A Woman's Place Is at the Battlefront

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Republicans, doubtless persuaded by Kerry's column this week, have backed off attempts to keep female soldiers out of combat positions.

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  1. One of the motives given for this bill was that the rules about which units women could serve in were “a patchwork.” That sounds to me like a situation in which the decisions are being made on a case-by-case basis by people very close to the units involved. Which sounds more like a feature than a bug, in my opinion.

  2. I’ve got no problems with women at the front, provided that they can handle the same physical load that men can. I have four friends in the military and not one of them is in support of women in combat units. They’re slower, weaker, less agile, slower to react, and they can’t handle the same equipment as men in those units.

    I have a friend in the USMC and his contempt for women in combat units is overwhelming. The special treatment that they get during Basic and every follow on physical test does nothing to endear them to the men.

  3. If the Army keeps missing its recruiting goals, they may even back off from their ban on gay people pretty soon.

  4. Jennifer: but if they do that, the terrorists will win.

  5. Jennifer: but if they do that, the terrorists will win.

    If the terrorists are holy, we should send a crack squad of gay men, naked women and pigs after them.

  6. I’m still waiting for the first all-blastocyst batallion to be formed.

  7. Good point, xray. I keep forgetting that the reason Bin Laden attacked us is because he was incensed by the way we don’t allow gays in uniform.

  8. I’m cool with women in combat. Israel has had women fighters for decades. I’m also fine with them flying military aircraft. In fact, Ladies Night Over Afghanistan is one of the coolest photos I’ve seen. See if you agree. Disclaimer: I don’t want my my daughter (or my son) coming home in a body bag, so my open mind crashes into my selfishness right there.

    But I do hope that things have changed since I was in the military when women got equal pay & benefits but did not have to perform on the same level as men. That little sex-linked differential created a lot of tension in the ranks back in the dark ages.

    For example, women P-3 pilots were not required to be able to crank the landing gear down by hand (in an emergency…..). Why? Because there weren’t any women pilots who were physically strong enough to actually crank the gear down by hand. The Navy argued that it was okay because there would always be at least one male crew member on board every P-3 (assuming he didn’t get his good arm shot off).

    In This Man’s Marine Corps the physical training requirements for men were much more stringent than for women (rifle qualifications too). Same pay but the chicks only had to run one mile instead of three to make the grade.

    And dammit, the chicks didn’t have to get those god-awful white sidewall buzz cuts that would become the fashion rage a decade later. 🙂

    Having a little cheese with my whine regards, TWC

  9. “I’m cool with women in combat. Israel has had women fighters for decades.”

    No, actually Israel hasn’t had women in combat since the War for Independence, when it discovered that military necessity didn’t really fit very well with egalitarian ideology.

  10. I think Israel uses women in combat because it really doesn’t have a choice. There is way too much fighting going on to limit it to men. Plus, pretty much the whole country is a war zone, IMHO.

    When some animal terrorists or other third world turds capture one of our women, and rape and torture her for the video cameras, our policy will change right quick. It’s only a matter of time.

  11. In fact, Ladies Night Over Afghanistan

    So there was a KC-135 flying over Afghanistan for an entire night with it’s turn signal on?

  12. I don’t think you would want to be an imfantryman and have to depend on a woman to back you up in a hand to hand combat situation.

  13. The IDF abandoned using women in combat over thirty years ago.

    They spread the meme that it was because the female soldiers so incensed their muslim enemies that they fought even harder rather than be vanquished by women.

    But the pure fact was that women can’t function in combat.

    Women equals in combat was one of those beautiful sixties myths to go with we’d get world peace when women became our political leaders. Surely demolished by the advent of Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher et al.

  14. I don’t think you would want to be an imfantryman and have to depend on a woman to back you up in a hand to hand combat situation.

    Eww! Icky girls! Screw individual qualifications, no girls allowed!

  15. Women “can’t function” in combat, in what way? I’d like some proof of that. I know more than a handful of Vietnam vets, and based on the stories they’ve told me, I could say the same about men. A lot of men fall apart in combat, and if they make it through that, a lot more of them fall apart and can’t function when they come home.

    I want proof.

  16. Kirsten,there are always exceptions but how many average women are capable of competing physically against an aveage man in hand to hand fighting?

  17. I can’t prove it.

    The Israelis stopped using women in combat and that’s the reason they gave. They may have been wrong.

    My point was to contradict two earlier posts that said Israel uses women in combat. They don’t.

  18. Don’t know if it’s true, but I read somewhere that the reason Israel stopped using women in combat wasn’t because of the women, but because the MEN couldn’t handle it. I don’t mean in a misogynistic way, but that men would be overly chivalrous, jeapordizing a mission to protect a woman in situations where they’d accept the necessity of letting a man die. I remember there was a sentence like “Men who could handle seeing their male comrades killed would fall apart when seeing a woman die.”

