Recently Richard Carnes wrote a column in which he claimed that:
- Women are built to have babies. (No argument there. I've had one myself, but I'm capable of doing other things, too.)
- Men are naturally aggressive killers. (The ones I know don't exhibit this trait on a daily basis, and it's insulting to our male soldiers to imply that hormones are what qualifies them for the job.)
Carnes' conclusion was that because of these biological predispositions, our civilization should not allow women in combat positions.
I think it's odd to argue that because we're civilized, we should stick to traditional gender roles. That's the fundamentalist Islamic (and Christian) position, and I didn't think that Carnes was a big fan of either of the above.
The United States puts troops into combat to defend ourselves or to fulfill treaty obligations. Our troops carry out missions determined by our government, under orders. In frightening and confusing circumstances, they have to figure out how to accomplish their missions without killing innocent people if possible.
I am not going to pretend to know what it's like to be in a war, but I know that it's usually a lot more complicated than getting mad and shooting people.
Our soldiers go through intensive training. They are supposed to come out as professionals, not berserkers. While it's undoubtedly true that the majority of qualified individuals for most combat positions are and will be men, some women are going to qualify for some combat positions. The key word is "qualify."
The military is charged with sorting this out. In the meantime, women have already been coming home in body bags, and are already in combat situations because of the nature of our current conflicts. Women who are in combat situations should have it recognized.
Women feel as strongly about defending the United States as men do, and many women feel that it is their duty to participate directly in the effort.
When I think about what the Taliban have done to us by enabling Bin Laden, and to the women of Afghanistan, I want to pick up a gun and go after them.
Carnes may think that female aggression is a joke, but he has to admit that our female soldiers have every reason to want to fight the enemy.
I am grateful to all of our troops. However, I am particularly grateful to women in the military for this reason: In our history the route to equality has run through the battlefield. A group that is prevented from fighting for their country is in danger of being considered second-class citizens.
The people who attacked us on 9/11 did so in large part because they hate that women are equal in our civilization. It would be sad if we backed off on that principle.
If some women are good at combat, they should get the job. That's what we stand for.