Co-ed Submarines: Where’s the Debate?

Posted By on April 14, 2010

I can remember 15 years ago when there was real, serious debate about women in the military–particularly in combat units. But we were assured that women would not be put in harm’s way, kept in support roles far away from danger. So the frog in the pot kept quiet while the water slowly warmed. Fast-forward to 2005. 240 female soldiers had been injured in Iraq and 33 killed–a “record number,” according to the U.S. Military. So there was a flurry of inquiries and news reports lamenting this trend. Five years later, a total of 111 women have been killed in combat, but it appears the frog has boiled to death in that pot, as this story barely makes single-column, back page news–a mere blip on the radar screen:

Most Americans, and even members of the media, are not aware that 111 brave servicewomen have died in the War on Terrorism. With few exceptions, news stories about their tragic deaths usually appear only in the military press, or in small hometown newspaper stories and television accounts that rarely capture national attention….. Heartbroken family members have expressed indescribable grief and great pride in their daughters, which is universally shared by a grateful nation. It is always when soldiers die, but losses of women in this war are unprecedented in modern history. According to Army Times, 7,000 women served in Vietnam, but only 16 were killed, most of them nurses. In the first Persian Gulf War, 33,000 women were deployed, but only 6 perished due to scud missile explosions or accidents. (Nov. 24, 2003)

Some have argued that the women who have died are no different than the men. But deliberate exposure of women to combat violence in war is tantamount to acceptance of violence against women in general. As a nation we must consider the long-term implications of this cultural shift, which many see as a setback for our values and civilization. (Read the rest HERE.)

Now comes the news that the U.S. Navy will be putting women into submarines. The story appeared with no fanfare and was carried in very few major news sources. Writes Michael Farady of The Washington Times:

Unless Congress intercedes, the U.S. Navy plans to station women on submarines. The change in policy was announced with no fanfare and has stirred almost no debate. Won’t some wizened old salt please speak out? No? OK, then I’ll take the plunge…. The reason the Navy is going down this ill-advised path is political correctness. Officers know that speaking out against PC nonsense is career suicide. So only a few (usually disgruntled malcontents with one foot out the door) even contemplate raising the appropriate questions. (Read the rest HERE.)

I’ve written about women in the military before, as have many Christian pastors and authors. But it seems the frog in that pot really is dead, as (apparently) the vast majority of Americans simply yawn and turn the page. Where is the outrage over this violence against women? We truly live in schizophrenic times. On the one hand, we’re supposed to protect women and prosecute the men who harm them to the fullest extend of the law. On the other hand, we’re supposed to shove women into combat and look the other way when they come back maimed or in a flag-draped coffin. God help us.

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About The Author

Jennie is the wife of Matthew and mother of ten children, all of whom keep the household bubbling with life, learning, and levity. Jennie co-founded LAF in 2002 with Lydia Sherman and has been delighted to hear from women all over the world who enjoy their femininity and love to cultivate womanly virtues.

Comments

21 Responses to “Co-ed Submarines: Where’s the Debate?”

  1. This two-facedness of feminism goes sadly unnoticed–or ignored–by the majority of Western civilization. I have so many friends from college who would fiercely fight for the right to serve in the military in all capacities, yet exclaim in outrage when the confused males of our society perpetrate the same crimes against women here as are perpetrated against them while serving our country!

    And since when did being protected make you a second-class citizen? *sigh*

    That’s a wonderful idea to write to our representatives! So simple and basic, yet something most of us (including me) forget to do instead of simply muttering discontentedly….

  2. My fiance is in the Navy reserves and talks about how messed up the women in his unit are. Actually, they really get on his nerves! lol. They have relationship issues, all kinds of issues…A few are pregnant and need special uniforms to accomodate their pregnancy. The last place I would want to be when pregnant is the military–even if it was *just* the reserves. My guy believes women should *not* be in the military. I am glad to have a man who believes in protecting me and providing for me.

