In December of 2015 Defense Secretary Ashton Carter made the decision to integrate women into every area of military services. This has resulted in a variety of responses, including a bill by two representatives intended to force debate on Capital Hill over women’s role in the military. The bill, titled “Draft America’s Daughters,” would extend to women the requirement for Selective Service registration which currently mandates that men age 18-26 register for a potential draft.
Some have touted this as a step toward equality. Many, however, seem outraged at the idea of imposing mandatory military service on women during wartime, and in a more visceral way than folks are outraged when it is imposed on men.
Blaze writer Matt Walsh, in his objection to imposing selective service registration on women, stated complaints which aren’t any less valid when applied to drafting men from the general population.
Yes, the Marine study Walsh mentioned found that on average, women lack in areas which would make them less capable soldiers, and a draft would not differentiate between weaker women and those who are strong, efficient, and tough. Well, guess what: Selective service does no different than that when drafting men.
There’s no algorithm added to the draft to weed out all men but the strongest, most efficient, and toughest. Oh, some men can be declared unfit for military service, but this generally entails an actual medical condition, not a lover’s loophole or poet’s prerogative. Standards for fitness for enrollment in the military often end up being relative to the military’s need for warm bodies. During a draft, they’re more likely to be relaxed. During the Vietnam war, young men who never in their lives could have been truly prepared for battle were sent overseas to die, some by a military that wouldn’t have accepted their enrollment had they volunteered a year prior.
This is not to say that forced military service is right; only that if women forced into it can be considered victims, the same applies to men.
When men are drafted, there’s no concern or consideration for whether their lifestyle has disposed them toward capable military service. They don’t get to decide they cannot handle the requirements of the job. They are expected to man up as they’re whipped into shape by a training regimen designed to fast track them from day one at boot camp to active duty. In fact, their lives depend on both their ability to do this, and the ability of their fellow draftees to do the same. Their superiors are not gentle or tactful about making that clear because failure to understand and act on that knowledge can be deadly. It’s anticipated that men faced with such a situation will rise to the occasion, not because all men are physically equal, but because that’s just what men do.
Though Walsh’s generalization may be unfair, he has one point: The women he describes as “egregiously unfit recruits culled from sorority houses and Justin Bieber concerts” certainly don’t appear to meet that standard. The question is, why? If he were merely describing women as weak, he wouldn’t have had to mention sororities or concerts. He’d have used a more physical description. After all, frat boys and fanboys would be among male draftees, and nobody thinks that should exempt men from the expectations involved in military service.
What Mr. Walsh was referring to is society’s indulgence of the whims and interests of women and girls. Between the lines of that paragraph is the unwritten admission that among the general female population there is a disproportionate number of entitled princesses whose lives have left them emotionally unequipped to handle the rigors of military training. More than that, many young American women are accustomed to never having to put anyone else’s interests before their own. They’re used to always being entitled to choose whether or not to meet a challenge, always entitled to recourse when affronted, to remedy when they’re hurt, and to refuse that to which they’re averse.
What happens when someone historically so entitled to focus on herself and her own interests gets force-fitted into a job that depends on toughness and teamwork? What happens, not just to her, but to her team? Who does it affect when she can’t or won’t do the whole job?
The military is a more strict example of an expectation of men that exists in other physically demanding professions. Men can be disqualified from taking certain high risk or labor-intensive jobs, such as firefighter jobs, for failing to meet physical criteria such as lifting and carrying capacity, speed at covering a distance, and the ability to endure sustained physical stress.
Thanks to feminism, the same is not necessarily true for women.
Feminists call it discrimination when a woman is not given a gender-based exemption from a standard that has been used to determine men’s eligibility for a job. Nothing is said about the many men who may have been disqualified from the position for failing to meet the same standard; it’s only a problem when women can’t get what they want.
Sometimes, it’s also a problem when they do.
Choeurlyne Doirin-Holder received preferential treatment as part of an initiative to hire more women into the New York city fire department. She didn’t just get preferential consideration. She was exempted from physical requirements she could not meet, and given a desk job while attempting to train for and pass her specially nerfed physical after her previous failures.
Then, she suffered an on-the-job injury which indicates a failure to be mindful of her environment.
Fortunately for the New York public and her fellow firefighters, the special snowflake was not injured during an actual emergency. She lost her footing during a routine equipment check, and fractured her foot. Had such an injury occurred inside a burning structure while attempting to rescue residents, it could have had deadly consequences.
Some might think that the military is not at risk for incidents like this. Certainly, feminists would have less success at influencing military regulations than they have at influencing standards for civil service positions. There’s a huge difference between military administration and the administrations of other professions, right? Toughness is an integral part of the job, right?
The groundwork for change is already being laid. Prior to integration, fitness standards for men and women differed. Arguments are being made to keep it that way.
Once again, standards which have affected men’s military careers for years have suddenly become a problem because they’re affecting women’s careers. No concern is being expressed over the men whose career prospects were determined by which standards they could meet. No group is proposing to re-enlist men disqualified from service because they could not lift or carry enough weight, run fast enough or far enough, or endure rough enough conditions. Only women merit such consideration, even when they’re striving to qualify for elite positions.
What does this say about the value of male soldiers, who are still subject and whose careers are still vulnerable to those standards? Are they less worthy of an effort to foster their careers than women are? Why is the double standard not considered discrimination against them? And if it’s not, how do proponents of it expect it to affect their morale, or their perception of their female colleagues?
This is also extremely dangerous, not just to the women being integrated into combat positions, but also to the men with whom they’ll be training and, if activated, fighting. Relaxed standards for women could not only leave them less capable of handling themselves in conflict, but also less capable of fulfilling their duties as part of their team. They could become their comrades’ worst vulnerability. If combat integration and an integrated draft are combined with unequal fitness standards, at the very least, male soldiers will be forced to pick up female soldiers’ slack. For instance, would female draftees unable to fulfill the more demanding roles in the military, be granted safer, easier jobs? If so, wouldn’t they be pushing men out of those jobs? And if, as opponents of including women in the draft argue, women are less capable, wouldn’t this be a significantly impacting factor on the outcome of a man’s experience of being drafted, making him more likely to be forced into a more dangerous, more physically demanding job? At worst, combining integration with lower standards for women will place them in combat positions with stronger, more qualified men. Those men will be forced to depend on support from, or even compelled to protect, less competent allies.
Under such a circumstance, a male draftee sent to the front lines would not only be a victim of forced service, but also a victim of forced reliance on a comrade in arms who won’t have his back. Why does a push by a minority among women merit thrusting unwilling men into this position?
Feminists and progressives are trying to have it both ways. The push to open all areas of the military to women is based on the assertion that women’s capability is equal to that of men; the claim that anything men can do, women can also do. However, the push for lower standards for women directly contradicts that, especially when the claim is made that equal physical standards discriminate against female soldiers. It’s an admission that men can do things women can’t.
The two assertions are not compatible. Either women are as physically capable as men, can meet the same physical standards, and should be equally subject to them, or they’re not, and the more risky and physically demanding areas of military service should be segregated. Subjecting men to a double standard is discrimination. To do so while demanding they serve with the beneficiaries of that double standard is worse; a slap in the face to men judged by those standards, and a continual risk to those who live up to them.
If you want to see more articles like this, please consider becoming Hannah Wallen’s patron. The Brigade runs on donations by readers like you.
- Thanksgiving call-in stream | HBR livestream - November 26, 2020
- #InternationalMensDay: Deborah Powney surveying male victims of coercive control | HBR Talk 160 - November 19, 2020
- Schrodinger’s president and US potential for the MRM | HBR Talk 159 - November 12, 2020