While the official claim is that integrating women into combat roles is to provide the largest possible pool of capable forces to draw from, nearly no one takes this seriously. Most who support the move will fairly quickly change their argument and claim instead that this profoundly costly change is about the desire to provide opportunity for a handful of extraordinary women. This new argument is framed as:
If a woman is just as good as the men, why shouldn’t she be allowed to join the unit?
This is an effective argument because it plays on men’s empathy for women and our respect for true achievement. However, this still isn’t the real reason feminists are obsessed with putting women in combat roles. This is about something which is core to feminism, and it boils down to a high stakes version of the childish feminist boast:
Anything boys can do girls can do better.
Understand that this is nothing more than a boast, which is why feminists have so little interest in actually having women achieve the kinds of things we celebrate men for. When Charles Lindbergh was being celebrated for his incredible feat of creativity, skill, and risk taking, feminists were beside themselves. Here was a man who was being celebrated for masculine virtues; they needed a woman to pretend to do something similar so they could tamp down this troubling national celebration of masculinity. So feminists found a woman with a pilot’s license who wrote newspaper columns about flying and had her ride as a passenger on a transatlantic flight; then they threw her a heroes welcome as Lady Lindy, complete with a ticker tape parade and an invitation to the White House. Just as we see with putting women in the military, Earhart was all about style over substance:
She chose a leather jacket, but aware that other aviators would be judging her, she slept in it for three nights to give the jacket a “worn” look. To complete her image transformation, she also cropped her hair short in the style of other female flyers.
At the core the feminist obsession with the military is not an interest from a practical perspective, but for what the military symbolizes. A nation’s military is traditionally the ultimate symbol of the virtue of the nation’s manhood. Stories of fighting men exhibiting incredible bravery and self sacrifice are used to inspire all men to strive for excellence no matter what their path in life is. Feminists chafe at this idea because they can’t stand any celebration of men. The whole point of putting women in combat is to make sure we can never again say: Thanks to the men who sacrificed so much for us without feminists chiming in “and women too!” This is why no unit can be left untouched, even elite ones.
While the WWII Italian fighting man is often maligned in the US, the reality is many Italian men showed incredible bravery and dedication on the battlefield.
The heroic behavior of the Folgore Division during the Second battle of El Alamein in resisting the attacks of six British divisions (two armored and four infantry) inspired the respect and admiration of its enemy. Lacking effective anti-tank weapons, the Italian paratroopers managed to stop British tanks only with a few obsolete 47/32 guns and petrol bombs. On 11 November 1942, when the battle was over, the BBC transmitted the famous official bulletin: “The remnants of the Folgore division put up resistance beyond every limit of human possibility.”
The Folgore, having run out of water, withdrew from the El Alamein front at 2:00 a.m. on 3 November 1942, carrying their anti-tank weapons. At 2:35 p.m. on 6 November what was left of the division was captured by the British. They had exhausted their ammunition and destroyed their weapons, but refused to raise their hands in surrender or show the white flag.
These are the stories we tell young men to inspire them to greatness, and this is what feminists must blot out from our collective thinking. In order to do this they don’t need to have women who actually perform to the level of men, they only need to suit up women like the picture at the beginning of the article and show them as the new face of the Folgore Brigade.
In this sense the demoralization of the average fighting man isn’t an unintended consequence of introducing women. This is at its heart about demoralizing men, both the fighting men and the other men who are inspired by them. Likewise the lowered standards for women aren’t something which feminists see as a real problem, because this further demoralizes the men while allowing feminists to focus on style over substance. They aren’t looking to win actual battles, only a battle for the way the nation views manhood.
Since the goal is to erase the concept of masculine virtues, the new bargain the introduction of women into combat represents isn’t to have women join equally or even seriously in the fighting and dying. The new bargain is that men will continue to be the ones who fight and die, but they must not feel a sense of masculine pride in either doing this or having this obligation. In this sense they are doing to the military what they have done to other institutions. Husbands and fathers are still responsible to protect and provide for their families, they have just been taught not to see themselves as head of the household.
One thing to keep in mind is that previous generations of women valued and even guarded masculine virtues. We wouldn’t have to go back very far to find large numbers of women who would have been offended at the idea of trying to strip the nation’s men of masculine pride. They knew and admired the sacrifice their husbands and fathers had made on the battlefield and off, and they understood how vulgar it is for women to desire to take away the sense of pride in manhood. In fact, they took pride in the fact that these were their men, just as they took pride in their own roles as wives and mothers. Modern “traditional” women almost never object to the naked moves to stamp out masculine pride, they just want to make sure they get their due chivalry from men. However, there are still women even today who understand how unseemly this is. They aren’t the women demanding yet more chivalry from unknown men. They are the ones who know that no woman can really take away the masculine pride of their fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons, and they thank God for this.
At the individual level the sense of masculine pride can’t be taken away. Men will continue to take risks and create new things. But since the attack on the national sense of manhood has been thoroughly successful more and more this will be separated from the culture at large. Manly pride doesn’t only exist on the battlefield; it exists wherever men are striving for excellence, where they are risking, building, and creating. But at a national and local cultural level masculine pride is being systematically snuffed out, and our larger culture will continue to show the effects of this loss. Those who want the results of masculine virtues will almost exclusively respond to this loss in the culture by shaming men. This might work some on the margins, but you won’t inspire men to be great with shame alone.
Italian paratrooper photo licensed as creative commons by the Italian Army.