Peeing and periods — straight talk about women in the front line

Leon Panetta has given the go-ahead to a plan to allow women into combat situations:

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta is lifting the military’s official ban on women in combat, which will open up hundreds of thousands of additional front-line jobs to them, senior defense officials said Wednesday.

[snip]

The decision clearly fits into the broad and ambitious liberal agenda, especially around matters of equal opportunity, that President Obama laid out this week in his Inaugural Address. But while it had to have been approved by him, and does not require action by Congress, it appeared Wednesday that it was in large part driven by the military itself. Some midlevel White House staff members were caught by surprise by the decision, indicating that it had not gone through an extensive review there.

This is an appallingly bad idea.

Boudicca

I know that, at least since Boudicca, women have fought in battle.  World War II resistance units relied heavily on women to provide both support and actual fighting skills.  Invariably, though, these women were in the front lines, not because they went to the front lines, but because the front lines came to them.  Necessity forced battle upon them.

If there is no necessity, why in the world would a government decide to put women on the front lines?  Much as Leftists like to try to shape science to their political goals, one simply cannot get away from the fact that women have a different biology than men do.  Aside from being, on average, smaller and weaker, something that I don’t think should stop bigger, stronger women from participating equally with men, they have two other things that men don’t have:  they can’t whip it out to pee and they menstruate.

Ryan Smith, a former Marine, wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal that, while never actually alluding to these biological realities, strongly implies that they will be a problem.  His vivid description of the Marines’ experiences when they entered Iraq in 2003 certainly manages to indicate that, as every toddler quickly figures out, boys and girls are different:

Marines dismounting from an amphibious assault vehicle

We rode into war crammed in the back of amphibious assault vehicles. They are designed to hold roughly 15 Marines snugly; due to maintenance issues, by the end of the invasion we had as many as 25 men stuffed into the back. Marines were forced to sit, in full gear, on each other’s laps and in contorted positions for hours on end. That was the least of our problems.

The invasion was a blitzkrieg. The goal was to move as fast to Baghdad as possible. The column would not stop for a lance corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, or even a company commander to go to the restroom. Sometimes we spent over 48 hours on the move without exiting the vehicles. We were forced to urinate in empty water bottles inches from our comrades.

Many Marines developed dysentery from the complete lack of sanitary conditions. When an uncontrollable urge hit a Marine, he would be forced to stand, as best he could, hold an MRE bag up to his rear, and defecate inches from his seated comrade’s face.

During the invasion, we wore chemical protective suits because of the fear of chemical or biological weapon attack. These are equivalent to a ski jumpsuit and hold in the heat. We also had to wear black rubber boots over our desert boots. On the occasions the column did stop, we would quickly peel off our rubber boots, desert boots and socks to let our feet air out.

Due to the heat and sweat, layers of our skin would peel off our feet. However, we rarely had time to remove our suits or perform even the most basic hygiene. We quickly developed sores on our bodies.

When we did reach Baghdad, we were in shambles. We had not showered in well over a month and our chemical protective suits were covered in a mixture of filth and dried blood. We were told to strip and place our suits in pits to be burned immediately. My unit stood there in a walled-in compound in Baghdad, naked, sores dotted all over our bodies, feet peeling, watching our suits burn. Later, they lined us up naked and washed us off with pressure washers.

[snip]

Societal norms are a reality, and their maintenance is important to most members of a society. It is humiliating enough to relieve yourself in front of your male comrades; one can only imagine the humiliation of being forced to relieve yourself in front of the opposite sex.

That sounds like a vile experience, entirely separate from the risk the Marines were taking just going into battle.  If any Marines are reading this post, thank you so very much for putting up with, not just bullets, but acute physical discomfort, dysentery, and decomposing skin in order to keep America safe.

Tampon

Having had a chance to absorb Smith’s vivid description of front line conditions in Iraq, what you need to do now is to factor into that picture an image of women having to strip down to pee (which they have to do even if they buy a cool little gadget that enables them to pee standing up) or of women dealing with a heavy menstrual flow, which might require their attention every two to three hours if they are to avoid bleeding through their clothes.

There’s something else Smith didn’t touch upon in his article, but that needs to be addressed:  rape.  In any war, when an invading force arrives, the local women risk rape.  The Soviet troops who beat the Germans back to Berlin were famous for the savage rapes they inflicted on the German women.  Sadly, this was nothing new.  Throughout history, invading armies have considered rape one of the legitimate spoils of war.  It’s only civilized Judeo-Christian countries that have insisted that rape is not part of a mission or the reward for a mission successfully accomplished, and that have enforced this ban by prosecuting those troops who nevertheless assault local women.

Swedish gang rape victim

In the 21st century existential war that America is fighting, her enemy — fundamentalist Islam — aggressively supports raping any women who do not subscribe to fundamentalist norms (hijabs, burqas, locked rooms, etc.).  In countries such as Sweden and Australia, rape statistics have climbed rapidly, as Muslim immigrants openly boast about and call for the rape of western women.

One doesn’t need any imagination whatever to imagine what will happen to women combat soldiers whom Islamists snatch from front line battle locations.  They will, quite literally, be raped to death.  Aside from being horrible for the women to whom this occurs, it will be devastating for the male troops who fought at their sides and were nevertheless unable to protect them.  Men go into battle accepting that they might die.  It’s doubtful that they go in accepting that the warrior in front of them will be killed by rape, and that this violent murder will probably end up circulating through the Islamist world on a video.

