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Do we really need to send teenage girls to the frontlines?..(45 posts)

Do we really need to send teenage girls to the frontlines?..Bruno S
Apr 4, 2003 3:58 PM
Couldn't the most experienced soldiers go first? If not, how many other Jessica Lynchs are out there right now?
Why not? Do you think teenage boys are more disposable?Starliner
Apr 4, 2003 4:40 PM
Bruno, check the death count and compare how many males are on it vs. females, and then you might get an idea as to who's really on the front lines dodging Iraqi bullets.

I think many women soldiers were part of the supply convoys - Jessica and the POW Shawna were both among caravans which took a wrong turn and were ambushed.

I hope you don't think women should receive any more protection from danger than the men -
I hope you don't think women should receive any more protectionpurplepaul
Apr 4, 2003 4:53 PM
Just curious, what would be wrong with thinking women should receive more protection from danger than men?
I hope you don't think women should receive any more protectionStarliner
Apr 4, 2003 5:24 PM
It would be sexist to think that women should receive more protection from danger than men, just because they are women. The notion that women's lives are more precious than men's is unconscionable in a culture that has rejected the belief that natural law relegates women to subordination in marriage and exclusion from public life.
I hope you don't think women should receive any more protectionpurplepaul
Apr 4, 2003 5:43 PM
I know it's considered sexist, but I just wonder if it should be considered such a bad thing. If it is shown that male soldiers worry more about defending female soldiers, and that puts their lives and mission at greater risk, well, it may be sexist, but should the reality be ignored?

Plus, society historically has granted extra protections to women (and in news stories of particular heinous atrocities, how many times has the phrase "women and children" been used), so I think it's a fair question to ask why these protections should not extend to war.

I don't see how wanting to exclude women from combat, and the atrocities that flow from it, necessarily leads to subjugation in marriage or a desire to exclude women from public life. Does it treat women differently from men? Yes. Is it necessarily bad? I'm not so sure.
Apr 4, 2003 8:02 PM
I think there's a valid concern that male soldiers might worry about protecting female soldiers and therefore putting missions at risk. Society has programmed us to be chivalrous with the "weaker" sex, to our detriment.

Regarding the military, there should actually be societal deprogramming sessions that would teach male soldiers to consider their lives as no lesser in value than female soldiers' lives. Gender preferences have no place on the battlefield (or in society). There should be no more guilt over the loss of a female soldier's life than for a male's.

The extra protections society has granted to women have roots back in a time when women didn't have the vote and were not given many of the rights enjoyed by men. But things have changed and are still changing; women have the vote and they compete equally for jobs if they want to. More and more, these "extra protections" entrenched in the societal fabric are becoming unfair advantages for women. It's time to eliminate them.

If you wanna share the gain, you gotta share the pain.
Solutions - Careful what you wish forpurplepaul
Apr 4, 2003 9:39 PM
I'm not sure how women would feel about what you're suggesting and I don't know if it is realistic to expect men to just change their chivalrous/cheuvinistic views. I'm also unsure that treating women as men would benefit society.

Women were given their roles at the dawn of mankind. When pregnant and caring for an infant, they were vulnerable and needed extra protection. I believe that's still programmed within us. Clearly, we've progressed, but I don't think I want to evolve to the point that we're interchangeable.

Instead, I say Viv la difference!
Solutions - Careful what you wish forSpoiler
Apr 5, 2003 6:19 PM
No amount of legislation or social evolution will alter a basic instinct. Men are now expected to not act on their instincts.
No wonder we're hucking ourselves off of cliffs and smashing our nuggets while doing rail-slides.
Why not? Do you think teenage boys are more disposable?Bruno S
Apr 4, 2003 5:23 PM
Of course they should receive more protection. They are not as strong as men and this enemy is particularly evil with women.
Strength vs. bravery & valorStarliner
Apr 4, 2003 5:37 PM
Medals are given out for bravery and valor, but I don't think for strength. And there's plenty of women who given the chance are going to earn those medals.

