of my country, family or home without hesitation as would a great many other women. I am Christian and love God and do my best to follow the commandments just as any other Christian does but no one, no man, should underestimate the determination or the ability of a women to defend what they love, even to the death either of themselves or another. Having women in combat is not as complicated as everyone seems to think it is and, according to most research, women out number men in the USA (Spraggins, 2002, page 1) Of course this is jut one of the many studies done just in this country there are others world wide, some have to o with the fact that men do not live as ling as women. Even if this is not taken into consideration just look at the reports of jihadist women who kill themselves nd others for their believes or the world

  • KC

    Or look at the world history of women such as those who hide their identities as women and went to war such as those in the civil war, do you think they did not kill without hesitation? Or does anyone think they jut sat back and did nothing. How about women like Joan of Arch?


    Spraggins, R. (2003) Women and men in the United States: March 2002. Publisher: US Census Bureau