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July 20, 2005

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bmmg39

I'm certainly with you on this one. And I hope you see the MRA position (as you've lain it out) for what it really is: a desire to no longer be treated as dispensable, not an anti-woman rant.

I don't care if people support military action or not; I just want them to have a consistent position, and not decry women on the front lines while nodding their heads with jingoistic pride when men come back in bodybags.

A microcosm of this issue is presented in the sport of boxing, a sport I really don't care much for. I see lots of boxing fans act with mock horror when women box each other, because it bothers them to see women bloody each other up and try to knock each other unconscious. I can't seem to find this outrage, though, from the same people when MEN are trying to put each other into a coma...

The Gonzman

Okay, Hugo, I'll bite.

First, required reading; I'll wait. Fred already said it better, and I see no reason to reinvent the wheel.
http://fredoneverything.net/WomenInCombat.shtml
http://fredoneverything.net/MilWomenII.shtml
http://fredoneverything.net/MoreWomenLetters.shtml
http://fredoneverything.net/MilMed.shtml

The first and last are fairly important.

Let's go over some of the stats in the last one, especially for the sake of those who decide they don't want to have their mind changed by facts:

The following, quoted by Brian Mitchell in his book Women in the Military: Flirting With Disaster (Regnery, 1998) and widely known to students of the military, are results of a test the Navy did to see how well women could perform in damage control -- i.e., tasks necessary to save a ship that had been hit.

% Women Failing % Men Failing
Test Before Training/After Training Before Training/After Training
Stretcher carry, level 63/38 0/0
Stretcher carry/up, down ladder 94/88 0/0
Fire hose 19/6 0/0
P250 pump, carry down 99/99 9/4
P250 pump, carry up 73/52 0/0
P250, start pump 90/75 0/0
Remove SSTO pump 99/99 0/0
Torque engine bolt 78/47 0/0

No, I do not believe women belong in combat. As an extension, they have no business commanding men in combat. However, this does not mean they don't belong in the military.

(Yes, "what if" a woman can do it. Okay, no - too insignificant statistically to warrant the accomodations that would need to be made, and too much in the way of saexual tension, which is also my central argument against gays in the military, but that is another story)

I am foursquare against the draft as a form of involuntary servitude, but if it exists, it should apply to everyone. Women should certainly be drafted and bear equal responsibility, or abandon forevermore the specious claim that "feminism is about equality."

cmc

I am writing to comment on the statement you quoted that "[women] shouldn't be in combat . . . they are the bearers of life and the heart of family life, an utterly indispensable role."

I think everyone can agree that no human being should ever be considered dispensable. I also think the statement does women no favors either. It smacks of the typical justification for keeping women out of public roles (be it combat, politics, or the professions). Of course (the argument goes), we shouldn't be allowed to vote, or work, or run for office, because our roles as mothers are too important!

I think you can be anti-war and still criticize gender discrimination in the military. I am not anxious for young people to be killed in war, but I have no patience for the typical arguments raised in opposition to women in combat roles-- that wodmen are not "hard wired" for fighting, or that women should be at home with their children, or that women who are captured might be raped, or that women are such delicate little flowers that they shouldn't be expected to have to spend the night in a ditch. Those types of justifications are wrong in themselves and because they can extend to other contexts-- like whether women should play football or work as welders.

I admit to not knowing much about the mechanics of combat-- but I would accept strength requirements for combat to the extent that they can be shown to be necessary. If NECESSARY strength requirements have the effect of excluding the majority of women from combat positions, so be it. But don't tell me you're excluding women because we don't have physical courage or because we're too dainty. Even though I don't plan to enlist any time soon, I still take it personally if someone tells me that I am a physical coward or otherwise incapable because I am a woman.

cmc

Hi Gonzman! On the one hand, you say women do not belong in combat or commanding men in combat, but you also say that, if there is a draft, that women should be drafted and "bear equal responsibility." I assume by "equal responsibility," you mean simply an equal amount of time in the military, albeit in different roles (i.e. men could be drafted to serve in combat positions, whereas women drafted to serve in support positions).

