Question – Women in Combat

There are some things that are hard to question because they are rooted at the core of our belief system–and, having read a very disturbing article in the New York Times today about the abuse and violence inflicted on many female US soldiers, and having seen the new Frank Miller film, 300, I am questioning one of those things: the intelligence of putting woman in combat positions. Or, to be more general, the equality of gender role in society.
That men and women are equal in all respects is a basic tenant of contemporary philosophy, argued by most if not all of our credible public figures. Inequality, even that which might have basis in biology, is considered a socially program vestige of past and “unenlightened” society, a primitive culture that must morally be left behind if a new age of enlightened understanding is to come upon us.
I myself believe in this tenant–I believe that men and women are fundamentally equal, and that thought which separates between the genders in the granting of rights should be discarded.
And yet, while I uphold the equality of rights, I’m not so sure that I can square the data from the field–and the thousands of years of experimentation–with the preposition that equality of role should rule; that is to say, I’m not so sure that incorporating women into the field units of the armed forces is the best idea. As 300 shows well, there is something to the macho-sensibility that promotes more resilient warriors; and as the data amassed in the New York Times article suggests, it could be that those same instincts that pushes a warrior into dangerous situations (the quest for power and dominance) also raises the probability of sexual assault.
Woman are invaluable to public security–in covert operations as well as overt ones. And yet, maybe there does exist some inherent wisdom that has kept society from placing women in the corps until the present day. Maybe, in fact, gender is more than just a social construct–maybe there is some reason that out of the tens of thousands of societies that have represented collective human will throughout the ages, women and men have taken different roles–the men served as bodies set on killing, the women serving as bodies set on bringing life.
To some who may read this, my point is trite–that is, some on the more conservative end of the spectrum have may have thought so all along. But these do not concern me–I am more concerned with those who, like me, were raised in the New World of equality–those who believe that a better world is possible where morality defends equality for all. And so my question stands: what will it take for us to falsify our presumption that women and men are equal in ability? In an age in which war is necessitated by the imperialist presumptions of those who have perfect faith, how deeply do we hold this faith–and, therefore, how much are we willing to gamble on the premise of absolute equality?

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