  19. I have also heard it said (hearsay, I know, for what it’s worth) that women were more likely to just go ahead and kill a guy rather than take him prisoner.

    Women are capable of incredible resolve, and can meet harder physical training if they have to. Sheer strength, as exemplified in how many pull-ups one can do, is not necessarily more important in combat than endurance, smarts, and determination.

  20. Consider me schooled. I though Israeli women of today were equally compelled into military service and fight shoulder-to-shoulder with the men. Me ignorant.

    Kirsten/free form:

    I think War is a completely different reality then most of us can truly understand. In a civilized society equality of opportunity is desirable. However, war is a man’s game. On a biological level, we are built for it. Women purely serve a secondary role, if their men fail.

    It is obviously an ugly pursuit. It’s not fair. And it’s something that should obviously be resorted to sparingly.. cheap gas is not one of them.

  21. Women are capable of incredible resolve, and can meet harder physical training if they have to. Sheer strength, as exemplified in how many pull-ups one can do, is not necessarily more important in combat than endurance, smarts, and determination.

    No, but sheer strength and agility is required when lugging combat gear from house to house in a firefight.

  22. The truth is that Israel NEVER used women in combat. The women are assigned supporting and clerical jobs, so that the men can go out and fight.

  23. MNG, are all men “built for it?” Are all women “not?”

  24. MNG, are all men “built for it?” Are all women “not?”

    Yes Joe, it’s called evolution.

  25. We had this discussion yesterday, and my feeling is that if women can go through the exact same training as men, they should be allowed to be in a combat unit.

    Someone did bring up a good point, though, that on a logistics level, if it’s only, say, 5% of combat units (total numbers-wise) that end up being female, then it might not be worth it. I don’t know if only 5% of female applicants would make it – I tend to give women a lot of credit when it comes to how tough and strong they can be – but it is a valid point, imo.

  26. joe:

    I believe in nature, males are built to fight other males. It is something that is easily observed. We have aggressive tendencies that are different then females.

    Also, I think it says something that there are different measures and requirements according to sex in the military. The same is true about sports, but we won’t shake that nest..

  27. Kirsten,there are always exceptions but how many average women are capable of competing physically against an aveage man in hand to hand fighting?

    That’s entirely irrelevant. We aren’t talking about the average man or the average woman (neither of who likely even exists, btw).

    However, war is a man’s game. On a biological level, we are built for it. Women purely serve a secondary role, if their men fail.

    I hear this kind of rhetoric all the time, but it’s absolutely irrelevant. If you are talking about this as a universal, it is factually incorrect. If you are talking about averages, then see my comment above.

    Why is it such a displeasing notion to your folks that people be judged on their individual capabilities rather than on the average characteristics of a huge group of people that have nothing to do with their own abilities?

  28. What Kirsten said. Let’s take a single example, just for the hell of it. My beloved, an ten-year Marine veteran, is certainly stronger than me in the sense that he can do more push-ups, more pull-ups, and carry more weight than me.

    BUT, I can run longer, faster and farther. He never could, in his entire Marine career, run three miles in the time he was supposed to run it.

    I can work out longer, stay on my feet longer, dig up sod with a solid shank shovel longer–in short, in many ways, I am actually stronger than he is. He loses strength much faster.

    We are average size, average people. I am sure our situation is not unique.

    The “built for it” theory just doesn’t hold up, in my opinion. Set the standards, and whoever can pass them gets to “enjoy” the benefits of whatever military job he or she can do.

  29. I once dated an Israeli army veteran. Female, not that there would be anything wrong with that if I dated a male one.

    Boy, did I become a gentleman for at least that evening. Nothing toned down my Russian hands and Roman fingers like dating a girl who knew 12 different ways to kill me with a hair scrunchy.

    She said that she had been involved in evicting Israeli settlers from the Sinai after the Egypt-Israel peace accords. She said that she was assigned a task of dragging women out of their houses so they could be taken back to Israel.

    That’s not exactly “combat” in the traditional sense, but it’s certainly something I would not have had the Equipment to participate in.

    Maybe she made up that story to scare me, but it sounded plausible.

    I have to imagine that Israeli women soldiers are involved in some nasty duties. Women tend to learn languages better than men, so they would be involved in intelligence, right?

    And since suicide bombing has gone Title IX, I’m guessing that Israeli women are involved in trying to stop that, too?

  30. The “built for it” theory just doesn’t hold up, in my opinion. Set the standards, and whoever can pass them gets to “enjoy” the benefits of whatever military job he or she can do.

    I have friends that is a 12 year marine, still active. In 12 years, there have been ZERO women pass the required physical tests that men must pass. ZERO.

  31. “Set the standards, and whoever can pass them gets to “enjoy” the benefits of whatever military job he or she can do.”

    I’ll buy that. But I still think it would be a very critical situation when women combatants get captured by an enemy that may be a bit less enlightened. I question if it would be worth it as long as there are young men to burn.

