Poll: Women In Front Line Combat Role

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Jedi-Hunter4:
in 2002 MOD research showed that only 1% of trained women soldiers were physically fit enough to qualify for the front line and found that women "required more provocation and were more likely to fear consequences of aggressive behaviour".

Answer is right here.

If a woman is physically and mentally fit for the front line, there's no reason they can't be on it. Sure, according to the research, there's few women who should be there, but if they qualify, let them.

I... literally cannot see any alternative viewpoint that's not misogynistic ("Women are too delicate", or the oppositely problematic "Gender equality means there should be more women out there whether they're qualified or not") or misandric ("Only men should be put in danger").

Darken12:
All this is a consequence of arbitrary social mores. Men get stressed out or make risky decisions when women are in danger because society keeps insisting that women are helpless and fragile and need to be protected by men. This is patently false, but it shows up everywhere all the same.

Similarly, only 1% of women fit current male standards because we, as a society, insist that women must be thin, willowy and that anything that would give them physical strength (such as fat and muscle) are terribly undesirable. When it becomes socially desirable for women to have muscles (just like men), we'll start to see that 1% becoming 100%. And likewise, the bit about women needing more provocation and fearing the consequences of aggression have to do with the fact that women are socialised to be demure and quiet, and traits such as loudness, aggression and assertiveness are discouraged in them. Furthermore, women learn to avoid confrontational attitudes and play peacekeepers with men, something that wouldn't be necessary if they were socialised to be aggressive and value physical strength (just like men are socialised).

In short, change current societal mores and this problem disappears.

Um... you think this is an issue of what society finds attractive in the respective genders? Yes, I'm sure once society deems physically fit women appealing, and men express their interests in assertive women, we'll have a sudden influx of front line combat volunteers. Great logic there, why don't we start a 'big is beautiful' campaign so we can get more people trying out for the 100 yard dash!

lacktheknack:
I... literally cannot see any alternative viewpoint that's not misogynistic ("Women are too delicate", or the oppositely problematic "Gender equality means there should be more women out there whether they're qualified or not") or misandric ("Only men should be put in danger").

The only one that works requires there be a population crisis in our specie. But, I don't think the human race is in danger of that particular issue.

I really cant understand the people who think

"Oh, that human being has a Vagina, therefore she cant Fight as well as me"

COPIOUS AMOUNTS OF LOGIC OBVIOUSLY EXIST IN THAT SENTENCE GUYZ/Sarcasm

Simply, NO. I find it ironic that that vast majority answered yes but under the same requirements as male soldiers. I'm assuming most of those people aren't stupid and realize that only the tiniest, tiniest percentage of women would ever be able to meet the physical requirements that males do in order to qualify to be a front line infantryman. Following that logic, most of the people who voted yes, but under the same requirements as male soldiers, in their mind, are thinking no but I don't want to be viewed as sexist or politically incorrect. Seeing women being badly maimed and killed has a devastating psychological affect on male soldiers. It is biological, undeniable, and would compromise effective military decision making on the front lines. It would cause male soldiers to hesitate and cost lives. I'm all for equality of all peoples but ignoring the differences between them to entertain political correctness at the cost lives is wrong, no matter how you try to justify it.

Darken12:
All this is a consequence of arbitrary social mores. Men get stressed out or make risky decisions when women are in danger because society keeps insisting that women are helpless and fragile and need to be protected by men. This is patently false, but it shows up everywhere all the same.

Similarly, only 1% of women fit current male standards because we, as a society, insist that women must be thin, willowy and that anything that would give them physical strength (such as fat and muscle) are terribly undesirable. When it becomes socially desirable for women to have muscles (just like men), we'll start to see that 1% becoming 100%. And likewise, the bit about women needing more provocation and fearing the consequences of aggression have to do with the fact that women are socialised to be demure and quiet, and traits such as loudness, aggression and assertiveness are discouraged in them. Furthermore, women learn to avoid confrontational attitudes and play peacekeepers with men, something that wouldn't be necessary if they were socialised to be aggressive and value physical strength (just like men are socialised).

In short, change current societal mores and this problem disappears.

