There always comes the scene where some muscle-bound he-man disses the angry chick and pow! she lets him have it. Ouch! After this not-male-bonding-slash-humiliation the once-he-man learns to respect. He’s learns his lesson. Women are no different than men.
And this is only right. Every combat situation in which women are filmed they wield the same swords as men, fire the same guns, walk as far, run as fast, carry as much, curse better, fight as hard, and kick more ass. The 80s are over: there isn’t a movie now which doesn’t end with the lone woman left alive to best the bad guy—which she always does.
That’s entertainment. Reality is a tad different.
For starters, women in the military don’t really have the same requirements as men. They don’t have to walk as far, run as fast, carry as much, or anything else. For example in the flying high Air Force, in which Yours Truly spent many quality years, the women were required to do push-ups just like the men, but on their knees to make it easier.
I went to sick call only once for a gastro-digestive condition properly labeled “violent” (this was in Okinawa, and I’ll eat anything). Sick call was early; when you got there you had to talk to a nurse, retrieve your medical records, then sit and wait. There were about 30 people waiting the morning I arrived: me, another guy, and a bunch of women.
My record was a manila folder in which was a piece of paper saying I was me. The other guy had similar paperwork. The women looked like they were working on scrapbooks; each record was bulging, in one or two cases the manila folders were augmented by second or third folders.
Now that is what is known as an anecdote, the source of anecdotal information, information which is frowned upon by your better class of empiricists. It shouldn’t be. Anecdotes are fine evidence, particularly when they are corroborated, as this one is. I discovered my experience was not unusual: women in general receive more medical care than men. This is just what we hear from progressives and feminists, too. It’s in the press daily.
The reasons why women are on average frailer, smaller, and softer are biological, scientific, mathematical even. But these are details which needn’t concern us here. We need only accept this humble truth, while also acknowledging the corollary that some woman are just as sturdy, large, and hard as some men (but not at the top; for example, this). Given all that, we can write this proposition:
Women should not be in combat because allowing women in combat results in a fighting force less optimal than one comprised of men.
That proposition follows from the truth we accepted conjoined with the premise that robust physical abilities are overwhelmingly necessary in optimal fighting forces.
The proposition remains true if we add evidence to it. For example, the observational truth “Women have served honorably and died in combat.” They have also served dishonorably and lived. Another: Other countries do it. Counter: Still other countries don’t. Another: “I can’t see a good reason why women wouldn’t make good soldiers.” Counter: I can. Another: Physical strength and endurance aren’t always necessary. Counter: They almost always are in combat. Another: John McCain said it’s okay. Counter: Is this the John McCain you didn’t vote for?
There’s no point in continuing. Everybody except academics knows and accepts the proposition, even the people who say they don’t believe it. So why did Leon Panetta (at the behest of his boss) say women should be in combat? He knows, as just said, that this will result in a sub-optimal fighting force.
It must be that he thinks our military is so strong that it can take a “ding” like this and still be able to beat up any other country’s military with one of our branches tied behind our backs. It will be, too, for a while. Or maybe it’s because the political rewards for accepting sub-optimality outweigh the decline in fighting ability. Lot of warm, glowing praise from the press, and there’s nothing a Washington insider desires more.
On the other hand, it could be that Leon Panetta watches too many movies.
Update I had thought it obvious, but I guess not. See Ape Man’s comment, and other comments about the higher (on average) aggressiveness of males, a quality also known by all, and the differences between sexes in how they think. All taking the counter position must at least answer this question: should women destined for combat roles be held to the same, undiminished standards as men?
If you say “yes” then you are at least consistent, if you say no—and accept the current situation where standards are much lower for females—then you are being inconsistent.
No fair lying. I mean, you can’t say, “Sure they should” all the while knowing in your heart that they won’t be (and they won’t be).