Sea Change

Thursday, December 17, 2015

 

On December 3rd, the Secretary of Defense announced that the Armed Forces would begin offering all jobs, including ground combat positions, to qualified women. This announcement includes the various Special Forces units, such as the Navy SEALS, Army Special Forces, etc.:
“There will be no exceptions,” Carter said. “This means that, as long as they qualify and meet the standards, women will now be able to contribute to our mission in ways they could not before.”
Naturally, this announcement stirred up a shitstorm. Will the standards be lowered to accommodate women? Will women's inclusion in combat units negatively affect unit cohesion? Will women now be subject to Selective Service? Will PMS play a role in women's effectiveness in combat?*

These are all concerns that need to be addressed. Well, except for that last one. Several people have asked me my thoughts, so here they are. Please note I have a tendency to use Navy-centric terminology because of my background, but I'm quite sure the same points apply to the other branches, as well.

Will the Special Forces lower their standards to accomodate women? 

I sure as hell hope not. The standards are there for a reason, and people's lives depend on their shipmates being able to meet them. Will maintaining them mean that fewer women will be able to qualify for these jobs? Damn straight. The same way they weed out men who are not fit enough, strong enough, or agile enough to meet them. Men have been washing out of BUD/S for decades, and no one ever suggested the Navy lower their standards so more of these poor, delicate snowflakes could be included in the program. What's the difference? A woman (like a man) who applies to be a SEAL isn't really interested in being protected. 

Will women's inclusion in combat units negatively affect unit cohesion?

Meh. I’m not going to be baited on this one. This is the same nonsense we went through when women were first assigned overseas, assigned to support ships, allowed to serve at all. Integration won’t be easy, but the cultural shift will occur, just as it's done for every other sea change in the military. As my friend Sarah brought up, we have always fought, and attempts to rewrite history to downplay women's roles doesn't change that. 

Will women now be subject to the draft in the same way men are?

I think the better question here is why the hell aren't they now? Here's the thing about wanting "equal opportunity." To achieve true equality, to be considered truly equal in the eyes of your peers, you MUST accept equal responsibility and equal risk. During my early years in the Navy, I was not afforded the same responsibility as my male peers. I couldn't serve on combat vessels, and in fact many women completed their entire careers without serving on Auxiliary ships, either. I was not subject to the selective service. And yet, I received the same pay and benefits as my male peers with similar rank and years of service. No wonder women weren't treated as equals - in the eyes of many men, we had all the perqs and none of the risk. The fact that these circumstances weren't my fault or my choice didn't make my male shipmates feel any differently about it.

By forcing women to participate in Selective Service in the same way men are, we are acknowledging that we are equal partners in citizenship with our male fellows. We accept the same privileges, as well as the same responsibilities and risks, as everyone else who's allowed to vote in this country. On a moral level, this is only right and fair.

Will PMS play a role in women's effectiveness in combat?

Really? THAT'S the question you think deserves the most consideration in this integration effort? Get the fuck out of here - adults are talking.
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I have no doubt that after the current generation of service members retire, the integration of women into these roles will be complete and with the exception of a few neanderthal hold-outs, people in uniform will wonder what all the fuss was about. In the meantime, professional Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Guardsmen will continue to do what needs to be done, and let the pearl-clutchers and hand-wringers burn themselves out. They always do.


*I wish to fuck I was making that last one up.

1 comments:

Unknown said...

Thank you Janiece for saying it as it is or should be.