Saturday, January 26, 2013

There's a Fox in my Foxhole: Female Soldiers

     Its been a long time coming.  Since the birth of the plowed field and domesticated beast, women have been regarded as property, along with other less significant parts of society. As hunters and gathers women worked side by side with men as equal members of the tribe. If she was a good hunter, she hunted and if she knew where the good foliage was, she gathered. No gender specific tasks barring child birth/nursing were necessary to maintain the tribes status quo. It wasn't until private property and lineage decisions demanded that all things be given personal value, during that time the first woman (probably) reluctantly decided to relinquish her own freedom and enter into one of the oldest social contracts ever. You provide food and protection and I'll give you a healthy heir.
    Fast forward to any point in history you want and the story is the same, some guy thinks by way of winning some genetic crap shoot being born male, he is superior to women by natural selection. Its evolutionary social programming at its finest, and for the first time we are going to conduct a very telling experiment in attempts to undo this programming.  Defense Sec. Panetta  just changed the rules of combat allowing women for the first time to officially be on the front line in battle. This is where the experiment gets going. Not about some inferior female fighters, or distracted men in battle. Its all about sex.
     To start, a 2011 Newsweek article says, an American service woman is more likely to be sexually assaulted by a fellow soldier than killed in battle, and that was written during two wars. Right now in the news at Lockland Air Force Base 796 cases of sexual misconduct were reported, and we know all these types of cases never get reported. So this is still a percent of actual cases. Generally it comes down to abuse of power, but in some cases like Gen. Petraeus it's just a sense of entitlement. Whatever you chalk it up to, Military life seems to be a breeding ground for sexual wrong doing. The Defense Dept. knows this and commissioned a task force to write a pretty paper about it.
     So what does that have to do with hunter gatherers. When viewed as equals with shared sacrifices and common responsibilities, humans generally treat each other with respect. But like in the Stanford University prison exercise students given more power abused those with less, unprovoked and unmercifully.  Possibly giving women the opportunity to serve along side men in battle will cause women to be seen in their original form as equal humans, not as objects to be possessed, objectified, abused and thrown away. Not since we came in from our natural surroundings to gated gardens and hand plowed fields have women had the rights and respect they deserve. Hopefully the Armed Forces are thinking by leveling  the battlefield so to speak, and by giving the female soldiers an opportunity to embrace all of the comradery that comes from staring death in the face and surviving it. Through strength, superior training and teamwork. The person you live through that with you probably wont rape nor will instructors look to intimidate with stars and bars. Hopefully it paints a more respected portrait of the female soldier and gives us new light to see women in all together.