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The Conservative freakout regarding women in combat has truly been something to behold.  Everyone from Allen West to Tucker Carlson has participated in this sorry display.  As predictable and hilarious as the response has been, I wish it were just the crazies.  There's an op-ed by a former marine in the Wall Street Journal using some tortured bit of logic saying women shouldn't be allowed in combat because of hygiene.  Boys, your bias is showing.  And now even some of the saner minds in the party, like David Frum, can't seem to remove head from ass on this issue.  Frum, like the rest of these yahoos thinks that women in combat is an awful idea.  He of course is completely wrong but I'll let him make his argument first before picking it apart. Here's Frum on CNN.

Well, first, I think we need to stress -- this is quite an abstract notion. The number of women who will seek and qualify for combat specialties is likely to be quite minimal. But of those who do, I think there are three concerns that I would point to as to why this is not a good idea.

The first -- the first is, that we are going to see, as we have already seen, the expansion roles of women steady downward pressure on military qualifications, reductions and strength and endurance requirements in order to get numbers up.

First of all, if it's just an abstract notion that most women would neither seek nor qualify for, then why are you arguing against it?  But I'll move on to the actual substance of his arguments.  There has been zero talk of reducing fitness standards for say, the Army Rangers.  So this downward pressure on military qualifications is bunk.  Additionally, and I don't want to alarm Mr. Frum, but women are already serving in combat despite the military's insistence that they don't.  Today the line between active combat and non-combat roles is blurred beyond distinction.  Even the most innocuous missions can turn into a rolling firefight.  Just ask Congressman Tammy Duckworth, who lost both her legs when her helicopter shot down while on a supply run.  So whether you're in an active combat role or not, you're potentially moving into and out of war zones.  What this new rule will do is recognize that the woman who can qualify for the rigorous physical standards should not be barred from serving in combat units for no other reason than her gender.

Reason number two is up next. You might start to notice that Mr Frum's reasons get sillier the longer he talks.

The second, in the -- that I would really worry about, is the risk of harm to female personnel. The people we are likely to meet on the next battlefield are people who use rape and sexual abuse as actual tools of politics. What is -- in Iranian prisons, rape is a frequent practice.

In Iran, in Pakistan, in Afghanistan, rape is a conscious tool of subjugation. And it will be - it is something that women will be exposed to. In the name of equal opportunity, they will face unequal risk.

Our Soldiers are susceptible to all sorts of risk.  They might be shot, have a limb blown off, or be captured and tortured.  Ultimately, they may die in service to our country.  But let me see if I can understand his logic.  We can ask our soldiers to kill for us.  We can ask our soldiers to be maimed or to even die for us.  But rape is where we draw the line?  And this line is only drawn for women.  It is true that some of our enemies might use rape and sexual abuse as tools against us.   But it's apparently never occurred to Mr. Frum that our male soldiers can be raped and sexually assaulted by our enemies as well.  Honestly, female soldiers are likelier to get raped by their colleagues than killed in combat.  But if they're willing to sign up for those potential dangers and can meet the physical demands of the job, who are we to say that they shouldn't.

The third and most unintentionally hilarious excuse....I mean, reason that women should be barred from combat units according to Mr. Frum:

And the third point and one I think we should give real thought to is the stress on military families. We already lose a lot of officers at the major and colonel level because of the strained families. For those military spouses who are not in combat, who are not deployed, this is one more reason to worry about the high rate of family break up that we already see among military personnel.
Stress on military families?  So women shouldn't serve in combat because of the divorce rate among military families?  How is that a woman problem?  Sorry Doll.  You're a brilliant officer and you've passed all of the physical endurance tests but we can't have any more marriages breaking up, so...In the context of women serving in combat, who gives a shit what the divorce rate is among military families.  No one gave a damn when it was only men in the combat unit role.  But now that woman are up for the job suddenly there's grave concern over what combat duty does to families?  Funny how that happened all of a sudden.  There are plenty of things that our government should be doing to help military personnel and their families.  A better support system for mental illnesses such as PTSD would be great.  Perhaps consecutive deployments should be paired back so that folks actually have time to be with their families.  Either way that has zero to do with woman serving in combat units.

When in doubt, always play the family values card.  It's the conservative go-to move.  Don't like women determining what to do with their own bodies, talk about damage to the family.   Legalizing drugs?  How dare you!  What about what that would do to families.  And now we have this.  On the one hand, David Frum is saying that women will bear the unequal risk on the battlefield and how unfair that is.  While on the other hand, he has no problem making women bear the unequal hardship of bearing the brunt of this weird patriarchal construction where keeping woman out of combat will save the cue dramatic music very building blocks of society.  In order to protect the stability of families, you chicks mustn't be allowed to be in combat units.  To say nothing of essentially being barred from high ranking positions in the military since they can never get any combat experience.  Makes total sense.

How is it that Israel, Australia and others have figured out how to make this work but what's supposed to be the greatest military on earth can't?  What about when our military does joint operations with our allies who already have women serving in combat.  Do we insist that they leave the dames at home?

The conservative critique of liberals or liberalism always involves this notion of the "Nanny State."  The whole liberals want to control everything shtick.  It's government overreach here and harmful regulations there.  But when it comes to women, the whole conservative notion of small government and self determination goes right out the window.  Depending on the state you live in, women can't get an abortion.  At least not without jumping through a bunch of hoops like waiting periods, listening to scripts (not written by doctors) filled with medical inaccuracies, and submitting to transvaginal ultrasounds.  And now, women can't serve in combat units because, gasp, families will be destroyed.  At least they will according to Mr. Frum.

One of the clearest and most moderate voices in conservative circles thinks that women should be barred from service in combat units because of family values.  I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Originally posted to The Non Blogosphere on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 07:30 AM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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