A week ago the Washington Post added to the unreal debate, such as it is, over women in combat. In its story "Ready to Kill," writer Kristin Henderson provides an ecomia to women soldiers.
Amid the mandatory effusions of feminism and egalitarian boosterism, Henderson reports some of the reasons against placing women in war zones, writing, "Opponents worry that either sexual tension or the male instinct to protect females will undermine a unit's ability to pull together and fight effectively," she summarizes. The reference to the "male instinct to protect females" is a bit vague. Protect them from what?
Henderson also says, "Before all those changes in the '60s, a woman's biological role as a mother generally kept her off the killing fields." She quotes Erin Solaro's representation of ancient arguments against placing women in combat action: "Women who, because of their sex, risked their lives and health bearing children should not also have to bear the burden of defending those children when men were available."
Within the whole essay there is not one mention of women being mistreated, molested, and raped upon capture.
What universe is Henderson living in? Either she recognizes and deliberately ignores this gutwrenching reason against putting women in such danger, or she is a happy naif.
Every time an American servicewoman is captured, the news media indulge in sickening prurience, asking: "Was she, or wasn't she?" If the servicewoman is freed, Barbara Walters and her ilk compete to drag the poor woman before cameras.
One could make an argument in favor of Humanae Vitae from the contents of this essay. "The main thing is birth control," one expert says about the increase in servicewomen. "From the mid-'60s on, women could control their fertility." Who would have thought that sex education could be an issue of military readiness?
Former commandant of the Marine Corps, General Robert Barrow, summarized his own objections: "I may be old-fashioned, but I think the very nature of women disqualifies them from doing it. Women give life. Sustain life. Nurture life. They don't take it."
This very worthy respect for women and the symbolic integrity of human life recalls the argument of G.K. Chesterton in What's Wrong with the World. Were he alive today, Chesterton could argue the enthusiasm for women combatants is a logical outcome of women's suffrage, which he believed meant the inclusion of women in the coercion and bloodshed of the State.
Though such a critique sounds radical to modern ears, Chesterton goes on to outline the benefit of excluding a whole portion of the human race from the nasty business of war. "More than once I have remarked in these pages that female limitations may be the limits of a temple as well as of a prison, the disabilities of a priest and not of a pariah," Chesterton wrote. "...it is not evidently irrational if men decided that a woman, like a priest, must not be a shedder of blood."
There are some words in the Washington Post article about how a nation shouldn't send its mothers to war, but those objections won't amount to much in the land where the Pentagon has a daycare center.
The simple belief that a civilized society does not send women into danger is now dismissed as the unpopular one. We are already a country that puts women on combat ships and exports mothers into military actions. Their rapes at the hands of barbarians are used to stoke television ratings and to inflame rage against the enemy. Rather, such crimes should move us to overthrow the monstrous policymakers who put these women at risk in the first place.