G.I. Jane Speaks

Only posting a link, or, rather, a letter from a female vet who goes by the handle ‘Sentry.’ Hat tip to Jazz Shaw at Hot Air for this letter:

I’m a female veteran. I deployed to Anbar Province, Iraq. When I was active duty, I was 5’6, 130 pounds, and scored nearly perfect on my PFTs. I naturally have a lot more upper body strength than the average woman: not only can I do pull-ups, I can meet the male standard. I would love to have been in the infantry. And I still think it will be an unmitigated disaster to incorporate women into combat roles. I am not interested in risking men’s lives so I can live my selfish dream.

We’re not just talking about watering down the standards to include the politically correct number of women into the unit. This isn’t an issue of “if a woman can meet the male standard, she should be able to go into combat.” The number of women that can meet the male standard will be miniscule–I’d have a decent shot according to my PFTs, but dragging a 190-pound man in full gear for 100 yards would DESTROY me–and that miniscule number that can physically make the grade AND has the desire to go into combat will be facing an impossible situation that will ruin the combat effectiveness of the unit.

First, the close quarters of combat units make for a complete lack of privacy and EVERYTHING is exposed, to include intimate details of bodily functions. Second, until we succeed in completely reprogramming every man in the military to treat women just like men, those men are going to protect a woman at the expense of the mission. Third, women have physical limitations that no amount of training or conditioning can overcome. Fourth, until the media in this country is ready to treat a captured/raped/tortured/mutilated female soldier just like a man, women will be targeted by the enemy without fail and without mercy.

I saw the male combat units when I was in Iraq. They go outside the wire for days at a time. They eat, sleep, urinate and defecate in front of each other and often while on the move. There’s no potty break on the side of the road outside the wire. They urinate into bottles and defecate into MRE bags. I would like to hear a suggestion as to how a woman is going to urinate successfully into a bottle while cramped into a humvee wearing full body armor. And she gets to accomplish this feat with the male members of her combat unit twenty inches away. Volunteers to do that job? Do the men really want to see it? Should they be forced to?

Everyone wants to point to the IDF as a model for gender integration in the military. No, the IDF does not put women on the front lines. They ran into the same wall the US is about to smack into: very few women can meet the standards required to serve there. The few integrated units in the IDF suffered three times the casualties of the all-male units because the Israeli men, just like almost every other group of men on the planet, try to protect the women even at the expense of the mission. Political correctness doesn’t trump thousands of years of evolution and societal norms. Do we really WANT to deprogram that instinct from men?

Regarding physical limitations, not only will a tiny fraction of women be able to meet the male standard, the simple fact is that women tend to be shorter than men. I ran into situations when I was deployed where I simply could not reach something. I wasn’t tall enough. I had to ask a man to get it for me. I can’t train myself to be taller. Yes, there are small men…but not so nearly so many as small women. More, a military PFT doesn’t measure the ability to jump. Men, with more muscular legs and bones that carry more muscle mass than any woman can condition herself to carry, can jump higher and farther than women. That’s why we have a men’s standing jump and long jump event in the Olympics separate from women. When you’re going over a wall in Baghdad that’s ten feet high, you have to be able to be able to reach the top of it in full gear and haul yourself over. That’s not strength per se, that’s just height and the muscular explosive power to jump and reach the top. Having to get a boost from one of the men so you can get up and over could get that man killed.

Without pharmaceutical help, women just do not carry the muscle mass men do. That muscle mass is also a shock absorber. Whether it’s the concussion of a grenade going off, an IED, or just a punch in the face, a woman is more likely to go down because she can’t absorb the concussion as well as a man can. And I don’t care how the PC forces try to slice it, in hand-to-hand combat the average man is going to destroy the average woman because the average woman is smaller, period. Muscle equals force in any kind of strike you care to perform. That’s why we don’t let female boxers face male boxers.

