Saturday, August 1, 2015

Combat Ready - Obviously

In my travels across the lawn today with my phone, I happened to push some button that led me to the Facebook comments on this article:


For whatever reason – let’s call it heat-induced temporary insanity – I read them.  I thought I was hot before reading this one, but no.  This one made my blood positively boil:

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Adam Sutherland Sorry but women dont belong in any combat slot. For a multitude of reasons. Not being sexist....just saying. Im all for women in the military, but NOT in combat slots.
#1 women need showers, men do not
#2 periods

#3 emotional instability due to period/birth control.
#4 love triangles or even couples within the ranks would be troublesome.
#5 physically weaker
#6 poor decision making out of menstrual discomfort(cramps).
#7 less of a KILL mentality.
#8 inability to carry a 160+ pound solider with over 80pounds of gear.
#9 do i need to keep going?
#10 allowing someone less qualified to fill a combat slot puts EVERYONE in danger, including the woman.
Like · Reply · 9 · 

Oh, Adam… where to begin? Let’s start by saying that your comments made an impression on me.  Not  good one, but an impression. 

I see from your profile that you work at US Army.  I realize that FB does not allow you to be grammatically correct in this section of useful information, so I’ll let that slide.  I wonder what exactly you do at US Army, and if you are indeed a combat veteran I will grant you one tiny shred of “benefit of the doubt.” However you, unlike some of the other vets who also posted comments (mostly positive), did not offer one single example to corroborate any of the items on your list.  Therefore I feel the need to pick you apart with the intensity of… well, of a woman.

You state that you are “not being sexist.”  Wow, really?  All of your statements except numbers 5 and 10 are overtly sexist, not to mention asinine.  Let’s break this down.

#1 Women need showers, men do not
I like getting dirty and I love my showers.  I love the feeling of being clean after working my land all day, or even for just a few hours.  I love rinsing off the dirt.  I love my shower in the morning to start my workday.  I was married to a MALE iron worker for 13 years who also loved showering when he got home in the evening.  I dated a guy who took two showers every day because he said he never felt clean enough.  Some of the ROTC men I went to college with were quite fastidious about their bathing habits; one young man who went on to be a Navy pilot would only shower immediately after the cleaning staff had been in so he was the first one to use it after it was sanitized.  I have also known women who shower once a week, taking an interim sponge bath if needed.  I can safely assume that all the women you know are the kind who do not like getting dirty.  There is nothing wrong with that!  But Adam you need to understand there are just as many men out there who do not like to get dirty either.  They are not requesting combat duty – heck, they are probably not even enlisting.  I think we can safely assume that a woman who is requesting combat duty is fully aware of the fact that she will get dirty and stay dirty for long periods of time, and that she is just as okay with this as the men. 
So yes, your comment is sexist – grouping all women into the “Eww, that’s icky!” box – and shows that you are not familiar with a wide variety of people, men or women.

#2 Periods
What exactly is your problem with this? You are here on this earth because of a woman who had periods.  Half the human population has a period once a month, and we’ve been doing this for millennia.  Just because the majority of the male population cannot possibly comprehend this phenomenon does not mean there is anything wrong or weird or strange about it.  You might not be able to explain how microwave popcorn “works” and yet you don’t ask questions or post ignorant comments about it. Or maybe you do, I haven’t checked. 
 Ask any woman who has been camping during her period – there are plenty of ways to deal with this.  Ask any woman who is homeless right now in this county.  Ask a female refugee living in a tent how they deal with it.  There are lots of answers because necessity is the MOTHER of invention.  We just figure that sh*! out, and its’ really none of your business.  However… let’s examine some of the statistics from the medical community and think logically about this:


So chances are a woman in a combat situation will be under enough environmental stress that her body will respond appropriately and kindly, and even if it doesn’t, I’m quite sure she’s not going to demand a cease fire to go buy tampons.  She will just deal with it, and I would bet that not one of the men in her platoon would even know. 
Yes, another sexist statement from you: an attempt to link a female attribute to inferiority with no backup. 

#3 emotional instability due to period/birth control
I will be the first to admit that I can absolutely tell when my period is on it’s way – I get cranky with my kids over stuff that usually doesn’t bother me, and I’m clumsy… okay, clumsier than usual.  I absolutely sympathize with women who have PMS and PMDD to a greater extent than me.  I have experienced depression and empathize with that as well.  I had an IUD and hated every minute of it – the cramps were so much worse than I’d ever had before.  It never once affected my ability to be a good mom or to do my job as an educator.   But here’s the deal:  I’M NOT ENLISTING.  I cannot imagine that a woman who experiences monthly difficulties to such a great extent as to have it affect her job is enlisting and requesting combat duty either.  There are a multitude of woman for whom their period is a short monthly inconvenience at its worst, never affects their daily life, and no one around them would ever know whether they were or weren’t menstruating.  Why shouldn’t they be allowed to consider a military career that includes combat?  There are plenty of men I know who work in an office all day and they do a wonderful job at their daily duties, but they also are NOT ENLISTING AND REQUESTING COMBAT, because they know they wouldn’t be good at it.   

