The dust hasn’t even settled following the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” and the Pentagon is already warming up for another internal battle. They are now considering the possibility of opening up the prestigious and highly elite Ranger School to women.
The reasoning for this consideration is that the bar has just recently been lifted on women serving in the infantry, and since nine out of ten senior infantry officers are Ranger qualified, not allowing women to become Ranger qualified would reduce their likelihood of being promoted to senior officer positions.
What they are not talking about is the fact that every time the Army concedes jobs to women, they also make concessions in physical standards to accommodate them. They are also not talking about the reasons that women were barred from infantry jobs in the first place.
The concessions began as soon as women entered the Armed Forces. Some were trivial, such as the USMC regulation during World War II which determined that while eight male Marines could sit on the bench of a 2½ ton truck, that same bench would only accommodate seven women. The intent was to make the women more comfortable. This, of course, led to the perversion of the acronym BAM (originally “Beautiful American Marines”) to mean “Big Ass Marines.” And the concessions have continued until the present day.
I myself spent ten years in the Army and Army Reserve working as an Administrative Assistant (think Radar O’Reilly) and an X-ray/CT tech. To pass a PT test, I only had to do 17 push-ups. A male soldier my age, to get the same passing grade, had to do at least 39. He had to complete the two-mile run with a faster time as well.
However, I earned rank and pay at the same rate as male soldiers, even though I took six months off over three years due to the births of two of my children and the male soldiers hardly missed a sick day.
That’s not to say that I think women have no place in the military. I am grateful especially that I had the opportunity to serve. And it’s true that
The other issue, the reason that female soldiers traditionally have not been allowed in forward units, is more psychological. Sure, some say that it’s all sexism and the Army is an old boys’ club that just doesn’t want to deal with the hassle of women and their monthly cycles in the field. And, let’s be fair, sometimes that cycle is a hassle even when you’re not under direct fire. But it’s really more about the visceral reaction that most men have when confronted with the sight or even the idea of a woman being hurt, killed, or captured. (Granted, the repeal of DADT has muddied this issue somewhat as well.)
A good friend who also happens to be a former Navy Seal had this to say:
But perhaps the biggest concern is yet to come, and it may not be what anyone would suspect.