Times have changed Bruno. Chivalry is dead. It's now your choice if you want to be nice to somebody, rather than society expecting you to act certain ways. So be nice to everybody, and don't single out the ladies. She may be making more money than you -:)
Strength vs. bravery & valorpurplepaul
Apr 4, 2003 5:52 PM
Bravery and valor can go a long way, but they can't make up for an inability to carry as many supplies as men due to their lesser strength. I think three things should determine whether women fight in combat: their willingness (and the only statistic I have seen casts serious doubt on that), society's consensus (do we really want women there? In WWII, the Soviets had brilliant female soldiers and fighter pilots, but we didn't allow them), and their effect on the outcome of the battle (i.e. how do the male soldiers react to them). Normally, I would agree that the men should just deal with it. But in no other endeavor is the consequence so grave.
You would probably want no sex separation in sports...Bruno S
Apr 4, 2003 8:38 PM
its exactly the same. We are talking about troops, armed combat on the ground. In the case of fighter pilots, etc, women should be treated exactly like men and given the same opportunities. In ground combat, bravery and valor are required but so is strength and endurance. Men today, as 5000 years ago, are stronger and have more endurance than women (on average).
First: Pvt Lynch was Maint Div not Infantry. Second...spyderman
Apr 4, 2003 9:03 PM
Women deserve the chance to prove themselves in every arena available to a Man. If they pass as a soldier send them, if they fail, don't. Same standards for a Man.

Next stupid question?
Not sure it's so simple spyder-personpurplepaul
Apr 4, 2003 9:28 PM
There may be unintended consequences of sending women into battle with men. As was asked above, we don't have co-ed professional sports, so your argument would have to deal with that somehow. Surely there are some women who could compete with men in professional sports. Why not have them play on the same team and shower in the same room?
But they do not have to meet the same standards as men. nmjose_Tex_mex
Apr 5, 2003 11:38 AM
One must wonder why. nmpurplepaul
Apr 5, 2003 12:39 PM
First: Pvt Lynch was Maint Div not Infantry. Second...ClydeTri
Apr 7, 2003 6:37 AM
Not same standards..they have diminished physical standards
It is one negative consequence of equalityKristin
Apr 6, 2003 12:06 PM
American women sought after and have embraced equality with men. And any area that has yet to treat women equally is in for a battle, correct? Every decision has positive and negative consequences. One downside to equality is that women will go to battle and be killed just like their masculine peers. How could we women embrace all that is good about equality...the right to own property, work, and lead, without also embracing the negative consequences?
It is one negative consequence of equalityJon Billheimer
Apr 6, 2003 12:23 PM
One of the huge negative morale issues within the Canadian military is the number of women who become pregnant immediately upon learning of overseas combat area postings such as Kosovo or Bosnia. This is not a fabrication. It is talked about openly among Cdn. forces personnel anmd is widely resented. So I don't think, Kristin, that women have embraced all aspects of equality, at least not in Canada. Another chronic gripe is that women almost universally get preferential treatment when deployed to peacekeeping units, such as "porter service" by male personnel and other deferences because of the female troops' lack of physical parity with their male counterparts.
The pre-deployment pregnancy issue plague us too,sn69
Apr 6, 2003 7:17 PM
but the people who suffer the most from it are the vast number of female service members who do not use that as a means to an end. The chilling effect of that type of behavior effectively lessens the legitimacy of our professional women who serve our military on every-bit the same footing as the men. I mean that, too.

I was raised in a Post-Tailhook Navy, having earned my commission just after that horrid affair, and as much of an abberation as that stupid event was, the fallout was equally horrid in the opposite direction. That was when the "woosification" of Naval Aviation began, lead by social-engineering crusaders (uh-oh...starting to sound like OBL) who took dubious advantage of the crimes of the elder generation to alter the cultural development of the younger ones. In some ways it worked...quite well in fact. In others notsomuch. Many respectable professional reputations and careers were ruined by those forces while many of the Tailhook rapists and criminals went free. What's far more disturbing in the perspective of long term effects, however, is that for about five years, few if any male naval aviators would interface with the female ones for fear of anything being misconstrued or otherwise misunderstood. As described to me by a half dozen close personal friends who are female naval aviators, this hurt them deeply and left them feeling as if they had to work that much harder.

What I can say is this. As with any group, those who are good shine through, yet there will always be those who seek to manipulate and take advantage of situations that ultimately serves to delegitimize the efforts of the former. It's unfortunate indeed. 99.9% of the women I have served with are phenominal professionals, and I'd accompany them "forward" any time.

In an ironic and somewhat humorous example of the social engineering of the last decade, I was recently thrust into a situation where several other men and I were the subject of a person (female) who was sexually harrassing us at work. One of our civilian employees was out of control, and after several male sailors, chiefs and officers (me included) came forward with complaints, she was let go. I remember thinking "Wow...those quarterly all-day sexual harrasment training bore-ex's really worked, but in a way Patricia Schroeder never intended...."
How sad that anyone would do thatKristin
Apr 7, 2003 6:14 AM
Every citizen of this country has the right to choose whether or not they will ever enlist, correct? So why enlist if you plan to bail in times of war? (American military men have a version of this as well...running to Canada.) But how tragic that someone would use a child to hide behind. How sad for the kid, who is simply a tool used to manipulate a system. The baby isn't chosen out of love and planned for, but rather is just a means to an end to the parent. Turns my stomache.
Yeah, but it's still a tiny minority.sn69
Apr 7, 2003 7:54 AM
Nonetheless, whenever I see a young sailor who is preggers, I find myself wondering what ship/squadron/unit is taking up the slack and deploying with one less body.

