Women are the propagators of culture: War dehumanizes culture
I am conflicted about allowing women into combat in wartime. I support their right to serve in any capacity because to be considered for field-grade promotions you have to have your “ticket punched” (to have served in all rotations). If a woman doesn’t prove herself in combat arms she will always be qualified but not in the “band of brothers” – not combat tested. This is a ceiling that must be breached.
On the other hand I see soldiers returning from war and I know with a high degree of certainty that they are not the optimistic boys who left to serve their country and share the coming-of-age adventure that service provides. Many will be behind the lines: clerks, computer operators, support personnel but many will choose combat arms.
Most of those in combat arms (where the glory is) will not come back as heroes. Many will return with horrible physical wounds, traumatized by vision of dead comrades, visions of pieces of the dehumanized and decapitated enemy – or not at all. They will retain the visions of the dead men, the dead women, and the dead children. It is hard to erase the horror of war from memory. Some will never be able to function as they would have, had they never served in combat. This is what we accept when we send our soldiers to fight for their country.
Many will become part of our underclass of alcoholics, the homeless, and those who cannot erase the horror from their vision of the world. Historically, men have gone to war because men are stronger than women…and they are expendable. If a third of men die in battle there will be little effect on birthrate. In twenty years there will be a new generation of boys ready for war.
However, if women to go to battle and experience the same mind-numbing carnage, what should we expect? Having witnessed the same dehumanizing psychic damage described above could we expect a better outcome? Women who return from war may also be the ones to bear the children and rock the cradle of tomorrow’s children. What nurture and what care can a woman scarred by war’s duty to destroy and dismember human beings? Perhaps I underestimate the resilience of women.
There are other alternatives: For example, there are “sworn virgins” in Albania, Montenegro, and other areas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sworn_virgin). They foreswear marriage, dress like men, and enjoy the privileges of men in society.
Why they do this is fill a niche where there is no male heir, there is no head of the family, a shortage men (in some cases woman cannot inherit) and men are needed to sign contracts, or for hunting or farming. There is also the possibility of lesbian woman being accepted.
History has many examples as well: Joan of Arc, Molly Pitchers, Biblical Deborah, and many others. I did not see any reasonable examples of women warriors who had a second life as a mother. There may be, but mothers are too busy imparting culture to their children to go off to war. The notion of a woman with post-traumatic stress disorder nurturing children gives me pause.