Friday, April 15, 2011

Our Men Are Afraid

Some fool over in Afghanistan, a local politician or something, added his two cents to our current debate about allowing women in the Australian Defense Forces to serve in frontline positions. Obviously an ignorant sexist with a flare for being offensive, he said that we must be considering women for combat roles because our men are afraid. Fair enough, this may have been a juicy example of hyperbolic rhetoric but it really annoyed me. What a stupid thing to say when our men, our soldiers, are dying in his God forsaken country to try and secure a peaceful future for them.

The re-ignited public discussion about women in combat roles is also stupid. As with just about everything kicked around in the forum of the vox populi, it is largely drivel. People have a right to their opinions but we should all be aware that there is a difference between points of view which are informed by relevant knowledge and/or experience, and hot air fuelled by ignorance and prejudice.

Women and men are not the same but they can do the same things. The only pre-requisite for employment in a particular profession, in this case, the armed forces, should be a person's ability to do the job. Are they physically, intellectually and emotionally capable of executing their duties? The presence of a penis between the candidate's legs, or lack thereof is not a relevant criterion.

Speaking of penises: have you heard the one about how women on the front line may get raped if captured? Men get raped too. What about that women are too soft and they might not be able to handle the terror of combat? Men have had their insides ripped out, literally and metaphorically, ever since they first raised arms against one another after they were expelled from Paradise. What about the one that says men will feel overly protective of the females in their unit? I believe that the bonds that exist between members of a combat unit are unbreakable; thicker than blood in some cases.

I don't know anything about war other than what I read, listen to, and watch. I've been to the War Memorial, and I've felt the intensity of overwhelming emotions when I think of what has been sacrificed by our armed forces, but I have never experienced it. Saying that I know about war is like stating I understand brain surgery because I watched a edited version of it on RPA.

To say that I admire the bravery of people who go into armed combat is such an understatement that I feel embarrassed to write it. The debate about whether courageous women should serve on the frontline is best left to people who know what they are talking about. Ignorance, like that demonstrated by our Afghan friend, is not helpful.

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