I rub elbows with neighborhood hipsters, so I often encounter young women wearing combat boots. I don’t understand how footwear designed for rugged, muddy terrain became fashionable with the Urban Outfitters crowd. Then again, I never understood the popularity of army surplus attire with college kids during the Vietnam War.
I’m sure that a young woman donning combat boots isn’t indicating a yearning to be under fire in distant lands any more than a young woman wearing cowboy boots is a likely candidate for barrel racing. Still, given the possibility of female conscription, wearing combat boots could serve the same purpose as training wheels.
On the surface, the government sending women into combat abroad while ranting against violence towards women at home is more than a tad ironic. Granted, the opportunity to kill men in combat might appeal to a certain segment of feminists. But how would a distant soldier react when confronted with her opposite number on the battlefield? Would they engage in hand-to-hand combat or cast aside their weapons and unite against the patriarchy?
If female conscription becomes a fact, whatever year it is instituted, I don’t think we’ll ever see the President, the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or any of the other high sheriffs advocating that all combat troops be 50% female. Imagine a future President justifying such a policy by channeling Justin Trudeau and saying, “Because it’s 2016…2017…2018….”
Actually, that analogy isn’t entirely apt. Remember, Trudeau’s kudos were a result of his avowal of gender equity at the highest levels of his administration. The American military equivalent would be promoting gender equity for officers but not for grunts. But just for kicks, let’s explore the possibility that gender equity will be the wave of the future for combat troops.
The best argument against women in combat is the sociobiological one. Killing off young women at the peak of fertility could be interpreted as a cultural death wish, based on the fact that woman is the repository of those rare and precious eggs and man is a spermapalooza, plus the fact that gestation lasts nine months and ejaculation a matter of seconds. It’s like the difference between War and Peace and a sound bite.
Then again, women in combat could be the culmination of a social death wish that began with female emancipation. Given the shrunken birth rates of today, however, one could say that if fertile women are not reproducing, they might as well be sent to the front where they’ll be more useful.
The other biological objection to women in combat is sexual attraction. How preposterous to assume that just because men and women are comrades in arms that they are destined to become…comrades in arms! After all, men and women have been working together in offices, fields, and factories for years, and sexual sparks never fly in those venues, right? Right? Anyone? Anyone?
According to popular belief, women find a man in uniform attractive. And remember those tests that show how women are aroused by the smell of male sweat? Understandably, a heterosexual woman might find the military a happy hunting ground. (Feel free to write your own joke here vis-à-vis foxholes…or you can make some sort of play on words regarding hors de combat and whores de combat.)
On the other hand, women in uniform are far removed from women in lingerie. Whenever I see a female cop (“Dickless Tracy” is a phrase coined in 1963, according to the Urban Dictionary) or soldier, sexual arousal is the farthest thing from my mind. On the other hand, I would probably salute a uniformed top-of-the-line sexpot sexbot (the Jayne Mansfield 36D model, please) sitting on my lap. Come to think of it, Jayne Mansfield would have been a natural for combat, as she was always toting the big guns!
As you may have guessed by my reference to Jayne Mansfield (decapitated in a 1967 car wreck just weeks after I finished high school), my testosterone levels peaked 50 years ago, but I concede that a horny man in his late teens or early 20s could be sexually attracted to a woman in uniform. After all, those are the years when a man’s ability to mentally address women is at its strongest.
Back when uniformed female police officers first became fashionable, a veteran cop opined: “Put a man and a woman in a squad care and all they want to do is fuck; put two women in a squad car, and all they want to do is fight.”
Well, I’ve already discussed the first half of that quote, but what about the second? Can women direct their aggressions towards an enemy instead of towards each other? There are numerous examples of the collective viciousness of feminism in the face of opposition, real or imagined. But if one of their number even hints about escaping from the feminist stalag they are more than willing to sacrifice the renegade to maintain solidarity.
Well, if the women don’t get along, it’ll be up to the men to break up any cat fights. That brings up another objection to women in combat: Men’s chivalric impulses will swell up if they see a woman in trouble, they’ll get sidetracked, and the mission will be jeopardized. That may be true at first, but over time, that sort of behavior may be extinguished.
Initially, the sight of female corpses strewn across a battlefield might be horrifying. But people will get used to it. As Cole Porter put it:
In olden days a glimpse of stockings
Was looked on as something shocking
Now heaven knows
Well, if we can get used to the sight of live female legs, we can surely get used to the sight of dead female bodies.
I’ve never forgotten a conversation I had with a World War II combat veteran, the father of a friend of mine. The conversation occurred around 25 years ago, yet I never forgot what he said.
According to him, combat grief evolved according to how much you saw:
Stage 1: Oh, no! Joe was my best buddy! We went through basic training together! A minute ago he was standing next to me and now he’s a puddle of goo! Oh, God!
Stage 2: Poor Joe. He was a good guy. Too bad.
Stage 3: Whew! Glad it wasn’t me.
I suspect the same would hold true for dead G.I. Janes as well as dead G.I. Joes. After all, first responders see dead women all the time, and they get used to it.
Same goes for disabled women. We’ve all seen men with prosthetic limbs, so we can probably get used to the sight of women with same. In fact, those artificial gams might be even more shapely than the ones they were born with. Yes, with careful camouflage, such women can still inspire cat-calling. That downward dog asana might be a little more challenging, however.
Sad to say, but there are worse fates than losing one’s bodily integrity. A piece of shrapnel in a woman’s brain won’t necessitate amputations, but it could be a one-way ticket to Helen Kellerville.
Arguably, the worst-case scenario is the male protagonist of Johnny Got His Gun, a 1938 novel (filmed in 1971) by Dalton Trumbo. The first-person narrator is Johnny, a faceless (literally and figuratively) post-combat quadruple amputee who has lost everything but his consciousness. Sounds like a fate worse than death to me.
Also unenviable is the male soldier whose private parts are damaged so he will never again experience intercourse or fatherhood, or even the simple pleasure of waking up with a boner. The literary prototype for that situation was Jake Barnes in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, published in 1926. A man with the inability to pass on his genes (i.e., to regenerate) was the perfect symbol for the Lost Generation.
Now, what about a young woman who gets a battlefield clitorectomy? Well, if her vagina remains intact, I guess she’ll be in a position to test those theories about the vaginal orgasm. (Required reading: “The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm” by Anne Koedt.)
Ah, but what about the ultimate female disability: a blast to the crotch that leaves her with a useless uterus? At first, this might seem like a tragedy, but in another sense, it gives a young woman a head start. She won’t have to wait till she hits the wall to mourn her childlessness.
Of course, in the future, once they work out the kinks in that artificial womb technology, maybe they can implant one in a sterile woman so she can still experience pregnancy. Given enough women in combat, one-day prosthetic wombs may be as common as prosthetic limbs!
While there may be some inevitable differences in combat-related mutilation, perfect equality is assured in other outcomes. After all, a female body can stop a bullet just as well as a male body. If that’s not equality, I don’t know what is. Instead of complaining about being under the thumb of dead white males, women can join them in military cemeteries – burials provided absolutely free of cost by the nanny state. After all cradle-to-grave security is the ideal, right?
When women are the property of the state (remember, G.I. stands for Government Issue), they too can partake of the erstwhile all-male privilege of putting their lives in harm’s way. In this man’s/woman’s army, your life is not your own.So here’s a suggested mantra for all future soldierettes:
So here’s a suggested mantra for all future soldierettes:
Not my body,
Not my choice.
Great choice for a tattoo, eh?