Women in combat isn’t bad only because of physical stamina and unit cohesion issues. The Three Ps (peeing, periods, and pregnancy) also militate against it.
Heather MacDonald, undoubtedly one of the most brilliant conservative writers and thinkers around, has written about the military’s decision, based upon Obama administration dictates, to water down physical standards to allow women to serve in combat units. The article is behind a pay wall at the Wall Street Journal, but you might be able to access it through Outline.*
MacDonald begins by reminding readers that the Marine Corps did a lengthy study in 2015 that eventually revealed what any sentient being already knows: women do not have the same abilities as men and, most specifically, they lack those physical abilities that serve best in combat situations:
The all-male teams greatly outperformed the integrated teams, whether on shooting, surmounting obstacles or evacuating casualties. Female Marines were injured at more than six times the rate of men during preliminary training—unsurprising, since men’s higher testosterone levels produce stronger bones and muscles. Even the fittest women (which the study participants were) must work at maximal physical capacity when carrying a 100-pound pack or repeatedly loading heavy shells into a cannon.
Leftists, of course, never allow facts to interfere with or, God forbid, override theory. That’s why Ash Carter, who was Obama’s Secretary of Defense (and who was a lifelong desk jockey who never served in the military), nevertheless went ahead and ordered that the U.S. military open combat roles to women.
Carter further mandated that the military create “gender neutral” standards for admission to combat units. The only way to do this, of course, was for the military to lower standards to ensure that some visible percentage of women could qualify for combat units.** For the Marines, that meant doing away with the requirement that combatants be able to carry their own equipment. MacDonald notes that “The weapons-company hike during the IOC is now ‘gender neutral,’ meaning that officers can hand their pack to a buddy if they get tired, rather than carrying it for the course’s full 10 miles.”
Trying to force women into combat units hasn’t just downgraded combat troops’ physical military readiness. Adding women to the mix has also interfered with discipline and morale:
A Marine commander who served in Afghanistan described to me how the arrival of an all-female team tasked with reaching out to local women affected discipline on his forward operating base. Until that point, rigorous discipline had been the norm. But when four women—three service members and a translator—arrived, the post’s atmosphere changed overnight from a “stern, businesslike place to that of an eighth-grade dance.” The officer walked into a common room one day to find the women clustered in the center. They were surrounded by eager male Marines, one of whom was doing a handstand.
Another Marine officer, who was stationed on a Navy ship after 9/11, told me that a female officer had regular trysts with an enlisted sailor in the engine room. Marine Cpl. Remedios Cruz, one of the first women to join the infantry, was discharged late last year after admitting to a sexual relationship with a male subordinate. Army Sgt. First Class Chase Usher was relieved of his leadership position for a consensual relationship with a female soldier that began almost immediately after she arrived at his newly gender-integrated unit in Fort Bragg, N.C.
After describing problems so obvious that any fifth grader could have predicted them, but that still managed to elude the best social justice warrior minds both in and out of the military, MacDonald chastises the Trump administration for not withdrawing from this misguided policy. She points out that, while Trump challenged the effort to put transgender individuals (who have a 40% suicide rate, both before and after medical intervention) into the military, he did so on the narrow ground that taxpayers shouldn’t be stuck with the cost of their sex mutilation surgeries. MacDonald argues that “those costs are minute compared with the future medical bills for women’s combat-battered bodies. And women pose a far greater challenge to combat-unit cohesion than do transgender troops, because of their numbers and the nature of sexual attraction.”
There’s more in MacDonald’s excellent article, but I have a few points of my own to make. These points refine on a post I wrote six years ago, when Leon Panetta greenlighted lifting the ban on women in combat.
Only an ignoramus would argue that women have never fought in combat. In Britain, at least until political correctness overtook the educational establishment, all students learned about Boudica, the Native Briton woman who led the Celtic tribes against the Romans in the 1st Century A.D. Likewise, educated Westerners used to know that the reason the French didn’t lose the 100 Years War against England was because a peasant girl named Jeanne heard God tell her to lead an army against the British. She was later canonized as St. Joan of Arc.
During World War II, resistance units relied heavily on women to provide both support and actual fighting skills. Of late, the Kurdish women have become renowned for their ferocity against ISIS fighters.
What’s important to note about these historic examples, though, is that (subject to extremely rare exceptions), when women have taken combat roles, they did not do so as members of standing armies shipped off to battle. Put another way, at all times and in all places, when it came to engaging in combat, women did not go to the front lines; instead, the front lines came to them. Necessity forced battle upon them.
Israel is a good example of a nation that, because it is essentially a giant front line, initially tried to integrate women into its frontline combat troops. You’ll note that I said that it tried, rather than that it does. While Israel still places women in extremely dangerous patrol positions, the fact is that, as soon as it was able to do so, Israel stopped placing women in units dedicated to combat. John Luddy, writing in 1994 for the Heritage Foundation, explained why:
Experience has shown that the introduction of women into combat units reduces military readiness for a variety of reasons, including the innate physiological differences between the sexes. Moreover, in the one historical case where women were deliberately placed in combat-in Israel during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War-they were removed within weeks. The reason: It was clear that men reacted to the presence of women by trying to protect them and aiding them when they became casualties instead of continuing to attack. The Israelis also learned that unit morale was seriously damaged when men saw women killed and injured on the battlefield.
That was back in 1950 in the Middle East, but the data still holds true. Certainly, the evidence MacDonald adduces about the post-Obama military shows that the Israeli experience is alive and well here in America.
In addition to the physical fitness and unit cohesion problems that women in combat troops create, there are three more things that people ought to discuss about women serving in combat units. These three things are what I call The Three Ps: Peeing, Periods, and Pregnancy.
