November 19 2013
Understanding the Feminist War on Military Culture
There has been less outcry from conservatives than might have been anticipated over the sequester’s effect on military spending. Could this be because many conservatives see the U.S. military as having been transformed into a vehicle for social engineering rather than an instrument of victory in battle?
Mackubin Thomas Owens, Marine infantry veteran from the Vietnam War and editor of Orbis, a quarterly military journal, today dissects what the headline terms “the feminist campaign to make weaklings of America’s warriors.”
Owens has a brilliant summary of the schizophrenic nature of the feminist campaign against the military that deserves to be quoted at some length:
Feminism is trying to yank the U.S. military in two directions at once. While claiming that women have no problem meeting the rigorous standards of the SEALs or infantry, advocates of opening these branches to women argue that female members of the military must be protected from the male sexual predators that, we are assured, are widely represented in the military. However, they can’t have it both ways. Are women “hear me roar” Amazons, or are they fragile flowers who must be protected from “sexual harassment,” encouraged to level the charge at the drop of the hat?
In her 2000 book, “Real Politics: At the Center of Everyday Life,” the late American political philosopher Jean Bethke Elshtain identified the two extremes of modern radical feminism: the “repressive androgynists,” who contend that there are no real differences between men and women, indeed that the idea that there are differences is an illusion fostered by a repressive patriarchy; and the “feminist victimization wing,” which paints the relations between the sexes as a continuous train of abuses by men who victimize women on a daily basis.
For two decades, these wings of feminist ideology have worked in tandem to sustain an attack on the culture of the U.S. military, culminating in the recent decision by the Pentagon to open infantry and special operations to women. In light of the argument that women are capable of performing these elite missions, it is indeed ironic that the wedge issues driving the military toward this end have come from the victimization wing, stretching from the “Tailhook” episode in 1991 to the recent moral panic over alleged rampant sexual assault in the military
It shouldn’t be necessary to preface any remarks on the current controversy over alleged sexual assaults of women in the military with a statement that any assault against a woman is horrendous. But the atmosphere is such that both Owens and your humble blogger feel it is necessary to state the obvious: there is no excuse for sexual assault.
But, as Owens points out, the Pentagon figures on sexual assaults are also likely wrong. The methodology was suspect and the definition of sexual assault was so broad that it is “nearly meaningless.” Much of what passes as normal behavior between men and women has been defined as criminal. But never mind that.
The charges of rampant sexual assault are simply the latest manifestation of the victim side of the feminist war on military culture. Feminist theorists have railed against the “masculinist military construct” for generations. Instead of talking about the physical standards women will need to survive on the front lines, the feminists cadre talks about victimization. This carries a certain threat for the future of our military:
If the United States insists on opening infantry and special operations forces to women, the focus should be on upholding high standards, no matter the outcome. Instead, those who want to open these heretofore restricted military specialties to women insist on stigmatizing males as sexual predators and women as childlike victims whose only protection is to charge sexual assault. The result will be a less effective military, rent by dissension.
Owens is disgusted that “timid generals” don’t stand up for military culture. How pathetic that Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno said before Congress that “combating sexual assault and sexual harassment within the ranks is our No. 1 priority.” Sorry, but, while I certainly want sexual predators to be punished, I think defending the nation should be the first priority of the military.
Is it far-fetched to suggest that the relatively muted reaction from conservatives to mandatory cuts comes from a feeling that our once-splendid military faces serious threats from within? I don’t know about you, but I’m one hawk who doesn’t mind cutting the budget of a military that is being turned into an engine of social engineering.
If General Odierno was giving a true statement of the current purpose of the U.S. military, can we make some more budget cuts?