Friday Feminist Fuck You: The U.S. Army

…for awarding a female soldier a Silver Star for heroic acts, and then removing her from combat because she’s a woman.

And just a note, something I didn’t mention in the video, I think it’s possible to oppose both the Iraq war and the Army’s ban on women in combat. Yes, I believe women like Pfc. Monica Brown should be allowed to serve alongside men in combat situations. No, I don’t support the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Samhita said it really well two years ago:

I don’t know how to write about this issue without first saying that I hate the military, I don’t support the war in Iraq at all, and the US government allowing women and people of color to advance in the military is strategic(ally fucked) and not in *any* way indicative of an actual commitment on behalf of our leading patriarchs to advance the peoples. But these women claim to still be facing obstacles as they are clearly performing well (in gunning down Iraqis) but still not advancing in their positions.
See the military isn’t any good for anything.

Along those lines, when we talk about issues of women in the U.S. military, it’s important to keep in mind that they aren’t the only women in combat zones –and to talk about the effects of war on female civilians.
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90 Comments

  1. qwerty
    Posted May 3, 2008 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    I originally posted here to criticize the naive attitude of the feministing blogger.
    The point I was trying to get across that there are indeed actual reasons for women being kept out of the military (which the poster ignores). Its not the “evil patriarchy conspiracy” how the poster puts it. She goes on to spew military-hate and simplify a complicated, controversial issue into “evil man oppress poor woman victim!”
    None of you have refuted my core argument; that sexual harassment shames the military and is a huge problem/headache to everybody in it.
    Now, how to deal with the above problem is the question. Military leaders want to avoid the headache by just keeping women out.

  2. SweetLittleSister
    Posted May 3, 2008 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    “Military leaders want to avoid the headache by just keeping women out.”
    ..and they are wrong.

  3. spike the cat
    Posted May 3, 2008 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    “None of you have refuted my core argument; that sexual harassment shames the military and is a huge problem/headache to everybody in it”
    That’s because you haven’t demonstrated that sexual harassment is a problem that is confined within interactions between males and females of the military.
    Groping school girls and raping civilian women are embarrassments that brings shame upon our military as well.
    Under your logic, then we should remove our bases from Okinawa and bow out of all combat then, right?

  4. Posted May 3, 2008 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    My argument has to do with sexual harassment. Race plays no role in this; only gender. You’re implying that im racist, which is ridiculous.
    I’m saying no such thing. What I am saying is that all the arguments that have been made, particularly by you, have been arguments that were used to justify segregation of the military. They turned out to be specious then, so I don’t think that they’re necessarily the strongest possible arguments now.
    Using a Communist governments actions probably isn’t the smartest way to get your point across.
    What communist government? I was talking about the Soviet Union, which stopped even remotely appearing communist right around the time that Lenin overthrew the government and began crushing and subjugating the workers’ and soldiers’ councils. The Soviet Union was built on the ashes of short-lived communist institutions. The Soviet Union also called itself “democratic”. Do you take them at their word on that one as well?
    Second of all, the point that you so skilfully missed is that women performed extremely well in combat, including military aviation. And that’s just one relatively recent example of women performing just as well in combat as any man.

  5. Posted May 3, 2008 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    None of you have refuted my core argument; that sexual harassment shames the military and is a huge problem/headache to everybody in it.
    Huh? You’re expecting on a feminist site to hear us argue that sexual harrassment is wonderful and brings prestige to any institution that tolerates it, perhaps?
    Besides, it’s hardly your core argument. Your core argument is that “sexual harrassment shames the military, and the solution is to discriminate against women

  6. Alice
    Posted May 3, 2008 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    If you’ve ever actually had the considerable misfortune of reading the works of Karl Marx, you’d know that authoritarianism is central to his ideas. The system, as he envisioned it, depended on government monopoly of communication and transportation, closed borders, and conscription of workers into “industrial armies.”

  7. Posted May 3, 2008 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    If you’ve ever actually had the considerable misfortune of reading the works of Karl Marx, you’d know that authoritarianism is central to his ideas. The system, as he envisioned it, depended on government monopoly of communication and transportation, closed borders, and conscription of workers into “industrial armies.”
    I’m not sure what your declaration of a superficial familiarity with some of the works of one member of one strain of 19th century leftist intellectuals has to do with the discussion at hand. But thanks for sharing.

  8. Posted May 3, 2008 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    Under your logic, then we should remove our bases from Okinawa and bow out of all combat then, right?
    No, based on his logic, the Okinawans need to be resettled. Remember, the solution to these problems is to place the burden on someone else.

