Margaret Wente, in her old-age fashion of being a douchebag, has written an article denouncing the United States decision to lift the combat ban on women, allowing female soldiers to fight on the front lines of a battle. Her main argument is that anatomically, women are not the same as men. We don’t pee standing up, we have less muscle mass, we “tend to get pregnant”. Really, the article is full of an innumerable amount of stupidities and gender stereotypes, and it’s hard to narrow it down to one overarching piss off.
One issue that underlies all of her bullshit assumption is that, much with every other aspect of North American misogyny, women are to blame. For Wente, there’s no way around a woman’s simple biological “incapability” to be as effective in combat as a man. When she does quote the experience of a Marine Captain who changed her mind about wanting to fight in the infantry, she finds it necessary to tell us that the Captain stopped producing estrogen. Because that is the important thing here, the hormones that society uses as gender determiners. As well, she quotes one soldier (from one article by another writer with the same viewpoint Wente herself has) who claims that women are a liability on the battlefield, because men want to be protective of them. “That brother-sister protective thought was always in the back of your mind.” Basically, because men have been hard-wired by a patriarchal society to look after women – who probably wouldn’t work as infantry soldiers if they felt they could not take care of themselves – women are at fault for reduced productivity on the battlefield.
She also quotes pregnancy statistics as defence for why women are a liability in battle. The issue, Wente finds, is that “more so” than men, women sign up for the military for free education and career training, and then when they’ve had that, they get pregnant to leave the military. I am not sure where she is gathering these statistics, but providing she’s correct in her research, and many women in the military are getting pregnant, she’s applying surface blame to the woman herself, and not an entire American culture that is quite Christian and condemns the use of contraceptives.
What Wente is doing in citing women’s biological tendencies as the reason why women cannot fight in the front line infantry is the same thing done whenever a rape victim is blamed because they were drunk, or their skirt was too short. It’s a social cop-out. Rather than think critically about why the stigmas against women in the military exist, it’s a continued perpetuation of the stigmas themselves, and by citing women as the issue here, Wente is validating these stigmas. Wente refers to the low number of female infantry soldiers in the Canadian military as evidence that women do not want to be, and therefore should not be permitted on the front lines of battle. What she fails to address is that the low numbers may have less to do with the women themselves, than it does with attitudes like hers, which stigmatize, victimize, and trivialize the roles women have to contribute in the military alongside their fellow person.
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