Should we accept any social norm that discourages the cultivation of a sex’s respective qualities or serves to masculinize women or feminize men? If warfare isn’t a masculine endeavor, what is? And if putting women in military uniforms, giving them weaponry, and teaching them to be warriors doesn’t masculinize them, what does? And what does it say about our society that the masculinization of women has reached this advanced stage?
Senseless advice and nothing nice; that’s what little-girls-in-combat policy is made of.
The obvious has already been said about placing women in front-line combat positions. Their presence will reduce unit cohesiveness; male soldiers’ natural instinct to protect women will influence battlefield decisions; there will be the problem of sexual impropriety within the ranks and of rape when women are captured; women will have more trouble measuring up to the physical and psychological demands of battle; special accommodations will no doubt be made so that women may tend to feminine concerns; and, as the high pregnancy rate aboard naval vessels has proven, having young men and women operate in close quarters is folly. Yet the truth is that it was just a matter of time before women were allowed in combat; it’s a piece that fits seamlessly into the modern sex-role puzzle. And it’s not surprising if a majority of Americans support the policy; they are sex-role puzzled.
When I worked with children years ago, one of my students, an 11-year-old boy, guessed that the women’s world record for the mile would be faster than the men’s when a question about the matter was put to him. In the same vein, a respondent to one of my articles mentioned a young man she knew who opined that women and men should compete together in sports. When she informed him that this would eliminate athletic opportunities for women — boys’ American high school records surpass women’s world records — he was surprised that the gap between the sexes was so great. You may be surprised at a knowledge gap so great. Don’t be.
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