  9. dasNeonlicht
    Posted May 3, 2008 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    Qwerty: While I disagree with you, I applaud you for coming back later in the debate and restating your opinion. It helps keep the debate clear.
    The point I was trying to get across that there are indeed actual reasons for women being kept out of the military…
    There are reasons to keep women out of the military, but they are bad reasons. Or, if there are any harms of having women in combat roles (I don’t think there are any), they are greatly outweighed by the benefits. Namely, a wider pool of manpower (personpower?).
    None of you have refuted my core argument; that sexual harassment shames the military and is a huge problem/headache to everybody in it.
    Now, how to deal with the above problem is the question. Military leaders want to avoid the headache by just keeping women out.
    If that’s your argument, I concede it. Sexual harassment is a problem and an embarrassment for the military. But then, I think the solution is more discipline and tougher enforcement against offenders.
    I also think that Alice’s argument about drops in racism in racially integrated units is pretty powerful. I think you would probably see a similar decline in rates of workplace sexual harassment against women over the course of the Twentieth Century. The more women I work with, and the more closely I work with them, the less likely I am to harass them. The thinking goes, “These gals can do the same job I do — they’re not so different from me.” People have a hard time committing violence against people they feel empathy towards.

  10. everybodyever
    Posted May 3, 2008 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    Alice, you said:
    Union soldiers who served with blacks in combat showed truly unprecedented drops in racism.
    Can you elaborate or point me to more info on this? I’m not being nitpicky; I just think it’s interesting and would like to know more.

  11. ShifterCat
    Posted May 3, 2008 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    There’s a really interesting article here about the Israeli army (which, as most of you already know, has a gender-neutral draft) and recent changes to its attitudes concerning sexual harassment.
    Relevant bit:
    “The shift in the army’s approach toward harassment comes as it has opened itself up to placing women in roles traditionally thought the exclusive purview of men. Women now serve as pilots, in artillery crews, as gunnery instructors and as officers in charge of men.”

  12. Alice
    Posted May 3, 2008 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    everybodyever: Can you elaborate or point me to more info on this?
    Hold on, let me try to remember this. I think I learned that from “Lies My Teacher Told Me,” a required text for a US history course I took in college (and a book I recommend in general). Looking up the book, which I do not have with me, I see that its table of contents are listed online, which stengthens my confidence that this is where I got that based on the names of chapters 5 and 6.
    So, I’d refer you to there. The author thereof cites his sources and all that sort of good thing, so it would lead you to even more info if you wanted it.
    I guess I remember that because it was a particularly striking bit on human nature. I am certain that I learned it in that class, so if it’s not in that book I’d have to look through my texts for the course, with I still have but are in another city, but again, I’m pretty sure that’s it.

  13. LlesbianLlama
    Posted May 3, 2008 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    Ann’s mention of hating the military was most likely a poorly-worded statement of disgust and hatred toward those higher-ups in the military and the infrastructure that allows ridiculous and unnecessary warfare. I highly, highly, doubt that she indiscriminately hates all soldiers serving in the military- excepting, of course, those whose actions are reprehensible for many reasons, and undeserving of respect as people, not merely in their capacity as a soldier.
    In terms of the military’s poor record on the treatment of women, I find arguments like querty’s to be not only ridiculous, but offensive. Why, might I ask, does it fall on the victims, female or male, and victimization of both happen regularly in the military for a myriad of reasons, to remove their presence from an occupation because they are at risk of sexual harassment. Querty, you have not yet addressed that question, though it has been posed repeatedly.
    Furthermore, why does the military get an exemption on employment discrimination that other employers do not have? Unless it can be proven that a soldier does not have the capacity to serve adequately in combat, there is no reason to exclude them from it. That goes for male soldiers as well. If you aren’t competent, you shouldn’t be out on the battlefield. If you are competent, any denial from the job in question is DISCRIMINATION. Making the claim that ALL women, regardless of their capacity to serve should be excluded simply based on their sex is ridiculous. In other occupations this is discrimination and is not tolerated.
    If women working in other professions that have been traditionally male-dominated [and those that are not, considering how pervasive sexual harassment is] are allowed into the workplace with the understanding that it is ILLEGAL for them to be targeted for sexual harassment or denied job opportunities because of their sex, why is this not the expectation for the military? If I were discriminated at my place of work, or my place of education based on gender, it would not be legally tolerated. Would it be a potential pain in the bum for my employer/school to deal with that harassment? Well, sure, I guess so- but it’s their job and obligation to do that, as I have done nothing wrong and have had a crime perpetuated against me.
    Contrary to apparently popular belief, my existing in any particular space and any subsequent harassment I may experience due to that existence is not a crime; clearly, the criminal is the person who subjects me to harassment. If dealing with this harassment causes inconvenience to those whose responsibility it is to make sure that I do not have to endure a hostile working or learning or standing on the street environment, then so be it.

