Stuck In The Middle With Who or Is it wrong to question Leon Panetta’s decision to remove the military’s ban on women serving in combat?

As someone who spends a good deal of time analyzing data as well as doing copious amounts of research to prepare for an interview I have to admit that today’s post has very little to do with anything more tangible than personal feelings based on how I was raised.

I come from an era in which I was taught to open a door for a lady and pick-up the check on a date.  I was also taught that you should always walk a lady to her door at the end of the evening and, if you say you will call, you actually call.  I know, I know these somewhat quaint and seemingly misguided concepts usually incite either smug ridicule or accusations of misogynistic tendencies.  What can I say, this is part of who I am as a person, and it was not then (nor is today) my intent through these kinds of overtures to offend anyone.  Least of all women.

This being said when the news broke that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was removing the military’s ban on women serving in combat, I had mixed feelings.  On the one hand, I understood the equality logic behind the decision.  If for example Rosie the Riveter could step into the male bastion of yesteryear’s factories to help with the war effort in the 1940s, why isn’t she capable of donning a weapon and defending our nation in the year 2013?  Especially given the fact that warfare in the modern era involves more technology than it does hand-to-hand combat.

RosieTheRiveter

But here’s the thing . . . is opening up the combat field to women really a question of equality and mutual respect?

The Rambo’s of the movie world notwithstanding, I do not think that there are too many men who relish the idea of going into battle.  War, no matter how automated, is still an ugly deadly business.

I am also certain that there isn’t a mother or a father out there who doesn’t have reservations in terms of their sons going to war.  I can only imagine that these sentiments are that much more magnified when they now have to deal with the prospects of their daughters being put in harms way as well.

This of course is and should be the underlining point in that a life is a life regardless of gender.  In this light, we are not talking about equal rights but instead expanding the risk of death to include a greater percentage of the population.  I cannot think of any society in which increasing the risk of death or serious injury is one that should be embraced.

So to me the real question is if a woman wants to go into battle should she have the option to make that choice?  I would have to say yes.  However, and this is where it can get dicey, should a woman be forced to go into battle?

According to the Army Times, there is a 9-to-1 ratio of men to women in the military.  This is an important number because 51% of all Americans are female.  The relatively small percentage of women who have joined the armed forces is certainly due to a number of factors including what was once the traditional roles to which men and women were confined.   But that does not detract from the fact that despite being given the equal opportunity to serve in the military most women have taken a pass.  Now that the combat issue has been dealt with, the question of whether or not a woman should be drafted will undoubtedly be the next hot topic in the equality debate.

Within this context, and keeping in mind the small percentage of women who are in the military, if there is ever a draft should this new right be imposed on all women?

I think that this might be the middle ground in which most of us will find ourselves stuck . . . regardless of gender.

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2 responses to “Stuck In The Middle With Who or Is it wrong to question Leon Panetta’s decision to remove the military’s ban on women serving in combat?

  • M L Bittle - New York

    Perhaps if women were to be drafted we might, as a society think a bit longer and harder before going to war.

    BTW, I also believe that the draft should be automatically invoked at the declaration of war/ approval for combat operations. This nonsense of wearing out our first responder troops, including National Guard, with repeat rotations is unfair to the troops and allows us back home to become disconnected as soon as the news teams stop coverage.

    So, yes, drafting women is the next big question. I think it might just reframe the whole discussion about when to got to war.

    • piblogger

      Interesting perspective Mr. Bittle, and one that demonstrates that this question is more complicated and far reaching than the immediate question before us.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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