Lastly, this country and our military are NOT prepared to see what the enemy will do to female POWs. The Taliban, AQ, insurgents, jihadis, whatever you want to call them, they don’t abide by the Geneva Conventions and treat women worse than livestock. Google Thomas Tucker and Kristian Menchaca if you want to see what they do to our men (and don’t google it unless you have a strong stomach) and then imagine a woman in their hands. How is our 24/7 news cycle going to cover a captured, raped, mutilated woman? After the first one, how are the men in the military going to treat their female comrades? ONE Thomasina Tucker is going to mean the men in the military will move heaven and earth to protect women, never mind what it does to the mission. I present you with Exhibit A: Jessica Lynch. Male lives will be lost trying to protect their female comrades. And the people of the US are NOT, based on the Jessica Lynch episode, prepared to treat a female POW the same way they do a man.

I say again, I would have loved to be in the infantry. I think I could have done it physically, I could’ve met almost all the male standards (jumping aside), and I think I’m mentally tough enough to handle whatever came. But I would never do that to the men. I would never sacrifice the mission for my own desires. And I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if someone died because of me.


  1. Comment by Sean Michael:

    A very interesting and useful letter by “Sentry.” Which should be read by all those who mindlessly shriek women should be in combat units. Needless to say, it won’t be, and we will find out the hard, gruesome way what a bad idea it is to have women in combat units.

    Sean M. Brooks

  2. Comment by Fabio Paolo Barbieri:

    There is quite likely a certain proportion of the female sex, not, I think, a very large one, that, for various reasons – exceptional strength, strength of character, ferocity associated with cleverness – would be able to fight in the front line. However, in the real world this small talent pool has already been largely drained by professional sports, police and jail guards, various flukey posts in business where this or that woman has proved more competent and forceful than any male competitor, etc. You could never enlist enough of them to make a difference, unless you started regularly trawling through all the school system and more or less drafting those you found; and in order for them not to be any more than a distraction and a drain, you would have to have separate units and indeed separate panoplies. (I would not worry too much about a woman trying to manipulate a heavy machine gun, but I would be scared as Hell if a woman came charging straight at me with a very sharp bayonet, for instance. In a story I have in mind, an all-women unit, enlisted among embittered young war widows, is armed only with revolvers, but each soldier carries no less than five kinds of knife, from a small dagger to a kukri. They also are given a suicide pill to take if they are caught alive.) In other words, the effort would simply not be worth the result. You would be trawling the whole female youth to find the few who can be trained to be imitation soldiers. The military wastes enough money as it is, thank you very much.

    • Comment by Sean Michael:

      Dear Mr. Barbieri,

      I agree, the small, nay, TINY fraction of women who could be trained as soldiers with no dumbing down of training standards is not enough to justify the strain, stress, cost, and effort of having women in combat units. To say nothing of how I believe there are, in addition, strong philosophical and moral reasons why that is a very bad idea.

      In SF, only S.M. Stirling has managed to create convincing female soldiers, most especially in his Draka series (and one off novels like THE CHOSEN). And that only by the Draka training, training, training women (as well as boys) from the age of seven. Only an unrelenting regime of exercise, training, and rigidly controlled diet (supplemented later by genetic manipulation) made women soldiers practical for the Draka and Chosen. All this came with a high price, including a grotesque skewing of Draka/Chosen society.

      Sincerely, Sean M. Brooks

      • Comment by Dirigibletrance:

        I think the female soldiers in Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War” universe were also convincing, however they were able to sidestep all the current issues that real female soldiers have: They were no longer human. Both the regular CDF Soldiers and the Special Forces had genetically engineered, cybernetically enhanced bodies that were superhuman in every respect.

        Plus, Jane was a badass. However, if Jane had been a mere un-augmented human, rather than a synthetic killing machine with human-like traits, I would never have wanted her near a war zone.

        • Comment by Sean Michael:

          Unfortunately, I have not read Scalzi’s work, so I’m quite unable to comment on whether I find his work convincing or not. And what you described above certainly does not seem human.

          Sean M. Brooks

  3. Ping from Female Veteran: Don’t Put Women In Combat « Do_While(True):

    […] to my previous post about women in combat roles, John Wright linked to a letter written by a woman who served in Iraq, who believes she would be physically and […]

  4. Comment by Mary:

    This is why my heroines either have super-wonderful powers or don’t fight. . . .