  14. lyndorr
    Posted May 3, 2008 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    I am not surprised about the decrease in racism. I’ve heard often when racist people moved from the southern states to the north in the past, they stopped being blatantly racist because it wasn’t accepted in the north. The attitude wasn’t so deep that they couldn’t stop.
    When I think “I hate the military”, I mean the greatest thing I hate is how much is spent on it (half of what the world spends). It seems like a waste to spend THAT much.

  15. qwerty
    Posted May 4, 2008 at 12:26 am | Permalink

    Why, might I ask, does it fall on the victims, female or male, and victimization of both happen regularly in the military for a myriad of reasons, to remove their presence from an occupation because they are at risk of sexual harassment.
    ————
    Women are removable from combat. But you couldn’t do the same for men because men make up the majority of soldiers.
    It’s not victim blaming. The perpetrators are prosecuted, but harassment happens at such a high rate that courts cant keep up with it and it shames the military. The military leaders do what is best for the military as a whole.
    Keeping it single gender is done to simplify everything. To not deal with inevitable harassment, STD’s/pregnancy, rape, etc.
    ——-
    Furthermore, why does the military get an exemption on employment discrimination that other employers do not have?
    ———
    I’ll be honest, this question is really perplexing.
    But, I would assume that the well-being and efficiency of the army is much more important then that of some civilian small business. The army protects everything in the country, and our national interests.
    The army as of now is under intense political pressure. An unpopular, stalemate war that has proved disastrous for our standing in the globe.
    If you do a google search, the pentagon is experimenting with ways of implementing female soldiers. But now is simply not the time to decide such an issue; they need to figure out how to win the war and prevented a Vietnam-style humiliation. There is more at stake, is what im saying.
    And obviously; being denied entry to a group does not make the denied person a a criminal.

  16. Posted May 4, 2008 at 12:42 am | Permalink

    Keeping it single gender is done to simplify everything. To not deal with inevitable harassment, STD’s/pregnancy, rape, etc.
    First of all, the only reason harrassment is “inevitable” is that it’s tolerated.
    As for the notion that keeping women out of combat somehow reduces the amount of rape, there are quite a few Iraqi women that would beg to differ. And STDs can come from civilians, too.
    Harrassment in particular was one of the official justifications for racial segregation. The argument basically went “If we put these people in with all these good blue-collar white boys, there’s gonna be trobule.” If the military could survive racial desegregation, it seems reasonable to believe it could survive gender desegregation.

  17. SweetLittleSister
    Posted May 4, 2008 at 1:47 am | Permalink

    “Women are removable from combat. But you couldn’t do the same for men because men make up the majority of soldiers.”
    ..and that makes it all ok? We could systematically replace men with women. It would take some time but it is possible.

  18. Posted May 4, 2008 at 2:00 am | Permalink

    ..and that makes it all ok? We could systematically replace men with women. It would take some time but it is possible.
    Not to mention that men are constantly being replaced in a combat situation. If they’re wounded or dead, new people take their place. The entire system is based on the expendability of the people on the ground (and the even greater expendability of the civilian population unfortunate enough to make their acquaintance).