Four things:

1. I've grown up with the girls forever kicking my ass, standing up for themselves, helping out other people in trouble, and generally being the exact opposite of what I'm told is societal norm, and in the various entertainments I consume, there's far more emphasis on female badasses (Tomb Raider was a childhood staple, and pretty much every sitcom relies on incompetent men and patient, competent females, etc).

And yet, when I see a woman in a crisis of any kind, even when I know she's more than capable of dealing with it, I get a primal "Help her out" instinct, against all logic.

Consider that genetics might have a role.

2. It said 1% of female SOLDIERS. As in, NOT willowy wisps. In fact, they probably all could kick your ass so hard that you'd lose it, and they're probably proud of it. Yet it's not enough to reach the level needed for frontline combat, and that's due to a simple scientifically backed fact that women develop muscle more slowly than men and have a harder time shedding fat.

3. If you think that women with muscle isn't fashionable, you've clearly missed the boat. Health magazines are dropping "lose fat" articles and replacing them with "get stronger" articles left and right.

4. I've NEVER seen those social traits all bred into people with any consistency. If anything, "be aggressive" is pounded into women constantly (ever read a Women's World magazine or any self-help books?) and men are increasingly often being told to tone aggression down.

Overall, I find your post cliche and misguided.

XX Y XY:
Simply, NO. I find it ironic that that vast majority answered yes but under the same requirements as male soldiers. I'm assuming most of those people aren't stupid and realize that only the tiniest, tiniest percentage of women would ever be able to meet the physical requirements that males do in order to qualify to be a front line infantryman. Following that logic, most of the people who voted yes, but under the same requirements as male soldiers, in their mind, are thinking no but I don't want to be viewed as sexist or politically incorrect. Seeing women being badly maimed and killed has a devastating psychological affect on male soldiers. It is biological, undeniable, and would compromise effective military decision making on the front lines. It would cause male soldiers to hesitate and cost lives. I'm all for equality of all peoples but ignoring the differences between them to entertain political correctness at the cost lives is wrong, no matter how you try to justify it.

I think you're overstating the effect that females have on men. Sure, it's there, and it is psychologically devastating, but then again, so is war.

image

This painting is famous for powerfully (and off-puttingly) depicting the effect that war and death in general has on people. The picture is worth a thousand words, really. Sure, it's devastating to watch a woman die, but this guy didn't see that, and he STILL looks permanently shellshocked, BECAUSE HE IS. If you go to the front lines, you will be devastated psychologically, regardless of feminine presence.

Also, I never saw how "they will hesitate" is ever a bad thing. Hesitating is how you avoid getting shot or bombed. And if the biological push really is so strong, then they will never hesitate to come to the aid of a woman in crisis, which would SAVE lives, not end them...

yes with same requirements. sadly many woman are simply not physically capable to fit in those requirements. thats not their fault, its genetics. woman are a weaker sex, whether you like it or not, and therefore they would have much ahrder time in physical infantry needs. however if we start lowering the line for them, how does that make our army better?

lacktheknack:

XX Y XY:
Simply, NO. I find it ironic that that vast majority answered yes but under the same requirements as male soldiers. I'm assuming most of those people aren't stupid and realize that only the tiniest, tiniest percentage of women would ever be able to meet the physical requirements that males do in order to qualify to be a front line infantryman. Following that logic, most of the people who voted yes, but under the same requirements as male soldiers, in their mind, are thinking no but I don't want to be viewed as sexist or politically incorrect. Seeing women being badly maimed and killed has a devastating psychological affect on male soldiers. It is biological, undeniable, and would compromise effective military decision making on the front lines. It would cause male soldiers to hesitate and cost lives. I'm all for equality of all peoples but ignoring the differences between them to entertain political correctness at the cost lives is wrong, no matter how you try to justify it.

I think you're overstating the effect that females have on men. Sure, it's there, and it is psychologically devastating, but then again, so is war.

image

This painting is famous for powerfully (and off-puttingly) depicting the effect that war and death in general has on people. The picture is worth a thousand words, really. Sure, it's devastating to watch a woman die, but this guy didn't see that, and he STILL looks permanently shellshocked, BECAUSE HE IS. If you go to the front lines, you will be devastated psychologically, regardless of feminine presence.

