Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced  in January that he would formally lift the ban on women serving in combat positions. Across the nation, many frustrated men are asking “why?”
Placing females into all-male groups couldn’t possibly improve morale. It couldn’t possibly improve male bonding or the sense of brotherhood that drives men to risk their lives for each other. While many of women’s special physiological needs can be addressed, putting them in harsh combat scenarios couldn’t possibly be more efficient than restricting them to support roles. When General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, was asked if women will be able to meet the physical standards set for certain roles, he replied  that the burden will be on the service to explain why the standards have to be so high, or lower the standards so that women can meet them. So, he’s clearly not concerned with improving the physical readiness of combat soldiers. Like most advocates for women in combat, he is merely arguing that accommodating female soldiers may not screw things up too much.
Few are arguing—or arguing in good faith—that allowing women to serve in combat roles will actually improve morale, efficiency, or effectiveness. Few would argue that doing so will save the lives of American soldiers, or help those soldiers defeat their enemies. Putting women in combat just doesn’t seem to make any sense.
Fellas, you’ve got it all wrong. It doesn’t have to make sense. You’re arguing against women in combat based on the assumption—the naïve, childlike assumption—that the Secretary of Defense, or the Joint Chiefs, or members of Congress, or the President of the United States, actually give a damn about whether American soldiers live or die.
If they cared about that, they’d at least try to dream up a legitimate reason for having those guys in Afghanistan at all. Obama was elected—the first time—by an electorate who overwhelmingly wanted American soldiers out of Iraq and Afghanistan. How many American soldiers have died in the four years he’s spent dragging his feet and making vague excuses for why they are still there? All for an undeclared war with a poorly defined mission and a general sense that nothing of lasting value has been or ever will be accomplished.
There is absolutely no reason to assume that “our leaders” care about the lives of fighting men, or about increasing the effectiveness of fighting units. The United States of America isn’t run by men of honor. It’s run by politicians and bureaucrats.
There is absolutely every reason to assume that the United States of America is run by grotesque, Kissenger-esque sociopaths who believe that “Military men are dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns for foreign policy.” Do you actually believe that an Obama or a Hillary Clinton would care about throwing another few guys under the tank for a little good press?
If not, why even bother arguing about abstract intangibles like “unit cohesion” or “morale?” It’s pointless to argue about whether a combat unit will be equally “effective” if you don’t believe the people calling the shots are calling them in good faith. Our handlers in Washington have plenty of bombs and guns and “stupid pawns” to throw at any unpleasantness they encounter. How effective does a unit really have to be?
Allowing women in combat is a big public relations “feel-good” exercise and it guarantees the Pentagon top brass and Barack Obama an attentive, doe-eyed blowjob from every feminist hack in the New York media.
That’s “why.”The “why” is easy.
I’m more interested in the “why not.”
I’ve read a lot of arguments from men—some with a military background and many without—who think putting women into combat is wrong. Too many of their arguments focus on physical standards. They argue that most women can’t carry a wounded soldier or carry the required gear or do the right number or pushups and pull-ups.
Is that what a man is? A “PT” score?
If a minority of women could meet the same physical standards as men—without changing them at all—would you still object to women in combat?
Be honest with yourself, because there are plenty of female athletes out there right now at this very moment who can do enough pushups and pull-ups and who could carry a wounded soldier just as well as any average guy. There are fewer women than men who could do this, but those women do exist. Acknowledging this fact, would you still have issues with that woman doing that job, and, if so, why?
Brothers, know yourselves.
Yukio Mishima admired the samurai as a “total human being.” The samurai was not merely a technician. He was not merely a “person” who wielded a sword. The samurai was a man with a spiritual role. He was part of a warrior caste. He had a place in society and a sense of identity that transcended his skill set.
Soldier women are an inevitable end of the technocratic view of the world, a view that reduces men and women to a set of skills and stats and PT scores. According to this view of things, there are no castes or sacred roles. There are no tribes or peoples. There are no men or women. There are only jobs and qualifications for those jobs. If you ascribe to this view of the world, you deserve women in combat, and are partially responsible for it.
If the idea of women in combat angers you—as it angers me—I believe it is because you sense a transgression. It’s about more than a few numbers on a page. I have never served in the military, and I will never have to suffer because some affirmative action G.I. Jane can’t haul some heavy gear. In truth, the number of men who are directly affected by this will be extremely low. Only a tiny percentage of American men serve in the armed forces, and an even smaller percentage of those men have ever or will ever experience combat. And yet, the very idea of women serving in those groups offends and disturbs me. I still sleep at night, but it elicits a visceral response of disgust and disbelief.
Placing women in combat profanes something sacred.
This is difficult for most men to articulate, but it’s psychologically profound. Warriors are and always have been the avatars of our masculinity. In our safe, civilized society, soldiers play the sacred role of men for us. They protect the perimeter. They fight for “us” against “them.” They risk death.
This is part of the reason why I think so many men feel moved to thank soldiers “for their service.” I’ve seen it happen—specifically to a military pal of mine—and the gesture is always so solemn, so religious. Today’s soldiers aren’t protecting us from anything. Most of us have never truly felt endangered by an external threat. American men my age don’t know what it means to be invaded or threatened with invasion. And yet, for many, there remains a palpable and emotional sense of gratitude to these men who go to faraway lands and face death on our behalf. They haven’t saved us from anything, but they are still our heroes—perhaps more in the way that football players and action movie stars are our heroes, but we know that they face a threat that is real for them, if not necessarily for us.
Soldiers “over there” are being men for all of the men “over here.” These heroes may or may not be so noble or impressive in real life, but it doesn’t really matter, because their role is symbolic. They are the torchbearers of our primal male identity. Females can’t play that role for us. Women can’t be men for us, because they are women. And, placing women in that role, not out of necessity—as occasional helpers—but as a matter of policy means that American soldiers can no longer be the sacred avatars of pure masculinity. They’re another bunch of guys forced to do a job with female co-workers, whether they want to or not, just like the rest of us.
If men can no longer picture themselves in the sacred role of men fighting for American civilization, many may begin to picture themselves in the sacred role of men fighting against American civilization.
If bands of brothers are outlawed, then only outlaws will have bands of brothers.