  19. LlesbianLlama
    Posted May 4, 2008 at 2:08 am | Permalink

    “Women are removable from combat. But you couldn’t do the same for men because men make up the majority of soldiers.”
    Um, under a policy I would support, there would be MORE soldiers than there are now. Presumably they do not allow men who are unfit for combat roles to serve in them. I would certainly hope not, anyways. The only difference is that women who were capable of playing a role in combat would be allowed to. If the military presumably ALREADY chooses the best soldiers out of the people they train to go fight in active combat roles, there is no reason why it would be sooo difficult for them to do the same with women. That’s an extremely weak point.
    “The perpetrators are prosecuted, but harassment happens at such a high rate that courts cant keep up with it and it shames the military. The military leaders do what is best for the military as a whole.”
    I encourage you to learn more about this. The people who commit crimes such as sexual harassment or sexual assault against other soldiers, specifically female soldiers, are NOT prosecuted. That is a huge, huge issue that the military is having, and precisely for the reason you mentioned- it’s embarrassing to them. To that I say boo-fucking-hoo. They need to take responsibility for the things that occur in their workplace, war or not, just like any other employer has to do. If what is, by your claim [and I disagree], the “best” thing for the military to do is to discriminate against women, I don’t particularly care. It may be the best thing for many employers to do, in many different professional fields, but it’s not tolerated. The military cannot just have this alternate code of rules. That they do never ceases to disturb me.
    “But, I would assume that the well-being and efficiency of the army is much more important then that of some civilian small business.”
    Why a small business? All places of employment [apparently not including the military] have to abide by these rules. High-powered law firms with client’s lives and liberty at stake have to be efficient too. Admitting qualified women to combat roles increases the well-being and efficiency of the army by ensuring that the best, most capable, and brightest soldiers are put in important roles AND eliminates gender discrimination.
    “Keeping it single gender is done to simplify everything. To not deal with inevitable harassment, STD’s/pregnancy, rape, etc.”
    Good thing that the constitution prevents employers from discriminating against employees because it’s “simpler” to do so, huh? Furthermore, the fact that you think harassment is “inevitable” disturbs me. Are adult men somehow lacking such self-control that they can’t possibly be expected to conduct themselves lawfully? In the world outside of the military they certainly are, so I fail to see how this is different. It’s also a poor argument to talk about pregnancy because pregnancy, too, is not something you are permitted to discriminate based on. Oh right, and men contract STDs just like women do, so I don’t know what your point was with that.
    “The army as of now is under intense political pressure. An unpopular, stalemate war that has proved disastrous for our standing in the globe.”
    The fact that they actively discriminate based on sex/gender, religion and sexual orientation, among possibly other things doesn’t make them any more popular, nor does it decrease political pressure. I’m pretty sure that a number of countries that do not permit their militaries to discriminate based on gender and allow gay individuals to serve openly think we’re pretty stupid for being so backwards in our own policies- especially since we like to promote ourselves as so awfully powerful and democratic. What, may I ask, is democratic about allowing the military special exemptions from constitutional laws?
    “If you do a google search, the pentagon is experimenting with ways of implementing female soldiers.”
    It’s not difficult to figure out how to do. How long have they been “experimenting” on this? How long can it POSSIBLY take? Other businesses don’t get to claim that they’re simply “working on it” and the rest of us should sit back and allow them to violate the law for as long as it takes for them to get their act together.
    “ut now is simply not the time to decide such an issue; they need to figure out how to win the war and prevented a Vietnam-style humiliation.”
    That’s a bunch of bullshit. First of all, it’s absolutely humiliating to the US and the US’s image abroad that we have such exclusionary policies. Second of all, I’m incredibly sick of this tired old bullshit about how “we’re at war so anything goes.” Um, NO. Specifically in cases like ending gender discriminating, the fact that we are at war is sort of irrelevant. There will always be SOMETHING that the military can claim is more important than fixing these policies. They need to do it NOW. They’ve had decades to do this.
    “And obviously; being denied entry to a group does not make the denied person a a criminal.”
    Obviously not. However, all the rest of the people are criminals; from those that engage in sexual harassment, to those that make these discriminatory policies.

  20. Posted May 4, 2008 at 2:44 am | Permalink

    Good thing that the constitution prevents employers from discriminating against employees because it’s “simpler” to do so, huh?
    Just a small point, but, in the US anyway, the Constitution doesn’t actually have any provisions that are directly binding on employers (except, perhaps for Amendment XIII prohibiting slavery). The prohibitions on employment discrimination are found in state and federal statutes and regulations.

  21. LlesbianLlama
    Posted May 4, 2008 at 3:03 am | Permalink

    Elise- I should have been more clear. I was referencing Title VII, which is obviously a federal statute, but is pretty entrenched in US Supreme Court precedent, which I think implicitly indicates that the constitution protects individuals from workplace harassment or discrimination based on gender [or other factors]. If and when someone sues for sexual harassment or gender discrimination under Title VII, the Supreme Court often recognizes that claim, and recognizes Title VII as constitutionally valid. Sorry for being so unclear.
    Too bad we’re not as cool as Canada and a bunch of other countries [yet] and haven’t written that into the US constitution. :(

  22. Posted May 4, 2008 at 3:55 am | Permalink

    I was referencing Title VII, which is obviously a federal statute, but is pretty entrenched in US Supreme Court precedent, which I think implicitly indicates that the constitution protects individuals from workplace harassment or discrimination based on gender [or other factors].
    At the same time, the Supreme Court has generally given the military a lot of leeway when it comes to their conditions of employment, including things that would constitute actionable discrimination if done by a civilian employer.

