Franks: Women Should Not Serve in Combat Roles Because of Gender Differences
The inception in the 1960s of radical feminism — a brand of feminism that perverted the noble ideals of the early, “true” feminists and seeks to fundamentally alter many of the cornerstones of American society — has spawned suggestions that “gender equality” demands that we change long-standing military policy by placing women alongside men on the front lines of combat. It’s a proposal that could seriously harm both the morale and the on-the-ground capabilities of our military.
As much as some feminists may begrudge biology for undermining their arguments, the fact remains that men and women are different. It may surprise some of these feminists to learn, for example, that women can get pregnant while men, it turns out, cannot.
Because military policy allows pregnant women to immediately resign or operate in a significantly reduced capacity, this opens up the possibility that vital members of already small units could suddenly disappear for a year at a time.
The risk of women in combat getting pregnant is not merely an imaginative theoretical scenario. Consider the examples of the USS Acadia and USS Yellowstone during the Gulf War. The Acadia was especially notable for having a high percentage of women aboard (about one-third of the crew). When the ship returned home from service, 36 female crew members (1 out of 10 women aboard the ship) were pregnant. Likewise, the Yellowstone returned with 20 pregnant crew members.
Pregnancies are a side effect of another downside of isolating men and women together in combat scenarios: Doing so inevitably creates unnecessary distractions and further complicates the situation by providing one more component that can negatively affect morale.
Unsurprisingly, the military already recognizes the fundamental differences between the genders. When fitness tests are administered to incoming troops, results are scaled based on gender.
In other words, it simply isn’t expected that a female soldier should be able to move as fast or carry as much weight (consider that combat gear can weigh 50 to 100 pounds) as her male counterparts. Not based on sexism, but based on decades of results, the tests assume that such parity is not the case.
An elite result for a female on a fitness test may still place her abilities below those of her male peers. This is especially important in life-threatening situations, as a unit can only move as quickly as its slowest member.
Additionally, by adopting the absurd idea that there aren’t differences between the sexes, current fitness requirements would necessarily be lowered to ensure women can “compete,” thereby ignoring the quantifiable differences between men’s and women’s results. Indeed, we have already seen suggestions that an impossible-to-measure “equality of effort” on the part of women should be deemed just as valuable as “equality of results.”
None of these assertions downplay women’s irreplaceable contributions to our military. Are female soldiers just as brave, just as noble, just as patriotic and just as self-sacrificing as their male counterparts? Without question. And women frequently serve essential roles, offering strategic advantages that would not otherwise exist.
But sending women into combat is a statement that we, as a society, are comfortable with violence against women. That, while we may not encourage acts of violence against women, we don’t see them as especially egregious. That violence against men and violence against women are one and the same in our minds. As a matter of principle, of policy and of common sense, I reject that notion.
In the words of Kate O’Beirne, a member of the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces — which, by the way, recommended not sending women into combat — “good men protect women.”
Importantly, enlisted women don’t want these change to occur either. Polls have consistently shown that only about 10 percent of enlisted females support changing the rules so that women can be involuntarily placed into combat. And only 25 percent support even making combat options voluntary for women. These facts, perhaps more than anything else, clarify the nature of this debate. This is not a fight for some denied “right” that enlisted women are demanding but an attempt by radical leftists to implement their extreme ideas on the backs of our military.
Ultimately, whether the facts are popular in certain circles holds no bearing on their veracity. As much as some might like to pretend we live in a world where there are absolutely no differences between the genders (a misunderstanding of what “gender equality” means), even a young child can grasp that there are some very fundamental differences between “boys” and “girls.”
To turn a blind eye to these differences in an effort to adapt to some nonsensical idea of “political correctness” is to be intellectually dishonest and to fail the troops who will ultimately live and die by the consequences of our decisions.
Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) has been a member of the Armed Services Committee since he became a Member of the House in 2003.