Monday, December 3, 2012

ACLU Women in Combat Suit: A Guide For Gender Traditionalists

The ACLU is suing the US Department of Defense for its exclusion of women in combat roles in the military.

Let me just summarize the suit and pre-emptively rebut gender traditionalists' responses that they'll undoubtedly render without even reading the complaint (PDF) or knowing any other details of this suit (all quotations are from the cited complaint):
  • "The battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan lack any clear boundaries or front lines..... As a result, servicewomen across the Armed Forces, including the Plaintiffs, have risked their lives and continue to risk their lives serving in combat in our nation's active theatres of war."
  • One of the plaintiffs successfully completed a military training program "widely regarded as one of the most physically and mentally demanding forms of training offered to military personnel." She completed rescue missions and was involved in ground combat, ultimately being awarded a Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross with a Valor Device.
  • Another plaintiff went on missions in Afghanistan with male combat arms soldiers, usually serving as the only woman. "[T]hey were dropped off together by helicopter in the mountains, and they wore the same body armor and carried the same weapons."
  • Another plaintiff, a Marine, "lived and worked with" male infantry Marines in the same living and working conditions, managing the same lack of privacy, and going on daily patrols with the men while wearing the same body armor, carrying the same weapons, and encountering ground combat. In order to accommodate the Dept. of Defense's combat exclusion policy, the women "were often taken out of crucial missions" and "were forced to travel to and from the base on dangerous roads," artificially and unnecessarily putting male and female servicemembers at risk for the sake of compliance.
There we go.

I believe these facts rebut "women don't even want to fight in war," "women are incapable of fighting in war," "women on the front lines will harm troop cohesion," and "the physical standards would have to be lowered, resulting in a weaker military."

See, the funny thing is, women aren't a monolithic group, and accordingly don't all have the exact same wants, desires, life goals, attributes, and physical and mental capacities. I mean, it's weird to have to, like, explain that to people as though it's a Startling Revelation, but some people seem truly boggled by the concept of women being individuals.

And, accordingly, even though some financial op-ed reporter can't imagine his little girls ever wanting to serve in the military and seems to think that having daughters makes him a Gender Expert qualified to speak on all women's wants and competencies, the other funny thing is, women already are serving in combat roles.

They just aren't getting credit for it.

And they're not getting credit for their service on the sole basis of their gender, rather than a lack of ability or lack of service. Which, when you think about it beyond bumper sticker gender stereotype slogans, is pretty unfair, as perhaps the most prominent cohesiveness that is apt to be warped by officially recognizing the work that women are already doing is the uninspired black-and-white, toddler-esque view on What Men And Women Are Truly Like that so many people are apparently unable to unstick from their otherwise rational minds.

I hate this saying, but "BOOM."

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