Women in Combat Arms: I Have Reservations

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.

About carlos

I'm a curious person, of reasonable intellect, "on the beach" (retired) and enjoying my interest in anthropology, language, civil rights, and a few other areas. I've been a hippie/student/aerospace tech writer in the '60s, a witness to the Portuguese revolution in the ‘70s, a defense test engineer and witness to the Guatemalan genocide in the '80s, and a network engineer for an ISP in the '90s. Now I’m a student and commentator until my time is up. I've spent time under the spell of the Mesoamerican pyramids and the sweet sound of the Portuguese language. I've lived in Europe, traveled in Brazil, Central America, Iceland, New Zealand, and other places. My preferred mode of travel is with a backpack and I eat (almost) anything local. Somehow, many of the countries I have been to have had civil unrest (for which I was not responsible). I'm open to correspond with anyone who might share my liberal, humanist interests. I live in San Buenaventura, California.
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4 Responses to Women in Combat Arms: I Have Reservations

  1. Isn’t the bigger question here why, in 2012 are civilzed human beings still waging war? It is a barbaric form of human sacrifice. We are not fighting for freedom and civil rights, we are fighting these wars to keep the rich in power and feed the disgustingly wasteful war corporations. Even beyond that, I am surprised Carlos that you ignore what testosterone does versus what estrogen does. The soldier, male or female, is going to act in accordance with their bio chemistry. Gender is not the question, it is predominant hormones. Females with high testosterone are not different when it comes to fighting war than males.

    • carlos says:

      Civilization, as it has been put, is only skin deep. War is ingrained in our DNA whether we like it or not. My point is that if we must sacrifice the best of our youth, should the caregivers of the next generation be equally sacrificed? I am conflicted because I believe all should have equal opportunity but, should we encourage women to suffer unavoidable damage that war inflicts on combatents? Will this affect future generations?

  2. I do not agree that men are stronger than women. Some women show the strength and resilience that I have not seen in most men. There are already a great amount of women who have PTSD from other causes that manage to be great mothers. I think that resilience is something that is found in some humans, not necessarily male or female, it depends on the person.

    Not all women necessarily want children, and so I find it a bit disturbing that that role is still seen as “the right thing” for them to do… I believe that any human should be allowed to lead the type of life that he/she wants.
    -Coming from a domestic housewife who has a child on the way, because that is the choice that I made for my life.

    • carlos says:

      You’re right many women are as strong or stronger as many men but sexual dimorphism is an established idea (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_difference#Humans). Many women have PTSD from incest, marital violence, and other causes. My personal conflict was encouraging potential mothers (often more nurturing than fathers who may be away at work) to make a decision to enlist in the infantry. Of course not all women want children, nor do all men. Until men can conceive and I don’t believe it is “the right thing” to do for all women. Our lives are our own. My own equivocation was that because war is harmful to all but can be more harmful to mothers as a class
      Congratulations on your pregnancy, may he or she always have the wind from behind and clear skies ahead. My only children are those I have by adoption.

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