A friend of mine posted this blog post by Matt Walsh on my facebook wall and asked my thoughts on it. I had too much to say to simply respond in the comments section.
The title of the blog post alone was a bit of a turn off, as was the tone of most of it. I’m not sure of Walsh’s story or background, but I felt a lot of bitterness coming from him and little attempt to see the issue from both sides. For me, it is a difficult and complex issue. As I read the news article Walsh sited, as well as his post, I had to process through a myriad of my own emotions. For sure, I have compassion for both sides.
So below are my thoughts- mostly responses to the points made in Walsh’s blog post.
Walsh is mainly responding to the news article which states that after slightly more than half of the females in boot camp couldn’t meet the new requirement of three pull-ups, the Marines decided to delay the requirement.
Here is where I agree with Walsh. In the matter of the military- which are often matters of life and death- standards are typically set for the safety of the combat troops. For this reason, I agree with Walsh that it is unwise to change military requirement to meet a gender quota. I believe that if women are to be in the military, they should be held to the same standards as men- just as some men don’t make it through boot camp, some women may not either.
The second place I agree with Walsh is in his statement that men and women are different. I absolutely believe that men and women were created differently with a different set of values and strengths both physically and psychologically.However, I do believe that Walsh overemphasizes those differences and undervalues the similarities that may also exist.
Where I think that Walsh gets it fundamentally wrong is in his view of the reason for females to be in the military. He states several times that the entire reason women are in the military is for some crazy, liberal, feminist agenda. Instead, I see women being given the right to be in the military as I see any other quest for persons to find their calling in life. Some of us are called to be writers, or lawyers, or counselors, or stay-at-home moms and dads. Having females in the military isn’t as much about a political agenda as it is about allowing certain women to live out their calling. Maybe some of them won’t have what it takes. Maybe some won’t succeed. That’s okay. At least they’ve been given the chance.
Below I’ve listed several other arguments Walsh makes that I have to disagree with.
W: I disagree that there is any tactical or strategic advantage to getting more women involved in combat.
– Wow. This statement is so incredibly insulting I’m not sure where to begin. Walsh is saying that women have absolutely nothing to offer in combat. I would like to hear him tell that to the many women who have participated in combat throughout the years. He says later that this argument represents the “cheapening of masculinity.” I do not see how women desiring to serve their country cheapens masculinity, but his statement that women are worthless in battle is not supposed to be offensive at all? I would like to hear him explain legends like the “Night Witches” from Russia or the “Women’s Air Service Pilots” from America who flew bombing missions during WWII.
W: I disagree with the pencil pushers and politicians ignoring the combat troop who has rightly worried about a scenario where he is wounded and needs to be carried out of a firefight, but the woman fighting next to him is completely physically incapable of doing so.
– If women are able to pass the same physical tests as men (assuming the military starts to enforce equal standards), what makes him so sure that they are not physically capable of of carrying a man out?
W: I disagree with the “gender equality” fable entirely.
– There are many different types of feminism; Walsh seems to only be familiar with the one that believes men and women are created the exactly the same, “equal,” and deserve the same rights. However, many feminist only ask for equal opportunity. Allowing females to join the military doesn’t have to mean females are the same as men, just that they have an equal chance to serve their country if that’s their goal.
W: Diversity has become the military’s top priority. Google the 2011 Report of the Military Leadership Diversity Commission. In fact, you don’t need to read it. It’s sad enough that our military has a thing called a “diversity commission.” I grew up thinking that our military’s top concern at all times must be: “are we ready and able to kill the enemy if called upon?” But, apparently, it’s more like: “are we ready and able to impress Gloria Steinem with our female enlistment statistics?”
– I sympathize with Walsh in this comment- no one likes any important decisions/policies to become a political platform. However, again Walsh misses that women just may have something of value to offer. Isn’t it possible that the differences between men and women could compliment each other in decision making and high stress situations?
W: Here’s a funny thought: if women can fight in combat roles, then all-male conscription must assuredly be unconstitutional. So, when the Supreme Court strikes it down, and the draft is reinstated, will the liberal feminists of America jump for joy as their daughters are forcibly recruited and sent off to die in some godforsaken desert halfway around the world? If you want to be like men, will you die like them?Maybe you would. But we are a shameful, cowardly country if we would send our daughters off to war for no reason other than to obey our New-Age Gender Creeds.
– This is an argument I’ve heard repeatedly from anyone who likes to rattle a feminist’s chains. I have never understood why it is more acceptable to send America’s fathers and sons to war than it’s mothers and daughters? Try to tell any mother who’s lost her son to war that her loss is not as meaningful as someone who has lost a daughter.
W: But what about the unique capabilities of men? Are we completely replaceable in every facet of society? Is that the new philosophy? And what about all of the things men have built, and achieved, and won, and died for, just so that we can live in a country where you’re allowed to be a crazed gender revolutionary? Women could have done all of that?
– Again, Walsh assumes that this whole debate is over “crazed gender revolutionar[ies]” instead of over a woman’s chance to pursue a life serving her country. I am curious how a conversation would go between him and a woman who has devoted her life to service. Would he tell her that the only thing she accomplished was to be verbal fodder for gender debates and political platforms? If she could tell him the missions she has accomplished, would he be so quick to minimize her career?
W: You know, maybe it would be wise to raise our daughters to have an appreciation for manhood. Maybe we should stop filling her head with this “you can do everything a man can do” garbage. Maybe she isn’t benefitted by this lie. Maybe it will only make her bitter and arrogant. Maybe it will cause her to see men as worthless, with the only characteristics particular to them being negative stereotypes about leaving the toilet seat up and drinking too much beer.
– Whereas I also regret that there are ways our society minimizes masculinity and at times the way we speak about men can lead to disrespect or belittling, I do not see how women wanting to join the military is an example of this. I absolutely believe we as women should appreciate manhood, and instill this in our daughters. I agree we should not perpetuate negative stereotypes with men as the butt of our jokes. But I think that this is exactly the point- Walsh doesn’t want to tell his daughter she can do anything a man can do. Well guess what, he’s not alone. There are far too many little girls out there believing that they cannot be professionals, or doctors, or soldiers if they want to. And a great deal more women who may pursue those dreams, but then continue to make disclaimers before the speak in a meeting, avoid the spotlight, or underperform because they have been taught that they are either not smart enough or that their intelligence is a threat. Walsh wants us to keep women out of the military simply to protect his definition of masculinity? Well maybe true masculinity is being able to look at the female soldier next to you and know that she worked hard to get there, has made sacrifices, and has earned the right to be there just like he has. Maybe it’s the ability for a man to trust the female that is serving his country with him, even though he may not fully understand her or her reasoning for wanting to fight. Maybe it’s being able to hear a female’s desire to enter armed forces without immediately assuming she’s a feminist with a political agenda. Maybe it’s even trying to understand those evil feminists instead of fight them.
I completely understand and appreciate Walsh’s desire to keep his daughter off the battlefield…but in the end, shouldn’t it be her choice?