  32. Well, there ya go. Another myth destroyed. And all these years I thought that the Israeli army was handing out Uzis to women.

    With respect to the gender arguments there is some validity to them. My grandfather always insisted that in a fight “a good big man can whip a good little man every time” and I think that applies to gender as well. A good man will be better than a good woman. But that woman still may be better than most other men. Think about what great ballplayers the Coors woman’s pro team was–better than 98% of the men on the planet but not good enough to play traditional major league.

    As to who is suited to combat I don’t think anyone can judge that until the day of reckoning comes. I know of some incredble combat deeds done by guys you would dismiss as scaredy pants cowardly geeks in real life.

    And never underestimate a woman’s resolve. I pity anyone who breaks into this house and expects my mild-mannered Mrs TWC to get all shaky and teary-eyed at the thought of plugging you with a .44 or a 12 guage. Wouldn’t even bump her blood pressure.

  33. Mr. Nice Guy:
    I think you are a little late on the women being captured and assaulted topic. I seem to rememeber in Gulf War I in the 90’s that a female pilot or crew member of an ac-130 was captured and raped. I don’t remember much of any public outcry about that.

  34. Bill B said “Kirsten,there are always exceptions but how many average women are capable of competing physically against an aveage man in hand to hand fighting?”

    In my Aikido dojo I am routinely tossed around by women I could bench-press. When your elbow is in your ear, strength doesn’t count for much. So while I would agree that women in combat should be able to meet the same objective standards of performance as men, those standards could be adjusted (not lowered) to allow for different physical capabilities. Someone being taken down with an arm-bar is just as “down” as someone who takes a haymaker to the head.
    Though I would be curious as to how much of modern warfare actually involves direct physical contact with the enemy. I suspect that the “unarmed fighting capabilities” of female recruits is really more of a strawman.

  35. So, is torture and rape worse than torture without rape? Rape is just another form of torture. It’s act of violence. And I can think of other acts of violence and torture that would be worse than rape.

    I think, when it comes to women in combat, men are the primary problem. It’s a brave new world–we all have to grow with it.

  36. Artist: Space
    Song: Female Of The Species

    A thousand thundering thrills await me
    Facing insurmontable odds gratefully
    The female of the species is more deadly than the male

    Shock shock horror horror
    Shock shock horror
    I’ll shout myself hoarse for your supernatural force
    The female of the species is more deadly than the male

    Oh she deals in witchcraft
    And one kiss and I’m zapped

    Oh How can heaven hold a place for me?
    When a girl like you has cast a spell on me
    Oh how can heaven hold a place for me?
    When a girl like you has cast a spell on me

    Frankenstein and Dracula have nothing on you
    Jekyll and Hyde join the back of the queue
    The female of the species is more deadly than the male

    Oh she wants to conquer the world completely
    But first she’ll conquer me discreetly
    The female of the species is more deadly than the male

    Oh she deals in witchcraft
    And one kiss and I’m zapped

    Oh How can heaven hold a place for me?
    When a girl like you has cast a spell on me
    Oh how can heaven hold a place for me?
    When a girl like you has cast a spell on me

    *chuckle* Grrrooonnk!!!

  37. Chris,the standards are ALWAYS lowered for women in the military.

  38. “I seem to rememeber in Gulf War I in the 90’s that a female pilot or crew member of an ac-130 was captured and raped. I don’t remember much of any public outcry about that.”

    That’s because it was downplayed lest public support be undermined for the integration of women into the armed forces.

  39. BUT, I can run longer, faster and farther.

    Now try it with 125 lbs on your back.

  40. Chesty, if that’s the case, then that needs to be the thing that changes. At the same time, the standards need to be relevant.

    The number of push-ups I can do is not necessarily a good indicator of how long or how well I can hold up in combat. Strength is good, but it seems to me that endurance and survival knowledge are better.

    I see no reason today why women should only have to run a mile while men have to run three. Women are perfectly capable of running three miles, and more. Observe any road race on any given weekend day, anywhere. Plenty of women running. And anyone can build muscles and strength.

  41. free form, combat is not a 6k lope around Central Park

  42. Strength is good, but it seems to me that endurance

    It is, and women don’t measure up to men there either. Well, in combat simulating activities, that is.

  43. “were more likely to just go ahead and kill a guy rather than take him prisoner”

    I’m chuckling at this comment; recalling a training mission in the Army where the evaluator threw our platoon a “curve ball” by coaching one of the soldiers to blow operational security and start freaking out. The acting platoon leader (a female) shouldered her M-16 without any hesitation and fired a blank round at said soldier…while the rest of us men stood there looking dumbfounded. (She was rated unsatisfactory for that little performance, BTW).

    free form,

    All I would say about women in combat, is to go visit a post where they train new recruits. You will see young women on crutches all over the place due to training injuries. And that’s even after they’ve lowered standards for those recruits.

