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Phil-osophically Speaking

Co-ed Battlefield

As Rome and Athens demonstrated two millennia ago, every military, no matter how strong its eternal code, eventually mirrors its society. So women in combat units, in the trenches and on the battlefields should not be all that surprising, which is not to say that it’s a good idea.

In fact, it’s a terrible idea, one that will adversely affect the efficiency, readiness and performance of our armed forces. Most women do not possess the physical strength of the average man; nature, not the male species, has designed it that way. Thresholds that determine combat readiness will not be compromised the military assures us, as if such an unprejudiced expostulation of fairness and human equality would be enough to console the doubters. Well, count me out.

Feminism’s insatiable appetite for equality marches blindly ahead, acceding to it, however, it is ontologically mutinous —- a denial, in effect, that there are two sexes with very different attributes. We want a hard and ready military, a fighting force second to none able to meet the most taxing and trying of tasks: defending the country at home and our interests abroad. 

I’m writing this on the evening of the Super Bowl, and I note that of the 22 players on the gridiron not one is female. If either the Ravens or the 49ers substituted one female on the field, that team would be at a marked disadvantage. Male and female athletes compete separately at the Olympics in order to assure fairness. War is far more important and consequential than playing games and one would either have to be either inconscient or so indoctrinated with the pabulum of Feminist ideology to believe that sexually integrated combat units would not have a severely diminished capability.   

Proponents are forced to reach for historical anomalies. During WWII, 800,000 Soviet women served on the battlefield in an effort to thwart the German invasion. But that was an utterly extraordinary situation; an exigency where the very life of the nation was at stake. With a population of approximately 170 million, the Soviet Union lost 27 million lives, not counting the many millions that were wounded. To fall under Nazi subjection was unthinkable and every measure, including the use of women combat troops, was employed. During the dark days of 1940, when many countries in Europe, including France, had been crushed under the iron heel of the German blitzkrieg and an invasion of England seemed imminent, an astonishing vision appeared on the grounds of Buckingham Palace: Queen Mother Elizabeth, calmly firing her pistol in preparation for Adolph Hitler’s marauding armies.

Putting our young men in the line of fire is difficult enough to stomach, but marching young women to the front lines is unconsciable. There is something profane about it, a desecration of decency and an impiety against the natural order of things. It’s more than the violence of the battlefield; the mingling of sexes will be a mortal blow to the camaraderie so essential to cohesion and fighting effectiveness. Fraternization of the sexes is bound to ferment jealousies among young men during the very height of their sexuality, triggering protective instincts that will violently eradicate an esprit de corps that is the very glue of the military.

Even the more benign delicacies of hygiene and privacy are problematic, if not insurmountable, when sexes mix. These circumstances create enough tension and problems in the civilian workplace, but on the field of battle where one is surrounded by specters of fear and death the need for physical comfort and intimacy is greatly accentuated. Even the most civilized war can excite the darkest instincts; charges of sexual abuse will proliferate —- count on it.

I suppose in an era where the accent of knight-errantry is so muted, if at all alive, that it is profitless to talk about gallantry when sexual equivalence and populist egalitarianism rules the day. But where is that animating instinct in males to shield females from acts of violence. I cannot but help think of Edmund Burke in the early dawn of the French Revolution lamenting over the quartering and guillotining of Marie Antoinette who had been an idol of worship of her people.

“I thought” wrote Burke who had once seen her, “that ten thousand swords must have leapt from their scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult. But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophists, economists and calculators has succeeded and the glory of courage is gone forever. The unbought grace of life is gone. It is gone that sensibility of principle which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which vice itself lost half its evil, by losing all its grossness.”

What can one say to a cultural evolution where the duties imposed upon men no longer differ from the duties imposed upon women? Chivalry is indeed gone and not a single panegyric to mourn its passing. There had been a time when thoughts of the gentle sex roused civilization to the sense of the beautiful, precious vessels of regeneration and emblematic of the bucolic flowering of motherhood. If we don’t have reverence for such things anymore, is there any other taboo that can bind us; and when nothing can bind us any longer honor will become but another casualty to the latest convention and that which serves to ennoble will cease, leaving in its wake only the grossness of life. 

By all means let women serve in the military, let them grace the corporate boardrooms; compete on the athletic playing fields, run for elected office and cross swords with the world throughout the vast and multifarious tapestry of life. But for god-sake, in the interest of society and sanity, let’s keep them off the frontlines of the battlefield.