    I would be interested in learning the different reasons why women go into the military in the first place. I don’t have any desire whatsoever, so it is hard for me to understand why women want to join.

    ~andrea

  3. aylaserenemoonisrael says:

    Thank you for pointing this out! I would add that women face a lot of violence from within the military as well in the form of rape. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1968110,00.html

    I’ve never understood why feminism called for women in the military and especially in combat.

    Another point to make is the numerous women who have been forced to leave their children behind, sometimes in foster care if they have no family, because they are called to serve in Iraq and the military doesn’t count being a mom as a reason not to go to war.

    It seems unthinkable to me to place women on subs! My husband was in the Navy and he is very “liberal” but does not agree with that at all.

  4. Kara says:

    Where’s the debate? Well, I dunno about debate, but I did rant about it for 2 days to anyone who would listen to me (including the cat). Then my husband pointed out that my ranting wasnt doing any good. I dont think our liberal friends at the local college apprecitated me too much then…. :)

  5. joysofboys says:

    When my son signed up for Little League this year we learned that two girls would be on the team. My first thought was ,”I’ve worked for years to teach my boys deference and respect towards girls and women, and now he’s in a situation where they are demanding to be treated like one of the guys.” My second thought was, “I guess we’ll have a losing season, being that no other teams are co-ed.”(Which is proving true). My third thought was, “These are exactly the dilemmas the men in the military are experiencing at a much deeper level. Are they also wondering how we expect to win a war when the only girls in combat are on our side?”

  6. Kara says:

    alittleflower,
    my cousin’s wife is in the air force. she joined becuase she wanted to travel, but couldnt afford to travel as much as she wanted. So she joined so she can travel and the government pays for it…. :-/

  7. Springkeeper says:

    I was in the USMC for over twenty years and when I was on the drill field we had to fill out survey after survey about our opinions about women in combat (enlisted women were almost always 100% opposed) because we gave the “wrong” answers. The women officers and liberal females are the one’s who want to send other women to actually fight. The women officers will be living large and comfy on the subs(comparatively) and the enlisted men and women will pay for those women’s self-centeredness yet again.

  8. wordywife says:

    joysofboys, your comment reminds me of my husband’s experiences playing co-ed soccer. The women demand to be treated “equally” and play with the men, but if the men get rough, and actually do treat them as they would another male player, they complain about it.

    In regards to the original post; a study done during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War showed that when women are in combat, the male soldiers are distracted and make poor or dangerous decisions out of a subconcious desire to protect or assist the women, instead of focusing on the task at hand. This is not helpful for our troops.

  9. quiltermama says:

    The point feminism is likely hoping to make is that there is no difference between men and women at all. However, shoving women into combat doesn’t change anything. It’s not like the men on the other side are thinking “well, I can shoot her and treat her like a man.” No- they think about how they can demean a woman because we are precisely the weaker sex! Also, if I were a man and the enemy of the US, I would be even more insulted that the men would not come fight me, and they send their women. What’s next? Sending the children?

  10. ladyscott says:

    Throughout history women have found ways to fight in wars, usually disguising themselves as men. I’m not condoning it, I’m just stating a fact.

    What drives me crazy is that some of the few who feel they can do it are trying to pressure and force all the other women to do it. Sorry, but I am NOT combat or military material. I do quite well on the homefront, thankyouverymuch!

    This whole submarine thing reminds me of “Operation Petticoat.”

  11. Bekah says:

    This situation just underscores the lack of value our society places on life and family. As so many quotes in so many of the articles archived on this site underscores, Feminism is out to destroy the family and life. If you don’t respect family and life in the form of our precious children, women become disposable.
    It’s heartbreaking to know that the hearts and conscience of a generation or two are so seared that there is no longer outrage expressed at such a situation as having women on board submarines.

  12. mansemama says:

    I was a female Naval officer for 7 years, most of which was before I was a Christian and all of which was before God showed me much about Biblical womanhood, so I’d like to address a few of these comments, if I may.