Onto another issue: I don't necessarily have a problem with the notion that a draft should affect both genders equally. If a man has to serve his country for a year, a woman should also have to serve. But there is something about a woman having to serve in a subordinate position that gives me the heebie jeebies. The main reason I did not join the military when I was younger (despite serious consideration) was that I knew that I could never achieve the highest ranks since, as a woman, I would be unlikely to see combat. I don't EVER want to be part of an organization where I am necessarily in a subordinate position because of my gender and I would not take kindly to being forced to do so. (In fact, I would rather die.) I am not sure what the solution is, or whether we can ever achieve fairness in this area of public life, but it is certainly worth exploring and talking about.

stanton

I am not in favor of a draft, and if there must be one, I believe it should not include women. Sexist? Maybe. I admit that I don't want my daughters drafted and forced to enter a war just to support an ideology of blind gender equality. In this, consistency requires feminists to disagree, and come down in favor of the inclusion of women. Some, like mythago, are consistent in this. Others are not.

Hugo - I admit to being a bit put off by some of your reasons for being pro-feminist: I'm a pro-feminist because I want to see the men in my life become better lovers, husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers. I'm a pro-feminist because I refuse to believe that men are biologically oriented towards domination, violence, and poor parenting skills. I'm a pro-feminist because I believe that both men and women benefit from a society where gender roles are less rigid and more fluid, and where both men and women have access both to political and economic power as well as the opportunity to nurture the vulnerable. But I'm also a pro-feminist man because I love men.

None of those things require feminism. With perhaps a little clarification of the fluid gender role thing, I'm on board with every one of those things as an MRA. You could drop the feminism and join MKP (no, you don't have to drop feminism to join MKP!) and probably promote these things far more effectively than you do now.

The way I see it, you are pro-feminist because you have bought into the dogma of male-privilege and misogyny as the catch-all explanation for any complaint about social realities as they exist. If you were to correct this one flaw... :-)

Amba

Stanton, feminists who maintain that the draft should be abolished for men, instead of extended to women, are also being consistent. I suspect that most feminists would espouse the former option, as it fits with their generally left-of-centre politics.

Sally

Sexist? Maybe. I admit that I don't want my daughters drafted and forced to enter a war just to support an ideology of blind gender equality.

I'm confused about this. I think very few people would want their children to be drafted. If you want your children to serve, presumably you would prefer for them to volunteer. So is the issue that there's something especially appalling about your daughters being drafted? Or is it just that you only have daughters and you're selfish?

I don't want anyone to be drafted. But I believe it's really dangerous to have any group exempted from the obligations of citizenship. It's awfully hard to claim the rights if you're not required to perform the obligations. If there's going to be a draft, therefore, I believe that both women and men should be drafted.

stanton

Oops.

There.

stanton

I'm new at tags - first real try at it, I believe. Is it to end italics?

Mr. Bad

First, let's turn of the italics There, that's better. Now:

stanton, I'm afraid that you and I diverge on the draft: I'm of the mind that if there is to be a draft, in the name of fairness and justice it must inlude women. That said, I'm not in favor of the draft in any form because I don't want to see my brothers forced to fight, kill and die any more than my sisters.

fMhLisa

I heart Hugo!

Just haven't mentioned that in a while!

The Gonzman

Hi Gonzman! On the one hand, you say women do not belong in combat or commanding men in combat, but you also say that, if there is a draft, that women should be drafted and "bear equal responsibility." I assume by "equal responsibility," you mean simply an equal amount of time in the military, albeit in different roles (i.e. men could be drafted to serve in combat positions, whereas women drafted to serve in support positions).

Exactly. Or some other alternate service - if it is the responsibility of men to defend the nation, whether they will or no; it is the responsibility of those who they are defending to materially support them, whether they will or no.

Onto another issue: I don't necessarily have a problem with the notion that a draft should affect both genders equally. If a man has to serve his country for a year, a woman should also have to serve. But there is something about a woman having to serve in a subordinate position that gives me the heebie jeebies.

The operative words are "in combat." To be clearer, I don't think anyone should be commanding or managing people in jobs or tasks which they are unqualified to do.

The main reason I did not join the military when I was younger (despite serious consideration) was that I knew that I could never achieve the highest ranks since, as a woman, I would be unlikely to see combat.

