August 27th 2005

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Articles from this issue:

FILM CLASSIFICATION: Child sexual abuse now allowed in films

STRAWS IN THE WIND: The wages of spin is ... death? / First, the good news / Indoctrinating Muslims, and others / Hacks and spivs

OPINION: The shocking reality of sex trafficking

CINEMA: 'The Ninth Day' - Priests who suffered under Hitler

CINEMA: The Island - Futuristic nightmare of disposable humans

Women in combat (letter)

We already have a Bill of Rights (letter)

NCP not to blame (letter)

BOOKS: BETWEEN PACIFISM AND JIHAD: Just War and Christian Tradition, by J. Daryl Charles


COVER STORY: Is Canberra listening to 'the real world'?

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Family First senator throws down gauntlet

WORLD AFFAIRS: Behind Washington's nuclear deal with India

THE WAR ON TERROR: Tony Blair's U-turn on Islamic extremism

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Quarantine and trade policy - a deadly mix

QUARANTINE: Citrus canker outbreak 'a national disgrace'

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Women in combat (letter)

by Alan Barron

News Weekly, August 27, 2005

The decision to allow women to be posted to frontline combat zones is a retrograde step that will exacerbate the declining numbers in the Australian armed forces. Women have a much higher drop-out rate than men when placed in dangerous work environments.

Defence Personnel Minister Mrs De-Anne Kelly said that allowing women in combat will move the ADF close to total equality for women. But does the military exist for gender equality?

The Israeli experience is often invoked as the perfect example of a fully integrated military. However, Israel no longer allows women in combat.

The US military still defends its gender-inclusive policy and maintains that equality for women is working. But former US Generals Gatsis and Mataxis have gone on record as saying that placing women in previously male-only areas not only lowers the morale of the men but seriously impedes combat readiness.

It also alters the group dynamic. Instead of the men looking out for the needs of their group, the men tend to focus on the females among their troops, and so male-bonding and cohesion break down.

With the demands of equality in the military - which now insists on young men and women sharing mixed dormitories, and sharing all things in common when on field exercises - many women are taken aback by the fact that there are no separate facilities in which to dress or to attend to personal needs.

Throwing young men and women together in confined spaces is only inviting trouble as evidenced by the growing number of sexual harassment cases.

It comes as no surprise then that 10 per cent of American female soldiers are pregnant at any given time.

Since no replacements are provided, this causes an additional burden for other soldiers. Consider, if you will, if 10 per cent of men took "time out" for family reasons.

In the US military, double standards are commonplace. Female recruits must complete far less gruelling training schedules than their male colleagues - but they still get "equal pay". This may not seem important to civilians, but it is to morale within the services.

Affirmative action fuels the widespread perception that favouritism sees lesser qualified female candidates get the jobs - and promotions - ahead of better qualified men.

To speaks out against equality in the US military - and from what I have heard, this is also happening in the Australian Defence Forces - often means ruining a career.

We spend billions of protecting women in this country against violence and assault. Now, here we are wanting to place women directly in the line of fire and where there is a very real danger of not only being injured and of being killed, but also being the victims of sexual assault and battery.

It is tempting to think that equality for women will collide with human nature once too often and then be shown for what it is - viz., putting ideology before common sense and community attitudes. This nation has a declining birthrate owing to the already high female workforce participation rate, and high levels of male unemployment. So tell me, why do we need more women in the military? It doesn't make sense.

Alan Barron,
Memucan Institute of Men's Studies,
Grovedale, Vic.

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