Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Attractive Absurdities: Women's Right to Choose and Women in Combat

In a previous post I discussed the false antagonism between conservatives and feminists, as portrayed by the media.

Although I do consider myself a feminist and support many feminist projects, there are some prominent threads of feminist rhetoric emphasized as main tenants of feminism in pop culture that I find repulsive--namely, women's right to choose and women in combat. 

Flesh of My Flesh

The woman has no "right to choose". And even if she were to choose, it would be the father's right, too (the baby has, after all, half his DNA). The "right to choose" is accompanied by another mantra:  a "woman's right to control her own body", and both of these have enjoyed considerable traction on college campuses and Democratic rallies because it appears to uphold a human right, even making that right seem obviously timeless and universal. It's taken as given. This assertion ironically denies a human right instead of upholds one, and it is an abysmal excuse for a supposed reason why women should be able to "terminate their pregnancies".

 It is critical that everyone understand why this is a fallacy, since this reason is at the root of all pro-life arguments:

It is not her own body over which she is trying to exert her control. It is another body with a unique genetic code, a separate being that in his or her current state is completely dependent on the woman for nourishment and safety.

Here's an analogy: if a friend of yours falls on hard times and has absolutely no where else to go, and is therefore residing in your house, is that person a part of your house? Is that person expendable and controllable property, as is your house, or any of your other possessions? A general truism in American law is that your own body is your own property, just like your house. You own it. However, not since the abolition of slavery has any American had the right to own another human being. Mothers have custody of their children, including the unborn, but this concept is distinct from property. Children have certain rights that come with their own bodies, among them, the right to live. The fact that a child is literally inside her mother for several months does not grant that mother power to decide if he lives or dies.

Don't Fight for Your Fight

Here's why I think putting women in combat is an absurd idea: Given that women are generally anatomically weaker and smaller than men, women do not have an equal chance to survive as men do. Women have less upper body strength than men, and do not build and maintain muscle as easily as men. Combat troops have a lot to carry, and the time may come when they have to carry one of their teammates. I know the idea of women in combat sounds like a fantastic step toward gender equality, but it  endangers not only the women, but the men on her team, in combat. By putting her own life at undue risk, she also increases the the risk posed to her teammates, who may have to aid her or slow down to allow her to catch up. And that is not fairness.

This is an exemplary controversy in illustrating the misrepresentation of the opposition to this policy. "Conservatives" may not (probably don't) oppose it because they are sexist and think women are inherently inferior and should not ever pick up a gun. Rather, opposition comes from a rational and obvious conclusion that women do not have an equal chance to survive. They may not be concerned with maintaining male exclusivity and power, or pushing women back into a domestic role, but with the safety of all combat troops.

We want all our troops to come home safe, and one of the ways to help ensure this is to ensure to the best of our ability that those who are not 100% qualified to enter direct combat do not end up there.

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