  23. Staar84
    Posted May 4, 2008 at 4:36 am | Permalink

    “I originally posted here to criticize the naive attitude of the feministing blogger.
    The point I was trying to get across that there are indeed actual reasons for women being kept out of the military (which the poster ignores). Its not the “evil patriarchy conspiracy” how the poster puts it. She goes on to spew military-hate and simplify a complicated, controversial issue into “evil man oppress poor woman victim!”
    None of you have refuted my core argument; that sexual harassment shames the military and is a huge problem/headache to everybody in it.
    Now, how to deal with the above problem is the question. Military leaders want to avoid the headache by just keeping women out”
    SweetLittleSister: the answer to “the headache” isn’t keeping the women out of the military, it’s educating EVERYONE that harassment in any form isn’t ok. If a woman joins the military, makes it through basic training and AIT then there is no reason she shouldn’t be able to serve with the men she went through basic with. If the military doesn’t want to be shamed by harassment, then they should punish the people doing the harassing. The military has tried to cover up sexual harassment cases before (Google: Air Force Academy, Sexual harassment), which is why everyone on the blog is commenting on victim blaming. Hiding something or banning a kind of person (female, gay, atheist) isn’t the answer. I think the military needs everyone they can get right now, so they should try their best to make sure everyone can function properly in their work environment. Yes, the military has its reasons for keeping women out of the military, the point is they’re not good ones. As for pregnant women on subs, how often does that actually happen? I imagine its pretty hard to get pregnant on a submarine, and that if you found out you were while onboard, they wouldn’t keep you on up until the last trimester so they wouldn’t have to deal with you going into labor. You shouldn’t punish women for being women, especially when they are proving that they can handle being in combat just as well as their male counterparts.
    As for everyone who has been saying you hate the military, I hope that you mean that you hate what the military is being used for and that you hate the war; for everyone saying they don’t like people in the military, why are you discriminating someone because of their job? The people in the military are willing (and that’s the point here) to put their lives in danger to protect you should the need arise(even if we were in peace, that’s what they’re there for). There are assholes in every job field, but I take it personally when someone says anyone in the military is a bad person since so many of my family members are ex-military and they are good people. Its your opinion to hate the institution, but sometimes the military is they way to feed their families and get them health insurance. For some people it’s a way to pay for college and serve their country. No one actually joins to kill people. So show some respect, even if you hate the war.

  24. Posted May 4, 2008 at 4:42 am | Permalink

    The point I was trying to get across that there are indeed actual reasons for women being kept out of the military (which the poster ignores).
    While that may be true, no actual reasons have been mentioned here. We have heard a number of rationalisations, most of which were used in almost identical form to justify racial segregation in the military not too long ago, but there hasn’t been much in terms of actual reasons, if “reason” is understood to mean “rational justification”.

  25. Egyptgirl42
    Posted May 4, 2008 at 5:29 am | Permalink

    For querty’s idea that the solution for sexual harrassment is to keep women out of the military: If a man doesn’t respect his own comrade, that guy should probably be kept the hell away from the civilian population, especially women. Such a person tarnishes the reputation of the military by being a real danger for women and potentially endangers his comrades by alienating the civilian population. With that in mind, I would think it would be far “simpler” to get these goons OUT of the military, instead of the potential victims. Oh, and drilling in every recruit’s head that this behavior is unacceptable would also help.

  26. Posted May 4, 2008 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Alice is absolutely right in indicating that race in the military was an issue discussed in the same way, and that racial harassment in the military dropped with integration – especially fighting together. (This is not to say that it isn’t still a problem – but it has been getting better.) I remember reading that Vietnam did amazing things for race relations in the US army. It would be silly not to learn from this.
    It would be interesting to see comparative sexual harassment stats from, say, the US Army and the IDF (which has a way high proportion of women serving). I can’t seem to find anything helpful on this, though…
    And a note on things not having to be the way they are: in the Canadian military, instead of being barred from entry for being queer, you get barred from entry for being homophobic. All recruits have to sign a sheet of paper saying they have no problem working with people from sexual orientations not their own, and if they don’t sign it, they’re out. I love it. It doesn’t stop harassment or abuse, of course, but it’s a great step.

  27. qtiger
    Posted May 4, 2008 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Yet women cannot achieve the rank of officer as easily as men if they don’t have combat experience.
    ______________________
    That’s not true. You don’t ‘earn’ a commission as an officer through actions, but rather through schooling. And women have 100% equal opportunity to join the officer corps.
    Just to comment on the harassment, etc. issues: The source of 99% of the military’s bad attitude towards females comes from a feeling that women, in fact, have more advantages and in some ways are more powerful than men in the military. Allowing women to join the combat arms might work towards solving this problem rather than making it worse.
    That being said, gender integrating the combat arms is not as easy as flipping a light switch. For example, all of the schooling related to the combat arms, from basic training on up, lacks the facilities to accommodate both genders. Same with the barracks, etc. of the combat arms units.
    Finally, I think that harassment and acts of violence are inevitable in this type of integration. The high ranking officers who have the ability to make such changes to military policy are likely unwilling to deal with the fallout of these events in exchange for a tiny increase in the number of soldiers available for combat positions.

