Thingish Things

Women in Combat. Coming Soon to a Theater Near You.

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Nov• 22•11


The Pentagon is preparing a report to Congress that will likely recommend that women begin serving in U.S. combat units.  What a sad commentary on the state of our world.  

Women are capable of serving in that capacity. That’s not the issue. I have a 13-year-old who can shoot a dime off the top of a giant sequoia – and, unless I’m mistaken, she will be downright deadly to men one day. Neither is foxhole romance the problem. U.S. soldiers – men and women – are professionals.  They can keep their hands off one another under fire.

The concern over women in combat is transcendental not corporal (so to speak).  It’s heartbreaking enough to watch boys returning from overseas missing appendages. Can we bear as a nation to see our girls come home the same way? And do we really have to make them killers? Aren’t women supposed to be better than men?  

Feminists and egalitarians argue that a double-standard is being applied in keeping women out of U.S. combat units.  They are correct.  A double standard is being applied, and it should remain in place.  A world where it is acceptable for girls to be blown apart on a battlefield – or to blow others apart — is a lesser world than the one in which we  live today.  Violence and femininity – except during prom week perhaps – are antithetical in nature.  One can argue that’s not true ‘til he or she is blue in the face, but never convincingly. There is something in the human heart that verifies truisms like that so that the finest sophistry in the world cannot deny them.

The arguments on the other side of the combat issue are perfectly rational:  Women train just as hard as men do in the military.  Why should they be denied the right to demonstrate their lethal skills and move up in the ranks? Women fight in other armies. Why shouldn’t they be able to fight in ours?  Women have proved to be an effective fighting force. Why not use them?  These are solid and logical debating points. 

But they fail address intangible truths like the sickening difference between a male American soldier being captured by a depraved enemy and a female American soldier being captured by a depraved enemy.  Suggesting there is no difference between those scenarios is an insult to our very instincts. A dead female soldier on a battlefield comes with added pain. Why? Because it just does. That’s why. 

Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously wrote of America “defining deviancy down,” of the slow erosion of what we find unacceptable in our culture. Putting girls into regular combat units would mark a gigantic step downward.  Yes, women can do the job.  Yes, we will even get used to the notion.  But in doing so we will diminish ourselves as a nation, indeed, as a species.

Putting women on a pedestal may be unfair.  But taking them off it to this extent is abhorrent.  Why does equality between the genders always come down to degrading  women– to making them more like men? What a shame. 

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  1. Your Friend says:

    I’ll argue that what you’re suggesting is actually a case of reverse sexism. We can’t bear to see our girls come home blown to pieces, but it’s okay to see our boys like that? Such a concept could only be written by a man who I happen to know is vastly outnumbered by the fair sex in his household. You know my feelings on the military. The question isn’t whether we should allow our girls to be blown to bits, it’s whether we should allow it to happen to any of our children. We shouldn’t. And all the nonsense about American exceptionalism (a term first used by the butcher Stalin) only makes matters worse. Truth is, the only thing exceptional about us these days is our war machine. That’s an exceptionalism I can truly live without.

    • Billy says:

      One hundred percent guilty as charged. I definitely apply a double standard. Almost included a graph saying that sending girls to combat might be the best strategy for American pacifists. I, for one, might cry uncle.

  2. Me says:

    Feeling a touch patriarchal, are we?

  3. […] his position on that well, in my opinion, but he has made it clear that it feels wrong to him, as it does to me.  And he talks about the unintended consequences of careers on motherhood, something women discuss […]

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