A Philosopher's Blog

Racism, Sexism & Military Service

Posted in Ethics, Law, Philosophy, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on February 6, 2013
Gen. Ann Dunwoody meets with Rear Adm. Liz You...

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In a previous essay I discussed the matter of women in combat. While the decision has been made to permit women to serve in combat (which mainly just makes policy reflect reality), there are still those who argue against allowing women in these roles.

Obviously, this is not the first time that there has been a dispute regarding whether or not certain types of people are fit for certain types of military service (if at all). Equally obviously, this rather long history of exclusion and later inclusion provides a means of assessing the potential impact of allowing women to serve in combat roles.

While blacks served in American military conflicts since the Revolution, the official policy until 1948 was that blacks would serve in their own units (usually commanded by white officers). There were also arguments that blacks were simply unfit to serve in the military because of alleged defects in their abilities and character (this method of appealing to stereotypes has become a stock method in this context). Even after blacks had served with distinction in wars, this view still held. After all, prejudice is generally never defeated by clear and obvious evidence against it.

While the idea that blacks could serve in the military was eventually accepted, the idea of integrating the armed forces was resisted. One argument given against integration rested on the claim that allowing blacks to serve with whites would be harmful to moral and damage unit cohesion. Some even claimed that it would destroy the military (and perhaps America). This argument from cohesion, like the appeal to stereotypes, also became a stock tool.

The United States Navy started integrating crews in 1946 and President Truman ordered integration in 1948. In the 1950s the Korean War forced the ground forces to integrate because of casualties: all-white units needed replacements and black soldiers were on hand.

Despite the dire predictions, the integration of whites and blacks in the military went fairly smoothly and the military’s effectiveness was not (as some feared) damaged by this.

In more recent history, there was considerable uproar over the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding homosexuals in the military. Although soldiers could be expelled for being homosexuals, this policy of intentional deceit did allow homosexuals to serve as long as no one asked and no one told (although people generally knew).

Even more recently, the decision was made to allow homosexuals to serve openly. Naturally, the stock arguments involving stereotypes and unit cohesion were brought into play and doom was predicted once more.

Interestingly enough, this doom did not come to pass. Unit cohesion seemed to remain unaffected by the change of policy and the efficacy of the military remained intact.

Most recently, the hue and cry has been over the decision to allow women to serve in combat positions. As noted in my previous essay on the matter, the classic arguments were modified slightly to apply to women. To be specific, stereotypes of women were used to “argue” against allowing women in these roles and claims were made that women would destroy morale and unit cohesion.

Given what happened when blacks were allowed to serve and  then integrated and what happened in the case of homosexuals, it would be reasonable to infer that the prediction that allowing women to serve in combat roles will prove just as erroneous. After all, the “reasoning” seems to be the same, only the exact target of the stereotypes and prejudices have changed.

Of course, those who argue against allowing women in combat roles can make the claim that they are not arguing from mere prejudice. After all, they can point to legitimate and established evidence that women are generally less physically capable than men.  This is, of course, in contrast with the usual racist “arguments” about one race being inferior to another.

This line of reasoning does have some merit. After all, if a combat position legitimately requires abilities that women lack, then it would be wrong (practically and morally) to allow women into those positions. After all, this would truly impair the effectiveness of the unit and could result in mission failures and deaths.

However, accepting this does not require that one accepts that women should be subject to a blanket exclusion from combat positions. Individual women (and individual men) should be excluded from positions that they fail to legitimately qualify for and allowed in positions that they legitimately qualify for. Women have clearly shown that they can serve effectively in various combat roles (see Afghanistan and Iraq for recent examples). To simply exclude all women from all combat roles because some (or even all) women cannot qualify for some combat roles would certainly seem to be a mistake, both moral and practical (after all, with so many wars going we need soldiers).

When the next group is being targeted for exclusion from the military (perhaps non-humans) I am sure that the tired old arguments will be revived for yet another battle.  I am also sure that someone will use the inclusion of women in combat roles as an example of how the dire sexist predictions turned out just as mistaken as the dire predictions fueled by racism.


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  1. T. J. Babson said, on February 6, 2013 at 9:50 am

    I am old enough to remember when people fled to Canada to avoid combat. Combat is the dirtiest of dirty jobs and there is absolutely no desire on the part of the vast majority of women to see any combat. I think most women in the military were very happy with their special privileges and wanted to keep things the way they were. That will now start to change.

    I still think this decision will eventually prove to be a big victory for men.

    • Douglas Moore said, on February 6, 2013 at 10:00 am

      I really wish I could be as positive as you are, TJ. But the Left is fully in control now. Have other issues that hurt men been ironed out? No, they continue to destroy men when it comes to divorce, custody, child support, jobs etc. No one cares. Everything is feminized. 90% of TV shows and commercials are meant for women.