  28. LlesbianLlama
    Posted May 4, 2008 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    “At the same time, the Supreme Court has generally given the military a lot of leeway when it comes to their conditions of employment, including things that would constitute actionable discrimination if done by a civilian employer.”
    That was the basic point of my statement- civilian employers aren’t allowed to do this, so why does the military get a different set of rules? [This, for me, applies generally to the US military court system to begin with. I think it's ridiculous that their standards are so radically different]
    I have not heard one single good reason why women should not be allowed to serve in combat roles. Whether someone is arguing that sexual harassment is a pain to deal with, or that it makes the military look bad, to the fact that the facilities are not gender integrated, it
    s entirely unconvincing.
    “For example, all of the schooling related to the combat arms, from basic training on up, lacks the facilities to accommodate both genders. Same with the barracks, etc. of the combat arms units.”
    The money that goes toward military funding is ASTRONOMICAL. There is also significant evidence that funds have been misused. I see no reason why it would be difficult to provide integrated facilities. I’ll say it again: Other employers do NOT get to discriminate by gender simply because it is expensive or inconvenient to accommodate them.
    “Finally, I think that harassment and acts of violence are inevitable in this type of integration.”
    I still think it’s disturbing that people seem to consider harassment “inevitable.” Are men not human beings? Should they not be expected to uphold basic standards of decency and be punished by law if they do not? I would say absolutely.
    “The high ranking officers who have the ability to make such changes to military policy are likely unwilling to deal with the fallout of these events in exchange for a tiny increase in the number of soldiers available for combat positions.”
    That’s kind of too bad for them. AGAIN, they can’t just discriminate because it will prevent “fallout” and it’s not entirely relevant that it would produce only a small number of soldiers- first of all, I think it would be a fair number that would be added by allowing women, and second of all, they don’t get to continue discrimination simply because the costs outweigh the benefits for their PR machine.

  29. Abbey
    Posted May 4, 2008 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Sorry I go on here…
    The fact that SPC Brown was even awarded a silver star speaks volumes about the current state of women in the Army. By doing so, the Army acknowledged that she had performed excellently under fire–and it made public an incident where a woman had served with a combat arms unit against regulations. It would have been much easier for the Army to downgrade her award to something that wouldn’t cause a stir (lots of people–men, women–get bronze stars) or not to give it to her, in order to deter Congressional scrutiny. Women have historically been denied awards and pay like this in order to avoid “causing a stir.” There were women in jumping into Panama, women in Haiti, women flying blackhawks in Somalia, and most of that involvement was kept very quiet at the time and remains largely undocumented–as a military woman I hear acnecdotes from amazing women who were in these situations, and whose “firsts” were pretty much below the radar. The fact that some women were NOT nurses in Vietnam, and saw combat was also kept quiet.
    From 2005-2006, Duncan Hunter, the chair of the House Armed Services Committee, worked really hard to try and get women out of any position where they could possibly be “colocated” with combat arms units on the “front line” (which we all know doesn’t really apply anymore). The Army response was swift and angry–they said they couldn’t function without women directly “supporting” (read: often living and working with) combat arms units, and effectively got Congress to drop the issue.
    The current policy is that in order for a woman to be attached to a combat arms (infantry, armor/calvalry, field artillery) unit, she has to be attached at the battalion level or higher. This is how the Army gets around the federal “risk rule” law–which prohibits women from “serving in combat on the front lines”–as battalion staffs are not on front lines.
    I know a military intelligence officer who got attached to an infantry unit in Iraq and did amazing things for them. Their reaction was “you’re the best MI officer we’ve had, you’re amazing, we really want to keep you for good, but we can’t because of the rules.” She replied “Just attach me to the battalion and keep me here in the lower echelon, and I can stay.” And she did, and everyone was happy.
    The thing is that most junior officers don’t understand ways around the policy, and that enlisted women don’t have the opportunity to speak up for themselves like that, or many good excuses for being attached to the higher levels of a unit.
    That platoon leader would certainly have liked to keep SPC Brown, but probably had no choice in what happened. Keeping her on patrol would have been really dangerous to the careers of the PL’s superiors–if she’d been killed all of the freaks in the right wing pushing against military women might have used her as a symbol of what breaking the policy meant, and there could have been Congressional inquiries and all that fun stuff.
    What ultimately happens here will depend on Congress and the next administration. Many, if not most Army officers colonel and lower are comfortable with the roles expanded to include women in this war and would support more expansion–though those in combat may be anxious about how the increasingly inevitable integration of women into their branches will be accomplished, though not out of outright hate or sexism.
    The relationship between military women and feminists really breaks my heart. I find it really sad that military women were admitted to service academies–West Point, the Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy–because of a bill sponsored (in 1975, at the high of the feminist movement) by the likes of STROM THURMOND and other conservative men in Congress. The only reliable feminist voice for military women has been Pat Schroeder.
    Militaries have existed for an awful (and I mean that in multiple senses of the word) long time. It’s part of the tragedy of the human condition. Militaries will continue to exist. It isn’t realistic to hate the military for existing.
    Real feminist advocacy for women in the military on stuff that matters, instead of fingerpointing and blanket condemnations of the military would be greatly appreciated.

