Women will now be permitted to serve in combat roles in the military. I think this is a good thing even though, in an ideal world, the very concept of a military should be unnecessary. Solving problems by shooting at people and blowing them up is stupid.
But I’d like focus here on two objections to women in combat raised by Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, in interviews with CNN.
First, she claims that women don’t want to serve in combat roles. This is a terrible argument. If women really don’t want to take part in combat – if not a single woman is interested – then what possible harm could opening up combat roles to women have? We don’t currently have a draught in the United States, so it’s not as if the military is forcing women to conscript.
Donnelly’s second argument is that putting women in combat battalions puts them at greater risk of sexual harassment. Again, a terrible argument. What she is implying is that men, instead of being held accountable for their behavior around women, should be allowed to simply put women out of sight and out of mind.
What Donnelly is arguing for is therefore no different to the sort of misogynistic exclusion of women seen in Arab countries like Saudi Arabia where men, unsure of whether they can function in the presence of women, choose instead to bundle women up and shut them behind closed doors.
The solution to sexual harassment issues is to teach men how to behave properly, not to keep the sexes separate.
So I think Donnelly, and others objecting to women in combat roles, need to come up with better arguments. In the meantime, I welcome the new ruling, as do many women who will soon be making a trip to the recruitment office.