    I, and many of my female peers, joined because we truly wanted to serve. It’s funny, but our God given feminine tendencies led us to do the wrong thing for the right reasons. We wanted to help. Are there those who join as opportunists? Yes. There are many male opportunists in the military as well. Let’s not vilify people for a lack of discernment. We all fall short, and most of us simply didn’t know any better or were even pushed into it by well meaning parents and recruiters who had quotas to fill. We weren’t trying to prove some feminist agenda or take over the world. We just wanted to help.

    I can only speak specifically of Naval officers on ship, but they do not “live large and comfy” despite the way it’s painted in the movies or on “JAG”. (Yes, I’ve also lived in enlisted birthing. There was more room there than in the closet, I mean stateroom, I shared with three other women.) Officers work incredibly long hours (14 hour days were common on shore, even more at sea), many of which are never seen by the enlisted (also very hard working) whom they supervise. They have to play ridiculous political games to avoid petty revenge by their seniors, and are given very serious, life and death responsibilities without the benefit of complete training. And to top it all off, the female officers do it all while fighting every feminine impulse God gave them. I’m not complaining about doing it because we all went, or should have gone, into it with our eyes wide open. It’s what we signed up for, but it’s simply not fair to sit back at your computer desk and gossip about women you don’t know and lump them into one big mucky pot.

    I don’t mean to start some kind of comment war, but as wrong as it is that so many women died in combat or even that they were there in the first place, it’s even more wrong to hiss at them behind their backs, assigning motives to women you don’t even know. Perhaps we should keep the focus on the policies and cultural pressures that put them there in the first place.

    About the actual article, although my faith now leads me to believe that women shouldn’t be in the military at all, especially outside of purely support roles, my experience says that women on ships in general and subs in particular, won’t work. I’ve toured all kinds of subs. Even in the “big” ones, there’s hardly room to move, let alone have seperate male and female birthing and bathrooms. I have no idea how they plan to make this work.

    Jennie, thanks for bringing this topic to our attention! :)
    -Jennifer

  13. I’m in total agreement with you, Jennifer. I didn’t intend for what I posted to come across as “hissing” at women in the military — the focus of debate is squarely upon the men and politicians who are putting them there. I cannot understand the lack of outrage over so many women being separated from their children and sent overseas. I can’t understand how the media isn’t covering the deaths of so many women in combat situations these days. Remember the huge media circus surrounding Pfc. Jessica Lynch? Where did the concern go? It really is so sad that we now treat women in combat as “ho-hum.” So my aim is squarely at policies and laws that put women in harm’s way — not at the women who are actually there. I apologize if this post came across in that manner. Thanks for the comment!

  14. ByGrace says:

    One big reason many women have chosen to go into the military is finances. Many are single mothers who don’t have any support, or not enough, and no education or higher training to get a better job.

    A young (24) female cousin of ours joined the army last year because she had lived on her own for her college years, got into a ton of debt, and failed to make it into nursing school. She joined the army to pay off the debt and to keep from continuing the path.

    Not to serve her country, but to serve her own needs. She also told her father that there are a large number of lesbians in the military.

  15. ByGrace, this again points to the sad state of affairs we’ve come to in Christendom: 1. We tell women to go off to college and get a degree, which most often means huge amounts of debt. When the great job doesn’t follow, how is that debt supposed to be paid off? I speak as one who walked into that trap. Even though I had a “full” scholarship to college, tuition was raised each year, but my scholarship was not. I came out $8,000 in the hole — nothing compared to some folks, but it looked like a mountain to me. So I felt even greater pressure to get a job to pay off the debt. Having those loans hanging over your head is scary. And that leads to 2. Christians have really fallen off the wagon when it comes to providing for their own family members. Scripture tells us it is “true religion, undefiled” to care for widows and orphans and labels “infidel” a man who doesn’t care for those in his family (including widows in need of financial support). No wonder we’ve got the almighty welfare state today and the armed forces luring women in with the promise of money and security. Shame on us for failing to care for our own.