Also, I never saw how "they will hesitate" is ever a bad thing. Hesitating is how you avoid getting shot or bombed. And if the biological push really is so strong, then they will never hesitate to come to the aid of a woman in crisis, which would SAVE lives, not end them...

I'm not overstating anything. I am a man and am extremely protective of women. If I were in a combat situation and I had to weigh the value of a woman's life against that of completing my mission objective, the woman's life would win hands down. It might not be politically correct or what-have-you but it's a fact of life today that men are raised to be protective of women and they value their lives more highly than those of men. Military conditioning may help with this but it certainly would not eliminate it. Perhaps someday in the future if social mores change this issue can be looked at again but things being what they are today absolutely, no.

And I don't mean to sound insulting, but saying that you don't see hesitating as a bad thing tells me you have no idea what it's like to be in a tense combat situation. Especially one where lives hang in the balance of choices that have to be made in fractions of seconds. Hesitation in front line combat is the quickest route to dying and causing the deaths of others.

lacktheknack:
Consider that genetics might have a role.

As a scientist, that would be profoundly unethical of me. Genetic determinism is one of the most profoundly disgusting misuses of science I can possibly think of. A gene is a code that tells cells how to create a protein. While hormones and neurotransmitters have an effect in mood and emotional states, it is impossible for a protein (or several) to determine behaviour, impulses or anything that might be construed as a higher brain function.

lacktheknack:
2. It said 1% of female SOLDIERS. As in, NOT willowy wisps. In fact, they probably all could kick your ass so hard that you'd lose it, and they're probably proud of it. Yet it's not enough to reach the level needed for frontline combat, and that's due to a simple scientifically backed fact that women develop muscle more slowly than men and have a harder time shedding fat.

Nope. That's actually been debunked. Studies saying that testosterone was consistently responsible for muscle accretion were done in rats, and a new study (this one) proved that there are no differences in testosterone serum levels between men and women after resistance exercise, which has led to the conclusion that men and rats have different muscle steroidogenesis. From the study:

"No differences were found for muscle testosterone or steroidogenic enzyme (17β-HSD type 3 and 3β-HSD types 1 and 2) concentrations between sexes or in response to resistance exercise. These findings are in contrast to those of some studies in rats."

Testosterone does have an effect in muscle development, but it's related to power/strength. Men have an easier time gaining maximum voluntary strength and developing muscle hypertrophy when their testosterone serum levels are higher than normal (that is, due to hypersecretion or the use of anabolic steroids), but that can easily happen with women as well (you can give women anabolic steroids as well, after all). Women secrete androstenedione (which inter-converts with testosterone, and women transform into estradiol with the aromatase enzyme), and from this link, we see that there is very little difference between the serum levels of androstenedione between males and females. The main difference between male and female testosterone levels is due to women aromatising most of their androstenedione. Women with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), a very common endocrine disorder, have increased testosterone levels (often matching average male levels) at the expense of hirsutism, acne, infertility and increased risk of cardiac disease (that is, symptoms of masculinisation), so many women could end up with testosterone hypersecretion, just like men.

However, even if men have it easier developing muscular hypertrophy and maximum voluntary strength, no study has proven that such benchmarks are unreachable by women (in fact, a percentage of them do in fact reach it). The evidence so far is inconclusive. It's possible that with a wider cultural change, more women will spend their childhood and adolescence engaging in physical activities that stimulate their GH levels during those critical years, obtaining a muscle-oriented (high protein) nutrition and developing a routine and endurance for intense physical training that would put them closer to the military's standards. This could end up steadily increasing that percentage.

lacktheknack:
3. If you think that women with muscle isn't fashionable, you've clearly missed the boat. Health magazines are dropping "lose fat" articles and replacing them with "get stronger" articles left and right.

I admit I might be out of touch with fashion trends, but that is a very good thing. However, I wager it will take several years before we start to see the effects on a cultural level.

lacktheknack:
4. I've NEVER seen those social traits all bred into people with any consistency. If anything, "be aggressive" is pounded into women constantly (ever read a Women's World magazine or any self-help books?) and men are increasingly often being told to tone aggression down.

...

