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Author Topic: On Gender and Combat  (Read 6992 times)

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Offline IgnaddioTopic starter

On Gender and Combat
« on: January 01, 2010, 11:56:19 AM »
This thread was created, in part, to discuss the impact that gender has on combat roles in the military. To be more specific, the differences between men and women in the roles of infantry, special forces, and pilots.

My opinion on the matter, as stated in the shoutbox previously, is that while there are women that -can- be trained to face the rigors of modern combat on the front lines, the number of them that can is insufficient to warrant the military's time and resources in weeding out the ones that cannot. Thus, I believe that the policy of excluding women from infantry roles and special forces is practical, and not sexist. As far as women making better or worse pilots? I don't know if there is sufficient data in either direction to support either argument. There are great woman pilots, and mediocre woman pilots, much like there are great male and mediocre male pilots.

The following is an article that supports my views on the subject, although it seems more like an opinion piece as the facts therin are sparse. http://www.captainsjournal.com/2009/08/30/women-in-the-infantry/

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Re: On Gender and Combat
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2010, 01:23:50 PM »
I have heard that women have a better ability to withstand G-forces than men, and my Google-fu revealed the following interesting page:

http://userpages.aug.com/captbarb/myths.html

Offline Brandon

Re: On Gender and Combat
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2010, 05:58:10 PM »
When I was in the Army the only reason why women were not allowed into infantry positions was because of personal hygiene (or so they said). I personally have a hard time buying that though since when I asked exactly what the personal hygiene issue was they remained tight lipped if not outright ignoring the question.

Now I was not infantry but I was still forced into a combat situation a few times and the results are really the same IMO. Ive seen men and women loose it when the shooting starts and Ive seen men and women pick up their weapon and fire back with an intent to kill. Unfortunately training is often not a good way to figure out whether a person has the mental fortitude for combat or not since it lacks a lot of the realism. You're always put into little laser tag style equipment and while you can hear the shots of blanks going off and beeping to indicate a soldier is dead or wounded it lacks the feeling of danger and thus the part of our brain dedicated to survival fails to kick in. Now those field exercises still teach you things but its rarely ways to survive when you are being shot at

I guess what I'm trying to say is anyone, male or female, can be an effective soldier and its impossible to know who will or wont perform till they are forced into actual combat.

Offline Paladin

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Re: On Gender and Combat
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2010, 06:16:49 PM »
I've been in the military. It IS a sexist organization to the core. Women are just as effective fighters as men are. In some ways women are better.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: On Gender and Combat
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2010, 08:43:14 PM »
I would assume they would weed out poor female combatants the same way they weed out poor male combatants.  Which means they just throw the two groups together and see who can pass the exams.  Now I do feel that women should and must be held to the same standards as their male counterparts for infantry, but I do not think women would be any worse for the job.  As for the article, that is entirely opinion based and has no facts or numbers what so ever to support the argument. 

Offline Xanthus

Re: On Gender and Combat
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2010, 11:22:05 PM »
This thread was created, in part, to discuss the impact that gender has on combat roles in the military. To be more specific, the differences between men and women in the roles of infantry, special forces, and pilots.

My opinion on the matter, as stated in the shoutbox previously, is that while there are women that -can- be trained to face the rigors of modern combat on the front lines, the number of them that can is insufficient to warrant the military's time and resources in weeding out the ones that cannot. Thus, I believe that the policy of excluding women from infantry roles and special forces is practical, and not sexist. As far as women making better or worse pilots? I don't know if there is sufficient data in either direction to support either argument. There are great woman pilots, and mediocre woman pilots, much like there are great male and mediocre male pilots.

The following is an article that supports my views on the subject, although it seems more like an opinion piece as the facts therin are sparse. http://www.captainsjournal.com/2009/08/30/women-in-the-infantry/

this is very interesting, but i have been in the military, the us navy. (hold all jokes for later please) and i can tell you first hand, women can not hold a flame to men. yes i will give credit where credit is due, but military is not and in my opinion should not be for women. medics yes, pilots yes. but grunt units, no. special forces, no.
women are lighters on there toes so yes i will give them that, but men can carrier heavier loads. there physically built for combat. its in our dna. its primal for men. there can be many women that may be able to do a lot of things the men can do. but if i have been shoot and my partner is a woman. 9 out of 10 times they can not carry me. although i have been surprised by some petite little things lol.
another thing is, and this gets me going a bit, is that a lot of women think they can do the job, but when they get into combat they realize they cant. training is one thing but when your out there life or death situations. women can not preform. and a lot of them want to get out of the area so they get knocked up and pregnant  so they can go on leave. and guess what, when a woman leaves on pregnancy leave they don't get replaced the unit suffers!
...hmm i think thats about it for my two cents lol

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Re: On Gender and Combat
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2010, 12:02:29 AM »
Ironically, the majority of the worlds best assassins are female.  I believe it is in the 70's percentage wise.  As for whether or not women can perform as well as men in combat, I really don't know.  I've heard your argument before, Xanthus, and I believe it is a decent one, but at the same time, I've seen women who could beat really strong men in terms of strength (I'm talking about some really buff dudes being outclassed by even more buff women).  I believe it all comes down to the individual soldier. Some won't be able to handle it, like some people have said here, and others will excel at it. 

