Celebration Of Service Friday (#12)

God bless the men who volunteer to serve our country.  God bless the women who volunteer to serve our country. Your efforts are both necessary and appreciated.

I reserved this space on Friday for a weekly celebration of military service.  This Friday, I’m posting an opinion piece (no, I’m not tired of standing on my soapbox yet).  This Friday, it’s a celebration of service, the way it stands! I keep reading articles about putting women into combat jobs. There seems to be a particular interest in getting them into Special Operations positions (Rangers, SEALs, Special Forces etc). 

I first published this on February 11, 2013

Women In Combat – Perspective From A Female Bodybuilder

Women in combat positions….it’s an idea I’ve turned around in my head many times. Before we go any farther I have to state that I’m not nor have I ever been a member of the military. I AM the daughter of a very accomplished woman with a pioneer spirit. My mother was a chemist in the days when a woman, let alone a black woman, in the hard sciences was practically unheard of. She was discouraged in her endeavors by many, including her professors. They told her directly that women didn’t belong in the discipline and some refused to help her when she had trouble with concepts in class. Nevertheless, she persevered and had a long, successful career at UCSF (University of California, San Francisco).

I say this because her spirit and her commitment to a path that went against societal norms had a strong influence on my own perspective regarding non-traditional roles for females. I am fully convinced that women can do any job men can do, equally as well…with few exceptions…one of those being service in combat.

I can practically hear the sighs of disappointment from many of you but I think what I have to say is worth a few moments of consideration.

I’m an amateur, natural bodybuilder and have been for the past 21 years. I’ve always been incredibly athletic and physically strong, however, I’ve learned from hanging out with males in the gym that there is NO POSSIBLE WAY I can compete with them on lifts. No matter what I eat or how I train, my strength is still far inferior to even a moderately fit, capable male. Sure I can embarrass some of the guys who walk in off the street and are just starting out but when going head to head with a man who has been in the gym and training for a while, it isn’t even a contest. I’ve seen it myself with repetitive regularity. Even the strongest, most athletic, motivated women can’t match strength with fit men.  Women simply aren’t as strong and in combat situations brute strength IS a consideration. For their own safety and the safety of their teammates, lack of strength is a serious issue.

Women’s sports are always separated from men’s sports for a reason. Women don’t box men in competition, they don’t climb into the ring for MMA matches with male opponents, they don’t play football in the NFL, basketball in the NBA or hockey in the NHL…for goodness sake, they don’t even play competitive golf or tennis against men because of the commonly acknowledged, natural differences in strength. If we understand this in sporting contests, engaged in strictly for entertainment, why on Earth would we put women into combat situations, against men, where the stakes are so terribly high?

 

Believe me, I’m strong…but it’s foolish to think that I could consistently perform physically at the same level as my male counterparts. Even with the best technique training in the world, I’m at a significant disadvantage in strength.

Believe me, I’m strong…but it’s foolish to think that I could consistently perform physically at the same level as my male counterparts. Even with the best technique training in the world, I’m at a significant disadvantage in strength.

This same lack of equivalent strength and stamina comes into play when loading equipment, carrying equipment (rucking with 50lbs for miles on end), jumping out of airplanes and having to land with 75lbs or more on your back, carrying an injured 200 pound fellow fighter out of harms way….these are all things that would necessarily be compromised. Not only would the female likely not be able to handle the weight loads, the trust that any effective combat unit has among members would be undermined since their teammates would know in the back of their minds that there truly was a weak link in the chain. Even a shadow of doubt could cause serious disruption in the morale and effectiveness of the unit as a whole.

All that being said, I’m sure there are a few women on the planet, genetic anomalies, who could actually match strength with a man, but is it worth opening combat positions to all women because an infinitesimal minority could actually do the job? I say no. The good of the whole is more important than what a tiny but vocal group of women (and strangely misguided men) want.

