The Other Charlotte’s post about this New York Times story (registration required) about two women soldiers who each lost one of their arms in Iraq argued that sending female military to the front lines in war–a goal of many militant feminists–amounts to government-sanctioned woman-bashing. (See TOC’s Feminist-Approved Violence Against Women, April 11.)
TOC’s post provoked an e-mail from Inkwell reader 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?”
I countered that barring racial discrimination in the military is different from sending women to the front lines; the former is merely a requirement of equal treatment of fighting men, while the latter demands a social innovation that would set aside thousands of years of combat practice. I asked: “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?” (see the Mailbag for April 12).
“It’s true that a scar or two doesn’t impact men the same way they impact women in our culture, but by the time we’re talking about losing limbs I really don’t think it’s any easier for the men who may not be able to play ball with their kids or open doors for pretty ladies. If the injury is bad enough to make him dependant, I’d say that this might even be harder on men than on women.
“It’s better that these men live, but with the good body armor we have there are a huge number of soldiers who survive having their limbs blown off. Is it that much more tragic when a woman, rather than a man, gets disfigured or impared in a car accident? If not, why not? If so, why?
“When I was stationed in the Philippines there were two soldiers on TDY from Korea that got shot outside of a hotel in Angeles City. The Stars and Stripes newspaper printed a picture on the front page of their bodies lying on the sidewalk bleeding out into a puddle. It’s a normal sort of photograph for a newspaper to print and I dare say that the only civilians who’d be angry and upset by a picture like that would be the young men’s families. Yet everyone I worked with was furious. They felt personally betrayed by a newspaper that was supposed to be *our* newspaper because everyone who looked at that picture saw their own body laying on the sidewalk. Every one of us imagined the indignity, losing our bowels, having people gawk at the dead and empty thing left behind….
“[W]hen every death is your own, and every injury, and every disfigurement, and it doesn’t matter that you never even met that guy… it’s not possible for one to be worse than the other because every single one is absolute. The only way to get ‘more’ upset about injury to a female soldier is to strip her of the carefully constructed ethos of honor and sacrifice and leave her alone and exposed and nothing more than a victim.”
I apologize, J.P., if I seemed to denigrate the horror and misery of loss of a limb to a male soldier, and it is right for everyone in the military–not to mention every American–to feel sadness and even anger when one of our own of either sex is grievously wounded. And I commend the bravery and willingness to sacrifice self of every one of our women soldiers. Every woman slain or wounded in combat deserves special honors. Yet the fact remains that the wounding or maiming of a woman stirs a protective response in society–and even among her fellow soldiers–that is not stirred when a man is maimed or wounded. Witness the rescue of Pvt. Jessica Lynch last year. And this relates directly to women’s special role as nurturer of the young.
Reader S.K. comments on my last post on rad-feminist Martha Burk’s failed attempt to turn the Augusta Golf Club’s refusal to admit women members the biggest civil-rights issue since school desegregation during the 1950s. (TOC and I have actually posted many times on this hilarious non-issue; see my last post, Martha Burk’s Iron-Tipped Golf Clubs on April 11.)
“Please let the record show that this is actually the third year in a row that Martha Burk has failed miserably in her battle against the big bad Augusta National, not the second [as I stated]. Let’s give the lady a little credit here.”
You’re right, S.K.; Martha’s crusade began three Augusta Nationals ago, in 2003. Last year, however, apparently licking her wounds from the humiliation of managing to draw only 40 protesters to the National in 2003, she laid low–and by then Howell Raines and the rest of the Burk’s Peerage at the New York Times who had championed her cause with front-page story after front-page story had been felled by the Jayson Blair scandal. This year, Martha seems to be back in full force–or as full a force as she can muster with only a few dozen supporters–and she has threatened to up the ante from protest to civil-rights lawsuit.
Now for an e-mail from “Stacy,” who seems to feel the same way about the IWF as Martha Burk feels about the Augusta Golf Club:
“I find your stance to be an interesting philosophy–unite women by dividing them with insults. I’m curious as to how this philosophy is supposed to work. See, for those of us that actually see the big picture, it’s quite simple: Turn women against each other, and they will never come after the real source of their oppression in our society. It is the reason why the patriarchal elite invented the whole ‘man-hating’ stereotype in the first place.
“If you would actually stop preaching and actually listen to feminists from all over our country, you would see that this notion of man-hating has not the majority basis that this site seems to (or wants to) think it has….Really, if you have a problem with someone’s politics, can you not come up with anything better than “Man hater”? And actually, it’s pretty amusing when you get down to it. You attack feminists because you believe that we are stereotyping men into unfavorable roles, and then hating them for it. Yet, you are promoting the exact same ignorance and stereotypes when talking about feminists….
“In closing, I find your site deceiving. You attempt to lure people in by promoting yourself as a pro-woman site, a revolution, when in reality you are nothing more that a propaganda piece for those that seek to divide and conquer women’s movements. You claim that women should have independent voices, yet see nothing wrong with crucifying fellow feminists whose only ‘crime’ is that they disagree with your views. You take the most extreme examples of radical feminism and attempt to generalize to feminists everywhere in order to demonize them. You go after these women using transparent, yet witty insults to distract the reader from the fact that you actually have nothing solid to say to defend your view against them, or the fact that you are documenting an individual’s actions, rather than a movement….
“[A]s of today, I think I’ll take my donation to NOW….
Well, Stacy, at least you admit that we’re witty. Not too many laughs on the National Organization for women site!