Women in Combat
By now, you’ve probably heard that the U.S. military is taking steps to open up ground combat positions for women servicemembers. I’d just like to point out that the rest of the DoD is lagging behind the USAF by 20 years on this one. (That’s right, I just linked to Fox News. What of it?) When I was still active duty, I served with women who fully expected to fly into combat. Badass women like my classmate Esther, who if I’m not much mistaken became the first woman ever to have to punch out of an F-16 back in 1999.
I don’t know what college bull-sessions are like at a civilian university, but at the service academies they would occasionally involve lengthy discussions about the role of women in combat. The general consensus was that women should be allowed to do everything that they are able to do, but there were a few regressives who put forward a sort of argument from chivalry, rooted in the notion that women are generally helpless and in need of male protection. More often than not the topic would drift into what sorts of things can happen to POW’s, and that’s when things got really dicey, for obvious reasons. The women that we talked to were generally annoyed by the idea that they should be considered any more fearful of sexual assault or sexual humiliation than men should be, in the context of combat.
It’s weird to me how so many disparate discussions are ultimately grounded in the idea that women should be treated as especially fearful in situations where men aren’t. I’m tempted to relate this back to Phaedra Starling, but instead I’d like to take the chance to salute all the American women in uniform, and especially all those ground combat veterans who will now finally be treated as equals.