Columnist Kathleen Parker has an excellent article today about mothers in combat and she brings up something I think is worth pondering and discussing. Parker makes this statement:
“If our goal is to prevail, then shouldn’t we also consider other ramifications of putting women in combat and/or in positions of risk? Those ramifications include women’s unequal vulnerability to rape and injury, as well as cultural attitudes toward women that may enhance their exposure to punishment or, alternatively, make them useful to our enemies…….Rape, though not a likely risk in this case, is a consistent argument against putting women in or near combat. While advocates for women in combat argue that men are also raped, there is an important difference. Women are raped by men, which, given the inherent power differential between the sexes, raises women’s rape to another level of terror. What kind of man, one shudders to wonder, is willing to allow his country’s women to be raped and tortured by other men of enemy nations? None that I know, but our military is gradually weaning men of their intuitive inclination to protect women — which, by extrapolation, means ignoring the screams of women being assaulted. At the point when our men can stand by unfazed while American servicewomen are raped and tortured, then we will have no cause to fight any war. We will have already lost.”
I agree with her assessment of women in combat and, truthfully, don’t think there is such a thing as a “noncombat job in the military” since every one in the military is trained to be a soldier and the ultimate purpose of the military in all instances is combat. What I found really intriguing, though, are her comments on teaching young men to respect and protect women.
I think she is making a valid argument and I am concerned as well. But it seems to me that many Christians today react to this concern by saying that women need to be “protected” to the extreme, such as not going to college because of the physical dangers to young women or, as the teaching is in some Christian circles, to not allow a woman to go anywhere at all unaccompanied by a man. The Islamic world believes that they are protecting their women by draping them in fabric and denying them basic human rights. I am curious as to what this all says about women and men in the new milleninium. Can women be expected to be protected by men today if they maintain some independence? How does this work? As moms and sisters, how do we “train” young men for this? Any other thoughts?