    The military is starting to move away from the emphasis on cardio fitness anyway. They’ve figured out that most infantry combat is anaerobic in nature. So us big strong men do have an advantage…

  44. I’ve been very interested in this topic for a long time, ever since I was a kid. I have a typical geeky fetish about female warriors. However, I have never run across anything in the non-fiction world that depicted women as superior to men in the combat arts. Sure, there have been women in combat throughout human history, and some of them have quite impressive records (think of the Russian women snipers of WWII). Still, the vast majority of physical fighting in this world is done by men. That’s a simple, factual observation. There’s likely a bunch of reasons for this, and someone could go on forever conjuring up explainations for it. I won’t right now.

    Another simple, observable fact is that no matter how hard we try, warfare effects everybody of all ages and genders. I would say its a necessity to have women in the military at this point. Whether or not they can perform the same duties as men is largely irrelevant if they can provide some other service that men are unable or unsuited to do. Handling women enemy combatants is one such duty. Unfortunately for women there is very little they can do that can’t be done by men as well. And, in most cases pertaining to warfare, men are better at it.

    I agree with the above sentiment that every prospective soldier should be judged individually. I also agree with the logistics argument regarding the efficiency of supporting a small number of soldiers that require special accomodations. The military should have an equal standards for equal pay requirement.

    I would love to see something similar to “GI Jane” or “Starship Troopers” (the movie) happen in real life. I know it won’t, but maybe they could do a Reality TV show or something. It would be interesting to see an actual side by side comparison of men and women under combat stress.

  45. Not my point, Chesty.

    My point is, what is an appropriate standard? Is it sheer strength, or is it ability to endure? What is an appropriate measure of one’s ability to endure, for long periods of time, adverse climate, inadequate nutrition, mental duress, etc.? Is there proof that men are better at that than women?

    When we talk about lowering vs adjusting standards, this is an important question.

  46. Sgt. Slaughter and Matt C., thank you both for thoughtful replies to my inquiries.

  47. free form,you are like an annoying teenager who will not take no for an answer.how many 120 pound women can prevail over a 170 pound man in hand to hand combat?

  48. Chesty, how many soldiers in combat end up grappling, as opposed to using weapons against each other? I’m just asking, and if you think I’m annoying, you have the option of ignoring me.

  49. Mr. Nice Guy,

    “I believe in nature, males are built to fight other males. It is something that is easily observed.” Wait a minute, are we talking about humans (who have never been observed “in nature”), or are we talking about all species?

    “We have aggressive tendencies that are different then females.” Mothers fight pretty damn hard for hearth and home (or “nest and burrow,” or what have you).

    “Also, I think it says something that there are different measures and requirements according to sex in the military.” Yes, it says something fairly irrefutable about medians. But we don’t assign medians in the armed forces. We assign individuals.

  50. But I do hope that things have changed since I was in the military when women got equal pay & benefits but did not have to perform on the same level as men. That little sex-linked differential created a lot of tension in the ranks back in the dark ages.

    For example, women P-3 pilots were not required to be able to crank the landing gear down by hand (in an emergency…..). Why? Because there weren’t any women pilots who were physically strong enough to actually crank the gear down by hand. The Navy argued that it was okay because there would always be at least one male crew member on board every P-3 (assuming he didn’t get his good arm shot off).

    Taken together, these two issues scream for a market remedy. For example, in an emergency, the lone male aboard could say, “I’d be happy to crank down the landing gear now … but first, I’d like to negotiate a little raise in my pay.”

  51. When we talk about lowering vs adjusting standards, this is an important question.

    “adjusting” standards is affirmative action, pure and simple.

    There are a set of standards. If a person can’t meet them, they go home.

  52. “how many 120 pound women can prevail over a 170 pound man in hand to hand combat?”

    Some? A few?

    Nobody’s really disputing anything about the 90-99% who cannot. The question is about the 1-10% who can. Is there any good reason to tell Brutella that she has to go back to filing paperwork when she’s done roughing up the boys? FWIW, I don’t consider “women should stick to women’s work” to be a good reason.

  53. In my Aikido dojo I am routinely tossed around by women I could bench-press.

    I’ve studied aikido myself, and know the feeling. But I don’t for one instance confuse the study of aikido with a real fight either.

    I once heard Saotome Sensei state that if his family were attacked, his response would be to get a gun and shoot the attacker. His wife (5th dan, if memory serves) agreed.

    Any aikidoka worth a nickel will tell you that, for all the knife disarming moves they practice, their odds of prevailing over a skilled attacker armed with a knife are not good.

    Martial arts are wonderful, but no matter how well trained a woman is, her odds of prevailing against one or more aggressive young males is not good. Men have evolved for combat, women have not. Simple as that.

  54. joe – Mike C. says, in response to a point I made about a point someone else made yesterday: “I also agree with the logistics argument regarding the efficiency of supporting a small number of soldiers that require special accomodations.”

