An item (here) in which I referred to the practice of putting women in front-line positions in Iraq as “feminist-sanctioned violence against women” drew some angry responses. 


I?ve been meaning to add a few words on the subject for several days. A news story in yesterday’s Washington Times (more on that in a minute) convinces me that today’s the day.


My original item dealt with two courageous women, both of whom were athletes before joining the military and both of whom lost an arm to rocket-propelled grenades in Iraq. Here is the conclusion (mine) that that offended several Inky readers:
 
“Feminists have made getting women close to the front a big issue. They may say that men risk life and limb in war and so it is right for women to do the same. I disagree. When we ask Danielle Green and Dawn Halfaker to fight like men, civility, not to mention chivalry, is dead. A society that expects women to go out face a vicious enemy has lost something vital: the idea that men are supposed to protect women. What these two heroic women endured is state-sanctioned violence against women.”


Not everybody agreed: “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,” wrote one reader. This is absurd. It was aimed at these women because they were in combat, where women, under normal circumstances, don’t belong. There are two reasons for not putting women there: one is the effect on the military and the other is the effect on the women. The women must become brutal, and the military becomes less prepared. Nobody but feminist ideologues, who wouldn’t be enlisting anyway, wins.


Columnist Kathleen Parker writes:


“Here’s the problem, as explained to me by Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness: When boys and girls join the Army, they must be transformed from what they are into soldiers, a process that requires concentration and focus. Recall the purpose of a soldier is to kill people and break things.


“Not that most of us need reminding, but boys and girls tend to be distractions for one another. The Marines understand this, which is why they separate males and females during basic training. And the Army knows it, as evidenced by its own research, but chooses to ignore the facts in deference, apparently, to feminist goals.


“As long as men and women are seen as interchangeable, then feminist theory survives — even if some of our ’soldiers’ don’t. Never mind that coed training was found to be ’not efficient’ according to a 2002 ’Gender Integrated Training’ report presented to the secretary of the Army. The briefing also reported that coed training negatively affected ’rigor’ and ’standards’ (translation: women couldn’t keep up with men), and that women suffered a disproportionate number of injuries, especially stress fractures to the shins and feet.”


Parker’s column was inspired by a chance encounter with some giddy female ‘soldiers’ who’d just left the military. They had joined in order to get an education or to escape opportunity-poor small towns. They’re lucky they didn’t end up as martyrs to a feminist ideology they may not even share. 


This brings us to the recent development:  It appears from a Washington Times story headlined “Combat Role for Women Confused” that the Army is changing policy and putting women closer to combat, without changing the official policies that, at least on paper, still bar this:


“The Army chief of staff has raised the stakes in the debate over women in combat with an assertion that women are only barred from serving in support units when such units are actually in combat.


“This appears to contradict Army and Defense Department policy that specifies that women are not to be assigned to any support unit that is ’embedded’ with infantry likely to engage the enemy.”


The Army chief of staff is General Peter J. Schoomaker, who made the remarks at the American Enterprise Institute.


The Army has not acknowledged altering its policy on women in combat. If it did, it would be required to seek congressional permission to change a directive that forbid this. But the story indicates that the Army is assigning women to work with units that work directly with the front-line units–in effect, if this is correct, women are put in the line of fire.
 
So what we appear to have isn’t just feminist-sanctioned violence against women–it’s feminist-sanctioned stealth violence against women.