This article today rather annoyed me. It mentions scientific data on women reducing combat effectiveness, yet where is this data? Either I have to buy this book or be sworn into the league of misogynist gentlemen to review the data. This is not the only thing recently I have read arguing this point of view, to be sure there must be plenty of rants about women being allowed in combat. The two I’ve read most recently use revisionist and selective historic arguments to help justify the position. Or maybe they haven’t had any history classes that went beyond the offensively bland, politically correct (either left or right correctness) historic sociology offered in public education.
Everyone who is human can trace their ancestry to remote tribes that wandered around after food. Men in most of these societies had limited function; make babies, kill dinner and die to protect the tribe. When the men were off hunting or raiding the neighbours the camp was mostly women, elderly and the young. Many of the people against women in combat would likely suggest if the camp was raided or attacked by predators the women fold would wave their scrawny arms like Olive Oil in Popeye cartoons and die, be raped or carted off as ‘brides’. Sometimes but I am willing to bet some of the ones who died took someone with them. Of course it women were being killed in battle in our tribal past their would be evidence, right? Of course there is the Chinese bronze age Empress who had conquered her neighbours and built one of the largest Asian pyramids to take her army to the after life.
The historic arguments get narrowed to more modern history to ignore the ancient past. They do this by promptly ignoring the women who grabbed their brother’s old clothes, their father’s squirrel rifle and joined the Continental Army. Some served in line infantry, dragoons and possibly in artillery, their descendants went on to serve in the Union or Confederate armies. In Europe some women were decorated for valour even after being discovered as women, others were executed for their service. Some women would become famous pirates, be denied a medal despite serving the ship’s guns at Trafalgar and lead the storming of the Bastille. In the game Empire Total War the Dahomey Amazons are some of the best skirmishers.
More current examples? How about another article that triggered this blog, actually an obituary of a ‘Night Witch’. Women fought in World War II as pilots, gunners, infantry, tank crews or partisans. The Nazis called all female Soviet infantry units Bandit Battalions and feared/respected their tenacity. Nearly every war since has had women combatants involved, today in Syria for example. Some nations can ill afford keeping 51% of the population from the combat arms, Israel is proud of their women in combat positions.
Volumes could be written of women in combat being just as effective and at times more effective than their male counterparts. The position warfare notion that women can be ‘protected’ in the rear is as obsolete as buggy whips and muzzle loading. This should become a specialist area of study, I would gladly accept research funding to start it. Perhaps someone more qualified, like Doctor Rebecca Johnson or Doctor Pauline Kaurin, should take the lead. A book to start with would be Sunray: The Death and Life of Captain Nicola Goddard it is sad yet inspiring.
Let us all remember merit doesn’t check for gender and merit is more important for a combat unit then length of the penis or size of the testicles. As for the physical, mental arguments being offered many are recycled from the arguments for why Black men should not be allowed to fight. Some people are fit to serve in combat units and some are not, arbitrary denial of segments of the population reduces the pool of effective candidates. Compare a national women’s rugby team to local boys street gang, which are more fit in physical and mental terms? Unfair comparison, right? So is comparing the House Wives of Beverly Hills to Delta Force. If you compared rugby players and rugby players chances are you would want to recruit both the men and the women.
To much of the debate that I’ve seen has been framed with generalizations, caricatures of women and men, and reduction of genders to one dimensional stereotypes. People should not be constricted to a narrow social construct developed for the controlled lives of those who have gone before us. Perhaps these arguments against women in combat are part of the devolutionary trend to end reproductive rights, equality and opportunity. Hopefully it is just the last cries of a society that threw away so much potential by denying equality.