Yesterday The Other Charlotte ragged on this New York Times story (registration required) about two brave women soldiers who lost their arms in Iraq and so would no longer be playing the basketball at which both had excelled in college. TOC pointed out that such heartrending incidents are the price that militant feminists force American society to pay by insisting that military women be sent to combat zones. (See TOC’s Feminist-Approved Violence Against Women, April 11.)

Two of our readers object to Charlotte’s conclusion that these incidents amount to “state-sanctioned violence against women,” as she called it.

Reader T.P. e-mails:

“There’s one big gaping hole in your argument: They volunteered for the service. They knew the risks, and they still signed up to go to war. To blame their choice on feminists (who do need a lot of blame) and the government shows that you feel that women can’t make decisions for themselves. You imply that these two soldiers are too stupid to know the risks because they’re female. Pretty sad and bigoted commentary from a group that says they fight for women.”

And here is an e-mail from J.P.:

“I would think that for something to count as ‘violence against women’ that it would have to be aimed at women because they are women. Otherwise it would just be violence against people, wouldn’t it? I suppose that minority soldiers who get shot are victims of racial violence? One does logically follow the other, you know.

“Opposing feminists is all fine and good. I prefer to oppose those who see pacifism as essentially feminist while war is essentially masculinist…along with all other violence and crime and bad stuff in the world. No, women are not just like men. Yes, they have physical limitations that preclude some military jobs. Bleeding isn’t one of those. Nor is taking the fight to the enemy something women can’t do.”

J.P., your point about the silliness of the Barbara Ehrenreich-style feminists who insist that women are too gentle to do bad things (see this Doonesbury strip for an example)–or to fight when they have to–is an excellent one. And I don’t question the courage, patriotism, and patience under adversity of either of the two women soldiers featured in the Times article.

But I have this question for both you and T.P.: Why is it a sad story when two women lose their arms in combat but merely unfortunate that many male soldiers have lost limbs as well? Isn’t there an extra dose of horror when a female body is violated–or even bruised or superficially wounded, for that matter? I’m sure that both of these women soldiers hope to become mothers someday–and now, their bodies mutilated, that task is going to be all the harder (not to mention the added difficulty of finding husbands willing to love and live with armless wives). When a man loses a limb, our hearts go out to him and we want to do everything we can to help him function despite the loss. When a woman loses a limb, we feel immeasurable sorrow.

Yes these women courageously volunteered to pay the price they had to pay–but what a price! And yes, we proudly send men of all races to the front lines to die for their country if needs be. That’s nondiscrimination, a good thing. But to send women to the front lines to be wounded or die is an almost unprecedented step in human history. It’s a deliberate step, too, taken for purely ideological reasons. That’s why it’s certainly fair to call it state-sanctioned violence against women.