  55. Not to take the fun out of this debate, but the real warfare these days is fought with heavy machinery. The grunts are just there to clean up the mess, and to engage an occasional straggler. It’s glorified police work.

  56. BUT, I can run longer, faster and farther. He never could, in his entire Marine career, run three miles in the time he was supposed to run it.

    Let’s see you do it with a 100 pound pack on your back.

  57. RE: The number of push-ups I can do is not necessarily a good indicator of how long or how well I can hold up in combat. Strength is good, but it seems to me that endurance and survival knowledge are better.

    Yes but the number of push-ups you can do or how long you can hand from a bar will determine how quickly you get promoted in the Army or Marines. The standards for women in these events are so low that they routinely max them.

  58. RE:Not to take the fun out of this debate, but the real warfare these days is fought with heavy machinery. The grunts are just there to clean up the mess, and to engage an occasional straggler. It’s glorified police work.

    Do you watch the news?

    For OIF currently going house to house in some cases looking for people. In OEF the terrain does not allow for anything other than Infantry in many cases. I agree that at the beginning of both of these wars we fought with heavy machinery which is useful in taking out Armies on a linear battlefield. Now we are fighting an insurgency and there is no front line and no enemy equipment for us to destroy.

  59. RE: My point is, what is an appropriate standard? Is it sheer strength, or is it ability to endure? What is an appropriate measure of one’s ability to endure, for long periods of time, adverse climate, inadequate nutrition, mental duress, etc.? Is there proof that men are better at that than women?

    It does not matter to me what the standard is as long as it is the same for both men and women.

  60. Jennifer,

    “Don’t know if it’s true, but I read somewhere that the reason Israel stopped using women in combat wasn’t because of the women, but because the MEN couldn’t handle it.”

    Martin van Creveld made that point in Men, Women and War but I don’t think you’d like his conclusions.

    QFMC cos. V

  61. Dave,

    In other words, Police work. Of the SWAT variety.

  62. Back in 1950 when I was a combat infantryman, damn few MEN could hack it. Perhaps one in 20 or one in 50. Only one in 5 of us fired their piece in combat. My Marine grandson and my Army nephew today would have made me, at my best, look like a WAC. Grandson did house-to-house in Fallujah. Nephew is protecting Muslims from their own landmines. I whimper just thinking about it.
    If you want a jobs unit, reopen the WPA and let all the girls lean on a shovel. Use fighters for fighting. Don’t deny a promotion slot to a fighter because someone who does Powerpoint deserves a promotion. Remember, it is not the average force applied to the enemy that wins, it is the overwhelming force.

  63. Fabius-
    I haven’t read that book. Why wouldn’t I like its conclusions, do you think? I don’t know how I feel about this whole women-in-war argument, but I think it is VERY plausible that men evolved with a little part of their brains hard-wired to think “Protect the woman if she’s in danger!” After all, from a strictly biological, reproductive standpoint, men are more expendable than women, in the sense that a society with one hundred women and two men can have a lot more healthy babies than a society with a hundred men and two women.

  64. There are a couple more considerations than pure physical abilities in a fight.

    Namely the discipline problems of integrating men and women on the battlefield. The desire to engage in reproductive behavior is stronger than the disire to follow rules. One of the big problems in the military before the war was officers having sex with their subordinates. I am not really sure if this is a big real problem, or just a problem given the rules being the way they are. Sure there will be some discipline problems, but the old greek forces were gay and the officers used to have sex with their same sex supordinates, and that was one of the priviledges of authority. I think that is the way the Afghans are today, both the ones who fight us and the ones on our side. (with that the whole “they will rape our women if they capture them” problem is non existent. Perhaps we should have only females in Afghanistan, if they capture a man he is getting raped.)

    One of the big problems in the first Gulf war was that much to the annoyance of those trying to man positions and count beans, women get pregnant while deployed, even when their husbands are not around. When this happens they have to get shipped back and then replaced, and it was a big headache.

    Also, I have a friend in the Air Force, and from hear her tell it, the military treats single parents differently if they are women than if they are men. So if that rule is to continue, that is a logistical problem too.

  65. free-form:

    “So, is torture and rape worse than torture without rape?”

    I think so. Being male, I have very strong feelings about what men should and should not do. One of them is to violate women and children. Quite simply, it should be a death penalty offense. A very slow and painful one.

    Yes, a man can sexually assault another man, and it is the ultimate act of domination. But on a very basic biological level, this doesn’t betray a male’s intrinsic purpose of protecting females and young.