I’d always been subliminally aware that women’s biological reality is inconsistent with combat situations. Those thoughts, however, coalesced for me in 2013 when I read an opinion piece that Ryan Smith, a former Marine, wrote for the Wall Street Journal. While the opinion piece never explicitly refers to The Three Ps, his vivid description of the Marines’ experiences when they entered Iraq in 2003 strongly implies that they will be a problem:
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.
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, not just with bullets, but with acute physical discomfort, dysentery, and decomposing skin on America’s behalf.
As an interesting mental exercise, go back and read the above passage but, instead of imagining twenty-five male Marines packed in the amphibious assault vehicles, imagine fifteen male Marines, eight female Marines, and two transgender (male to female) Marines. Imagine them peeing into bottles (presumably the women, while bouncing around, would try to use one of the gadgets that sort of replicates male urination; God alone knows what the transgenders would do) and defecating into paper bags.
Now imagine that half the biological women are having their periods – or maybe that just a couple of women unexpectedly started to have their periods during this unpleasant journey. Moreover, because of the stress, their periods are incredibly heavy. Within a couple of hours of embarking on this 48-hour journey, at least one of them has bled through both a tampon and a pad.
Also, imagine that two of the women, who were having affairs with the same Lothario in their unit (something that created incredible unit tension) are pregnant. Because these women either haven’t discovered yet that they are pregnant or have been ashamed to own up to it, they’re vomiting their guts out during the ride.
Regarding pregnancy, keep in mind that just a couple of years ago, the Navy was finally forced to reveal that it had a pregnancy problem owing to the close proximity of healthy young men and women:
A record 16 out of 100 Navy women are reassigned from ships to shore duty due to pregnancy, according to data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group.
That number is up 2 percent from 2015, representing hundreds more who have to cut their deployments short, taxing both their unit’s manpower, military budgets and combat readiness. Further, such increases cast a shadow over the lofty gender integration goals set by former President Barack Obama.
Overall, women unexpectedly leave their stations on Navy ships as much as 50 percent more frequently to return to land duty, according to documents obtained from the Navy. The statistics were compiled by the Navy Personnel Command at the request of TheDCNF, covering the period from January 2015 to September 2016.
The above thought experiment is just a single microcosm of the biological problems that women bring to front line combat. (I threw the transgenders in there to suggest that they have their own biological problems, along with a dangerous mental instability that has no place in front line combat units.) If you continue to think about women and The Three Ps, you’ll see that female biology strongly militates against placing women in combat.
Indeed, if one pays attention to what’s been happening in the Navy (see above), there’s a lot to be said for returning to the old WWII system of keeping men and women strictly segregated. It’s doubtful that the Allies could have won WWII without women’s contribution, but people back in the day recognized, rather than denied, biological reality. They knew that they could not afford to diminish their combat readiness by getting entangled in the Three Ps.
By the way, there’s one more thing that could be added to the Three Ps . . . and that’s an R for rape. In any war, when an invading force arrives, rape orgies in and near combat zones are par for the course.
Throughout history, the sad truth is invading armies have considered rape one of the legitimate spoils of war. It’s only modern, 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.
As WWII drew to an end, the Soviet troops who beat the Germans back to Berlin were famous for the savage rapes they inflicted on the German women. (One of my neighbors, when still a child, was a victim of the Russian rape rampage. It took her seventy years before she could even talk about it.)
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.). This is not a hypothetical statement that amounts to nothing more than ill-informed Western propaganda. Instead, for the past five years, we’ve seen it play out in real time.
The real-life demonstration of Islamic conquest and rape began in 2014 when ISIS overran the Yazidi communities. ISIS troops kidnapped and turned into sex slaves thousands of women and little girls. They then repeatedly raped these women and girls, using them in ways that only the sickest minds – minds nourished by Mohamed’s misogyny, pedophilia, and sadism — could devise.
In recent years, the Islamic rape-fest has shifted from the Middle East to Europe. Thus, thanks to the European elites’ overriding their citizens’ well-being and flooding their countries with Middle Eastern and African Muslims, rape has become epidemic across Europe.
For the first time in modern history, Western European countries are ranked with the worst African and Central American nations (plus, sadly, American inner cities) when it comes to rape. Sweden, which Lefties once touted as the best place in the world for women thanks to omnipresent childcare and generous maternity leave policies, is now the rape capital of the world.
One doesn’t need any imagination whatever to imagine what will happen to women combat troops if 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 worst thing about the social justice travesty of forcing the military – the sole job of which is defending America – to ignore The Three Ps (plus the R) is that there’s no military necessity for putting women into combat. It is a purely ideological decision, resulting from liberalism run amok and, more specifically, from the Leftist desire to erase gender demarcations.
Heather MacDonald is correct to attack the military Powers That Be for lowering combat standards in service of the Progressives’ dangerous denial about biological reality. However, it’s not enough to talk only about physical fitness standards and unit cohesion. An honest discussion requires acknowledging that women’s differing biology isn’t limited to strength. Instead, the Three Ps plus that R – Peeing, Periods, Pregnancy, and Rape – make it an appalling idea to export women to the front line merely to appease the Social Justice Warrior’s ongoing gender insanity.
* I’m ambivalent about suggesting that go-around because, unlike most other traditional media outlets, the WSJ gives value for the money. I’ll just suggest that, if you find yourself using this workaround frequently and you have some extra cash lying around, the ethical thing to do would be to get a digital subscription. Indeed, there’s a 50% off sale going on now, so it’s a good time to subscribe.
** Before anyone points it out, I acknowledge that, as the military itself discovered, there are some women who are so strong that they can meet the military’s traditional fitness standards. Nevertheless, these women are statistical outliers. If women are to have a visible presence in combat units, the standards must be lowered for the big bell curve bump of women.
Image credit: Wikicommons.