      Mike still thinks it’s about equality. Yeah, right. Why not change the things I’ve talked about before allowing women in combat arms? Why? Because it’s NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN. Not in my life. It’s not about justice.

      I’m for letting them do anything they can do. Exact same rules that I have to follow. Ain’t gonna happen.

      I’m in rebellion against all this pretend egalitarianism. I see what “equality” gets me.

      • T. J. Babson said, on February 7, 2013 at 7:28 am

        I have concluded that the only way to win is to make them live by their own rules.

        For example, if they think gay scoutmasters should be sleeping in tents with 14 year old boys, they obviously would have no problem with a hetero guy sleeping in a tent full of 14 year old girls–right?

        • Douglas Moore said, on February 7, 2013 at 8:15 am


        • WTP said, on February 7, 2013 at 9:43 am

          Well, by that rationale lesbians in the Boy Scouts should be no problem. A preference, even. I believe the Eagle Scout driving this internally is the “son” of a lesbian couple.

          When I was in Scouting, adults did no share tents with boys. On the few occastions that my father went on a campout, even we didn’t sleep in the same tent. Though I suppose it’s a possibility I think it would raise suspicions on numerous other grounds also.

          As for the pedophilia, we had one of those leading our youth group in our church. He was married. Not pretending to know much about pedophilia (as if anyone really does) but one theory I’ve heard is that pedos favor prepubescent boys for their pre-testosterone, more feminine-like looks.

          All that said, I do worry about certain elements of the gay community abusing the opportunity to serve as scout leaders to further political and social agendas beyond the principles of Scouting.

          I don’t know, but are men expressly forbidden from going on Girl Scout campouts and sleeping in their own tents? Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever personally seen Girl Scouts actually camping out.

        • biomass2 said, on February 7, 2013 at 10:50 am

          One problem is that under current circumstances there’s really no way to know whether the scout leader or a scout is homosexual or a pedophile. I don’t think there’s a DNA test for that. And, whether the policy changes or not, I’m not certain that would change in the near future because there will be homosexuals who are still unwilling to declare themselves.
          Speaking of someone with in a position of trust and access to young vulnerable children and who is a pedophile (NOT a homosexual), how about the Jerry Sandusky guy! Had he ever had Boy Scout connections?

          “A Scout is: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.” “Tolerant” is missing from the list. I’m not sure if Scout leaders, who may have been scouts once, are delaying the decisions because they’re not tolerant or because they’re indecisive or because they’re prudent. Those traits, the good and the bad, are missing from the creed. I’m not certain how the

          I think prudence is a good quality. But then again, so is tolerance.

          “He hung out with sinners and, maybe even more telling, sinners hung out with him.” Hate the sin, if you believe it’s a sin, but love the sinner.

          I’m not certain how the so-called ‘perversion files’ fit into all this. But they make every step the Scouts take a little shakier.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on February 7, 2013 at 6:26 pm

          Interesting point.

          However, is it that we have a problem with a hetero male girl scout leader sleeping in a tent full of girl scouts because we think he might rape them or is it because of the feeling that people should be segregated by physical sex in such circumstances? Or some other reason?

          It is worth keeping in mind that being gay does not mean that one is a pedophile or a rapist. An adult homosexual seems no more likely to attack a child than an adult heterosexual is likely to attack a child.

          • T. J. Babson said, on February 8, 2013 at 9:03 am

            What do you think, Mike? This looks like blatant discrimination to me.

            Washington (CNN) — An Australian airline’s policy prohibiting male passengers from sitting next to kids traveling alone has fueled a social media firestorm and caused the company to review the rule.

            “I am an emergency service worker when I’m off that plane, but as soon as I boarded it I was a presumed pedophile,” firefighter Johnny McGirr told CNN Australian affiliate Network Ten.

            While on a Virgin Australia flight earlier this year, he was seated next to two young boys traveling alone until he says a flight attendant asked him to trade seats with a woman.


            • biomass2 said, on February 8, 2013 at 10:41 am

              Sexual profiling?

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on February 8, 2013 at 2:54 pm

              Yes, this would be discrimination. If the policy was that adults (regardless of sex) could not sit near unaccompanied children, then that would be odd but non-discriminatory.

