The issue of women in the military, and specifically, women in combat, arose again in the US Republican debates. While contenders Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Chris Christie (who has since dropped out), all supported women in the military, including in times of war, it was Ted Cruz who took the opposite position. He said:
We have had enough with political correctness, especially in the military. Political correctness is dangerous. And the idea that we would draft our daughters to forcibly bring them into the military and put them in close combat, I think, is wrong. It is immoral. I’m the father of two little girls, they are capable of doing anything they desire, but the idea that their government would forcibly put them in a foxhole doesn’t make any sense at all.
I have elsewhere made the case as to why women should not serve in combat roles, and the reader is urged to go there for some of the evidence I offered: billmuehlenberg.com/2011/04/12/women-in-combat/
But here I want to offer more of a conservative and Christian case for this position. Four new articles all deal with this, and each one is worth quoting from. The first piece, by a 21-year military veteran, offers a bit of background information:
Approximately 90 percent of all military occupations have already been open to women for quite some time. The 10 percent of the jobs that have been restricted to men-only were the frontline, direct combat roles requiring significant physical strength such as infantry, artillery and armor. In determining if this restriction has unfairly prevented women from filling those roles, it is instructive to examine comparisons to other male-only organizations.
There are currently no women in the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League or other professional sports leagues. The reason for their absence has nothing to do with discrimination but is flatly rooted in the fact women biologically are not able to perform physically to the same level as men.
What must always be the overriding – if not exclusive – criteria for making any change in the U.S. military is that it makes the Armed Forces more effective. Having women serve in 90 percent of military jobs they currently do makes sense. Women can and have made significant military contributions in all the positions where they’ve served. But there are some very specific combat related factors that would likely diminish the effectiveness of tactical fighting units if women were included.
I fought in Desert Storm with an armored cavalry squadron. For literally months I lived in the tiny space on the inside of my armored personnel carrier with two other men. There was no privacy, no cloistered sleeping spaces and no restrooms. For three men this is a hardship but doesn’t present any operational problems. If one of those crewmen had been a woman—or if the crew had been two women and one man – there would have been problems.
No matter what anyone may desire to be true, it would be inviting disaster to put mixed men and women in such intimate settings and expect there to be no friction. The vast majority of armored crewmen, infantrymen, and artillerymen are roughly between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five. According to numerous studies, that age range lines up almost exactly with the height of male sexual desire.
Confining men and women of that age in combat or training environments and expect there to be no sexual interaction is naïve. Some will engage in consensual sex, some number of other men will force themselves on women via sexual assaults or outright rape. Even when no sexual acts take place, there will certainly be considerable sexual tension among that crew….
There is no issue with a women’s intellectual quality or value as a human being. It can be argued that in some cases women are smarter and more clever than men! In areas of the military not requiring physical strength or stamina, a woman ought to be able to compete on an equal footing with a man. But we ignore biology at our own peril. In the name of advancing women’s rights we cannot risk diminishing the capabilities of ground combat units.
The second article – by a woman – looks at some social ramifications of this:
While excluding women from ground combat roles was one of the main barriers to drafting our daughters in times of war, there was another reason cited early on: the societal impact. What will be the impact on our society if we equalize men and women to the point that they are both drafted for military service, to fight, bleed, kill, and die for our country? What will be the societal impact of sending our daughters into harm’s way, along with our sons, having them return home with missing limbs, debilitating head injuries, and broken spirits?
It’s one thing for women who want to volunteer for such service, but it is another thing entirely to require all women to do the same. Yet this is exactly what feminism and its egalitarian fantasy demands. The desires of a few have become the rule for all….
It would be a detriment to society to use government force to demand that all women register for the draft.
Like it or not, men and women are not equal, as in the same. We are physically different, and we have different roles to play. Men fighting to protect their home is their duty as men, while maintaining the homeland is the duty of women. That’s not on account of societal norms but the dictates of nature.
Of course, individuals are free to make their own choices about switching up these roles – and they do, and they deal with the consequences of those choices. But it would be a detriment to society to use government force to demand that all women make that same choice (which wouldn’t be a choice at all).
Our nation has been seduced by the politically correct lie that men and women are the same, but we are not the same. One sex is not better or more valued than the other, yet we are different – and that difference often translates into differing roles. Women, on the whole, are weaker than men. We bear children. We nurture. We are, like it or not, the “softer sex.” We have our own strength, our own power, but it is not on the battlefield….
Being forced to fight a war is not an opportunity. It is a responsibility.
The argument that women must be drafted because they have an equal responsibility to protect this nation is a foolish notion. The duty of women to keep our families together and our society working while our sons, husbands, and fathers fight the enemy is just as valuable, just as heroic, and just as patriotic as what the men do. That is their responsibility!
