Female Army Rangers – Is this really who we want to be?

army-logoThis week it was announced that for the first time in history, two women graduate from the Army Ranger program. That is no easy task so I have respect for anyone who graduates the program. But before we all get out our “girl power” shirts and sing “I am woman, hear me roar”, we need to a bit of a gut check. Do we really want women in combat roles? Is that who we want to be? Prepare to have some ruffled feather’s y’all.

When I was a young girl, my mother often told me I could be anything I wanted to be and I believed her. Being a “tom-boy” and being bit rebellious at heart, I often saw boundaries as a challenge. The more someone told me that a girl couldn’t do something, the more I enjoyed proving them wrong. It was a personal mission to be the girl who defied gender boundaries. I was the first girl to play on the middle school football team. First girl to join my high school wrestling team.

During my first wrestling match, something very interesting happened that has taken me years to fully understand. My first opponent was a young boy who looked scared out his mind. He pulled the referee aside and asked him if he could wrestle me like he does the boys. After all, wrestling is a very “hands-on” sport and you often grab each other in intimate areas, etc. He hesitantly joined me on the mat and when the match started, I completely dominated this poor boy. Not because I was a better wrestler, but because he had reservations about how he should interact with me. It clouded his judgment and ability to engage me like he would a male opponent. Then he had to navigate all the ridicule from his peers about being beat by a girl – oh the horror!

I still have a bit of that rebellious “tom-boy” (ok more than a bit) but I have come to appreciate the differences between men and women. I still work in a male-dominated industry, I participate in activities traditionally reserved for men, I shoot big guns and I drive a big bold truck. But there are limits.

This week’s newsfeeds were filled with praise for these women graduating but I think we are missing something very important.

Men and women are equal in value. Each is the unique creation and image-bearer of God. But that is not to say that we are created equally. The truth is that we are created differently – by design. In today’s world, Bruce can declare he is now Caitlyn but that doesn’t mean he’s a woman capable of bearing children. Rachel Dolezal can claim to be Black but that doesn’t change her DNA. Declaring that women can do anything a man can do, doesn’t’ make it a reality. Reality is composed of facts not perceptions.

Look the recent push for women to serve in combat roles – Female Ranger, SEALs, etc. In the pursuit of political correctness we have reduced the standards so women can be “equal” to men – it’s called Gender Norming (Let me google that for you). Women just can’t perform at the same physical levels as men and so we have changed the standard. What’s wrong with that?

They are called standards for a reason! Standards ensure that everyone has the same skills and abilities so that they can be called upon to perform at a certain level. Reducing the requirements so that women can graduate is a false achievement and endangers the rest of the unit. How many women can fireman-carry an injured 200lb man with a 70lb ruck and carry him to safety? None that I know of. This scenario is likely to occur and if she can’t perform at the same physical level as her fellow soldiers, she isn’t an asset – she is a liability!

Let’s assume that woman who is a genetic anomaly is able to pass the same physical rigors as the male candidates. Should she then be deployed with an otherwise all-male unit?

How are we going to handle issues of biology? No one wants to discuss it but it’s a reality that must be dealt with. Will she require special segregated housing because she is the only female? How are we going to handle the hygiene issues associated with menstruation while on a desert patrol? What about her significant strength and energy loss prior to menstruation each month? What if she becomes pregnant and must be taken off the line? That seems to have been a waste of resources invested in a soldier that is no longer useful.

Let’s assume we are ok with all the caveats associated with biology. What about our morality?

We used to be a country that protected our women as a precious resource. The bearers of life. The heart of a family and by extension, our communities. What does it say about us if we decide to send them into the line of fire? Are we prepared to stomach the realities of our women being captured by enemies like ISIS who show no mercy? Anyone remember PFC Jessica Lynch?  We were appalled at her capture but now we realize how fortunate she was to not have fallen prey to the enemy that roams that land today. Do we really want to be a nation that sacrifices our women on the altar of progress?

How do we ask the male members of the unit to interact with her? Does it change the dynamic of the unit? How do we deal with men’s inherent desire to protect women who are in danger? How do we minimize the risk of sexual assault or relations? Like the boy in the wrestling match, there are a lot of unanswered questions about how to navigate such an intimate interaction where lives are at stake.

Pretending there aren’t differences is not helping anyone. In fact it’s putting us all at risk. Our families, our soldiers, our national soul is at stake here. Who we are as a people hangs in the balance.

It’s ok for men and women to be different. It doesn’t make one weaker than the other. It doesn’t devalue women. The opposite is true, we find strength in our differences.