May 14th 2011

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Articles from this issue:

EDITORIAL: The death of Islamic terrorism?

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Can Julia Gillard deliver on her three core commitments?

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Growing anger at supermarket price war

NEW SOUTH WALES: NSW Liberals set new course

CHILDCARE: Exposing the lies in the childcare funding debate

RESEARCH PROJECT: Australia's food security under threat

CARBON TAX: Remorseless killers of our industries and jobs

MILITARY: Dispatching women into frontline combat

MARINE SCIENCE: Bluefin tuna: an endangered species?

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Prime Minister Gillard kowtows to China

CHINA: China's economy at risk of debt crisis

UNITED STATES: PC intimidation threatens the rule of law

HISTORY: The long debate on how to alleviate poverty

IMMIGRATION: The vexed question of illegal immigration

OPINION: An inglorious tale of guile, envy and deceit

BOOK REVIEW: The deceivers and the deceived

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Dispatching women into frontline combat

by Bill Muehlenberg

News Weekly, May 14, 2011

In a move which can only be described as jumping out of the pan into the fire, the Australian government recently came up with this brilliant idea: in order to deal with sexual abuse issues and the poor treatment of women in the military, we need to now integrate women fully into the military, including in frontline combat.

Sure, that should keep women more safe and secure. That should solve the problems of abuse, mistreatment and male aggression. Put them on the front lines and talk about “women’s career opportunities and advancement” and so on. Put them in a hormonally-charged environment where the pressure to find sexual release is even stronger than normal, and see just how much problems of sexual abuse are lessened.

But there is a clear reason for this madness. Feminists have long argued for not just the right but the necessity of having women in combat roles. This is part of their vain attempt to push for androgyny and a gender-neutral society. It is part of their attempt to dismantle the idea that men and women are different. “Anything men can do, women can do” is the catchcry of these feminists.

It is all part of their “goal of defeminising women so as to make them androgynous male equivalents”, as one woman writer puts it. Carolyn Graglia continues, “Even if only relatively few women could meet the physical requirements of combat service, denying women exemption from that service serves feminism’s need to confute any perception of females as soft, yielding, potential mothers. Society must concede, say feminists, that the potentiality of motherhood is no reason for viewing a young woman’s remains in a body bag with any more horror than a young man’s.”

The male role of protector is under attack by the feminist movement. One of the strongest male instincts is to protect females, and all this is being undermined here. As David Horowitz notes, the feminists have “enlisted the military in a program to brainwash men so they won’t care what happens to women”.

And the feminists are trying to convince us that any woman can perform any combat task that a man can. Of course, the only way this can happen is to dumb down all the various traditional military requirements — physical and otherwise — to allow women to be seen as co-equal.

This leads to one of the most important issues in this debate: just what in the world is the military there for? I used to think that it had something to do with the defence of a nation, fighting wars and securing the peace. Now it seems to be all about pushing radical social engineering agendas and the like.

But once a nation turns its military into nothing more than a hothouse of political correctness and gender-bending social transformation, then that nation is doomed. Let the radical social activists attack other institutions, but leave the military alone. National defence is far too important to allow it to become another playground for the radicals to remake in their own image.

As Phyllis Schlafly rightly states, “The purpose of the armed services is to defend the United States of America — not to create a tax-funded haven for sexually active young men and women, nor is it to serve as a giant social welfare institution.”

And the truth is — shock, horror — that men and women are different. As George Gilder remarks, “The hard evidence is overwhelming that men are more aggressive, competitive, risk-taking — indeed, more combative — than women.” Even some feminist scholars have admitted as much.

Plenty of research has provided conclusive evidence of these basic truths. I and others have sought to summarise some of the research material about gender differences at the website, 21 Reasons Why Gender Matters:

One obvious difference, among many, is that women get pregnant, while men do not. Tight confined spaces (whether in a barracks, a submarine or a battlefield) will only increase sexual friction and tension, and pregnancy will be a common result.

So what happens in that case? “Er, sorry guys, but can you hold my rifle while I take off for nine months, and then a few more, to have my baby? I will then dump him or her in the nearest day-care centre, and join you back in battle in a year or so.”

This is not exactly how wars are won. Indeed, the field of combat is already difficult enough without having these sorts of concerns to contend with. One woman combat soldier who served in Iraq put it this way: “It’s like this: I’m a woman and a mother before I am a soldier. Out here I think more about my family than my job, and, yes, that could affect my performance if things get intense here.”

Thankfully, this soldier could not renounce her deep-down maternal instincts. No woman should be forced to do so. But her proper concern for her family meant she was far less effective as a soldier, and could potentially put her on-field comrades at real risk.

Of course, any babies born will be greatly disadvantaged as well. Unless the military is willing to allow a female soldier a lengthy period of time off, the baby will just grow up looked after by strangers, while mum seeks to do her national duty.

War is hell, and men are far more equipped for this — psychologically, physically, mentally and emotionally — than are women. Women should not be placed in such circumstances.

One soldier puts it this way: “I have personally participated in hand-to-hand combat and have seen men fight and die on the battlefield. The combat environment is an ugly one. For the ground soldier it is characterised by loneliness and terrible desolation, weary marches, at times relentless heat, bitter cold, torrential rains, filth, pestilence, disease, the slime of dripping dugouts, and the stench of human carnage, all coupled with feelings of depression which stem from fear, uncertainty, and long separation from loved ones.

“It calls for an antic toughness that women do not normally possess. The soldier’s feelings fluctuate from despair to extreme hate and bitterness, and these emotions tend to bring forth his most animalistic instincts.”

The truth is, there is no advantage to having female combat troops. As Schlafly reminds us, “There is no evidence in all history for the proposition that the assignment of women to military combat jobs is the way to promote national security, improve combat readiness or win wars.

“Indeed, the entire experience of recorded history teaches us that battles are not won by co-ed armies or co-ed navies. Even Hitler and the Japanese, when they ran short of manpower, found it more efficient to use under-age and over-age men in combat than to use female troops.”

It is one thing to allow women to hold support roles in the military, but quite another to place them in the actual field of combat. This is unfair to women, unfair to men, and unfair to the nation which has deployed them.

Trendy social experiments should never be allowed to overcome the rationale and purpose of the military. All we are doing in this case is asking for — and getting — trouble.

Bill Muehlenberg is a commentator on contemporary issues, and lectures on ethics and philosophy. His website CultureWatch is at:

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