  16. Rhetorica says:

    I hadn’t really thought about this much, aside from “If a woman wants to put up with being in the military, and losing out on her birthing/family years, that’s her choice; God HELP the person who tries to draft me or the women in my family.” I don’t believe in the draft at all, and in a country raising strong individuals, it would not be necessary. (Look at WWII vs. the Vietnam War.)

    One idea that struck me, and I don’t really understand it is, “Some have argued that the women who have died are no different than the men. But deliberate exposure of women to combat violence in war is tantamount to acceptance of violence against women in general.”

    Does this mean that we “accept” violence against men? Why?

    I feel that forcing women into the military would be heinous, because they are so different (i.e. a man can have a full military career, 20 years, retire, and then start a family at age 40…not a lot of women can have kids at that age, let alone find a spouse; men are not raped when they are taken prisoner, women are; men respond poorly when female colleagues are in danger, etc.). I’m not sure I understand how to argue against *voluntary* female participation.

    Anyone have talking points for me? :)

  17. Jenn84 says:

    Yes, drafting women into the army would be heinous because few are truly qualified; what’s next, drafting children? If qualified women do wish to join, however, that’s their choice. Some female soldiers die because soldiers die.

  18. Jenn84, the point is that, the way things are going, there may come a time when women do not have a choice whether they join or stay at home. The public has become so desensitized to women in the military that it’s a “ho-hum” issue when it should not be. My late father used to talk about the loud protest when Communist Russia put women in combat in WWII. Everyone in America thought it could never happen here. Less than fifty years later, there’s not even an eye blink. All that history down the memory hole.

  19. Jenn84 says:

    I know that’s your fear, and it’s a valid one. It would be a nation’s nightmare if such a thing occured.

  20. Abbysmom says:

    I agree with Jennie Chancey that there might be a time when women might be drafted, but IMHO it’s many, many years away. I think there would even be a firestorm if there was a draft for men these days. If a draft for women was confined to stateside duty, clearly non-combat roles, or (if we were involved in a major war) a requirement to work in a defense factory and only single women were involved, I wouldn’t reject it out of hand. I’d want to know more about it before saying yes or no.

    But if we were involved in a major war it wouldn’t surprise me (like it or not) if they might draft women with various medical skills (nurses, physicians, nurse practitioners, surgeons, and other health care providers needed near the battlefield, as well as on military hospitals at home or abroad.

    Why do women join the military — as some have said — for many of the same reasons as men. Learn a skill, get money for college or grad school, get more focus and discipline in their life. If they volunteer willingly and know what they are getting into (such as a “combat support” role that’s much closer to combat that is generally known, it’s their choice, IMHO. You might not like it, I might think it terribly unwise (and terribly damaging to their children) if they have no one to take care of their children if they get sent overseas, but short of changing the law of the land we can’t change it, other than one heart at a time. And in many cases, I think that’s the best thing to do, providing you can put your money where your mouth is (that is, provide financial support for a single mother who feels she has no way to support her children).

    If you want to try to elect members of the House and Senate who could change the law, there’s no reason not to try.

    I also don’t think this country takes sexual assault against women in the military lightly both here and abroad. Look at the scandals in the military academies when women cadets complain about rapes, etc.

    And my last thought here, I can’t imagine anyone so cruel or heartless that doesn’t mourn for any member of the military — male or female — that returns home in a body bag. We abhor (or should abhor) war and violent death for all Americans, here or abroad.

    I have said more than enough — I agree with some of what most of you have said, but have questions about enough of your opinions that I consider myself your loyal opposition.

  21. treesad says:

    What is worse about women in the military is that statistics show that 1/3 women have reported that they have experienced some form of sexual trauma. It is believed that these numbers only represent half of all actual cases. If that is true, then 60% of women in the military have either been sexually harassed or assaulted at some point in their military careers. Currently, there is very little help available to women coming out of the military who have experienced MST. VA offers very little and Christian military ministries offer absolutely nothing.

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