Wednesday, August 19, 2015 at 7:49 AM

Women In Combat: Hail ‘Woman Power’ Rangers

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

In light of the recent trend set by Angela Merkel of Germany and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, Bachelet’s election would be encouraging to those of us who welcome the seepage of womanpower through the crevices of political and corporate governance around the world…

Here’s to ‘the fairer sex’ – not only as indispensable guardians of home and hearth, but also as invaluable (and capable) stewards of the ship of state!

(“Cracking the Glass Ceiling: First Woman to Become President in South America,” The iPINIONS Journal, December 12, 2005)

As my this quote indicates, I have celebrated every small step women have taken over the years towards integrating professions traditionally reserved for men. Therefore, I could not be more pleased to celebrate their latest. Not least because it demonstrates that women are just as capable as men of performing in armed combat — with all due respect to Tysonesque MMA fighter Ronda Rousey.

rouseybI reference Rousey because she claims she can beat any man in a “no-rules fight” — whatever that means (knives allowed?). In fact, according to the August 12 edition of ESPN’s Sports Center, she even challenged reigning five-division world boxing champion Floyd Mayweather.

But this just makes a mockery of woman-power aspirations. After all, it’s one thing for a 29-year-old Billie Jean King to challenge a 55-year-old Bobby Riggs to a Tennis match in a “Battle of the Sexes.” It’s quite another for Rousey to challenge Mayweather to a street fight. Especially given that her bull-in-China- shop style of fighting would be no match even for a female MMA fighter with just one half of Mayweather’s ability to stick and move and counterpunch; you know, the tactics journeyman Buster Douglas used to knock out invincible Mike Tyson.

Rousey clearly thinks she’s invincible too. But this one-trick pony will have to show me a lot more than “the armbar submission” before I buy into her media hype.

That said, I am happy to hail this far more worthy demonstration of woman power.

Two women are about to make history by becoming the first female soldiers to graduate from the Army’s exhausting Ranger School.

The Pentagon describes Ranger School as ‘the Army’s premier combat leadership course, teaching Ranger students how to overcome fatigue, hunger, and stress to lead Soldiers during small unit combat operations.’

The current class started in April with 381 men and 19 women. The students were forced to train with minimal food and little sleep and had to learn how to operate in the woods, mountains and swamplands.

(CNN, August 18, 2015)

101st-airborne-division-3For a little context, only 94 men survived. Which means that these pioneering women outperformed nearly 300 men who tried and failed this 118-day course.

And let me hasten to dispel the myth about the physical prowess required to be a Special Forces operator. Because, despite the training involved, the vast majority of operations do not require them to carry a 50-pound rucksack or hold their breath underwater for six minutes — as those who executed the famous mission to get Osama bin Laden will attest.

Moreover, women have been fighting alongside putatively all-male Navy SEALS and Army Rangers for years – as Gayle Tzemach Lemmon chronicled in her true-life book, Ashley’s War.

This is why all of the blather about traditional esprit de corps precluding these women from serving as Army Rangers is as anachronistic as it is chauvinistic. Not to mention that the U.S. military began clearing all bureaucratic obstacles in this regard years ago:

The military services began racing Thursday to open jobs across the armed forces to women, a historic change that likely will put more women into direct combat in Afghanistan and in any future conflicts.

The sweeping new rules at the Pentagon, ordered by outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta after a year of consultations with senior military officers, require the military services to expand all positions to women — or convince the defense secretary why those jobs should remain exclusively male…

[As a senior Marine Corps official noted, ‘We’ve been looking at this for a long time, and for us the issue is, ‘Can they do it?’

(Huffington Post, January 24, 2013)

women-in-combatYes they can.

So clearly, even by their own notoriously rigorous and uncompromising standards, the military services cannot offer any reason why combat operations should remain exclusively male – notwithstanding traditional notions about gender roles, which might cause some men to … bitch.

Incidentally, for a little perspective, prevailing chauvinism in my profession was such that, after Sandra Day O’Connor graduated from law school in 1952, forty law firms refused to hire her as an attorney … because she was a woman. Yet not only did she become the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1981, but (according to the Center for Research on Gender in the Professions 2013) women now compose 55 percent of staff attorneys in law firms.

To be sure, some pioneering women will feel the need to ‘act just like men’ – as Margaret Thatcher arguably did. But as their participation, power, and influence become the norm rather than the exception, so too will their natural tendency to lead or rule by persuasion and consensus, instead of presuming, like men, that might makes right.

(“Men Should Be Barred from Politics,” The iPINIONS Journal, September 25 2013)

To say nothing of the fact that, with more women in the ranks, the military might be spared future scandals like My Lai, Tailhook, and Abu Ghraib.

Congratulations, Rangers!

Oh, to the male ones too….

Related commentaries:
Men: the weaker sex
Men should be barred

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