Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Should Women Be Allowed to Fight in Combat?

I saw an interesting article on this topic last week. Whether women should fight in combat is an issue that Australia is currently debating.

I fail to see the problem. There are usually a few objections raised. First, women are usually not as strong as men, so doing combat would presumably be more difficult. Second, men could develop romantic attachments to female soldiers which inhibit a unit’s effectiveness. Third, women who are captured could be raped.

It’s true that women are usually not as strong as men. So the army need not have a 50-50 gender split. But there are strong women who want to fight. If they can lift an artillery shell, carry and shoot a rifle while carrying 100 pounds on their backs, I say let them fight.

And sure men and women could develop romantic attachments occasionally. But there could be regulations against having a romantic relationship with someone in the same unit. Also, it seems that strong friendships could cloud a soldier’s judgment as much as a romance. Romance will occasionally happen, but how much will it really hinder a unit?

Lastly, I’m not sure the potential for rape is enough to ban women from combat roles. All sorts of horrible things can happen to a man in captivity. He can be tortured or killed. Is that better or worse than being raped? Moreover it seems paternalistic if not a little sexist to say a woman shouldn’t even be able to have the option of taking on this risk when we let men take on equivalent risks.

1 comment:

  1. Also a consideration: men can be raped, too. Someone may correct me if I'm wrong, but in some middle eastern countries (like Iran), in situations such as gang violence, it's common for a gang to capture a man and then rape him as a dehumanizing and emasculating act. When people capture others and have a mind sick enough, bad things can happen to either gender.

    So I agree, anyone who wants to fight and die for our country, man, woman, straight, gay, should be allowed to.