Well, in fact you could, there are many female General Officers. However, I think what you saw was that you would be getting up on a pass from the political pressure to be "inclusive" to women, and your promotions would be seen as unearned.

And you'd be right. That's what affirmative action (Read: Quota) programs do to anyone of the privileged group is to cast a shadow and questions, and doubt on any genuine accomplishment.

I don't EVER want to be part of an organization where I am necessarily in a subordinate position because of my gender and I would not take kindly to being forced to do so. (In fact, I would rather die.)

Well, if many of our overseas enemies got theirway you'd be swiftly granted the opportunity to do so. But that's besides the point - I'd have no qualms about offering commands to those women who were overseeing things which involved support, logistics, et al. Staff positions? Why not? What I would have a problem with, in a meritocracy, is offering field commands to those who could never actually fight.

I am not sure what the solution is, or whether we can ever achieve fairness in this area of public life, but it is certainly worth exploring and talking about.

The obvious solution is to abolish the last vestige of involuntary servitude with the draft. Another obvious one is to deliver legal privilege and preference to those who were subject to it. I doubt the latter would fly, but frankly, as long as my son is subject to laying down his life for his freedom, and my daughter isn't, his is arguably more valuable.

And before you get on my tail, I'm quoting my daughter there; with the caveat that she says it with much disgust and frustration.

cmc

Of course, there are women generals and, I assume, male generals who have not been in combat positions. But I agree with the Gonzman that it is kind of tough to achieve any authentic degree of success in an organization when one has not participated in the main mission of that organization. In other words, how much credibility can you have in the military if there is no possibility that you will be on the front lines?

That's not to say that I don't value what potential role the military has in defending our freedoms (notwithstanding my ambivalence about the war in Iraq or my distaste for the draft). And, if our country were under threat of invasion, I would be willing to (gulp hard) and take on the support role.

Another issue-- what implications, if any, does gender disparity in the military have for gender roles in our society at large? Gonzman says: "The obvious solution is to abolish the last vestige of involuntary servitude with the draft. Another obvious one is to deliver legal privilege and preference to those who were subject to it." Are you saying that men, or male veterans, should have some sort of additional societal privileges or preferences women don't have? What sorts of privileges or preferences might those be?

Antigone

I can go with MRAs on this one, the end being the same if not the motivation.

I want women to be drafted. I want women to be drafted and allowed in combat so that gendered line "But men give up there life for there country" line can be thrown out, without argument, once in for all.

What people seemingly are unwilling to understand is there have ALWAYS been women in war. They get killed, raped, nurse, wash, cook, and run what the men left behind. They are just as involved in war as everyone else. They die just like everyone else too.

I don't like the draft, as it stands. In fact, I would be more supportive of a draft that went more to the lines of: "Everyone able-bodied, from ages 18-21, have to join the military. If you are a pacivist, you have to do support. Doesn't matter if your going to college, doesn't matter if you're a girl, doesn't matter if you're daddy's a senator, you are getting shipped off to boot camp." This is the only way I see happening that the upper classes get some of the burden of war, and that women will be allowed the respect of it.

Although, quite frankly, I wish the need for a military would disappear all together.

stanton

Stanton, feminists who maintain that the draft should be abolished for men, instead of extended to women, are also being consistent.

No, they are dodging the issue, by addressing only part of it. Opposing the draft is fine, but the reality is, drafts happen. When (or if you are anal about it, "IF") the draft comes, it can be either all male, or gender-blind. Refusing to be counted on this question is cowardly and hyupocritical, IMHO.

So is the issue that there's something especially appalling about your daughters being drafted? Or is it just that you only have daughters and you're selfish?

I have a son in Iraq now, actually, and I don't like that either. My view is that women do not belong in combat, and a draft is for the purpose of filling an urgent need for combat soldiers. A case can be made for women in combat, but I do not find it compelling. A case can be made for drafting women in equal numbers with men, for non-combat positions, and it is a much stronger case. Although I am not persuaded by that case either, I respect those who hold this opinion. But I see no valid argument available to feminists for wanting women to be draft-exempt when drafts are unavoidable.

The question is: No matter how much you oppose drafts in principle, if a draft is going to be implemented anyway, should it be gender-blind, or male only? Refusing to answer the question is hypocritical and cowardly. For feminists to answer "male only" is only hypocritical. To their credit, most feminists who have expressed an opinion here have agreed that a draft should be gender blind.

cmc

Right on, Antigone!

