Women in Combat: One Sentence Answers

March 19, 2013, 2:45 pm

G.S. Newbold, a retired Lieutenant General in the Marines, has an article in Time, entitled “Seven Myths About ‘Women in Combat.’” Like most articles with the word “myth” in the title, it implies that it is offering a clear-eyed and tough look at the issue. What it’s really doing, instead (and unsurprisingly), is giving a fresh coat of paint to the standard line of opposition to women in combat.

I can’t be bothered to do much more than offer a one sentence comment, response, or translation to his myths. I promise no fairness at all. After all, as Lt. Col Newbolt points out gravely, “‘Fair’ is not part of the direct ground combat lexicon,” although I’m unsure if “direct ground combat lexicon” is a book, a language, or a disease.

Here it goes, in order*: 1. No, it’s about women in combat, were you not there for the powerpoint? 2. What’s with this ‘women as wilting flowers who can’t handle the “nightmare of mayhem” that combat can be?’ No one can, for long. Oh, and the ‘combat effectiveness not social experimentation argument’ applies just as well to racial integration of the military and I’m guessing Newbolt wouldn’t argue against that. 3. Great, so because men can’t control themselves, women should be kept away from them? Aside from the obvious stupidity, note that that (AGAIN!) applies to racial integration. 4. And were the physical standards in place the reason for the quality of the American forces? How many pull-ups does one have to do to be Napoleon? 5. Handwaving, n, Logical distraction of an untenable argument, often accompanied by heavily jargon-laden prose to further camouflage the barrenness of the ideas (see, e.g., Newbolt, Time, “change their peer norm when we inject them into infantry”). 6. Rough translation: “I don’t actually have an response to this, so I’m going to say mean things about my opponents.” 7 (a – two parts in this one) More translation: “Combat isn’t fair! But it’s the harshest meritocracy, so it is fair! And our opponents won’t be scared of us if they see we have women! (ed note: I’m serious, he’s making this argument) (b) Okay, so make women register for the draft, but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the result you wanted.

Newbold’s conclusion includes (real quote):

It may be that we live in a society in which honest discussion of this issue, relying on facts instead of volume, is not possible.

His article is, however, long on volume and short on facts.

*Quotes in this list are either mostly made-up or my translation of what he’s saying. Sorry about that.

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