Politics & Policy

Wrong on Women Warriors

The new policy is a disastrous mistake.

We have apparently arrived at the Golden Age, free from strife and the threat of foreign enemies. Little else can explain so gratuitous a decision as to place women in combat units. The downsides to such a policy are legion and obvious; the only reason to pursue it is to placate feminism’s insatiable and narcissistic drive for absolute official equality between the sexes.

Any claim that our fighting forces are not reaching their maximum potential because females are not included is absurd. The number of women who are the equal to reasonably well-developed men in upper-body strength and who have the same stamina and endurance is vanishingly small. Because the number of women who will meet the military’s already debased physical-fitness standard will not satisfy the feminists’ demand for representation, the fitness standard will inevitably be lowered across the board or for women alone, as we have seen in civilian uniformed forces.

#ad#Feminists routinely deny Eros — except when it suits them to exploit their sexual power. Only someone deliberately blind to human reality could maintain that putting men and women in close quarters 24 hours a day will not produce a proliferation of sex, thus introducing all the irrational passions (and resulting favoritism) of physical attraction into an organization that should be exclusively devoted to the mission of combat preparedness. Reported “sexual assaults” will skyrocket, and of course it will only be the men who are at fault. Any consensual behavior leading up to the “assault” — getting in bed with your fellow grunt drunk and taking off your clothes, for example — will be ignored, since in the realm of sexual responsibility, women remain perpetual victims, at the mercy of all-powerful men. Expect a windfall to the gender-sensitivity-training industry, which will be called in both before and after the entry of women into combat units to eradicate endemic male sexism.

Even if Leon Panetta intends to keep female fighting units sex-segregated, that distinction won’t last. Feminists will complain that female-only units stigmatize women.

Chivalry is one of the great civilizing forces, taming men and introducing social graces and nuance to what would otherwise be a brutish social world. It is already on life support, but sex-integrated combat units will provide the coup de grâce. If a woman is taken prisoner, will special efforts be made to rescue her to save her from the risk of rape? If so, the necessary equality among unit members will be destroyed. If, however, policy requires that she take her chances along with the male captives, we are requiring men to squelch any last remaining vestige of their impulse towards protection and appreciation of female difference.

I am not aware of any comparable crusade to create gender-integrated football teams. At least America knows what’s really important.

— Heather Mac Donald is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute. 

Heather Mac Donald — Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a contributing editor of City Journal, and the author of the New York Times bestseller The War on Cops

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