If you don’t see that, then you are blinded by politically correct lies, unable to see the beauty and the strength of being a woman. This is an ironic point because advocates of drafting women, like Rubio, Christie, and Bush, think they’re honoring women by saying they should be forced to register with Selective Service. They think they’re doing what’s best for their daughters by giving the same opportunities as their sons. But being forced to fight a war is not an opportunity. It is a responsibility.
To say women must share in this responsibility is to devalue and disrespect the responsibility women have traditionally fulfilled – the hard, lonely, difficult task of supporting the men who fight, caring for their homes, meeting their children’s needs alone when they’re tired and filled with worry, working jobs – sometimes seven days a week – while their husbands are away, and suffering through the heartache and pain of losing the men they love or watching them come home broken and picking up the pieces of their shattered lives.
The third author continues this theme:
There is no valor in requiring a woman to be subjected to the brutalities of a wartime foxhole where unimaginable horrors are played out in real life. But more importantly, let me raise this possibility: If a day were to ever arrive where the U.S. military depended on female combatants in order to win a war, the United States has already lost its most important battles. A nation relying on female combatants is a nation that has been brought to its knees by political correctness. A nation relying on female combatants is a nation that has lost all trappings of male and female differentiation. It is a nation that denies creation and reality in favor of anti-creation and anti-reality. A nation requiring female combatants is a nation that has surrendered any remaining relic of chivalry.
Frankly, it is cowardice of the highest order, and one that any self-respecting man ought to shun. The logic and consequence leads down a path that any man with a view to virtue or duty ought to shudder at when imagining. Think, for example, of the moral equivalency of such arguments that make it the duty of wives to respond to midnight intruders, rather than husbands. That’s what those supporting a military draft of women are asking us to accept. This isn’t just a military proposal; it’s about an entire worldview built on the bankrupt ideology of egalitarianism. This form of egalitarianism tries to level all differences in service to ideology. Ideology is so dangerous because it subjects all realities to its claims, regardless of whether such claims are moral or natural. Putting a woman in a man’s place will only increase her likelihood of harm and bring earned dishonor to the man.
The cultural ethos behind this proposal has tectonic consequences for how culture views men and women. Policy-makers are asking men to comply before a culture of emasculation by surrendering their innate gifting and their innate calling….
But my biggest objections to drafting women come as a result of Christian ethics. At the very beginning of the Christian Scriptures, we’re presented with a story of creation. At the pinnacle of creation is God’s creation of men and women. God didn’t make us automatons. He didn’t make us asexual monads. He made us gendered, embodied, and different. The differences extend to all levels of our being – our emotional, physical, and psychological selves. The Christian tradition finds these differences beautiful; and we embrace them with glad acceptance. For in that difference, God made men and women fit for complementary roles and tasks that, if exchanged or blurred, represents a sort of de-creation. As the book of Romans tell us, disavowing creation is its own form of judgment, and a nation cannot suppress the natural laws of God and expect to prosper in the long-term, much less win a war.
In biblical tradition, man and woman are made beautifully different for purposeful reasons. The broad shoulders of men aren’t ancillary or accidental features, but evidence of the natural strength that males innately possess. The protective instinct that men can harness at a moment’s notice isn’t an evolutionary instinct passed down from marauding cavemen – it issues from the fact that God made men protectors. Military conscription of women makes the thwarting of nature mandatory. Women are nurturers; not warriors. That women are delicate, and possess, on average, a smaller frame than men indicate their aptness for less rugged activities, not hand to hand combat. That women cannot comparably handle the physical strain of soldiering isn’t to deny their intrinsic worth and dignity, but to actually esteem it as something different, but equal to a man’s. The Apostle Paul tells his Corinthians listeners to “act like men,” which assumes that if men are to act like men, there’s a standard for which manliness is measured (1 Corinthians 16:13). This is why in the Bible, the same Bible which provided America with a rich moral ethos, it is considered cowardly, shameful, and embarrassing for men to allow women to engage in a sphere that men are best suited for (Judges 4:9).
Finally, Eric Metaxas sums things up:
Let me be clear: I’m not against requiring young people to perform public service, whether in the military or in some other capacity. And I wouldn’t dare imply that women aren’t as tough or as capable as men. As a happily married man and the father of a talented daughter, I can tell you that if anything, the opposite is true.
But subjecting women to the military draft ignores the way God created us, male and female. As Walker says, “God didn’t make us automatons. He didn’t make us asexual monads….” And because we Christians embrace these beautiful differences, we should vigorously oppose drafting women into the military. It’s a bad idea – one that would sacrifice our daughters on the altar of an ugly ideology.