February 1 2013
Culture and Combat
While most of us have been couching our arguments on the issue of women in combat in terms of such matters as the comparative physical strength of men and women, Diana West goes straight for the cultural aspect of the question before us.
In a provocative column, West argues that lifting the barrier against women in combat “slashed away at that last institutional protection for the space that separates men and women, where civilization once grew.”
Indeed West regards the move to put women in combat as part of a larger cultural project aimed at “cutting away at elemental human instinct, social grace, language and thought itself.” She writes:
This overhaul of manners and mores, the family structure and marriage – even private aspects of the relationship between men and women – has been successful to a point where the cultural argument against women in combat (women in the military being a lost cause) is rarely voiced, not even on the right. (I watched Fox News on women-in-combat announcement day, listening in vain for just one culture warrior.)
We are left to make only the utilitarian arguments – body strength and speed, unit cohesion, even urinary tract infections and other hazards that front-line deployment pose to females. These are compellingly logical points, but they are unlikely to reverse an ideological juggernaut.