They're being told that precisely because they are the product of centuries of cultural inertia. If women weren't socialised to be non-aggressive, why would they have magazines or self-help books saying "be aggressive"? If men weren't socialised to be aggressive, why would they need to be told to be less aggressive?

women!?! in war!?! as LEADERS!?!........................Sure. why not. go get them girls. I have no problem with it

albino boo:
I don't have a problem with female tank crew, artillery gunners, fighter pilots or in surface ships. I think the physiological differences are to great for women to operate as infantry. A women has lower levels of testerone which builds muscle and promotes aggression. The odds are that a woman in an infantry role is at great risk of dying than a male counterpart. There are very few sports in which men and women compete on equal terms. As great a sprinter as Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is there is no way she will ever beat Usain Bolt.

Agreed. There is also the problem of women being potentially incapable of helping a fallen male soldier in infantry units. She may simply not be strong or big enough to haul 350lbs (say 250 for the guy and another 80-100lbs of gear) of dead weight out of the line of fire.

Yes, let and make them fight there alongside the poor blokes who likely don't wanna be on the front line either

Jedi-Hunter4:

Meaning of Karma:
If a woman meets the physical requirements needed for front line combat, then yes, let them do it. If they don't, then no.

It's that fucking simple.

its not though, because as I said there's research that's been done which suggests it can have very negative effects psychologically on male soldiers that are totally involuntary and at the current time (possibly due to lack of research) seemingly unavoidable. Which is the point I was trying to make freedom of equality & opportunity could cost someone their life. An there are those that seem to think this is justified. which I'm inclined to disagree with.

Research by whom? They said gay soldiers would fuck things up in the US military if DADT was repealed, but nothing changed. This is a life or death thing we're talking about, at the end of the day research and statistics don't mean much.

A woman is going to cause trouble amongst a big group of men. The kind of trouble that has no place in a warzone.

Apart from that, functioning in a warzone has everything to do with trust and I'm sure a lot of men would find it hard to trust a woman with their lives, despite having made the tests. I know I would, anyway, not impossible, though.

The big problem is the first thing, though. Just imagine what is going to happen with a minority of women trapped with a majority of men which haven't had sex for multiple months.

Kathinka:
4 years light infantry in the czech army here.

it works, and it works well. the germans do it. the czech army does it. the french army does it, one of the most powerful and probably one of the most underestimated fighting forces in the world, with the highest portion of women in any western military force.
all those issues go out of the window when it gets serious. you stop looking at the people with you as guys or girls, they are soldiers. you don't even think about it for a single second.

i think the resistance against it in the u.s. stems from the fact that less women are physicly capable. what do we do about that? do we set the same physical fitness standards for women and men, making it effectively extremely difficult for any girls to be admitted in a combat role (yes, girls are physicaly weaker than guys on average, get over it), or do we apply a lower standard to females, effectively reducing the overall quality of soldiers?

probably too much of such stuff that could cause a headache, hence they don't bother with it at all.

pretty much sums it up right there. in practice it does work.

from a few studies ive seen females due to their body proportions also make better fighter pilots as they are able to withstand high G manauevers better than males can

Until recently, the US Marine Corps had very different judgement lines for men and women seeking to enlist, and to pass the CFT and PFT. One of the big differences was that male Marines had to perform actual pull-ups, while female Marines had to do a flexed arm hang. I learned recently that the Corp is actually changing this so that both sexes have to do full pull-ups, but I haven't looked to see if it's the same amount.

I say, if they can keep with the men, let 'em sit on the front lines. That just means we'll have more people shooting at the other people.

Russia's been doing it for about a century.
At this point it doesn't matter too much who's physically stronger. This is a world of automatic weapons and body armor. It's very simple: just accept whoever passes the training on the same standard. It might end up being biased against women, but it's also already biased against the short, the scrawny, the slow, regardless of gender.

Jedi-Hunter4:
"lovers and their favorites" Literally makes it sound like a troop of possible sexual abusers. How did they fight the spartans? lol

The Spartans were actually very into man-boy love too. A lot of soldiers would have a young squire they'd have their way with - it was far from uncommon. Same thing with Japanese samurais.

Quaxar:
Women in the infantry? Don't care, but what we need brought back is a gay lover regiment. Seemed to work very well for the Thebans. And it would be hilarious for internet comedy writers.

