It wasn’t until recently in American history that women were allowed to serve in the military. Even more recent is their ability to be promoted to high-ranking positions. However, there are still a multitude of people that are against the idea of these women having a place in the defense system that is known as the United States armed forces.
In an opinion article posted to the Wall Street Journal, Heather Mac Donald argues that women should not be allowed to serve, specifically in combat units. She states that in 2015, the Marine Corps released a study regarding their attempts at gender-integration that showed that the male-only teams that existed prior to the gender-integration of women were better at performing tasks such as evacuation and shooting drills.
I know what you’re thinking, here comes that age-old argument of “men are stronger than women,” and you’re absolutely right… Except that you’re not.
Genetically speaking, men are more likely to possess physical strength than their female counterparts. This may be the very reason why only three of the thirty-eight women who have attempted the Marines Corps Infantry Officer Course (IOC) have ever completed it to date. However, women have a strength science has yet to understand: Their survivability.
Steven Austad, an international expert on ageing, and chair of the biology department at the University of Alabama, has been studying this very phenomenon for almost two decades. He states that “pretty much at every age, women seem to survive better than men;” something he attributes to their general “robustness” or pure power. Historically the idea that women are weaker is also proved to be inaccurate as our ancestors show signs that women did the same amount of physical tasks as the men, and they did so while carrying, delivering and caring for children.
What about endurance? Surely men can handle that more so than women. According to Mac Donald, a conservative political commentator who also wrote two pieces of kindling titled The Myth of the Racist Cop and The Myth of Systematic Police Racism, the Marines had to lower their scores in endurance for women to be able to reach them. According to Marlene Zuk, a woman who runs a lab at the University of Minnesota where evolutionary biology is studied, it’s highly unlikely that the women were the reason the endurance standards were lowered as women in particular are good at endurance running. Just to circle back to my above argument of ‘women doing everything men can do but with kids,’ multiple women across the globe have even trained for marathons while pregnant.
That being said, are we sure it wasn’t because the men couldn’t reach the standards anymore and we are trying to pass the blame to women? I mean, it’s no secret that the military favors those who identify as male to the point where the phrase “hypermasculine culture” has become a common way of referring to the experience of serving.
Then again, we women have had to get used to taking the blame that we didn’t deserve, like with our sexuality. Another argument Mac Donald makes about why women should not be allowed in combat positions is that women affect discipline, they undermine the bonding of the unit, and they will be the reason we have a sexually active military.
Yes, the women who are statistically more likely to be sexually assaulted in the military than they are likely to be killed in combat are the ones to blame for this. Thank you to my fellow feminist, Heather Mac Donald, for pointing that one out.
Thank you from the bottom of my progressive, liberal, egalitarian heart for telling me about how it was the female servicemembers fault that the males on the team had to do handstands and peacock around like a bunch of children at an “eighth-grade dance.” Thank you for presenting skewed statistics that say that half of the unmarried women staying on a base in Iceland were pregnant because of their promiscuity; not because they were assaulted or raped by someone else on the base and could either not report it out of fear of retaliation, or could report it and be discharged as a result.
Thank you for also saying that Trump “unfortunately” banned trans individuals from the military instead of women, and for justifying that perspective by saying that trans people are sexually less attractive to the male members of the military. That’s not transphobic or homophobic or sexist or bigoted at all.
Finally, Mrs. Mac Donald, let me say thank you for undermining the minorities of this country. Thank you for saying things like women are less lethal; I think for some of us that’s exactly the point. However, for others, you’ve got it all wrong. Our survivability, our anger, our oppression, our frustration with being objectified and made to feel wrong has done nothing but fuel us to be better.
To be so much better than people like you.