    • biomass2 said, on February 6, 2013 at 10:56 am

      I have a prediction. Yes, magus, I have a prediction. Several, in fact.
      There will be women who want to join combat forces. Some of those women will succeed. Some will and have already served as intelligence officers and have done quite well there.
      There will be homosexuals who will fit into society’s mainstream. Some will marry and successfully raise adopted children. Others, perhaps more, perhaps not, will flame out.
      There are blacks who have achieved far more than slave owners and far too many of my generation thought they could.
      There will be white men and women who can run faster than whites. And longer than Kenyans.
      I believe all men are created equal in the fact that they are of us. In the same way that all dogs are created equal. They’re dogs. Some can walk on their front legs, some can’t and never will.
      Maybe it comes down to differing definitions of ‘equality’.

      • T. J. Babson said, on February 6, 2013 at 11:08 am

        biomass2, do you think combat roles for women should be voluntary, or (as in the case of men) should the military decide how it wants to use each person?

        Men often get sent to combat against their will. Will women have a choice? If so, what is the justification for treating them differently?

        Often what passes for “equal rights” is a thinly disguised push for special privileges.

        • biomass2 said, on February 6, 2013 at 11:40 am

          “should the military decide how it wants to use each person? ”
          Interesting question to answer with a question. Do you feel the military leadership (including those who can’t keep it in their pants 😦 * ), are capable of making wise decisions as to who , what, when, where, why, and how an individual should be used in any military role? If the answer is yes to that question#, then it’s yes to yours. If the answer is no, then the answer to your question is no.

          * and # I wouldn’t want someone who was pissed off just because he couldn’t screw a soldier to send that individual into battle to get her/or him(?) killed. Will the object of that command, woman, or man, have any choice? Should he/she?

          • T. J. Babson said, on February 6, 2013 at 11:51 am

            I’m just trying to determine if you are in favor of true equality or whether you think women deserve special privileges that men don’t deserve.

            Should women register for the draft as men do?

            • biomass2 said, on February 6, 2013 at 12:06 pm

              Good question. It’s kind of like asking whether men should be required to give birth. My immediate answer would be yes. The moment a man is born with a uterus and a cervix, he should be susceptible to getting pregnant every time he f**** .
              The answer to your question: Yes. After the woman registers (it’s still a volunteer army, right?) and ‘if’ the woman volunteers, will military leadership treat them like men, employ them in positions for which they’re best qualified—and I’m not talking using them for their playthings;—and use their talents where they would be best used?

          • T. J. Babson said, on February 6, 2013 at 11:54 am

            Is violence directed at a woman somehow worse than violence directed at a man? Is raping a woman a worse crime than beating a man practically to death?

            • biomass2 said, on February 6, 2013 at 12:14 pm

              Tough question with at least three tons of variables. Sounds like you may have an answer. I’d like to hear it.
              I’ll add a few thoughts to whatever you’re thinking.
              A man beaten practically to death could survive and live a perfectly normal life, unless he suffers brain damage, in which case he’d have long term problems (unless, of course he was 80-90 and was near death anyway) –then it wouldn’t be long. The woman gets raped. Well, some would have her carry the rapist’s child in her womb, give birth to the child, and raise the child to maturity. Some are more understanding and allow that she could put the child up for adoption. Rape and 9 months and childbirth meaning nothing.
              I’m not up on what is carried in our genetic makeup. But if there is a gene for some aspect of a rapist’s makeup, she’d be raising a possible rapist. . . .

            • T. J. Babson said, on February 6, 2013 at 12:50 pm

              Do you have an opinion on the “Violence Against Women Act,” biomass2?

            • T. J. Babson said, on February 6, 2013 at 1:00 pm

              Here is a lie to watch: “Domestic abuse is the single major cause of injury to women—more than automobile accidents, stranger rape and muggings”

              Here is the truth: http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars/nonfatal/quickpicks/females.html

            • biomass2 said, on February 6, 2013 at 4:03 pm


              The lie you mention is one I’ve never heard. The major problem with it— and the reason why I believe whoever said it should hastily reconsider his statement— is, of course, that an automobile accident is just that—an accident. I hope you’d agree that automobile ‘accidents’ are hardly in the same category as muggings, rapes, or domestic abuse(which often bears many of the earmarks of muggings or rapes. Unless the abusing hubby “accidentally” backs over his wife when she’s standing in the driveway picking up the family dog. Maybe he’s just careless when he breaks both of her legs.

              Some minor quibbles, if we’re to view the chart as proving your point: You’ll have to point out the portions of your chart that identify , specifically, “domestic abuse” injuries , or muggings. Also, for the sake of interpreting the chart, we should agree on the specific stage when a female/girl becomes a woman (I assume that varies somewhat from state to state 14 -18 depending on legal marriage age —and , if the word domestic means”of or pertaining to the home or family”

              And I’d like to know how many “unintentional falls” were actually pushes where the abused woman changed her story for some inexplicable reason reason— see Google “why battered women stay with abusers” for some explanations. I always question the word “unintentional”. for that reason. But the word “unintentional does seem to account for some very large numbers on the chart. Believe it or not, it’s not unheard of that a man, for example, who lost a fight, uses the excuse ” I ran into a door” or some variation thereof to explain his shiner .