  30. qwerty
    Posted May 4, 2008 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    The money that goes toward military funding is ASTRONOMICAL. There is also significant evidence that funds have been misused. I see no reason why it would be difficult to provide integrated facilities. I’ll say it again: Other employers do NOT get to discriminate by gender simply because it is expensive or inconvenient to accommodate them.
    —————-
    I would like to raise a question here.
    Would you consider the military a typical employer handing out a typical job?
    The military, in essence, is legalized murder. It allows you to use super-illegal guns and explosives.It has legal leeway because the military is arguably more important to the federal govt than some civilian company.
    And in what way have funds been misused?
    ———-
    I still think it’s disturbing that people seem to consider harassment “inevitable.”
    ———-
    A small portion of society will always break the law.
    Crime has always existed and will always exist.

  31. qwerty
    Posted May 4, 2008 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    The money that goes toward military funding is ASTRONOMICAL. There is also significant evidence that funds have been misused. I see no reason why it would be difficult to provide integrated facilities. I’ll say it again: Other employers do NOT get to discriminate by gender simply because it is expensive or inconvenient to accommodate them.
    ——————
    I would like to raise a question here.
    Would you consider the military a typical employer handing out typical jobs?
    The military is, in essence, legalized murder. It allows you to use super-illegal firearms and explosives. The military gets legal leeway because the well-being of the army is more important to the federal govt than some civilian business.
    ————-
    I still think it’s disturbing that people seem to consider harassment “inevitable.”
    ————
    A small part of society will always break laws.
    Crime has always existed and will always exist. Yes, it is inevitable. Sorry.

  32. qwerty
    Posted May 4, 2008 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    um…….yeah
    idk why that got posted twice

  33. ShifterCat
    Posted May 4, 2008 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    ‘I still think it’s disturbing that people seem to consider harassment “inevitable.”‘
    ————
    “A small part of society will always break laws.
    Crime has always existed and will always exist. Yes, it is inevitable. Sorry.”
    Again, let’s compare sexual harassment with the racial harassment that used to be the order of the day.
    Some harassment on the basis of race still occurs in the military, but thanks to early integration policies, it’s not epidemic.
    Sure, there will probably always be some people who insist on being bigots. But as long as the military makes it clear that their bigoted behaviour will not be tolerated, nor will it turn back the clock on integration policies, the bigots will be in the minority.
    Do you honestly think that such progress would have been made if the US Army had taken the coward’s way out and said, “Oh, racism will always exist, it’s useless for us to take a step forward in addressing it. Since we don’t want to deal with the inevitable conflicts, let’s just keep the coloured folk separate”?

  34. 11bNJ
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Women can’t cut it in the infantry plain and simple. 99% of women cannot do what I do, not only that but there is no way a woman could complete Ranger School. The military bashing in these comments makes me sick and all of you should be ashamed of yourselves for speaking about the military in the ways that you are.

