Polling that shows Americans favor women in combat by 2-to-1 is evidence only of the power of misinformation.
By KATHLEEN PARKER
The Washington Post
And, yes, indoctrination.
Arguments favoring women in direct combat are perhaps well-intentioned, focusing on fairness and pride in certain womens abilities. But most people who make those arguments are operating on false assumptions.
Its not their fault. The media and popular culture have advanced the fantasy narrative of women as groin-kicking, martial-arts divas of doom. Where are all the brave men and women who know better? Would that Congress could stop preening for cameras long enough to examine the issue more closely.
Democrats may be merely falling in line with their commander in chief, but Republicans seem to be suffering Stockholm syndrome. Theyve been slapped around for so long, theyve become sympathetic to their captors.
The two most popular arguments for inclusion of women in combat would be valid if only they werent incorrect. They are: (1) Only qualified women will be included in combat units; (2) We have a volunteer military and, therefore, only those who want to serve in combat will.
It is certainly true that some women are more fit than some men, but it is also true that most arent as capable of becoming as strong as most men. Women have about half the upper body strength as men, which matters when youre hiking with a 65-pound load on your back. It is no coincidence that stress fractures are higher among female recruits than among males during basic training.
This is no insult to women. Were talking about muscle mass that comes with the packaging and has nothing to do with how many times a week one goes to the gym.
Its also clear that physical standards would be lowered to allow women where they dont belong. We know this because Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said as much:
If we do decide that a particular standard is so high that a woman couldnt make it, the burden is now on the service to come back and explain to the secretary, why is it that high? Does it really have to be that high?
Translation: If women cant meet the standards, well just gender-norm them. As to whether this is good for military effectiveness, one can only hope that our enemies are of like mind.
As for our all-volunteer military, this is true as far as it goes. In fact, men do not have the option of declining combat. How can the military justify giving women special treatment? Letting women, but not men, choose whether to enter combat duty likely would cause deep resentment among male soldiers. To make life more fair and allow both sexes to choose would be, as military sociologist Charles Moskos once put it, the end of an effective military force.
Similarly, there could be no excluding women should a military draft be reinstated. This is unlikely in the near future, despite Rep. Charles Rangels regular call for a mandatory draft. Baby boomers who recall the Vietnam draft likely would protest. But others with dimmer memories or a younger generation that has been marinated in the anything-boys-can-do-girls-can-do-better dogma of feminist wishful thinking might find a draft more egalitarian.
Indeed, it would be. Once women are placed in direct combat roles (as opposed to finding themselves in a combat arena), there may be no justification for barring them from registering for Selective Service. The argument against drafting women was always based in part upon womens exclusion from combat.
Women have performed admirably throughout history in a variety of roles that have included combat situations, which is not the same as directly engaging an enemy. But there are other ways to promote women without pitting them against men, who, if women are given special treatment, will resent them to the endangerment of all.
That our Congress is accepting this change without any debate isnt progress. It is a dereliction of duty and, one is tempted to say, suggestive of cowardice.
To reach Kathleen Parker, send email to email@example.com.