Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is ending his term on a controversial note by officially ending the ban on women in combat. In the meantime, the left and the right are either extoling or condemning this decision, largely based its cultural implications rather than its utilitarian benefits.
Those on the left like Amanda Marcotte laud Panetta’s lift of this ban because it shows the truth that just because an activity – war – is traditionally masculine, this doesn’t mean some women don’t want to enthusiastically participate, or that certain men have actually never liked fighting.
Sure, and some little girls may enjoy playing with toy cars and some little boys may prefer dolls; some women are jocks, and some men practice meticulous grooming. (Nevermind that there is such thing as Violence against Women -not men- Act, or that men commit the vast majority of violent crimes).
Life is full of exceptions to the rule, and America prides itself on striving to accept the many masculine and feminine differences among our diverse population. The point is, there are differences, and while Americans absolutely support their male and female troops, certain differences may signify more or less aptitude for particular jobs, or simply more or less success for the military as an institution. General differences (not outstanding similarities) between men and women will no doubt affect the decisions of service leaders, who will spend the next three years discerning whether some military positions may still not be appropriate for women. Panetta’s decision is under review for good reason.
Of course these service leaders should consider the basic factor of physical strength; of course they should consider the effect of female presence on cohesiveness and morale; and of course they should consider the high rate of sexual assault on female service members, especially in war zones.