...And that's not right that I should regard things that way automatically; it speaks to my failings and the general concept of one bad apple ruining the bunch.
SN69, question for youStarliner
Apr 7, 2003 8:48 AM
Another guy in this thread expressed the thought that male soldiers might be distracted from focusing on the mission because they would feel they should protect their female comrades, thereby risking the success of the operation.

What's your take on this thought? Does the military discount this scenario, or do they consider it as a possibility that some soldiers might think this way? And if so, do you have any training sessions (a la your sexual harassment seminars) which would attempt to purge sexist notions such as this, which could potentially be fatal? Judging by the chauvinistic comments made by some of the guys on this board, it seems that such training is pretty damn necessary given the growing presence of females in the services.
SN69, question for yousn69
Apr 7, 2003 9:42 AM
Hmmm...compelling question with lots of possibilities. In terms of ground combat, I am not qualified to least I'm no more qualified than you or anyone else who has never fought with rifles. OldEd's or LAV25's insight would be far more meaningful I think.

With regards to air combat, I never saw the difference. Granted, when I was still in Carrier Air Wing 2, we only had a handfull of female pilots and NFOs because the Constellation had not yet been rehab'ed to accept vast numbers of females. The few we had, however, we the same as the rest of us. In a POW situation, who knows? In GW1, the female POWs were treated far better than the males. That doesn't seem to be the case now.
could there be a not-so-sinister reason for this?rufus
Apr 7, 2003 12:32 PM
they get the notice of their posting, and know they will be separated from their spouse for quite some time, and so have sex more frequently? i just don't know if i'd make a generalization that they're all doing it to avoid combat situations.
Surely they're aware of the consequences and know how topurplepaul
Apr 7, 2003 1:13 PM
avoid them.

Remember that woman who sued during the first Gulf War because she claimed that she didn't reasonably expect to have to go to war when she joined the Army?

Anybody remember that and what the outcome was?
I didn't state it in absolute terms such as that.sn69
Apr 7, 2003 1:22 PM
And, yes, I've known/encountered several who have simply "gotten one past the goalie" during their pre-deployment romps with their SOs/spouses. Nevertheless, most that I have encountered (*details I'll list below), were typically in the 18-19 year age group and single. Careless, unprotected sex? Yeah...I bet in many cases. Still, a great many would later be caught commenting on how they did it specifically to avoid deployment. Again, that's not all and I cannot accurately affix a percentage to it, nor would I want to. I'm simply commenting on personal experience.

Also, I don't think it's done to avoid combat per say. People who find they have problems along those lines statistically seek redesignation to CO status (consc. objector). They are retained through the end of their enlistment/commission, but in a non-combat role. Those who seek dubious means to avoid deployment usually do so because they don't want to go away for 6 months (more now that we're at war). Life aboard ship as a squid or jarhead isn't exactly pleasant, and the pre-deployment work-up cycle is usually enough to motivate those with sinister intentions or weak character to do stupid things.

*Here's the abbreviated explanation. In my first squadron--a typical sea-going/carrier air wing squadron--we were assigned to the Constellation before she was rehabed for females. Thus, we didn't have any. Most of the other squadrons who shared our hanger were integrated and frequently reported these incidents via a formal reporting system. A military unit defines various stages/types of pre-deployment readiness, one of them being personnel end-strength. The loss of any member of that unit immediately prior to deployment changes that reporting status and a formal message has to be sent up the chain of command--these were what I saw and then spoke about with friends (female and male) in those squadrons. So, where do those pregnant service members go? They are sent to that aircraft type's Fleet Replacement Squadron, a training squadron for pilots, NFOs, aircrewmen and maintainers. After my fleet tour, I became and instructor at my community's FRS, where we served as the repository for these women until their final stages of pregnancy when they were placed on bed-rest. Again, most of these women were 18-19 and in the "young and stupid" category. By way of comparison, there were also significant numbers of young men who would "go rabbit" just prior to deployment. The difference is that pregnancy as a diversionary tactic is a bad choice, and the mother is eventually returned to deployable status (with tremendous assistance from the Navy/Marine Corps family advocacy program). The men become felons. Both are choices, but one entails desertion and that's a crime. The other is a morality issue, and in their defense, I rarely saw those girls give up their babies for adoption. Most became empassioned mothers.
Yikes, if they aren't responsible enough to use contraception...purplepaul
Apr 7, 2003 1:29 PM
How do we trust them with weapons and life and death decisions?

