5 Stupid Arguments Against Letting Women Fight

William Saletan takes on former officer's main points

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 29, 2013 1:58 PM CST

(Newser) – Ever since the Pentagon decided to allow women in combat, opponents of the move have been coming out of the woodwork. One of the foremost naysayers: Jerry Boykin, executive VP of the Family Research Council and a former Army lieutenant general. He's been on Fox, written for CNN and USA Today, and more. But William Saletan of Slate has been less than impressed with his arguments. Here are a few of them:

  • Women are too weak. Boykin believes soldiers still need certain "levels of sheer physical strength, speed, and endurance that are relatively rare among women." But wait, if they're "relatively rare" doesn't mean that they, you know, exist?

  • Soldiers need to pee in front of each other! Boykin warns that combat missions often offer no access to base facilities. "Living conditions can be abysmal and base. … Soldiers and Marines have to relieve themselves within sight of others." Apparently women aren't just weak, they're squeamish.
  • It would humiliate men. Even if some few women can cut it, Boykin has argued, "I certainly don't want to be in that environment with a female, because it's degrading and humiliating to do your personal hygiene and other normal functions" in front of them. So it's not just the women who are squeamish.
  • Women are too sexy. Soldiers won't be able to focus, Boykin argues, "in an environment that combines life-threatening danger with underlying sexual tensions." Given that one VA survey found that 49% of women serving in the Middle East had been sexually harassed, apparently things are already pretty sexually tense.
  • Women might quit. Boykin worries that women will have "very little protection" from being put on the front lines, which would force them to "reconsider their place in the armed services. … That would be tragic." Saletan's response: "You can almost feel the general’s tears of sorrow. Women who have voluntarily joined the armed forces—that would be 100% of them—might run away, tragically, if their unofficial exposure to mortal risk, unshowered men, and outdoor urination becomes official."
Read Saletan's full column here.

Female soldiers train on a firing range while testing new body armor in Fort Campbell, Ky., in preparation for their deployment to Afghanistan, Sept. 18, 2012.
Female soldiers train on a firing range while testing new body armor in Fort Campbell, Ky., in preparation for their deployment to Afghanistan, Sept. 18, 2012.   (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)
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