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Monday, December 07, 2015

Two Steps Back

When I served in the Air Force, women were free to work at the same job I was doing. At my first base, I worked with three of them. It was interesting to watch. In one case, one was complaining that the guys treat her like she was fragile, like she was special, like they had to do things for her. Why didn't they just treat her like every other guy? So when we arrived at our aircraft, I told her, "You grab that 80 pound unit and I'll grab the toolbox." She was upset. Another time I was taking the long walk from the flightline back to the building with another girl because no trucks were available and she was asking me why guys felt the need to give her special treatment. "I'm just like anybody else." "Well," I said, "that's not quite true." She didn't believe me. "Come on," I said with a smile, "you know you use your looks and gender to get guys to do things for you, don't you?" She denied it emphatically. Just then, a truck appeared. She put on her brightest smile and waved coyly to the driver to stop. "You're doing it right now," I said. At another base I worked with (very capable) instructors, male and female. When the annual physical test came up, we all went out to do it together. Of course, as it turned out, we weren't actually able to do that because the females didn't have to run as far as the men did. Because the standards for women were not as stringent as for men.

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced recently that women would be allowed into all combat roles in the military. "There will be no exceptions. They'll be allowed to drive tanks, fire mortars and lead infantry soldiers into combat. They'll be able to serve as Army Rangers and Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Marine Corps infantry, Air Force parajumpers and everything else that was previously open only to men." And we live in a world these days in which the guy who thinks women ought to be protected and cared for rather than shot at is a sexist pig, demeaning to women.

I'm dumbfounded. Never mind that the military already determined that mixed gender combat squads are slower, weaker, and less lethal than male squads. I'm more concerned about what our society has become. Mothers and fathers are cheering for their daughters going off to do what no one should have to do. We bemoan (rightly) the sorry conditions of the combat troops. The Wall Street Journal published a commentary by a Marine that served in Iraq about what women should expect in combat. It's appalling. And parents and husbands are applauding their daughters and wives who now get to go experience that horror first hand. We've come a long way, baby.

I suppose my parents did me no favor by teaching me respect for women. I learned to be courteous and to open doors and the cardinal rule, "Ladies first". Apparently it's time to do away with that kind of respect and courtesy. They've progressed now so that they don't need it, want it, or deserve it. I just can't see how that's a step forward.


Anonymous said...

There is a charismatic 30-year-old (+/-) on twitter who I have followed for some time. She frequently makes chatty videos and puts them on YouTube. I have been disappointed over the last half year at the off-putting (to me) tattoo she got on her forearm and her decision to make the "F bomb" pretty much an everyday thing in her tweets and videos. I'm sure she would say she is "liberated" and free to be "just like the guys."

Stan said...

I wonder why, as they become "liberated" and are "just like the guys", they only seem to take on the characteristics of "guys" that are bad?

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

In 1974 they decided to allow women to be "paratroopers" and earn their wings at Jump School. The intent was for them to take the job of parachute riggers to free men for combat jobs. So far, so good. But they had much reduced physical training to earn the very same wings we men wore after quite extensive physical training which usually washed out at least 1/3rd of those in training. So why should women be allowed to wear the same badge as men who underwent more strenuous training? Why should these women be permitted to wear the coveted maroon beret of airborne troops around the world? (The US paratroops finally were authorized the maroon beret in 1973 after over 40 years of wearing the garrison cap with glider patch).

We were on a proficiency jump mission using UH-1H helicopters and there were some women there who got to hear some guys complaining about them being there, suggesting they shouldn't be able to wear the same wings we wore. One young lady stated that she had a couple hundred skydives and asked why she shouldn't wear the wings. That's when I politely stated that if she jumped with the same gear I jump she could wear them. Of course she had to ask :oD I jumped the WIEC (Weapons and Individual Equipment Container) which weighed in at close to 150 lbs: M-60 Machine guy with tripod, 500 rounds of ammo, PRC-25 [later -77] field radio, 50lb box of C-rations, and all my personal field gear, plus whatever else the platoon leader decided to put in it. At that time the WIEC weighed almost as much as me - 150 lbs - which was why even I had difficulty scooting off the jump step of the plane. At any rate, she just waved me away and walked off.

This is an example of the problem of opening up combat to women. And I have links to a whole string of articles addressing the problem from many angles and studies:

Stan said...

Whether standards will/should change and whether your average female can do the job and all the ramifications with all of this are, in my mind, reasonable questions. That our society in a large part is celebrating this demeaning of women -- taking the best of humanity to do the worst that humanity can do -- is heartbreaking.