And birth control? Well guess what: unless a woman is planning on having sex with a man, it’s NOT NECESSARY.  I have been single and sex-free for a few years now, haven’t needed or wanted birth control, and I’m FINE.   If a woman is not in a sexual relationship with someone who produces sperm, she does not need birth control.  I would venture to guess that sex is not an hourly thought of the women currently in Ranger training.  I know it’s not even a daily thought of mine.  I have so many things I want to do with my life, and making sure that I have sex regularly is not one of them.   There are just as many men I know as women for whom sex is not really that big of a deal.  It’s nice when you are in a relationship, but it’s not a basic need.  Why would you assume that single women are just sitting around waiting for a man? Is that the kind of women you know?  You need to get out more.
So another sexist comment, lumping all women into the category of “hot mess because of that uterus thing,” and phrased like a man who hasn’t been near one in a while.

#4 love triangles or even relationships…
Oh please… again, if all the women you know are simply waiting for a man to come along so they can start breathing again, you need to get out more.  And those women are, I’m sure, faking that on some level because even the most messed up, emotionally traumatized people I know have dreams and hobbies and things they do with their lives.  Just because you put men and women together in stressful situations does not automatically make them fall in love! You need to stop watching so many movies. 
This comment is stereotyping at its worst, dear Adam, and your sad assumption that a woman in a combat situation would be thinking about her vagina is horribly na├»ve. 

#5 physically weaker
Okay, I will give you one fraction of one point in this direction, because I know that generally speaking, women are built differently than men, with less upper body muscle mass, less muscle mass overall, and yes, less physical strength.  However, I can heft a 50 pound bag of dog food for 40 feet without breathing heavy in a normal stress free situation.  I know several men who, by choice, work in a low stress office job all day and struggle under the weight of a toddler.  I also know several women who can bench press you and two of your buddies in a normal stress free situation.  Basic biology can be overcome, the human body is incredibly malleable, and if you want muscles, you can build muscles.
But let’s not overlook the emotional component that battle brings to the table for BOTH men and women.  Women have adrenal glands just like men, and those glands secrete the exact same hormone in both men and women, with similar responses in both genders – fight, flight, or freeze.  The ability of a woman to choose or be trained to choose “fight,” and to fight with an incredible amount of strength in a life or death situation is no different than a man’s.  
While most women choose not to exaggerate their muscles, some do; and the opportunities afforded to those women should be the same as the ones afforded to men.
Women also bring a different kind of strength to a battlefield.  Ask any firefighter, LEO, or ER team about the strengths that women have, and you will be surprised at how strong we can be – emotionally and physically:


 Contests that involve tests of endurance show that women excel here:


Are women capable of performing the same duties as men under the same types of pressure? Yes, absolutely.  The only thing we have to overcome is the crappy attitudes of men like you, Mr. Sutherland.

#6 poor decision making out of menstrual discomfort
Please re-read #3.  Read it again.  Now, please understand, there are women for whom the whole process of puberty, menstruation, and menopause is a lifelong nightmare of hormone imbalances and this is not their fault, and there is nothing wrong with them.  Despite their physical and emotional difficulties they have wonderful lives, marriages, jobs, etc.  THEY ARE NOT THE ONES REQUESTING COMBAT DUTY. 
Having cramps does not make for bad decisions.  Dealing with people like you makes for bad decisions.  Like giving you the power to make me angry enough to write this response when I should be playing house with my child. 
So yes, sexist and ignorant.  Please get out of your small life and meet some more interesting people.

#7 Less of a KILL mentality
Could I personally stab, shoot, or strangle another human being? Probably not.  I can barely get the straw in the Capri Sun container, have never handled a gun, and have arthritis in my thumbs.  I AM NOT ENLISTING OR REQUESTING COMBAT DUTY.   But if you ever threaten my children or my home I can promise you I will be capable of a great deal of violence, despite my lack of training and physical ailments.  I will do anything I have to in order to keep my children safe and my home secure.  Adrenaline does interesting things.  
I value being an American and I have an incredible amount of respect and gratitude for our soldiers.  I pray for them and support them, but I’m not signing up to be one of them because that’s not for me.  Not because I’m a woman, but because I know myself.  Millions of other human beings sign up or do not sign up for exactly the same reasons.  They know what they – male or female – are capable of.  Let them do what they are capable of, and let the rest of us be eternally grateful. 

#8 inability to carry blah blah blah
This goes back to your argument about physical strength and is moot.  Please get out more.

#9 do I need to keep going?
Yes, if you would like to be removed from the gene pool.  However I hope that your argument here has been enough to discourage any woman from choosing you as a mate anyway.  Please refrain from speaking with anyone younger than yourself in the future.

#10 allowing someone less qualified to fill a combat slot puts everyone in danger, including the woman.
If you truly believe this, you will support gender-neutral qualifications and allow in whoever can pass the tests.  There are just as many men out in the field right at this moment who are not “qualified” to be there as there are qualified women waiting to take that role.  If a woman can beat a man in drills, load her weapon faster, shoot better, and pass the physical strength requirements, she should be out there on the field; she should not be placed in an office or medical unit JUST because she doesn’t have testicles.