I dont want to seem like im stereotyping, but the thought of Louie Spence with an m60 is a beautiful one

If a man cant meet certain physical requirements he cant serve in infantry. those requirements have nothing todo with gender. So in my opinion everyone who meets those requirements should be allowed to serve in infantry, no matter if man, woman or something else.

Jedi-Hunter4:

Meaning of Karma:
If a woman meets the physical requirements needed for front line combat, then yes, let them do it. If they don't, then no.

It's that fucking simple.

its not though, because as I said there's research that's been done which suggests it can have very negative effects psychologically on male soldiers that are totally involuntary and at the current time (possibly due to lack of research) seemingly unavoidable. Which is the point I was trying to make freedom of equality & opportunity could cost someone their life. An there are those that seem to think this is justified. which I'm inclined to disagree with.

While I would assume that war would cause psychological problems for any of those involved, both soldiers and survivors, I don't see a reason for a gender split because of this. Men are believed to get psychological issues afterwards, thus women shouldn't be allowed to be in front line combat is not an example of solid reasoning. If they can be trusted to tackle both the physical and psychological pressure of front line combat I believe they should be allowed to do so. We don't send men that we don't tackle either, why should we restrict women we believe can handle both?

I would think men would treat woman differently on the frontline than they would other men. Not talking about sexual or sexist way. But as in combat. Would a man take more risks if a woman was pinned down by fire than if a male soldier was pinned down by fire? Or if a woman is screaming after being shot? But then soldiers are highly trained professionals so this may not even be an issue.

Katatori-kun:
The next question you need to ask yourself, however, is if that difference in strength matters to front line combat. Maybe 500 years ago, when soldiers needed to be able to stab each other with pikes, it mattered. Nowadays, as long as the soldier has the strength to carry their gear, it strikes me that there are much more important factors to consider- things like endurance, ability to follow orders, hand-eye coordination, and ability to make snap judgements in line with combat doctrines.

Putting aside the ridiculously rude tone of your response, I think you're underestimating the relevance of physical fitness to a modern infantry role. It's still a pretty gruelling job.

Katatori-kun:

Jedi-Hunter4:
An it's an undeniable fact that men and women are different. denying that on average males have greater strength is like denying that on average women live longer lives.

And this right here is where you made the fallacy.

First of all, while yes, it is an undeniable fact that women and men are different, the question that should be asked is, "are the differences that are undeniable relevant to combat?" For example, men usually have penises. Since we do not carry rifles with our penises (spunk-gargle-wee-wee games notwithstanding) the distinction is irrelevant.

Also, I am not going to accept your claim that average males have greater strength without serious evidence as back up. I know a lot of males who have no appreciable upper body strength. I know a lot of males whose life revolves around a dull job sitting at a desk, lots of beer/chips/cola consumption, and then late night video game sessions. They are not stronger than most women I know, especially since most women I know routinely work out.

So you respond to a percieved logical fallacy with an actual logical fallacy. Sounds legit, yeah, carry on, I'm certainly going to respect your opinions on this now.

OT: Given that soldiers are predominantly known for following orders, if they suddenly stop because of the addition of women soldiers that's less a problem with the women and more a problem with a subset of male soldiers (who I also assume would do the same for their male counterparts). If they meet the fitness/mental requirements to do be in the balls-out insane-o divisions (since that 1% bit comes from the SAS) then yeah, they're qualified so they should get the job. I don't know how accurate that 1% is though since it's presumably only from applicants.

Basically, yeah, as they are able to fill any other role they meet the requirements for in the military this is no different.

I'm an infantryman. No, women shouldn't be on the front lines. That's an insane suggestion that puts soldiers in excessive danger for no quantifiable gains. There's no shortage of infantrymen or tankers or scouts, so it's not like we're hurting for warm bodies.

There are differences between men and women, biologically and mentally, but if a woman can pass the training I can't think of any other reason to object to her serving every position a man can.

Hell yeah, if they want to go, and meet the same criteria as anyone else being sent out to the frontline, why not!

Well as someone who joins the military next week I would say no purely on the grounds of the fitness issue. Currently to get into the military the female fitness standards are lower than the males and when I did the fitness test I don't think any of the females there would have been able to reach the required standards for males. The standards also go up once you are a part of the military and are even higher for combat units so even if they were allowed to try I would think all of them would fail.

