I was listening to this story on NPR’s Morning Edition a few days ago about the debate over whether the military should lift its ban on women in combat roles. Currently, women are (obviously) allowed to serve in the military, and might end up in combat, but they aren’t assigned specifically to combat positions. In places like Iraq and Afghanistan, this line is apparently blurred all the time. So there are women in combat right now, but they aren’t getting the career benefits from it.
There are several issues and factors to consider, and people against the whole notion have trotted out the usual excuses. What if women — oh horrors! — got pregnant? What if they decide to leave the military and go raise a family? What if women don’t sign up at all? But, my favorite is this one:
And there are the perennial concerns about unit cohesion. Will allowing women into intense fighting situations undermine the morale of all-male combat units?
Now where have we heard that kind of argument before? Let me see…. OH RIGHT. When we debated Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Oh my, if we let gay people stop hiding their gayness, straight men will feel uncomfortable and it will undermine their morale!
Let me just take a moment to call Bullshit on this argument. Say it with me, people: BULLSHIT.
Just from a military standpoint, anyone who enters the armed forces is trained to do a lot of things that many civilians never even dream of. If you can learn to do this:
“… ground combat, nose-to-nose with the bad guys, living in the mud, eating what’s on your back, no hygiene and no TV.”
And not whine, then you can learn to deal with some ladies in your unit.
But beyond that, I would really like us to get away from all this damn coddling going on. Yes, coddling. A whole chunk of the DADT debate was shaped by this sense that men’s sensibilities are, apparently, just too damn delicate to deal with the possibility that Joe over there might like to look at penises now and then. My advice to these men is: SUCK IT UP.
Even if the men in our military are ill-prepared to deal with the thought of having to serve in combat units with women, that does not mean we should continue to keep women out. It means we need to make the men in the military better people. It means that we have to stop privileging the hurt feelings and, frankly, silly whining of a bunch of backwards-thinking people in general over what is fair and right.
Coddling has never helped anyone, in the end. And, honestly? I’m so tired of everyone having to tiptoe around dudes in order to get shit done in this country. Just do what’s right. If certain of us want to whine and cry about it, treat them like the toddlers they so obviously are.