Last week, the Obama administration opened up combat roles to women serving in the military. Word on Fire blog contributor Ellyn von Huben offers her counter stance, and considers what this could mean both for the sexes as well as the definition and fulfillment of valor.
I don’t often agree with President Obama, but his statement that “valor knows no gender” is something I wouldn’t dispute. The context in which he made this statement is where we part ways. Likewise, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta stated that it is “the responsibility of every citizen to protect the nation,” which certainly makes sense to me. It is in how men and women are to fulfill the call to valor that we would differ.
The lifting on the U.S. military’s ban on women in combat would appear to be reasonable in the 21st century. Women are already assuming dangerous military assignments — more than 150 women have given their lives in the current war — so common logic would embrace the expansion their duties. But what appears to be a fair extension of women’s rights to workplace equality will not translate well in reality. Military life is not a ‘job.’ This is especially true in combat.
Is it because women are weak or cowardly? Hardly. Women can be very fierce. (And what could more fierce than a mother whose children are in peril?) But I doubt if there would be any consideration made for the formation of all-female combat squadrons, battalions, and such. This might be an ideal situation for women with particular military genius, but would still leave these fighters particularly vulnerable when fighting in countries in which women are treated with particular contempt. And would a corps of American-style Amazonian warriors be in the interest of the equality, which the trending media frenzy is all about?...