I guess we're really not talking about that many, though.
Kids are stupid at times; I certainly was.sn69
Apr 7, 2003 1:34 PM
Still, and MORE IMPORTANTLY, it is "kids" who hump rifles and drive tanks and work on the carrier flight deck. Those kids in particular are some of the hardest working, most dedicated individuals I've ever seen. It has always been nothing short of a priviledge to work with people like that.
So one of your assignments was to work with pregnant women?Kristin
Apr 7, 2003 1:44 PM
Wow. Be honest now. Was that the most difficult task of your entire life? :-)~
So one of your assignments was to work with pregnant women?sn69
Apr 7, 2003 2:05 PM
It could be challenging, although I was never their Division Officer. My friend was...he quit the Navy and joined the Coast Guard. What does that tell you? ...JUST KIDDING!!!!!!!!!!!

Honestly, I found the 18 year-old-midwest gansta wannabes to be more troublesome. In fact, just today at our branch medical clinic, I bore witness to a young (presumably 18) Hospitalman Apprentice (E-2) mouth off to a Marine Gunny (E-7). Needless to say, I stuck around to watch the show. The Gunny sternly but patiently explained the young lad's error of his ways, but the knucklehead retorted with "why ya hassling me?" Whoa-nelly...that's when the fireworks began. That was the best morning at work I've had in a while, and reminded me of the time a young Airman (E-3) rolled his eyes at my old Maintenance Master Chief (E-9) and demanded to know why he was being dissed. I didn't get to see the entire show that time because the Master Cheif dragged the kid out of the Maintenance Control Office by his ear. When the two came back, the boy had tears in his eyes and publically apologized for his rude behavior. Some times "old school" has its place....
I do a lot of work with unwed mothers...mohair_chair
Apr 7, 2003 2:33 PM
You know, just helping them get their start.

(an old Steve Martin joke, circa 1978?)
har har harKristin
Apr 8, 2003 6:10 AM
I posted that when I go the image of some poor Marine leader trapped for 40 hours a week with 30+ pregnant teenagers. The terrible 2's would refer to the second trimester mood swings! All in good fun of course. Being a pregnant teen is no walk in the park either. :-)
American women sought after and have embraced equality with menpurplepaul
Apr 7, 2003 8:44 AM
But what's happening, I think, is that equality is being confused with equivalence. If there are significant reasons why women should not accompany men into battle, whether it's lack of strength or their effect on their male comrades, I think it would be wise to set aside linear reasoning for a more considered choice. And that choice may not be consistent with much of what women have gained over the years. But perhaps as a society we are able to live with some inconsistencies by accepting that men and women are different and should, sometimes, be treated differently.
Apr 7, 2003 6:17 AM
I hope there are more like Jessica Lynch.
Outdated mores.Jon Billheimer
Apr 7, 2003 8:21 AM
I have a really difficult time with the idea of subjecting 19 year old girls to the kind of treatment and suffering that Jessica Lynch probably went through. Call it sexist or whatever. War is bad enough for men/boys. I can't see subjecting women to it unless literally the survival of the entire nation or community is at stake.
Is the issue here one of combat or one of sexual assualt?Kristin
Apr 7, 2003 8:34 AM
This whole issue is difficult because right now we are at war against an army of vile men who disrespect life and loathe women. Of course they will treat female POW's worse than males. Does that mean that we should pull all the women from the field? I'm not sure. Perhaps when the chances are high that a captured woman will be severely brutalized and raped, that they should be given the option of going over. (But logistically, that will not do because it is important for military units to be cohesive. Removing members just before deployment will mess with that.) I don't know. No easy answers here. But I will say this. Reports about that stuff like this can be questionable, and the propaganda machine is running full speed, so I'm refuse to rush to judgement. Sigh. No easy answers. I do know this. American women don't have to go to war to be raped. It happens quite often on our own soil. And if you think that American military boys don't rape women--especially on foreign soil--think again.
Outdated mores.Starliner
Apr 7, 2003 9:10 AM
There is no such thing as conditional equality. War is hell, both for boys and now for girls - nobody subjected Jessica Lynch to whatever harmful treatment she endured but Jessica herself - the responsibility was her own when she exercised her own free will to enlist - I cannot value the life of my son any less than I can value the life of my daughter... can you?