I'm fine with the idea, but ive heard an army officer who was in my college saying they are never going to allow it because, if a male soldier sees a female get blown to bits, it hurts the moral ALOT and men are more likely to do something stupid to save a female soldier or impress her.

Don't get me wrong, I'm usually all for equality, but it just isn't suitable in certain situations like this one. As you stated above there are many reasons why most women aren't suited for straight up combat but there are many other areas where these women can be of great help in the military.

On the other hand another part of me says that they should be allowed to do what they want. There would have to be a lot of adjustment in the current military to accommodate female front line troops which could cause a problem but I think it could be done with time. I'm still undecided.

If the female soldier can pass the same test as the male soldier then yeah. The loudest argument I've heard is that men might try to act cool in front of the women in combat situations. Well if the guy gets shot acting like a moron then it's his own stupid fault.

The best person available should get the job.

If they can pass the same fitness tests sure. But otherwise no. This is life and death. If someone you know dies because they replaced a man with a woman and she couldn't carry your friend's injured body of the field due to lower physical standards, I doubt 'equality' would suffice as an excuse.

The trouble, as I see it, is that (in Britain at least), we're not allowed to "exclude" people based on gender (as well as height, race, and anything else you can think of).

Now, what I mean by this, is that if we were to allow women into the teeth arms, they would not be held to the same standard as the men - They already aren't in the UK armed forces, as it would be deemed to be excluding most women if they raised their standards to the same as the men.

For example, to pass the Personal Fitness Assessment, a Male in the British Army has to perform 44 press ups, 50 sit ups and under 10:30 1.5 mile run (2.4km). A female has to do 21 press ups, 50 sit ups and a 13 minute 1.5 mile run.

I know plenty of women who can beat the 10:30 and 44 press ups. So they can do it. However someone, somewhere, decided that to hold all of them to this standard is "exclusionary" - that is to say, to hold them to this standard would cause enough to fail that we may as well be excluding the whole gender.

On an odd side note, a similar rule applies to Drill teams - Many, many (and I mean many) moons ago, if you were forming a drill team you'd try to get everyone to be about 6 feet (180(ish?)cm) tall, however this was again deemed exclusionary - not because most PEOPLE aren't 6' tall, but because most Women and Ghurkhas are not 6' tall.

Now, I've bolded that wording, because to me that sums the whole situation up - Before, it was okay to exclude most of the army (who would not be in the range of 5'11" to 6'1" that would be acceptable for drill teams), but as soon as the issue became about gender and race, it became a problem. (Just to clarify, I think it's correct that drill teams now are no longer allowed to exclude people based on height, what I disagree with is the wording of the reasoning for doing it).

So... Do I think women should be allowed in the teeth arms?

Yes, I think they should be allowed to do any role provided that they are held to the same standards as their male colleagues. What I fear is that this would not be (and indeed, is not) the case.

I'd be all for Job Specific fitness tests - after all I know plenty of people less fit than myself who are better at my job, and if they were to lower the standards required of me then happy days.

Gender specific though, that's just political correctness gone mad! (tongue firmly in cheek there).

TL;DR:

Yeah, let 'em fight, just make sure you only take the ones who are as equal to the task as the men.

CpT_x_Killsteal:
Well if the guy gets shot acting like a moron then it's his own stupid fault.

The problem arises when he gets himself shot being a moron, and it fucks everything up for everybody else.

The Army is a team effort - there's literally no such thing as being able to brush off someone elses fuck ups as "their own stupid fault", because the effects impact on everyone.

So long as a woman is healthy, fit and mentally stable enough to be on the front lines, let them be. Same tests as men, they have to get the same results. If they're too weak, its their own fault. If they're strong enough and want to be there, all you're doing by cutting them out is losing valuable battle assets because you have morality issues.
As for the psychological problems with men trying to protect women, there's an alright solution to this; psych tests. If a get the set of people who are least effected by having women teammates, and slot them in there. Additionally, if you have enough women front liners for a squad, make one up entirely of women.

So long as the woman in question can perform well enough to be on the front lines, there isn't a lot of reason to hold them back.

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