  35. enhancedvibes
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    The DoD budget has always been astronomical. We have spent billions upon billions in Iraq alone. The idea that the US Congress would rather spend all that money in a foreign nation rather than in our own country is very disheartening. Furthermore, we spent a ridiculous amount of money to build a US embassy in Iraq at a cost of over $600 million in counting and it will cost – wait for it – $1.2 BILLION to run ANNUALLY. Yeah, whoever thinks we are over there to bring freedom and democracy to Iraqis is smoking crack.
    “There are legitimate reasons for keeping women out of the military; chiefly being the issue of sexual harassment. As you all know, harassment in the military is a HUGE problem. It embarrasses the military as an institution, and clogs military courts with these kinds of cases.�
    —I think this position supports the notion that boys will be boys and cant be held accountable and therefore we should remove women from the equation so boys do not have to control themselves (similar to the argument in countries where women wear burkhas and other face coverings). I am very bothered by this comment.
    “None of you have refuted my core argument; that sexual harassment shames the military and is a huge problem/headache to everybody in it. Now, how to deal with the above problem is the question. Military leaders want to avoid the headache by just keeping women out.�
    —I think a lot of people have commented on your comments qwerty. They clearly do not agree with you that men in the military cant be expected to behave so women should simply be taken out of the combat zone. I think it is you who are maligning the military by saying that they are just hound dogs when on deployment and simply cant be trusted to be around women in the same position as them. Usually I will argue that I don’t deal with ideals (ex- people should be viewed as equals so we don’t need discrimination laws) but I deal in reality (there are some racist and sexist mofos out there who need the law to tell them what is right!), however I am erring on the side of idealism here since the US military CANNOT maintain an occupation anywhere in the world without the service of women. Women “in combatâ€? are so much more than just women on some “front line,â€? it also includes nurses, doctors, specialists, pilots, and more. They are ALL considered “in combatâ€? because of where they are right now.
    To FeDhu – your positions on the military exactly reflect my own, so thank you for that. I think its quite okay to dislike the military as an arm of the US govt. but support the troops in a time of war – there is nothing unpatriotic or hypocritical about it. Plus, the DoD budget is redonkulous!
    To spikecat – the military has been lowering standards for education, mental health status and criminal record status since the Afghanistan war began but in significant numbers since the Iraq war began..
    To sweetlittlesister – Uhh no. The only time the US military has EVER been used as a force to protect this nation was during the Revolutionary War. Had we lost, we’d still be speaking English. =) The US military has long professed to be a body that protects the nation but in actuality its been used to maintain US interest in foreign countries and maintain alliances with foreign governments. After all our land grabbing, this nations soil has never been attacked, other than Pearl Harbor. And of course, we were so affronted by this attack we went to bomb Japan before entering Europe to help thwart the Holocaust. The US military ONLY enters a war when an American interest is threatened (i.e. Iraq) or when we are asked (i.e. Viet Nam).

  36. 11bNJ
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    “The only time the US military has EVER been used as a force to protect this nation was during the Revolutionary War.”
    Let us not forget the Civil War, the War of 1812, or WWII. . . or do those not count?

  37. Abbey
    Posted May 6, 2008 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    11B, stop trolling around using a handle most folks don’t get :-) …and in reponse to the Ranger school thing–ever met a woman sapper?
    I’m not going to go out on a limb and say a lot of military women could go Ranger, but some certainly could.

  38. enhancedvibes
    Posted May 9, 2008 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    “Let us not forget the Civil War, the War of 1812, or WWII. . . or do those not count?’
    i said the US military has never been used as a force to “protect this nation” — the Civil War could maaaybe count as the Confederacy attacked first but is wishy washy example for what i was trying to say — the other two do not count – the War of 1812 was over commerce/trade/tax issues (not to protect the nation itself, just the nations interest) and in WWII we only attacked Japan after they attacked us, that war was not on American soil, it was not to “protect Americansâ€? – history reveals a pattern of democratic nations who do not use their military to protect their nation and its people but to protect their global interests (that is why we do not send any military aid to Darfur, cause we have no interest there and why the GOP controlled congress got their panties in a bunch when Clinton sent our troops to Kosovo)

  39. Kells
    Posted May 10, 2008 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    “I wouldn’t say “I hate the military”. The military has no choice but to go where the President orders them to go.
    An overwhelming majority of 72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year, and more than one in four say the troops should leave immediately, a new Le Moyne College/Zogby International survey shows.
    Obviously, Samhita was trying to say that she hated people in the military rather than what it is doing as a collective body, but blanket statements like that could easily be misinterpreted and used as ammunition against feminists” -Qi
    Well said Qi, after reading this article I felt compelled to write. As a military wife myself I took personal offense to the comment “I hate the military”. While I do get that Samhita was probably not talking about the military in general, its still sucks that it was even said. People fail to realize, the guys don’t go to Iraq b/c they want to, like any job, they go b/c their boss tells them to.
    And I do agree that the so called “advancement” of woman and people of color in the military is a bunch of crap and just done to serve some type of twisted quota.
    -Michaela

  40. Alice
    Posted May 10, 2008 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    How is attacking Japan after they attacked us possibly not protecting Americans?

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