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Women soldiers are tougher than men

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Summary Anna Mulrine of CS Monitor 21.1.11

The news this week that a US government commission has recommended that women soldiers could be allowed to fight in combat without detrimental effect to the women concerned is clearly news to some.

But the reasons for preventing women from being combat soldiers in the US army have always been pretty flimsy.

Anna Mulrine reports that:

“The question has long been whether women are capable of handling the mental and physical rigors of combat.

“The commission pointed to long-standing concerns that “women in combat impede mission effectiveness because they cannot handle the same equipment or tolerate the same physical stress as men.””

You might just want to read that last bit back.

“(Women) cannot…tolerate the same physical stress as men.”

Really? Because last time I checked, women seemed fairly well equipped to handle physical stress. We’re even biologically equipped to handle one major physical stress that I’m fairly confident would kill your average man in a New York minute, namely, er, childbirth.

And before I hear any of those protests about physical strength, let me stop you there. Physical strength is variable over both sexes. Fact.

There are some women who are stronger than some men, there are men stronger than some women.

But the reality is that physical strength – especially in modern combat – is not what makes a good soldier, either on the frontline or anywhere else.

In some situations, brute raw strength will be an advantage, in others, speed, size or dexterity will be essential – and neither sex holds the monopoly on any of these attributes.

There’s only one reason to keep women away from the frontline, and that’s sexism. That’s a fact.

How can I be sure? Well, because as the US Army reported this week, they’re already there.

Although women are not allowed to be ‘in combat’, thousands of women soldiers are serving in combat on the frontline via a semantic loophole that allows women soldiers to be ‘attached’ to companies serving in combat.

And if that weren’t enough, Anna Mulrine also quotes General Peter Chiarelli, the Army’s Vice Chief of Staff, who points to the lower incidence of females in the total number of suicides of soldiers:

“…the numbers are very, very small. I believe we’re at somewhere in the vicinity of 7 percent, and that 93 percent are in fact males…. The resiliency of women – I may be out of school to state this – seems to be higher for whatever reason,” Charelli said.

For me the bottom line is that keeping women out of combat zones is not only insulting to women, it’s also profoundly insulting to men. As Mulrine highlights in her report, the distaste for women on the frontline isn’t just caused by good old-fashioned gallantry.

“It has long been considered a politically dicey proposition, given concerns that should female casualties spike, the nation might quickly lose its appetite for war,” she writes.

I find the implication of this particularly horrifying. Is the consequence of the gender divide the fact that we somehow find the deaths of hundreds of our young men more palatable than we would find the deaths of women?

As a pacifist, I certainly didn’t become a feminist to fight for the right of women to join the army, but if that’s your calling, sister, I’m the last woman who would stand in your way.

Regardless of the rights and wrongs of war, being a soldier has never been an easy profession – not least in these times, where governments exploit the patriotism of predominantly working class soldiers in the interests of thinly veiled imperialism.

Nonetheless, women have the right to serve, they are capable of serving and it’s about time they were officially allowed to stand alongside men.

  1. Deep Think says:

    Why is it that women are always trying to make out that they are superior to men. They can’t settle for being equal no they have to make out they are superior. Even at combat which men have had a lot more experience at women think they are tougher and better at. They always throw in mens faces that women edure child birth which suspossedly without any sicientific evidence whatsoever is suspose to be so severe men can’t handle it. women know that men couldn’t handle. Well let me tell you women we can withstand anything you can. If we had to we could do it. Men have endured being tourtured as prisoners of war and subjected to more pain than women endure in child birth.

    As for women having a lower sucide rate is because of two basic reasons. First they represent onaly a small fraction of the arm forces in combat. The more of anything increases the liklihood of anything. For example the reason America and China won most of the gold medals in the olimpyics is because both of them had a larger pool of available athletes thus the greater the mathemetical probability of having greater talent. Girls win the majority of soap box derbies because 80% of the participants are girls hence the greater mathemeticaly probability is that the winner will be a girl.

    Also only the best of the women are likely to be in combat not a true reresentation of women as a whole. this is the reason why women politicans out perform males percentage wize because the girls have to be better than the average girl to win the election. Thus the women in politics represents the cream of the crop.This is not true of males.

    I have read some where were they made the claim women would make better soldiers than men because they climed women complained about pain less than men as if complaining about pain was the only thing that determined how good a soldier world be.

    the question is not weather women are capeable of being good sholdiers or not. The question is should they be in combat? I say no because when you go into combat you are taught to hate your enemy. It is necessary to hate your enemy inorder to kill him.When a man goes into combat he most likely will be killing other men. when he comes home he will have no trouble loving women because he didn’t have to kill women. when a women goes into combat she has to learn to hate men inorder to kill them. When she comes home she has to love the very gender she just hated enough to kill. think there might be a problem there. We should be trying to get more people out of combat not trying to get more people in. As it is now 51% of the population doesn’t have to be in combat lets keep it that way.

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