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Coddling Is For Toddlers, Not Grown-Ass Men

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.

13 thoughts on “Coddling Is For Toddlers, Not Grown-Ass Men”

  1. Zod says:

    The “dealing with ladies in the unit” (from what I have previously read) is all about the fact that most men in most armies all over the world will tend to protect the women in their unit at the expense of the mission at hand.

    From the little experience I have of talking to men in the military women tend to be thought of as something that is part of the safe, “home environment” – and they are fighting to make sure that the job never affects ‘the women back home’. This attitude is encouraged as it is a great motivator for most men to imagine, “I’m in a very unpleasant place right now but at least I’m doing this to protect the women back home.”

    And as several special forces trainers have said before, “A well trained SF who will not blink at one of their male compatriots being tortured in front of them will break at the possibility of it happening to a woman.”

    As you say though, it really is all about the training. If an army insists on motivating its troops by inculcating or encouraging the idea of, “I’m a big strong man who protects the weak women back home from the bad, bad world.” Then they have to accept the consequences of this that in certain circumstances this is produces a soldirer with exploitable weaknesses.

    I’m not even going to bother touching the homosexual thing….

    1. Sylvia Sybil says:

      I’ve heard that argument before, but I have trouble believing it when a woman is more likely to be raped in the army than in civilian life (civilian rape around 25%, military rape up around 40%) and a female soldier is more likely to be raped by a fellow American solider than killed by an enemy soldier. That is not a subculture that respects women or cares when they are hurt. Nothing to do with chivalry and everything to do with misogamism.

  2. Pagan says:

    Oh please with the men wanting to “protect” women mantra! They rape us and murder us on a daily/hourly basis – the worst and most common offenses coming from military men themselves and then have the audacity to say they want to protect??? From what – the answer is themselves… And men have the nerve to ask what women want – I’d have to say they were a bit ambivalent about what they want. My daughter is in the Army and has consistently outperformed the males on a continuous basis. Does she get respect for this? Oh hell no! Instead by pulling her own weight and being BETTER than the males, she is constantly being shot down by the males for every accomplishment. She has experienced extreme sexism but to her credit, she keeps her head held high just the same – boys don’t always win at their game some girls just don’t give a shit what boys think. Women have to be twice as good to be considered half as good – it makes us stronger boys, did you realize that? You are inadvertently making us stronger! You see, boys are very insecure and a strong capable woman makes their little willy crawl up. Very very weak.

  3. tenacitus says:

    If the Soviet Union was able to integrate women into sniper units and into behind the lines partisan units why can’t the men in the US Military deal with women in field who are doing the same job as they are.

  4. Placebo says:

    And as several special forces trainers have said before, “A well trained SF who will not blink at one of their male compatriots being tortured in front of them will break at the possibility of it happening to a woman.”

    That’s odd, when you consider the fact that American pop culture is literally dripping with misogyny. So yeah, I’m not buying this lame excuse. It’s not a matter of men being “worried” about women’s safety; it’s a simple case of “those silly girls aren’t good enough/smart enough to do a man’s job, so they need to get back in the kitchen/bedroom where they belong, and continue their role as servant & fuck-muppet”.

    Men don’t want women fighting alongside them in the battlefield, because they feel that we are inferior beings; it’s as simple as that.

  5. jo6pac says:

    Never been in a fox hole with live fire but I think about then it doesn’t matter who next to you as long as the goal is to get back alive.

  6. John P. says:

    As my mother the veteran said “Women are already in open combat, they’re just now thinking about letting the women shoot back.”

  7. John P. says:

    I wonder how John McCain will flip the hell out on this one. I mean after seeing his meltdown about DADT being repealed…

  8. Beckie says:

    Well said! (Love your site.)

  9. Matthew says:

    As a bisexual man I have a rather unique perspective on DADT. The reason DADT was controversial is because many men In the military are bisexual and need to repress it and it comes out as homophobia. It is bad and hypocritical but I believe it to be a major factor. Homophobia doesn’t come out of nowhere. It comes with a straight identified man with some gay feelings and the need to deflect the stigma “not me, I am 100% straight.”

  10. Circe of the Godless says:

    Zod, that’s a typical load of patriarchy bullshit about ‘men protecting women’. For fucks sake, if this happened even HERE, there wouldn’t be nearly as many rapes, assaults , and generalised violence towards women. Men do not protect women. They just like to pretend they do. End of story.

  11. Zod says:

    I agree that it’s a load of patriarchy bullshit. And that’s sort of my point.

  12. Coffeecrimson says:

    I was in the Army as a journalist in the 80s and most of the women I interviewed about going into combat had no problems with it. They were tired of being protected while they were being looked down on and harassed. If a man can protect his fellow soldier who’s male, then he can protect one who’s female. All this is a bunch of crap. The only problem I foresee is the need for women to watch the men in their own squad. Sometimes the enemy is right next to you. Especially in the military.

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