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Re: On Gender and Combat
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2010, 12:18:41 AM »
Ironically, the majority of the worlds best assassins are female.  I believe it is in the 70's percentage wise(I'm talking about some really buff dudes being outclassed by even more buff women). 

But that's taking the extreme examples.  Any discussions about groups of people must take the averages as the "standard sample" and it's a valid question: can an average woman carry an average man for extended periods?

As for whether or not women should be in combat, I really don't know where I stand on the issue.  But I have read (without links to back it up) that there are studies that have shown that when under combat and enemy fire, male combatants will disregard orders in order to give female combatants extra attention.  Perhaps it's less of an evolution question and more of a society question: have we, as a society, progressed enough to the point where average men can treat average women as "one of the guys"?

Offline IgnaddioTopic starter

Re: On Gender and Combat
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2010, 11:10:36 AM »
If we're going to be using prior military experience as an example, then I can state honestly that the average woman in the Navy has a hard enough time just getting around the ship on her own. There was a door near my berthing (read: giant multi person bedroom) that had to be kept shut for equipment operation reasons, but it was on a high traffic passageway, so the door got used by just about everyone. The compartment it opens into, while that door is shut, develops a low pressure area that tends to hold that door shut. Nine times out of ten, when a woman came to that door, she needed assistance in getting it open.

Now place that ship in a combat situation, and ask her to carry an average, passed out man through that door on her lonesome. Will it happen? For that matter, set that compartment on fire and ask her to evacuate from it. Can she do it?


Offline Paladin

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Re: On Gender and Combat
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2010, 03:31:34 PM »
If we're going to be using prior military experience as an example, then I can state honestly that the average woman in the Navy has a hard enough time just getting around the ship on her own. There was a door near my berthing (read: giant multi person bedroom) that had to be kept shut for equipment operation reasons, but it was on a high traffic passageway, so the door got used by just about everyone. The compartment it opens into, while that door is shut, develops a low pressure area that tends to hold that door shut. Nine times out of ten, when a woman came to that door, she needed assistance in getting it open.

Now place that ship in a combat situation, and ask her to carry an average, passed out man through that door on her lonesome. Will it happen? For that matter, set that compartment on fire and ask her to evacuate from it. Can she do it?

Then it sounds like the Navy needs to train more to build up muscle in its women. Its an easily solveable situation.

Offline Brandon

Re: On Gender and Combat
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2010, 04:31:56 PM »
Then it sounds like the Navy needs to train more to build up muscle in its women. Its an easily solveable situation.

My thoughts exactly.

I've always thought the navy was to lax in its standards for muscle mass on both men and women. I know you sit on your butt more in the navy then the army and that idea alone makes me think higher standards are needed because they dont use that muscle mass as much

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Re: On Gender and Combat
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2010, 05:10:19 PM »
And there I thought we got over the "women can't drive" kind of issues...

Offline Paladin

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Re: On Gender and Combat
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2010, 06:11:19 PM »
My thoughts exactly.

I've always thought the navy was to lax in its standards for muscle mass on both men and women. I know you sit on your butt more in the navy then the army and that idea alone makes me think higher standards are needed because they dont use that muscle mass as much

Exactly! I've seen army women and by god they can carry just as much as any army guy out there.

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Re: On Gender and Combat
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2010, 06:46:14 PM »

Three guesses which branch she belongs to (and the first two don't count).

For the record, my discussion wasn't "Women can't drive!" and more asking about "Can men let women drive on their own merits?"

Offline Brandon

Re: On Gender and Combat
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2010, 10:12:54 PM »
Wow, I'ld do her...oh wait back on topic...um...Oh another thought comes to mind that the idea of carrying wounded while applicable is slightly flawed. Few people tend to carry a single person for soldier unless in emergencies. Generally speaking (and remember were judging women on a general basis for this thread too) youre going to have 2 people assisting in wounded extraction. If two women, no matter their size, cant pick me up (Im 6' 190 lbs) and get me out of there they they wouldnt have been able to pass their PT test in the first place.

Even if they cant throw a guy over their shoulder like the girl in the picture above they can still easily drag all but the heaviest people and the heaviest people means average obese Americans which wont be in the military in the first place because they cant pass a PT test

Offline Paladin

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Re: On Gender and Combat
« Reply #15 on: January 02, 2010, 10:19:18 PM »
Wow, I'ld do her...oh wait back on topic...um...Oh another thought comes to mind that the idea of carrying wounded while applicable is slightly flawed. Few people tend to carry a single person for soldier unless in emergencies. Generally speaking (and remember were judging women on a general basis for this thread too) youre going to have 2 people assisting in wounded extraction. If two women, no matter their size, cant pick me up (Im 6' 190 lbs) and get me out of there they they wouldnt have been able to pass their PT test in the first place.