    They also fail to notice that the women are rather needed for another habit that is needed for society to go on. To be sure, the classic suffragist argument for why women are entitled to vote even though they will never risk their lives in battle is that they risk their lives in childbirth — an argument that large swathes of the feminist movement currently in existence is, of course, not entitled to make.

    • Comment by Rolf Andreassen:

      I observe that most male citizens today won’t take either risk. I further observe that most women, feminists or not, do in fact have children at some point, if not perhaps as many or at the times that ou would like them to. It seems that that if we are to take seriously the argument of risking one’s life for the polity leading to the vote, then we should rather abandon male suffrage (perhaps with an exception for veterans) than female.

      • Comment by Mary:

        That women do, in fact, have children is a moot point as far as the feminists are concerned. A man could not claim to have fulfilled the military part by working as a mercenary for another country, and as long as feminists insist that having children is a hobby of the woman’s in which no one else is permitted the slightest concern, they are not therefore allowed to bring it up as doing a favor.

    • Comment by John Hutchins:

      I recently watched the K-Drama The Great Queen Seondeok, and I highly recommend it. They have a girl pretend to be a boy, but they do it very realistically in that she is terrible at fighting and has to work extra hard just to be the worst in the squad. Which isn’t to say she isn’t valuable to the squad as they have her doing the tactics and organization to turn what should have been a complete slaughter into a successful retreat. It is also a very good show in showing women as being extremely powerful and not because they are men or act like men, they are powerful as women and in different ways then the men. It really shows that while being a great general and unbeatable on the battlefield is great and all that is actually the very least of what it means to have power both politically and socially.

      • Comment by John C Wright:

        I have not seen the show, and what you say of it makes it sound like a more realistic and mature way of handling a rather old-fashioned trope of girl-dressed-as-boy makes good. But I do have a question. You say (emphasis added):

        “It is also a very good show in showing women as being extremely POWERFUL and not because they are men or act like men, they are POWERFUL as women and in different ways then the men. It really shows that while being a great general and unbeatable on the battlefield is great and all that is actually the very least of what it means to have POWER both politically and socially.”

        You speak of it as if it is normal or healthy for women to want power. Why? It is not normal or healthy for men to want to be pretty, or demure, or maternal, or to give birth.

        The contribution of Karl Marx to the philosophical history of mankind is to redirect all conversation away from the normal things which once concerned us, namely, virtue and vice, fair and foul, true and false, and instead concentrated on one and one topic only, which, according to Marx is the only reality: Power. For Marx, all human relationships, either between employee and employer, or between husband and wife, was a power struggle. In a power struggle, all that matters is power, and everything is reduced to a type of power. The Liberals conveniently forget their intellectual ancestry, but continue to adopt the language and the basic notions of the Marxist analysis of everything as a power struggle.

        If the power-struggle analysis is correct, women must be strengthened, and their enemies in the power struggle, men, must be weakened.

        So, again, my question is this: what makes you think women need power, or should seek it?

        • Comment by Mary:

          “demure”? Actually being reserved and modest has its charms on both sexes. As C. S. Lewis put it in “The Cliche Came Out of Its Cage”:

          At the hour
          Of sacrifice their brothers came, silent, corrected, grave
          Before their elders; on their downy cheeks easily the blush
          Arose (it is the mark of freemen’s children) as they trooped,
          Gleaming with oil, demurely home from the palaestra or the dance.

          So too can Chaucer praise a knight as being “meek as a maiden.”

          Boldness is not proper in all circumstances; for men as for women, there are hours where courtesy, gentleness, and reserve must reign.

  5. Comment by John's Web Support:

    My wife wants to know why they’re not going all the way with this. The same people who want women to be allowed to server in combat tend to be the ones who support “gender balance”. So when not enough women are found to fight on the front lines, she assumes that the military will have to start drafting women in order to maintain gender parity.

    What will they say then?

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      What will they say then? What they always say: you are a sexist racist homophobe.

      You see, it is the act of making the accusation which the philosophy of Leftwing nihilism likes. The matter of the accusation does not matter, nor the injustice, nor the unreason. They just like to accuse.

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