Friday, March 8, 2013

"Women Warriors"

There’s this play called Lysistrata written by the Greek playwright Aristophanes in 411 B.C. (if you had saved your ticket stubs, they’d be worth a fortune today) in which the adult women of Greece announce that they will withhold sexual privileges from their menfolk if the men did not stop fighting in the Peloponnesian War.  Now women are insisting on – and have indeed recently won the right to – themselves participate in wars.

What changed?

And is it really an improvement?

Acknowledgement:  On those rare occasions when I write about Women’s Rights – explanation for that rareness:  To come, at the end of this sentence – I leave myself open to charges of perceived or legitimate gender bias.  I am particularly vulnerable to that charge, as history has designated me a member of a generation I long ago labeled, “The Men Who Lost Dinner”, and I have as yet not entirely recovered from that loss.  So there’s that.   Still…

I admit less than complete knowledgeability on this matter, but apparently, the women warriors in the U.S. military pushed for combat duty, because, according to the rules, the lack thereof inhibited their career advancement.

It seems to me, just off the top of my head, that a simpler solution to that problem would be the less physically endangering, “Change the rules.”

Rules can be altered, even longstanding ones.  During my lifetime, the Catholic Church, which has been around for two thousand years and is not famous for its regulational flexibility, has reversed itself on two longstanding requirements – that the services be conducted in Latin, and the eating of fish of Fridays (the latter much to the chagrin of the “International Fishmongers Association”, who to this day, I imagine, harbor the suspicion that the “Beef Lobby” put the “fix” in at the Vatican.  “It’s a cow, Your Holiness.  Consider it a gift.”)

It is not for me to say, of course, but I can wonder why high level administration positions in the military insist on the prerequisite of combat.  Lincoln never served in the military, but, after some early missteps, he ran the Civil War quite skillfully, compared to McClellan who, though he saw action during his rise to the top, still considerably stunk things up.

My late great friend Jerry Taichman never became the doctor he should have become, stymied by inexplicable prerequisite of High School French.  Some prerequisites are insufficiently related to the position you are shooting for.  Sometimes, especially before one throws oneself unnecessarily into harm’s way, they simply need to be revisited. 

Then there’s the issue of individual freedom, a particularly sensitive one for women, as their freedom has been indisputably hampered in the past. 

Some women want to fight.  And they believe that, in an egalitarian society, if you want to do something, you should be allowed to do so. 

This justification is not always applicable, most notably in the military, which rivals the Catholic Church in “The rules are just fine the way they are.”  (Orthodox Jews are up there as well.)

FRIGHTENED SOLDIER:  Sir!  Request immediate reassignment, as the Front Lines are too noisy and people’s body parts are being shot off all around me.  Sir!”

FRIGHTENED SOLIDER’S SUPERIOR:  So you’d like to be moved back.

FRIGHTENED SOLDIER:  Sir!  I was told that the New Military lets you do what you want.


As The Big Chill anthem tells us, “You Can’t Always Get What You Wa-ant.”  And yet, in this case, under the bullet-riddled umbrella of “Equal Rights”…

You can.

The question is, understanding women’s justifiable demands for equality in every arena…

What the heck are you doing?!!

Acknowledging that there are way fewer of them than was once believed, there are still differences between men and women.  I mean, do you want to play football too?

I know a few women who could handle it better than you could, Smart Guy.

I get that, Italics Girl.  But I don’t play football either!

Okay, leave me out of this.  I have a wife and two daughters.  At no time in their lives have they ever expressed an interest in combat, or in the injustice of being prohibited from participating therein.  I know “three” is a tiny sample of women who show no interest in fighting, or in fighting for the right to fight.  But my informal guess is it’s bigger.

I don’t want to make a speech.  I realize that gender stereotyping has been damaging in the past.  And I know that America prides itself on individual liberty above all other cultural values.  But…

“Girl’s don’t kill people.”

Is that really sexist?


JED said...

I say, "If the women want to fight, let them." I don't want to fight and I know a lot of other guys who don't want to fight. They can take our place. Then, if THEY get into a war that we don't like, WE'LL withhold sex until they stop it. Wait a minute... I couldn't do that! And I'll bet the rest of the guys couldn't do that, either.

So, there we are. If we allow the women to fight our wars, we'll never be able to stop them.

canda said...

The problem for women in the military, and men as well, is if you don't get into combat you don't get promoted as quickly.

Let's hope neither men nor women have to see much combat duty in the future, and promotion can be achieved equally in a peacetime army.

Pardis said...

Mr. Pomerantz, is there any way for someone to get a hold of you?




Manti Ectiof said...

And on the same day that this piece was published, a 'girl' performed a work-place shooting in my hometown. Luckily, for the target (so far), it was not a fatal shooting. I believe this equal-opportunity thing has gone at least one caliber too far.