The decision to allow women onto the front lines is not because of military necessity.  It is a purely ideological decision, resulting from liberalism run amok and, more specifically, from the Leftist desire to erase gender demarcations.

Nor do I care that the Obama administration claims that the military came up with this one, “surprising” the administration.  The Pentagon’s top echelons are purely political.  Their decisions are driven, not by the troops, but by the White House, which determines the highest staffing levels in the Pentagon.  (In the same way, when I refer scathingly to the State Department or the CIA, I’m not talking about the people on the ground doing their jobs.  I’m talking about those organizations’ chief executives, all of whom see politics as their most important mission.)

Let me say again:  this is a terrible idea, because it sees ideology trump biology.  Nature is a harsh taskmistress, and many women and men are going to suffer as this ideological experiment goes forward.

My mother’s war, courtesy of Pearl Harbor

My mother’s heading to the hospital again today.  She’s not aging gracefully, in large part because of the damage done to her body and soul during WWII.  I thought that this would be a good day for me to reprint what I once wrote about her war (originally part of this longer post about Japanese atrocities).

In 1941, my mother was a 17 year old Dutch girl living in Java. Life was good then. Although the war was raging in Europe, and Holland had long been under Nazi occupation, the colonies were still outside the theater of war. The colonial Dutch therefore were able to enjoy the traditional perks of the Empire, with lovely homes, tended by cheap Indonesian labor. All that changed with the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Most Americans think of Pearl Harbor as a uniquely American event, not realizing that it was simply the opening salvo the Japanese fired in their generalized war to gain total ascendancy in the Pacific. While Pearl Harbor devastated the American navy, the Japanese did not conquer American soil. Residents in the Philippines (American territory), Indonesia (Dutch territory), Malaya (British territory), and Singapore (also British) were not so lucky. Each of those islands fell completely to the Japanese, and the civilians on those islands found themselves prisoners of war.

In the beginning, things didn’t look so bad. The Japanese immediately set about concentrating the civilian population by moving people into group housing, but that was tolerable. The next step, however, was to remove all the men, and any boys who weren’t actually small children. (Wait, I misspoke. The next step was the slaughter of household pets — dogs and cats — which was accomplished by picking them up by their hind legs and smashing their heads against walls and trees.)

After this separation, the men and women remained completely segregated for the remainder of the war. The men were subjected to brutal slave labor, and had an attrition rate much higher than the women did. Also, with the typical Bushido disrespect for men who didn’t have the decency to kill themselves, rather than to surrender, the men were tortured at a rather consistent rate.

One of my mother’s friends discovered, at war’s end, that her husband had been decapitated. This is what it looked like when the Japanese decapitated a prisoner (the prisoner in this case being an Australian airman):

Japanese execution0001

The women were not decapitated, but they were subjected to terrible tortures. After the men were taken away, the women and children were loaded in trucks and taken to various camps. The truck rides were torturous. The women and children were packed into the trucks, with no food, no water, no toilet, facilities, and no shade, and traveled for hours in the steamy equatorial heat.

Once in camp, the women were given small shelves to sleep on (about 24 inches across), row after row, like sardines. They were periodically subjected to group punishments. The one that lives in my mother’s memory more than sixty years after the fact was the requirement that they stand in the camp compound, in the sun, for 24 hours. No food, no water, no shade, no sitting down, no restroom breaks (and many of the women were liquid with dysentery and other intestinal diseases and parasitical problems). For 24 hours, they’d just stand there, in the humid, 90+ degree temperature, under the blazing tropical sun. The older women, the children and the sick died where they stood.

There were other indignities. One of the camp commandants believed himself to have “moon madness.” Whenever there was a full moon, he gave himself license to seek out the prisoners and torture those who took his fancy. He liked to use knives. He was the only Japanese camp commandant in Java who was executed after the war for war crimes.

Of course, the main problem with camp was the deprivation and disease. Rations that started out slender were practically nonexistent by war’s end. Eventually, the women in the camp were competing with the pigs for food. If the women couldn’t supplement their rations with pig slop, all they got was a thin fish broth with a single bite sized piece of meat and some rice floating in it. The women were also given the equivalent of a spoonful of sugar per week. My mother always tried to ration hers but couldn’t do it. Instead, she’d gobble it instantly, and live with the guilt of her lack of self-control.

By war’s end, my mother, who was then 5’2″, weighed 65 pounds. What frightened her at the beginning of August 1945 wasn’t the hunger, but the fact that she no longer felt hungry. She knew that when a women stopped wanting to eat, she had started to die. Had the atomic bomb not dropped when it did, my mother would have starved to death.

Starvation wasn’t the only problem. Due to malnourishment and lack of proper protection, my mother had beriberi, two different types of malaria (so as one fever ebbed, the other flowed), tuberculosis, and dysentery. At the beginning of the internment, the Japanese were providing some primitive medical care for some of these ailments. As the war ground on, of course, there was no medicine for any of these maladies. She survived because she was young and strong. Others didn’t.

So yes, the Japanese were different. They approached war — and especially civilian populations — with a brutality equaled only by the Germans. War is brutal, and individual soldiers can do terrible things, but the fact remains that American troops and the American government, even when they made mistakes (and the Japanese internment in American was one of those mistakes) never engaged in the kind of systematic torture and murder that characterized Bushido Japanese interactions with those they deemed their enemies. It is a tribute to America’s humane post-WWII influence and the Japanese willingness to abandon its past that the Bushido culture is dead and gone, and that the Japanese no longer feel compelled by culture to create enemies and then to engage in the systematic torture and murder of those enemies.