We men are so conditioned by culture, we end up as our own worst enemies. It's so frustrating to me.
Outdated mores.purplepaul
Apr 7, 2003 9:28 AM
Everyone is conditioned by culture. Perhaps, in addition to listening to your frustration, you might consider why society has set itself up the way it has. Plus, society is constantly evolving. But it takes time for change to really sink in. It wouldn't surprise me if some time in the future our views towards women being killed in action changed significantly. Then the problem remains, what do you do about the fact that most women aren't as strong as men?

I still ask the question: do you really want men and women to be interchangeable?
Outdated mores.Starliner
Apr 7, 2003 10:10 AM
Interchangeability is not the issue. I'm a pragmatist, and I approach decisions and choices by whether or not I think it will work, not whether or not the selection is male or female. Every task has its own requirements, and should it matter whether or not those requirements can be met by either a man or a woman?

I don't advocate numerical equality (# of male infantry = # of female infantry); the equality I advocate is about opportunity. And yes, there will be some tasks that, in a general and pragmatic way, will be more suited for a physically strong man than a less strong woman. But there might be some front-line tasks that may be better suited for a smaller bodied woman than a bigger man, such as crewing a tight-quarted armored vehicle such as a tank.
Outdated mores.Jon Billheimer
Apr 7, 2003 10:36 AM
Your passion for politically correct gender equality is, I suppose, admirable but I fail to see how not wanting to subject our wives, daughters, and mothers to the horrors of warfare makes us men our own worst enemies. Seems to me that you're engaging in a little hyperbole in the service of "gender equivalence."

We're all culturally conditioned one way or the other. Those conditions as one poster observed are relative and subject to change. However, I refuse to flagellate myself for adhering to a set of conditioned values that are not of the latest political vintage.
Very patriarchial of you.Starliner
Apr 8, 2003 9:07 AM
Think of how many wars might have been avoided if the same caring values you hold for our wives, daughters and mothers were equally held for our brothers, sons and fathers.

It amazes and disappoints me that many men who consider themselves socially progressive and just, turn out to be nothing more than closet chauvinists when issues like this come up. Maybe deep down within this kind of guy just doesn't trust women to respond with reason should he stand up for his own importance and worth.
re: Do we really need to send teenage girls to the frontlines?..hatchetman
Apr 7, 2003 2:46 PM
Hmm..this seems to be a civil discussion, so I'll add my two cents worth here. I spent six years in the Army in combat arms MOS's. I have time in all male combat units and coed units. I was an 11B (infantry) in the coed unit (Patriot) providing 'security' for them. I hated that one...we were pretty much 'go-fers' for them. I can still hear our First Sergeant when there was a crap job to be done..."Where are my 11 Bravos??" Anyways, when I first went into the military, I was 100% for women in combat. If they want to, let em as far as I was concerned. My time in the military changed that for me. I now feel it wouldn't be a good idea, and for some of the reasons that have been outlined in the responses here. I saw things that very few in the media and other places will mention. It's not sexist to be opposed to women in combat, as some people try to say. I think that there are just some legitimate reasons why it's not a good idea. I do feel that the day will come when all jobs will be open to women, regardless of the consequences. Israel experimented with it and abandoned the idea. Russia had women soldiers in WWII, some of whom fought well, and now have far more restrictions on women in combat than we do here. Unfortunately, I think that as a nation once it happens we won't be able to put that genie back into the bottle as PC sensibilities trump all else here in the US and we can't be honest and look at certain things and say it wasn't a good idea. I get flamed a lot for this, and I've been called a sexist, told to get my knuckles out of the dirt and join the 21st century, etc, etc.
re: Do we really need to send teenage girls to the frontlines?..purplepaul
Apr 7, 2003 3:13 PM
Yes, there is a lot of knee-jerk liberalism (and conservatism) that utterly disregards the merits of unpopular ideas. If those ideas were just able to be voiced and considered, some might turn out to be not so dumb. There are so many people who have good intentions but no idea of or care for the reality.
re: Do we really need to send teenage girls to the frontlines?..hatchetman
Apr 7, 2003 5:18 PM
You're exactly right. In this country good intentions or ideas mean everything, regardless of the outcome or reality. Many people have agendas, and they will follow that agenda regardless of the outcome or consequences, even if they are proven wrong. I've been told I don't know what I'm talking about by people who know next to nothing about the military, because they have their agenda and they aren't open to anything else that challenges it.