Anna Gregoline | August 2, 2004
You all know I'm an outspoken feminist, but I have mixed feelings about this question:

Should women in the military services be assigned combat duties?

(P.S. Scott, may I suggest making the topics that are "The ____" be made just ___? I almost missed "The Military" as a subject.)

Scott Horowitz | August 2, 2004
Yes. I think if you enlist, you are equal regardless of gender, race, or sexual preference.

Anna Gregoline | August 2, 2004
Well, except that if you are homosexual, the military doesn't want you.

Melissa Erin | August 2, 2004
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Lori Lancaster | August 2, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | August 2, 2004
Can't they put you where they want you?

Anna Gregoline | August 2, 2004
P.S. the question is whether they should be allowed to fight (as in, the military allowing it), not whether they want to or not.

Melissa Erin | August 2, 2004
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Scott Hardie | August 3, 2004
This discussion could turn into a long one. :-)

I'm against the draft, one hundred percent. Not only should we not make someone die who isn't willing, but we should not make someone kill who isn't willing. Much of my respect for the men and women of the armed forces is that they enlist to do those two things, which I am not. By this same logic, no one who feels strongly about defending their country should be denied the chance to do so, for gender-related reasons or otherwise.

However, I do understand the rationale for having men and women serve separately when they must serve together in a tight unit for a prolonged period: Flirting and other sexuality is a tremendous distraction on the job. When you serve on a cramped naval vessel out at sea for weeks at a time, you need every person on board sharp as a knife in case of a sudden encounter or emergency, not distracted by romance or lust. (Thanks go to Matt Preston for pointing that out to me.)

Scott Hardie | August 3, 2004
Actually, I was thinking of just getting rid of the discussion subjects. Their only function is for the "browse by subject" page, which doesn't serve a lot of purpose now that there's a search page. What do you think?

Anna Gregoline | August 3, 2004
Oh. Well, ok.

I was also thinking about the prisoner of war aspect - women being captured by enemy forces.

And I can't really understand any woman who wants to enter the military anyway - unless she's with all female soldiers, she runs the risk of being raped by fellow military.

Jackie Mason | August 3, 2004
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Melissa Erin | August 3, 2004
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Scott Hardie | August 4, 2004
I'm not going to look up the statistics, but it seems unlikely that a woman would be raped by a fellow soldier. Discipline is the essence of the military experience. We hear about military rapes in the news because a) they're usually part of a scandalous cover-up and b) they're so rare.

Anna Gregoline | August 4, 2004
Are you kidding me? Rape happens all the time when soldiers are mixed together. It's rare that we hear about them, perhaps. What's horrible is that more than any other part of society, women who are raped there and come forward are the least likely to get any help - and the most likely to be ostracized for making the claim.

Here are some links:

The researchers found that 79 percent of participants reported experiences of sexual harassment during their military service; 30 percent of the women reported an attempted or completed rape.

"The message is rape is acceptable so don't say anything about it," said a second cadet.

DEBORA JOHNSON: Nobody believed I was raped. I was pretty much told I was a liar and that I was a slut and a whore. I was told that to my face.

Capt. Arlinghaus: “You know, I'm an officer. Certainly doesn't make me better than anybody else. But rank matters. If this is happening to me, there's some young girl who's a private or young enlisted soldier who's even more intimidated by all this than I am. You're just going to shut up, do what you're told, let it go and move on.”

I think that's enough for now. There's no shortage of articles about it.

If there's one thing I don't treat lightly, it's the subject of rape. I've known women who have been raped, and I'm more than willing to educate people about where and when it's occuring. And the military is one of those places.

Erik Bates | August 4, 2004
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Erik Bates | August 4, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | August 4, 2004
I have no idea what kind of psychological testing the military does, if any. Interesting question.

No, I was by no means saying the women were being raped because they were there, and therefore no women should be in the military. That's like saying they were asking for it by their very prescence, or that we can't expect men to control themselves, both of which are ridiculous.

I guess the most upsetting part is that it happens and that it's IGNORED. I guess I shouldn't expect much from a military that keeps to itself and has mostly men in charge, but com'on.

Anyway, I just wanted to point out to Scott that it's not the rare occurence you might think it is.

Scott Hardie | August 6, 2004
I concede your point. I'm well aware of the cover-ups, which is the reason why a military rape ever makes the news. I assumed the frequency with which one hit the news reflects the frequency with which they occurred, which was a silly assumption to make.

I have to wonder if it's because male officers are simply unable or unwilling to sympathize with being raped. They can imagine being assaulted, and so one cadet who assaulted another would be punished and eliminated. Maybe rape needs to be classified as assault for anyone to do anything about it? As long as rape, and for that matter sexual harrassment, are viewed as special "incidents" and not really as crimes, they're going to continue to be treated as the female cadets' problem, not the officers' problem. I doubt much can be done at the highest level of the military to solve the problem; there has to be a military-wide change of paradigm on the matter.

Incidentally, this only further demonstrates why men and women should not serve together in the same company under duress.

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