Amba

Stanton, have you actually come across any feminist who has argued that women should be exempt from the draft? I don't think I ever have, but I don't necessarily think it would be hypocritical for a feminist to argue that. Feminists don't necessarily think men and women have to be treated in the exact same manner in every situation: indeed, in some situations, (reproductive rights, for example), many feminists actively oppose such a standard being imposed.

When the subject of the draft came up on the other thread, it seemed to me that the MRAs participating in the discussion were doing something that they accuse feminists of doing: that is, they attributed base motivations to their adversaries, when more benign ones were at hand. Feminists have been silent on the draft, not because they're misandrists who rub their hands with glee at the thought of young men being killed, but because their general political orientation doesn't lend itself to any great interest in military affairs.

Michael

I don't necessarily have a problem with the notion that a draft should affect both genders equally. If a man has to serve his country for a year, a woman should also have to serve.

But there is something about a woman having to serve in a subordinate position that gives me the heebie jeebies. The main reason I did not join the military when I was younger (despite serious consideration) was that I knew that I could never achieve the highest ranks since, as a woman, I would be unlikely to see combat.

I don't EVER want to be part of an organization where I am necessarily in a subordinate position because of my gender and I would not take kindly to being forced to do so.


There are currently 227,579 Officers and 1,387,474 enlisted men according to these statistic broken down by rank:

http://web1.whs.osd.mil/mmid/military/rg0505.pdf

There are currently 35112 female officers, 212,156 enlisted women. Here are the statistics for 2004 (the latest I could find) for women in the military broken down by rank:

http://web1.whs.osd.mil/mmid/military/rg0409f.pdf


So if you do remain in a subordinate position, you will have plenty of company with the many men that are there too. But I don't think that gender will hold you back from advancing if you can do the work. If you'll notice, there are plenty of female officers in the higher ranks. I understand about the combat experience to advance, but these women are achieving the highest ranks in the military apparently without it.

A case can be made for drafting women in equal numbers with men, for non-combat positions, and it is a much stronger case. Although I am not persuaded by that case either, I respect those who hold this opinion.

I don't know about drafting them in equal numbers, however I do feel that women should be required to register and honor a draft if we have one. There are way too many non-combat positions that women could fill and those comprise the majority of the jobs in the new computerized military. Do I feel that women should be admitted to front line combat roles? No. I don't think the average woman is physically able to function in an active combat unit. Yes, there are a few women who might be able to, but the average woman, no. Another argument used to keep women out of combat billets is that they would disrupt the cohesive unit and undermine the espirit de corps. The effectiveness of the military hinges on a cohesion -- every member must completely trust and respect one another. Many argue men would not be able to trust women to be capable of accomplishing the physical demands of combat, which could lead to serious problems. In order to maintain cohesion, experts agree that all members of the military must be treated equally. A standard must be maintained to make every member feel as if he/she is part of one single unit, not separated by gender.

There are still plenty of other dangerous and risky jobs women are allowed to do.. plenty..

The United States has about 17 combat brigades in Iraq, totaling about 135,000 troops. About 10,000 military women are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and 39 have been killed and scores wounded there, most of them while serving in noncombat roles such as military police and truck drivers. So non-combat is not to say the same as "safe positions". The death toll for American military personnel is around 1,734 since Iraq was invaded. Although women are not assigned as members of ground combat units, they fly helicopters, drive lorries, join raids on suspected insurgent hide-outs, serve in bomb disposal squads and treat the injured on battlefields - all activities that expose them to lethal risk. So support is a pretty wide definition which doesn't always equate to safe.


NYMOM

"I am foursquare against the draft as a form of involuntary servitude, but if it exists, it should apply to everyone. Women should certainly be drafted and bear equal responsibility, or abandon forevermore the specious claim that "feminism is about equality."

NYMOM said: AND the day that you can convince nature, God, Buddha, whoever to exempt women from the 'involuntary servitude' of having to carry and birth the next generation and share that burden equally with MEN, THEN and ONLY THEN can you talk to me about drafting women.

Until then our roles are just the cards that we're dealt...nothing that can be done about it.

