Monday, July 14, 2008

Are You Woman Enough?

No-one, I assume, labours under the illusion that military institutions are a bastion of gender equality and opportunity for women. It's taken women a very long time to get even so far as to be allowed into most branches of the military. Some are still out of reach - like anything involving fighting on the front lines. Those who do join up meet a culture of sexism and misogyny, sky-high rates of rape and sexual abuse and bullying. Not to mention the culture of rape WITHIN war that is just sickening, and of course would be rapidly undermined if much larger numbers of women were involved in combat.

You would think it was obvious that something needed to be done at the highest level to make it clear that women are valued in the military and misogyny fought firmly against - especially when they seem to be having so much trouble recruiting anyone at the moment. Instead the Royal Marine Commandos are sponsoring an assault course challenge through soft-porn "lad" mag Zoo under the heading Are You Man Enough? Man enough to read soft porn and play on an assault course? Pass the bucket!


Sarah Ditum said...

I would like it to be true that more women in war would mean less brutality, but I'm not convinced -
cases like Lynndie England et al certainly suggest that women are as capable of pulling the nasty shit as any man. I suspect that, given the right circumstances, women are as liable as men to dehumanise and violate the "enemy".

Jackart said...

The Royal Marine Commandos doctrinal role is to "close with, and kill the enemy". The kind of chap you want doing that doesn't read the Guardian. They also advertise in Viz, Loaded and FHM.

There are no women in the Royal Marines, which is why they are such enthusiastic members of the cross-dressing community. I expect you think Lympstone's standards should be dropped so that there could be?

Cruella said...

I suspect for a start that women in the army would do a fair bit less raping both during their service time and afterwards than their male counterparts do. Of course I am not suggesting that no woman has ever done anything awful, the Lynndie England thing was of course dreadful.

But no, Jackass, the idea that the military's role is kill-kill-kill is years out of date. The modern military has to be in close combat situations not just to kill the enemy but also to make quick rational decisions on who IS the enemy and who NEEDS to be killed. It's just not as cut and dried as it used to be, as we see every other day in the news when another wedding party of primary school gets blown up by mistake and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan become ten times less winnable in a heartbeat. The last thing we should be putting on the front line is someone braindead enough to read Loaded and FHM...

But also you seem to be suggesting that since the military "have a job to do" - it is somehow OK for them to go around raping and sexually assaulting women in their free time. I never hear politicians get up and say "The women of Britain will have to suffer for this. There will be sexual violence, they will be degraded, assaulted and in some cases violently raped. However this is a price we believe is worth paying to bring peace to the middle east..." THAT'S NOT THE PLAN.

What we need is strong leadership to make it clear to the military that a uniform is no excuse to mistreat women.

And of course I think women should be allowed to fight on the front lines, including in the Royal Marines. I'm just not so sure men should.

Jackart said...

You're merely demonstrating your profound ignorance here.

Doctrinal roles are their action on the battlefield as defined in British military doctrine.

The infantry: Close with and kill the enemy.

The Cavalry: Shock Action.

Artillery: Suppress, neutralise and destroy... etc

all the way back to the Adjutant Generals Corps whose only wounds are paper cuts.

That does not mean "Kill, Kill, Kill" but they need to be able to do that if necessary - even the AGC who often take part as interrogators if a female is needed. The infantry are taking stiffer casualties than they did on the beaches of Normandy in Afghanistan and dealing a fair bit out too. So your fantasy of Soldier as armed social worker is a bit, well unrealistic too.

But your fixation with Soldier = Rapist is telling, probably Freudian and certainly says more about you than the Army.

As for women in the front line, the Commando course has always been open to women. One has passed it, ever, and it broke her, physically. If you think women should be infantrymen, I suggest you shoulder a 80lb began , march 10 miles cross the brecons, then have a fight with a man who wants to kill you. See how you fare...

Some (very few) jobs are man's jobs. Infantry soldiering is one of them.

Oh...and the Royal Marines are not in the Army. They're part of the Navy.

Travelgall said...

“Every other day a primary school or wedding party gets blown up”. My god, you really do know nothing about warfare – especially these current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, could you actually point to more than a handful? I’ve read FHM, yet even with my braindead disability still managed to get a degree in International Relations and Strategic Studies specialising in Middle East Politics and Chemical & Biological warfare. Despite your vast intellectual superiority (I guess from reading Marie-Claire rather than Maxim) I get the feeling you really do know less than nothing on this subject.

When I served in HM armed forces I never raped a woman, and am quite proud of the fact that I’ve managed to keep this spotless record up both before and since – amazing really since I have also read Loaded on about 8 separate occasions! As I served in the Infantry I never really came across women serving that much, but they got the same salute a male officer got if they were senior. I do notice this Rape fixation in your post? Maybe you should see some sort of therapist to deal with your issues.

No, killing the enemy isn’t the only thing we do as infantry, but it is the raison d’etre, and if you are physically incapable of doing it you are like a sailor who is great at tying knots but gets seasick on the serpentine – no use whatsoever. Other tasks include defence exercises where you dig for days. We had a platoon of women who were allocated a trench system to dig. They got alluvial soil, we got solid rock. We ended up helping them finish theirs once we were finished. This is annoying in a training exercise when you haven't slept for two days, when you’re fighting a battle it reduces your effectiveness. Do women serve honourably in the Army – yes they do, in the roles they are allocated where physical strength is not an issue; can they TAB 40KM in full CEFO and stab somebody in the face with a bayonet at the other end - not really.

The women serving, who have more brains than you will be the first to admit it – and I respect them for it. Because soldiers respect people who don't endanger their lives by pretending they are up to something they will fail at and let down their unit. Soldiers are however very poor at tolerating fools, so I shouldn't plan on visiting a recruitment centre in the immediate future.

The Bug said...

I have to stick up for you Kate,

It seems that people have trouble opening their minds an inch to recognise the specific skills women could add to warfare if they weren't having to operate within a narrow mindset and system that precludes the use of these skills- i.e. that of a sexist lads mags reading man (following a long tradition of similar men)- someone they never can be- no matter how much they posture.

So what if men have greater physical strength on the whole. There's a lot more to it than that. I remember a documentary on people submitting for training by the SAS - the surprise winner was a woman. Everyone else had been broken down - including all the cocky men.

Also, to deny that rape is a weapon of war is a bit of a rose-tinted view of traumatised soldiers behaviour. Army bases always lead to nearby brothals and the prostitution of local/trafficked women, and there are far too many women raped by soldiers to deny its an issue. One man's testimony that he has never raped doesn't change that.

Katabasis said...

"Army bases always lead to nearby brothals and the prostitution of local/trafficked women, and there are far too many women raped by soldiers to deny its an issue."

It's war. It's shit. Destroying the enemy can also mean destroying yourself in the process. It's not gender biased. More women in armies might change the kind of fucked up shit that occurs; it won't however stop fucked up shit occurring in the first place. Why? Because it's war. Why is this not clear?