              You haven’t answered your own question that I referred to (second sentence 12:14)yet.

            • T. J. Babson said, on February 6, 2013 at 4:20 pm

              “I’d like to hear it.”

              Easy. Severely beating someone, or stabbing them, or shooting them, is as serious a crime as rape.

              Actually, as having sex with a woman who has had a drink is now defined to be “rape,” one can argue that in the vast majority of cases rape is a less serious crime than beating, stabbing, or shooting someone.

            • biomass2 said, on February 6, 2013 at 4:22 pm

              And we’re really going to have to deal with the definitions of abuse and violence.
              “Domestic violence, or intimate partner violence, occurs when one person causes physical or psychological harm to a current or former intimate partner”
              Is this the lie you had in mind? Your chart doesn’t cover the psychological end of this at all.

              “Battery is the single major cause of injury to women – more than street rapes, muggings, and accidents combined.” This one supports your lie theory. But the issue of the meaning of “domestic violence” (or domestic abuse) raises its ugly head. Battery figures do not necessarily involve psychological damage.

              If I were running this through one of those fact checkers, I wouldn’t rate it as a “pant’s on fire”. I’d actually rate it as mostly true.

            • Douglas Moore said, on February 6, 2013 at 10:56 pm

              “Is violence directed at a woman somehow worse than violence directed at a man? Is raping a woman a worse crime than beating a man practically to death?”

              If it is, that is an argument for not allowing women in combat.

  2. biomass2 said, on February 6, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    “having sex with a woman who has had a [one] drink is now defined to be “rape,” Is that official?
    A state or federal law says ‘one’ drink? For a two hundred pound woman? Or a ninety pound woman? And the size of the drink? This seems like it could devolve into one of those discussions like I had with magus* about the doctor’s claims about how much alcohol a person could safely imbibe per day. If I could remember the dates during which we had that discussion I’d refer you to all the current references which pointed out that different people of different sizes, sexes, ages, can benefit from different amounts each day. And same goes for what will harm them.
    AKIN said legitimate rape victims (ones who have had a drink or more? )rarely become pregnant. The woman who couldn’t get a man any other way could get smashed on one drink , get raped, and not become pregnant. Pretty cheap contraceptive method, and an easy—but somewhat violent (which is no problem if she likes it that way, if you know what I mean) lay.. And she gets her moment in the spotlight! What more could a slut want!

    *It won’t, I assure you. We’ll try to keep this train on the rails, won’t we. Talking about equality of the sexes (as in equal in the eyes of God and as in “all men are created equal”).

  3. Douglas Moore said, on February 6, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    Here’s a question: Why are women so unhappy these days? This isn’t anecdotal. Studies show they are:


    The unhappier women get, the unhappier men get. “Happy wife, happy life” rings true.

    I propose that the gender role confusion is making both miserable. I do not propose anyone be forced into a role, only that we as a society reconsider what really makes us happy and reconsider the reasons that the roles were as they were for 10,000 years before 1965.

    I’m pretty good at chess. I can’t make a bed, fold clothes or wrap a gift any better than a 6 year old. My wife does both perfectly but can’t play chess worth a hill of beans. Guess what: Our brains are different and we both like it that way.

    • biomass2 said, on February 7, 2013 at 10:16 am

      Are there parallel studies on the rise or fall or steady state of happiness in men over, say, the last 40-50 years?And studies about the relative happiness of men and women before the feminist movement? And it would be very interesting to know the standards by which happiness is and was measured.

      Then factor in the following article when evaluating the statements “The unhappier women get, the unhappier men get. ‘Happy wife, happy life’ rings true.”
      ” scientists have found a link between a specific gene and women’s likeliness to self-report happiness”
      “. . .a gene in women that is responsible for happiness. The correlation does not exist in men.” (!!!!)
      And even then, women have different levels of the gene. So their responses to answers on all those happiness studies would have to be reevaluated in the light of this finding.
      “Low levels of the gene, on the flip side, means the feel good hormones stay in the brain for longer, meaning the woman is a happy one.”
      “[Men have] got it, of course, but it just doesn’t seem to work in the same way:”

  4. Douglas Moore said, on February 6, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    We can learn from the Dutch. My experience in Europe was that women were much happier and friendlier than in America: There was no feminist revolution in Europe. Women are stronger in Europe, and strong people don’t need to act the way many American women do:


    • T. J. Babson said, on February 7, 2013 at 7:23 am

      Good observation. I agree.

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