Sally

AND the day that you can convince nature, God, Buddha, whoever to exempt women from the 'involuntary servitude' of having to carry and birth the next generation and share that burden equally with MEN, THEN and ONLY THEN can you talk to me about drafting women.


Surely you're not suggested that women are, or should be, required to give birth. I feel pretty strongly that it should be my choice if and when I carry and give birth to the next generation. And I really don't want my citizenship to be defined by my reproductive capacities.

BritGirlSF

NYMOM, at this point in time chidbirth is not mandatory in the US. I am painfully aware that there are some people who would like to make it so, but so far they have not succeeded. At this point you're comparing apples to kittens, quite frankly.
Stanton, I'll bite. I don't think that opposing the draft in principle is dodging the issue. I also oppose the idea of anyone being required to register for selective service. It seems like indentured servitude to me, and I know too many people from countries where military sevice is required to be comfortable with the idea. The reason I'm not supporting women registering for selective service is that I think the whole registry idea should be abolished. However, if there is a draft, I think women should be drafted too. I'm not at all sure what to think about the question of women in combat units though. Given the current nature of war, where we put a lot of troops on the ground and the support staff are almost as vulnerable to attack as the combat troops, I'm not sure how meaningful the distinction is any more. Plenty of the people who have been killed in Iraq have been non-combat personnel.

Ther Gonzman

Stanton, have you actually come across any feminist who has argued that women should be exempt from the draft? I don't think I ever have, but I don't necessarily think it would be hypocritical for a feminist to argue that. Feminists don't necessarily think men and women have to be treated in the exact same manner in every situation: indeed, in some situations, (reproductive rights, for example), many feminists actively oppose such a standard being imposed.

YEs, we've noticed that. It's also not escaped attention that when such disparate standards are applied, it's funny how it always seems to work out with the male getting the short end of the stick.

Or, IOW, equal when it's to my advantage, and unequal when equality disadvantages me. Hmmmm.

NYMOM

"Surely you're not suggested that women are, or should be, required to give birth. I feel pretty strongly that it should be my choice if and when I carry and give birth to the next generation. And I really don't want my citizenship to be defined by my reproductive capacities."

NYMOM said: Exactly...women's choice.

Just as entering the military today is the choice of men and few of them actually do it.

They are attempting to ride off the coattails of past generations of men with their argument, as today's men do little in the area of defining their citizenship through military service.

Whereas MOST women DO eventually become mothers and yes, it is something we do voluntary, but it also benefits society in a way that few other things do.


Lynn Gazis-Sax

No, they are dodging the issue, by addressing only part of it. Opposing the draft is fine, but the reality is, drafts happen. When (or if you are anal about it, "IF") the draft comes, it can be either all male, or gender-blind. Refusing to be counted on this question is cowardly and hyupocritical, IMHO.

But then, what's a pacifist feminist to do? I agree that my feminist principles dictate applying any draft to both men and women, should a draft exist. Just as my non-discriminatory principles dictate allowing gay and lesbian people to serve equally in the military. But I'm a Quaker even before I'm a feminist, and as a Quaker, I just can't see myself turning activist over the manner in which the military is staffed. My answer has to be the Peace Testimony. Reality is that my government will do all kinds of things that aren't in accord with the Peace Testimony, but it doesn't seem to me that it's my business as a Quaker to argue about how my government ought to do all of these things better.

It's also not escaped attention that when such disparate standards are applied, it's funny how it always seems to work out with the male getting the short end of the stick.

It's not possible to have un-disparate standards, where pregnancy is concerned. The thing isn't evenly divisible, and any standard you apply will fall unequally on both sexes. I'm not prepared to join NYMOM, though, on our roles just being the cards we're dealt with, since she's applying this standard to situations which aren't nearly so inherently unequal as pregnancy is. Military service can, in principle, be distributed to both sexes; it's just not my business as a Quaker to argue that case.


Hugo

"My answer has to be the Peace Testimony. Reality is that my government will do all kinds of things that aren't in accord with the Peace Testimony, but it doesn't seem to me that it's my business as a Quaker to argue about how my government ought to do all of these things better."

Thank you Lynn! This Anabaptist/Episcopalian says, "amen."

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