Saturday, February 26, 2011

Why I'm An Angry Bird (Military Ladies edition)

While I'm still plenty angry about the whole Scott Walker fiasco, I am ALSO angry at the fact that because I'm a woman, my fundamental right to choose what to do with my body are being infringed upon.

So we're on the way back from picking up our new foster dog and like the super classy liberals that we are we have NPR on. And apparently a couple days ago they did a story on women fighting in the front lines. I immediately quipped "Well considering they don't trust women to make any type of decision regarding their reproductive health, I can't imagine this is going to bode well."

Surprise, surprise:
I was right.
As I was doing a lot talking OVER the radio (yes I realize interruption is a horrible habit and one that I don't see myself giving up any time soon so apologies to all of my friends when I interrupt with a movie/song quote or some other type of amusing anecdote/anecdon't), I didn't hear one comment that was read in support of women engaging in ground combat. You can read/listen to the original article here.

The article discusses the possible overturning of the barring of women engaging in direct ground combat. While I have many issues with the military, the issues it brought up for upholding the ban harken back to the 1800s. When women were considered genteel and delicate:

Late last year, a panel of active-duty women and veterans testified before the commission. During that exchange, retired Marine Lt. Gen. Frank Petersen expressed his concerns about getting rid of the ban.
"Here is my problem," Peterson said. "We're talking about ground combat, nose-to-nose with the bad guys, living in the mud, eating what's on your back, no hygiene and no TV. How many of you have seen how infantrymen, the ground troopers, live, and how many of you would volunteer to live like that?" (taken directly from the NPR article linked to above).
Minus the ground combat and nose-to-nose with bad guys, this kind of sounds like camping. Clearly that is huge jump and I'm not trying to indicate that being in a combative unit of the army is like camping, but the fact that hygiene and tv come into play?! Does anyone join the military thinking they're going to stay caught up on their favorite shows and get to shower whenever they want? To me this is assuming that women only care about how they look and following their stories. 
Fortunately, "Tammy Duckworth was an Apache helicopter pilot in Iraq and lost both of her legs in combat. Now she's the No. 2 at the Department of Veterans Affairs. She replied immediately: 'I've lived like that. I've lived out there with the guys, and I would do it. It's about the job.'" (taken directly from the article).
I'm sure there are plenty of people (men AND women) out there who couldn't live in a combat zone, myself included. Which is why I didn't sign up for military (okay and a slew of other reasons). I like my bed, I like my dog, I like pizza and booze. But to make this specifically about women, who are often put in this position anyway (why they're revisiting the issue), when there are just as many lazy men wouldn't thrive in this position.
According to the article, the question isn't whether or not they CAN do this work, it's whether they SHOULD be doing this work. So because someone has a vaj and tits that means they SHOULDN'T be allowed to fight in ground combat, even if they WANT to.
Pregnancy was brought up in this article and in the follow-up heard today whilst driving. What if the woman get pregnant and can't be deployed? Can't this be treated like any other job? You get maternity leave, you report when your maternity is up? Right? Millions of non-military women do this everyday. I didn't say it would be easy or fun, but it's an option.
During the follow-up, some people predicted women would intentionally get pregnant to avoid deployment. Thanks. It's good to know that you distrust the women in our military as much as you distrust just plain ol' everyday janes. And again, this could happen. But couldn't a man also do something to keep from getting deployed? This street goes both ways, but clearly only women are super untrustworthy. Even though they are willing to die. For your country.
And then there's privacy.
How can we trust grown adults to undress in front of each other? How can we trust them to carry out bodily functions in front of one another? Does the military realize that there are co-ed bathrooms and showers at various colleges throughout the country? So we can trust military personnel to carry guns and maneuver tanks but we can't entrust them to catch a glimpse of nip or peen without being thrown into a tizzy. Of course. THAT makes perfect sense.
And the last one that is brought up is my favorite:
Unit Cohesion: Does having a woman around create distractions? (taken directly from original article).  Does the military have that little faith/trust in their male personnel that they expect them to turn into every man depicted in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" when seeing Jessica Rabbit? Slobbering, wimpering messes with hearts in their eyes? Or is this insinuating that women are constantly using their feminine wiles to woo men and distract them from their jobs. Ladies are just too slutty in their fatigues.
And yeah, there is a huge issue of sexual assault/harrasment in the military. According to the ACLU Blog of Rights, One in three women are victims of sexual assault while in the service. The VA finds the condition so prevalent that it has it's own name MST or Military Sexual Trauma. I don't think this is going to get better while we continue to demean able-bodied and willing women who want to serve in all aspects of the military.
If this segregation continues then women will continue to be looked at as second class citizens. Because if the US Military Complex thinks that women can't do all the things men can, then why shouldn't the men within that complex feel the same way? Or the US population in general?


  1. I do agree with an NPR comment that they should bring the physical requirements of female recruits up to the same standard as males. Once they do that, I would think that there would be no doubt that any woman that can pass the same physical requirements would be qualified for any job in the military (I also think there's an aptitude test, but I don't believe there's different requirements for males/females -- that would be something if there were though)

  2. This issue came up in my Spanish class recently. My professor had to keep repeating herself because she thought I did not understand her question. I had to keep saying, No I understand I just think women should be fighting on the front line if they want to...if they want to. She then asked about the draft...oh geez!