  66. On the Israeli military, from TAPPED:

    “Israel has struggled with the question of women in combat a lot longer than we have, due to the integration of civilian and military life in that country. Women found that because they were barred from combat, they were not getting jobs in the private sector that men were, based very much on their army experience and contacts. As this Israel Women’s Network brief explains, the Israeli Supreme Court forcibly integrated the Air Force in 1995 by deciding in favor of a woman named Alice Miller who sued to be allowed to take the Israeli Air Force entrance exams. At issue was a policy of El Al, the Israeli national airline, that barred pilots who had not served in the Air Force, effectively precluding all women. (To give a sense of the cultural response to the lawsuit, then?Israeli President Ezer Weizman famously told Miller that women weren’t Air Force pilots just as men didn’t darn socks.) In the end Miller failed the entrance exams, but several women have become Air Force pilots in the wake of her legal victory.”

  67. “adjusting” standards is affirmative action, pure and simple. – sez Tom Paine’s Goiter

    Wouldn’t that depend on the standards, and the job? It seems to me that establishing a minimum time to run three miles with a 100 pound backpack for fighter pilots would be affirmative action for MEN, and adjusting the standards to eliminate this irrelevancy would be a step towards meritocracy.

  68. Like I said in my last post, “Whether or not they can perform the same duties as men is largely irrelevant if they can provide some other service that men are unable or unsuited to do”.

    Does anybody here think that women are inherently better at something than men are? Just about the only thing that women can do that men can’t is bear children. Humans are a dichotomous species where the males grow bigger than the females. Sure, there are women out there who can best the weakest men in physical contests, but they are a vast minority. Bottom line is, you put the strongest, fittest man alive in a pit with the strongest, fittest woman alive and tell them to kill each other the man will come out on top. Is there a way we could do some kind of computer simulation on this? That would be interesting to see.

    Furthermore, fighting forces throughout human history have relied on more than just physical ability to be successful in battle. There is a comraderie at work that surpasses mere friendship. One of the reasons the USMC is so awesome is because of this sort of “brotherhood in arms”. It may seem awkward and revulsive to some of us, but hardcore Marines are essentially bigots who have high standards for what they consider worthy of praise and acceptance. It may be wrong to us living in the “civilized” world, but it works wonders on the battlefield. It shouldn’t be messed with.

    If women are going to actually fight in combat, they should be grouped together and form their own “sisterhood in arms”. Women fighters throughout history have proven they can be successful combatants. However, this is primarily when they form their own armies and warbands like the mythical “Amazons” of Greek legend.

  69. “Does anybody here think that women are inherently better at something than men are?”

    It’s been repeately proven that they can endure physical pain better. Probably related to bearing children.

  70. Joe,
    Do you think that the standards were made to keep women out?

    Besides the fact that pilots don’t have to do 3 miles with 100 lbs pack. They are in large part pansies. But don’t you think that some physical requirements be in place, incase they were to be shot down? Or for G forces or whatever.

    The Marine Corps likes to maintain that “all Marines are basid infantrymen”. So that theoretically you can give a cook or a truck driver a rifle and have them perform infantry duties if necessary. Of course it doesn’t hold up well.

    All Marine officers go through a course called the Basic Course. It used to be an infantry officers course. But mainly because of women the standards of that course have had to be changed so much that now another course has had to be created for officers that are really going to the infantry (called the Infantry Officers Course). Sort of like, “we were just kidding about the other course, here is what you really need”.

  71. BTW,
    I have no doubt there are many things women can do that men can’t. Nature is a big equalizer, for everything men can do that women can’t there is probably something that women can do that men can’t.

    What is crazy is to assume that women and men are the same, and that they can do all jobs with the same ability. And it is even crazier to think that you can put young twenty somethings together and sex is not going to be at the top of what is in their minds, regardless of what the rules are.

  72. “It’s been repeately proven that they can endure physical pain better. Probably related to bearing children.”

    Comment by: joe at May 27, 2005 10:40 AM

    Any literature out there to prove it? I know I’ve seen that claim before, but I don’t know where they came up with that conclusion. I do know that the pain experienced during childbirth is described by many women as a “good pain”, unlike a gunshot wound or a 3rd degree burn.

    From my own personal experiences, I’d have to say that as far as emotional, mental anguish goes, most women I know have no trouble keeping up with the men.

  73. Matt-

    I don’t have a link to back this up, but in college one of my Psych professors said they did pain tests of men and women. Women were more likely to express pain earlier (by crying or screaming, say), but men were the first ones to pass out from the pain.

    I can’t help but wonder how much the volunteers were paid for this.

  74. By the way, I think the “good pain” is psychological–giving birth, you KNOW the pain is for a purpose, as opposed to the pain of something like a kidney stone, which doesn’t result in anything inspirational like New Life, but just plain hurts.

  75. “Wouldn’t that depend on the standards, and the job? It seems to me that establishing a minimum time to run three miles with a 100 pound backpack for fighter pilots would be affirmative action for MEN, and adjusting the standards to eliminate this irrelevancy would be a step towards meritocracy.” – joe

    First off, there’s a huge flaw in your example. Affirmative action is not designed to reward the ability to meet a requirement (which the men in your example would conceivably do), but to compensate for those who are NOT being able to accomplish that requirement.