Even if they cant throw a guy over their shoulder like the girl in the picture above they can still easily drag all but the heaviest people and the heaviest people means average obese Americans which wont be in the military in the first place because they cant pass a PT test

I will second what brandon says.

Offline IgnaddioTopic starter

Re: On Gender and Combat
« Reply #16 on: January 02, 2010, 10:24:24 PM »
Then it sounds like the Navy needs to train more to build up muscle in its women. Its an easily solveable situation.

Sure, the solution always sounds like more training would fix the problem, but is it a sufficient issue to warrant the time and cost? How much has the Navy's current standards cost them in terms of combat efficiency, casualties, et cetera? I'd be willing to wager it's not cost effective to raise the standards. The Navy practices Operational Risk Management, and to me it seems that the risk imposed by having the standards that it does is not worth the cost. In terms of a cliche, "If it Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It." I was merely bringing up an example of the average woman in the military, at least in my experience.

But my argument wasn't against women in the military, it was against women in Infantry and Special Forces positions.

Offline Paladin

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Re: On Gender and Combat
« Reply #17 on: January 02, 2010, 10:27:51 PM »
Sure, the solution always sounds like more training would fix the problem, but is it a sufficient issue to warrant the time and cost? How much has the Navy's current standards cost them in terms of combat efficiency, casualties, et cetera? I'd be willing to wager it's not cost effective to raise the standards. The Navy practices Operational Risk Management, and to me it seems that the risk imposed by having the standards that it does is not worth the cost. In terms of a cliche, "If it Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It." I was merely bringing up an example of the average woman in the military, at least in my experience.

But my argument wasn't against women in the military, it was against women in Infantry and Special Forces positions.

But you see my argument IS FOR women in the INfantry and Special Forces. As I have said They can do anything WE MEN can do, and alot of times they can do it BETTER.

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Re: On Gender and Combat
« Reply #18 on: January 02, 2010, 10:38:32 PM »
I was born and raised in the south.  Guns to not bother me.  Gun fire doesn't bother me.  You shoot at me, I'm gonna shoot back.  If I get hurt when I'm working I brush it off and only pay it mind when I have time.  I am one hell of an actress and manipulator when I want to be so if the Special Forces scenario is an undercover one I've got that covered easy.  And while I may be tiny (and now I'm out of shape a little) I am strong and I have carried men twice my weight easy.  It depends on who the woman is.  How mentally strong she is.  How well she was trained.  And how she was raised.  I think it's purely environmental.     

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Re: On Gender and Combat
« Reply #19 on: January 02, 2010, 10:47:37 PM »
I think it's purely environmental.   

Less "environmental" and more "sociological", I think.  We still pamper young daughters with Disney Princesses and pink and pretty flowers and the like.  We still have a vast gulf of difference (on a society level) between men and women, and that's still the big stepping stone IMHO.  Mainstream society still preaches "equality" and "gender-neutral terms" but I think that we're just fooling ourselves and, in a general sense still have a long way to go before we're a truly equal society in all areas.

I refer to my original post, and the aforementioned case studies of mixed-gender combat squads.  If those are true, then we're still not nearly as progressive as we delude ourselves into thinking. 

Offline ShrowdedPoet

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Re: On Gender and Combat
« Reply #20 on: January 02, 2010, 10:53:19 PM »
See, I was never pampered.  I never had the whole princess thing.  I was a tomboy. 

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Re: On Gender and Combat
« Reply #21 on: January 02, 2010, 11:13:34 PM »
See, I was never pampered.  I never had the whole princess thing.  I was a tomboy.

And we wouldn't have you any other way ;)  But I'm talking more in a general sense and my statements is more applicable.  I've recently spent time around a lot of young girls (had to chaperate a 10 year-old's birthday party *shudder*) and it really struck me how we treat young girls and how society directs them in a general sense.

Offline Brandon

Re: On Gender and Combat
« Reply #22 on: January 02, 2010, 11:19:13 PM »
This is where PT tests and other military standards come in. If the graders arent cheating for the person performing the test (yes it happens) and the test is at a point that it requires everyone to be strong, flexible, durable, and fast enough to do the job then there is no difference between men and women in military roles and by extension Infantry and special forces.

Mentalities in combat can only be proven in combat so you cant have a standard for this till someones been put into a real combat situation.

Except for this "hygiene issue" that was spouted when I was a soldier (and consequently was never defined even when asked about) we can prove that men and women can perform equally in combat as long as theyre held to the same standard.

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Re: On Gender and Combat
« Reply #23 on: January 02, 2010, 11:58:20 PM »
So... you're saying that Men are the weaker sex, and that therefore all soldiers should be women?
Sounds like a certain God-Emperor I know...

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Re: On Gender and Combat
« Reply #24 on: January 03, 2010, 12:33:03 AM »
Except for this "hygiene issue" that was spouted when I was a soldier (and consequently was never defined even when asked about)

According to the link I posted earlier, I'm willing to bet it's the concept that women 'take longer on latrine breaks' because they 'can't pee standing up'.  As there are both devices and techniques that allow that, and that both sexes have to 'bottom-strip' to take care of the other necessity, it's hardly a viable excuse.