The current argument in favor of women in combat says, let women try. Let them have the same opportunity to showcase their skills as the males in the military. If they can’t hack it and meet the standard, then they can’t serve in combat positions. What I know is that as soon as the possibility is opened, there will be great pressure from those who are pushing this agenda to get some women through the pipeline and on the job. Commanders will be made to understand that women MUST have a presence in the combat units and the absolute minimum standards will be compromised in order to quiet cries of sexism and quell accusations that women can’t earn their way into the positions because of the “good old boy” network.

Despite my unshakeable belief that women are as valuable as men, as intellectually capable and morally equivalent, I do believe that Mother Nature has a say in the question of whether women should serve in ground combat positions.

I should note that there are places in combat situations where women could do an excellent job even taking into account the strength differentials.  Female fighter pilots come to mind.  In that case, it’s mind and machine working in concert, the plane being the equalizer, however, it’s absurd to think that women can be as effective as men in traditional ground and pound, front line combat jobs and trying to put them there is a mistake.

*This is part one of my argument against putting women into combat jobs. I have other reservations besides the pure strength difference but that’s a conversation for another day.*

I never did write the second (or third) part of my argument against putting women in combat units but all the reservations I had in 2013 still stand.  It’s foolhardy, reckless and destructive to use the military as a petri dish for disruptive social engineering experiments.  Allowing political correctness, instead of common sense to rule policy is going to exact a terrible toll.

12 responses

  1. ps I’m sure you can kick my hiney. Lol

    1. Ah…that made me smile. My mom used to say “hiney” (as in get your little hiney in here). Thanks for the grin…

  2. I have never served let alone endure combat. I guess the fulcrum rests with countless first hand stories I’ve heard or read: the guys hearing the shreek of bullets going over their heads or covering their buddy as a tree burst explodes above them have only one thing going through their minds: protecting their buddy. At the urging of Mustang_USMC, I read “One Million Steps”. There was one passage describing how one Marine, to save the life of his fellow Marine, slung him over his shoulder, continuing to fire his weapon. I forgot how many hundreds of yards through mud he carried him but they survived. As a consequence of that immense load, the Marine suffered two crushed vertebrae. Oh, they both had combat gear and loads.

    1. I’m going to look for One Million Steps. I’d like to read that! I know females are at a disadvantage in terms of strength…and it DOES matter as that story indicates. It’s not just the woman who is in increased danger in that type of situation, it’s everybody around her!

  3. Lynn, I know if you had to, you would go into combat. You are covered with the whole armor of God. You are a Warrior.

    1. Yes, I would go into combat if I had to. Absolutely…

      1. I’d definitely take you with me Lynn. No doubts 😎

  4. It was wise of you to use rational reasoning with examples. Also, your “credentials” as the daughter of a woman who overcame obstacles makes your opinion more persuasive than if I had used the same arguments as a man, even a man with four athletic daughters.

    1. Well when I first started reading about the push to get women into combat roles, I threw my lipstick across the room in a fit of pique but then I thought that probably wasn’t very persuasive so I decided to write my thoughts down.

      On a serious note, I do think there are a lot of people, women in particular, who have bought into the idea that women and men are reasonably close in strength and therefore suitability for combat jobs. Look at all the Hollywood movies and TV shows that have a female protagonist who goes head to head with men with great success. She’s often portrayed as a “tough cookie” who beats up guys (sometimes whole groups of them at once) with fancy kicks, punches and jumps. It’s a cartoon idea that way too many people take seriously. Not all that long ago the Marine Corps was having trouble getting their female recruits to be able to perform 3 consecutive pull ups. They had to back off the requirement because the women simply couldn’t do them. I think trying to put a square peg in a round hole (women in combat) is a terrible idea for many reasons but brute strength is one of the measurable arguments against it. I know, for sure, it will end up getting people hurt.

  5. Well said doc

    1. Thanks so much! Always happy to get your feedback. I hope your Friday is going well. Happy weekend!!

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