    Being able to meet the requirement is not affirmative action, it’s being able to meet the requirement and therefore gaining entry based on merit and not affirmative action.

    I’m not aware of any such 100 lbs. 3-miler requirement for combat pilots. Besides, the U.S. does have female helicopter, bomber AND fighter jet pilots.

    What I AM aware of is lowered physical fitness requirements for female military personnel across the board. It’s essentially the same pay and better promotion possibilities for lowered requirements. THAT’S affirmative action and it’s wrong.

  76. kwais,

    I don’t think the standards were deliberately created to keep women out. I think that in many cases, they were drawn up for the purpose of weeding out people who lack mental toughness, and designed to make the bottom X% drop out. In other cases, such as the ability to endure G forces, the standard is an actual measurement of what it takes to do the job, and shouldn’t be changed.

    What is even crazier, kwais, is to ignore individual variation, and base decisions on averages. I don’t want a woman of average size and strength next to you in a foxhole any more than you do.

  77. rob,

    The flaw in your logic is your assumption that meeting an irrelevant standard is a meaningful measure of merit.

    If the Air Force decided that all of its pilots needed to have a three octave range, would meeting that standard demonstrate greater merit as a pilot candidate?

    I agree with you that there should be a single standard. Where you run into trouble is in your assumption that all of the standards drawn up to distinguish among men are appropriate measures for women – see my comment above about physical standards being set for the purpose of making people who don’t have enough mental toughness drop out.

  78. Joe,
    “I don’t want a woman of average size and strength next to you in a foxhole any more than you do”

    A couple of things on that comment.

    1- No one out there wishes there were a woman in the foxhole with me more than I do. (Well, there is no foxhole, it is not that kind of war but still).

    Also, I’ll put money that of the 3 or so billion women on the planet, none of them could pass the qualifications and training that I had to pass. All of which were to test if I am capable of doing the job that I am supposed to be able to do. Also, despite my average measurments, I don’t think that there is a woman on the planet that could beat me in a fight other than if a sense of chivalry prevented me from hitting her.

    But even if there were the Xena warrior princess out there, to make me happy and be in my foxhole with me, I would be happy. But it would probably not be a good thing, as I would not perform to standard. I would think about her more than any of my buddies, and the mission.

  79. “I agree with you that there should be a single standard. Where you run into trouble is in your assumption that all of the standards drawn up to distinguish among men are appropriate measures for women – see my comment above about physical standards being set for the purpose of making people who don’t have enough mental toughness drop out.”

    But you don’t agree with me, from what I can tell. Where you run into trouble is your argument that we should use differing standards to distinguish between men and women as tho they competed for promotion separately, rather than all together as soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines regardless of gender.

    Put another way, the problem is that male and female military personnel compete against one another for promotion as soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines regardless of gender, but the performance standards are not the same.

    Your mental toughness standard is just a dodge to avoid dealing with that reality, and is even more subjective than a physical test. A guy who would be the next Audie Murphy might not be able to stand close spaces and therefore wouldn’t have the “mental toughness” to be a submariner, for example. Mental toughness is just too subjective a standard.

    “If the Air Force decided that all of its pilots needed to have a three octave range, would meeting that standard demonstrate greater merit as a pilot candidate?” – joe

    Obviously not. But you’ve missed my point. I never assumed that meeting the irrelevant 100 lbs. standard you used was an example of a meaningful standard of merit. (I even pointed out that no such standard existed and that there are female pilots.)

    The flaw in your logic is that if a three-octave range that only women could meet (to use your new pointedly silly standard) was deemed to be the standard requirement, THEN men could only get in with an affirmative action waiver because they failed to get in by their ability to meet the requirement.

    AGAIN, the flaw in your logic is in stating that affirmative action would mean setting the bar in a way to preclude those who can’t meet the standard as affirmative action. That’s just adherence to the standard – those who meet it get in, those who don’t can only hope for a waiver. But you say the ability to run 3 miles with 100 lbs would be affirmative action for men when it can’t be if they meet the standard.

    Affirmative action is for people who cannot meet the standard or the performance of those around them. Regardless of the standard you use or how irrelevant it is to actual duties performed.

    Affirmative action is used to WAIVER a requirement – grades, SAT scores, ability to run 3 miles with 100 lbs, sing in three octaves, whatever – for someone who CAN’T meet the requirement. (Now do you see why I say your example is bad?)

  80. “Where you run into trouble is your argument that we should use differing standards to distinguish between men and women as tho they competed for promotion separately, rather than all together as soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines regardless of gender.”

    Not my argument. I must not have been clear enough – I oppose separate sets of standards, just as much as I oppose barring qualified women from certain jobs. I don’t quite understand how you could have gotten my argument so completely reversed.

    You also completely misunderstood the example I used. If you establish a standard that favors one group or another, it is affirmative action TO THE DEGREE that it fails to accurately measure the candidates’ qualification for the job.

