Feminization of the Military

"Boy, what's that @#&*! growing under your nose? It looks like a &@*@#. You'd better get that &@*#! off your face by the next formation." It was July 1959. With about 60 other recruits, I was being welcomed to basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. According to John Leo's "A Kinder, Gentler Army" ("U.S. News & World Report," 8/8/97), such a welcome is now out. Today's Army manual dictates, "Stress created by physical or verbal abuse is nonproductive and prohibited." Forget whether traditional adversative training produced a first-class military throughout our history.

Why the changes? Partly, it's because today's youth are unaccustomed to discipline and authority, but mainly, it's because our lovelies want to be fighting persons. To accommodate them means the military must lower standards. Carrying a stretcher used to be a two-man job, now it's a four-person job. The Navy finds that very few of its females can manage shipboard emergency tasks such as hefting fire hoses or carrying wounded personnel up a ladder on a stretcher.

Females pass physical training because of gender-norming. Yellow lines are put on climbing ropes. Male trainees have to climb to the top, but for our lovelies the yellow line will do. As for those awful push-ups, men have to do 20 and women just six. Then there's the "confidence course", called obstacle course in the pre-p.c. days. At Quantico's Marine training facility, a visitor noticed a footstool placed in front of an eight-foot wall so no trainee would fail to climb over it. There's one male/female strength difference quite worrisome. At Parris Island, it was discovered that 45 percent of female Marines were unable to throw a hand grenade far enough to avoid blowing themselves up. Translated in Williams' terms: if I was in a foxhole with a woman about to toss a hand grenade, I'd consider her the enemy.

The recent movie "G.I. Jane" is a clever Hollywood propaganda ploy to generate public support for women in combat. Actress Demi Moore joins the Navy Seals and eschews all sex-based considerations and competes on the same basis as the males. Of course, if women were ever admitted to the Seals, training standards would be lowered. Navy Seals undergo the military's most strenuous training. A woman has as much of a chance to successfully complete Navy Seal training as she would have being successful linebacker in the National Football League. Two-thirds of well-conditioned men, who qualify for the Seals training program, flunk out.

Double standards in the military understandably fosters resentment between men and women. Men see female soldiers, who are incapable of performing tasks men are required to perform, get the same rank and pay as they do. They see their lives unnecessarily threatened in combat. Imagine your ship is hit by a torpedo and your shipmate can't heft and control a fire hose or, if you're injured, carry you to safety, or worst yet is pregnant and completely out of action. I'm not at all surprised by resentment that often manifests itself as "sexual harassment." In fact, a Government Accounting Office (GAO) report says that male complaints about double standards are the first or second most common form of verbal sexual harassment. Sex double standards in the military, like race double standards on college campuses, produce resentment.

I may be unnecessarily alarmed about sex double standards. Maybe future adversaries like Russia, China and Iran are feminizing their defense forces and using double standards too. If they are then it's no big thing, unless their lovelies are not as lovely as ours.

Walter E. Williams

September 7, 1997
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