    If the purpose of a exercise that involves weight is to test the muscle power of the candidate, then a set weight level may be appropriate. If the purpose is to see how the candidate performs when worked to physical exhaustion, then a % of body mass would be better. If the 10 chinups standard was set 50 years ago because that’s where most guys would drop, and the point is just to work everyone until they drop (rather than to set a minimum for arm strength), then booting women who don’t get to 10 chinups is a waste of good candidates.

    To sum up, I want there to be a single standard, but I also want the standards reviewed to make sure that they aren’t needlessly biased in somebody’s favor.

  81. kwais,

    It’s my understanding that the combat branches are quite skilled at building and reinforcing the desired attitude and practices in their troopers. I don’t see why it would be any harder to train the typical 2005 marine to work effectively next to a woman, than to train the typical 1955 recruit for Alabama to work effectively next to a black person.

    I’ve learned to be skeptical of claims that attitudes towards different groups are innate and immutable, particularly when the existence of those attitudes is used to justify the perpetuation of a privilige for those who hold the attitude.

  82. joe – Well, alrighty then. Looks like we’re on the same side of this after all. I think we agree that the standards should be set to the requirement for the job/duty performed.

    But I’m still confused by this statement: “If you establish a standard that favors one group or another, it is affirmative action TO THE DEGREE that it fails to accurately measure the candidates’ qualification for the job.”

    But if the standard is something that is a physiucal job requirement, is accurately measuring the candidates qualification for the job, what then? Physical standards usually favor men, but that doesn’t make it affirmative action for men. Just because those who are more physiologically or biologically more inclined to pass a physical standard are usually men. That’s not affirmative action – affirmative action is the loophole that enables people who can’t meet the standard to get the job anyway.

    In the military, for example, this leads to men who can’t pass the minimum for the male test getting booted out of the military even though they ARE meeting the lesser standard required of women (usually exceeding it). Didn’t happen to me, but I did see it happen.

    So I guess my beef is that you are mis-defining affirmative action as the use of a standard that may also favor men over women when in reality, affirmative action is the loophole that enables those who can’t meet the requirement to get the job anyway.

  83. The key phrase there, rob, is “if the standard is something that is a physical job requirement.”

    I’m not convinced that the physical elements of the training and testing regimen are all geared to actual job requirements. Particularly as so many combat jobs become more high tech. Think of big-armed artillery guys driving a Paladin.

  84. I think we agree on that. The standard should be job-relevant. And I would also agree that the training and testing regimen are geared to actual job requirements. Otherwise, there would be different physical testing requirements for different jobs.

    It’s nice to find some common ground with you for a change, tho.

    But, just to be a pain (because I wouldn’t want to disappoint!), I still think you’re mis-defining affirmative action.

  85. Joe,
    The physical requirements of infantry types:
    Carrying a mortar baseplate to the assault point, Carrying a crew served weapon, loading or carrying a .50 cal. There are many many others.

    But back to your silly comparison of women and black people. Sure whether or not people of different races can learn to act as brothers does not indicate whether or not you or I can be tought to be with a person of the sex we are attracted to and to not want to have sex with them?

    I mean some people think such a thing can be tought, do you? It is the current military policy that it can be, and it is NOT possible. You can’t teach a gay person not to be gay, and you can’t even under threat of death teach me to not be attracted to a hot chick. I and every heterosexual man out there will risk death and dishonor for sex, given the right set of circumstances. You too Joe, though you might not have been in a circumstance where you would be aware of such a thing.

  86. kwais, you’ve got a point. While I think that PT tests aren’t a good way to measure whether someone can do a job, AND that they are ridiculously biased to let women get higher scores for less results, I think it’s also obvious that the physical requirements of being in the infantry are going to be beyond the ability of most women.

    I also think that you’re right, most people are genetically hardwired to have an almost undeniable sex drive – to the point that most people will “risk death and dishonor for sex, given the right circumstances.”

    I think the real challenge facing the military is to revolutionize the system, so that consensual sex is not something to hide (preventing blackmail) and isn’t something that’s punishable (unless it adversely affects the unit’s ability to accomplish the mission).

    But everyone always looks at me like I’m mad when I say that – of course, we’re dealing with an organization so tradition-bound that oral sex is still considered a crime.

    (Previous post should have read “that the training and testing regimen are NOT geared to actual job requirements.”)

  87. “Sure whether or not people of different races can learn to act as brothers does not indicate whether or not you or I can be tought to be with a person of the sex we are attracted to and to not want to have sex with them?”

    No, but you can learn to keep it your pants, and to consider your team mates first and foremost as team mates. Not as sex objects. Not as damsels in distress. As one of the guys who, maybe in a different circumstance you might have been attracted to, but who you don’t really think of that way, because she’s one of the guys.

    You know – like thousands upon thousands of homosexual soldiers have done since the beginning of our Republic.

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