The US Military: Where Men are Men, or Women, or Vice Versa
The US military continues to struggle with the changing social mores and perceptions on gender – so much so that it frequently contradicts its own message.
That struggle hasn’t been helped by President Biden’s Executive Order that reversed the Executive Order by President Trump banning people who identified as transgender from serving in the military. While the decision has now been made, how to actually make that happen remains up in the air. The military already has a problem trying to say both genders are equal yet not; adding a third gender option only adds fuel to the seeming dumpster fire that passes as attempted policymaking.
Some recent points of interest:
A recent news article highlighted that the Air Force is looking into putting privacy curtains around the toilet in the B-52. It hasn’t needed them for 70 years, but apparently things have changed. According to the Air Force request [emphasis added],
“As the B-52 continues to fly long duration missions, especially with mixed crews, there is a higher need for privacy during rest room activities,” the request issued last month says. “This effort is to provide the necessary rest room privacy capability.”
The Army and Air Force have revised their Dress and Personal Appearance standards to expand the options for females in the military to wear different hairstyles and nail polish. For example, while women were previously required to wear their hair above their collars (similar to the requirements on men), they may now wear pony tails. But if they don’t like their hair long, women can also get buzz cuts.
The only change for men, on the other hand, was permission to wear clear nail polish. The most common request – beards – was not addressed.
(To summarize: Females can wear their hair short or long. Males can only wear it short.)
Despite these changes only being for one gender, the Sergeant Major of the Army said these changes weren’t about gender:
“These aren’t about male and female,” said Sgt. Maj. Michael Grinston…
More interestingly, another senior enlisted leader contradicted Grinston’s view. Sgt. Maj. Brian Sanders, senior enlisted leader of Army uniform policy, said the changes were expressly about gender – to help a woman in the military “feel like a woman”:
“At the end of the day, our women are mothers, they’re spouses, they’re sisters, they definitely want to be able to maintain their identity and that’s what we want to get after,” he said.
Without apparently realizing the irony, the Army and Air Force are increasing the distinction between genders – which, interestingly enough, is the opposite of what transgender advocates want:
Deirdre Hendrick, a non-binary woman who retired from the military and is an attorney-adviser for Servicemembers Partners Allies for Respect and Tolerance for All…. [said] Her organization would like to see the military move toward eliminating gendered aspects as a whole, including rules about female service members’ appearances.
At the same time, the Air Force continued to acknowledge that women are, indeed, different than men by testing a new G-suit tailored more specifically to the female body – which those who are ‘woke’ may not realize is actually biologically different than a male body. (Science, right?) And the Air Force isn’t stopping there:
Fortunately for Airmen across the Air Force, ATAGS is not the only gear getting modified or adapted for women…The security forces Airmen at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia,…received a new body armor system designed for women…
So which body armor does a “transgender male” receive? The one that was designed for a biological male or the one designed for the female body? More questions to which you never knew you needed an answer…
The US Marine Corps is the last Service to still have gender-segregated basic training. Despite the legitimate challenges of co-ed basic training, it is under a congressional mandate to integrate. The Marines even studies the effects of co-ed units:
The Corps found that the all-male platoons performed far better on raw battlefield tasks like pulling a wounded Marine from a turret.
According to Marine Maj Jane Blair, co-ed bunking in the same tent is apparently going to be the future of the Marines.
While arguing for “inclusion” on one hand, the US military also continues to promote exclusion, as when it recently highlighted an all-female deck department on a nuclear carrier. The team even gave themselves a moniker to further highlight their distinction from everyone else:
This is the first time in Ford’s history that all the deck department Sailors assigned to bridge watch teams have been female. The nine female Sailors included on these landmark teams have dubbed themselves as the “Iron Nine.”
None of this is to question the inherent value of both men and women. The problem comes when society — and then the military — starts to equate having equal value with being the same. There is nothing wrong with being different; there is also nothing wrong with treating different things differently. Something as basic as physical fitness scores being different based on gender acknowledges that natural difference — and few who advocate for “equality” are calling for the military to make men and women pass the same physical fitness test. In fact, the relatively new Army Combat Fitness Test is gender neutral — leading some to question whether it is may hinder the careers of women in the Army, because women are allegedly failing the test at a higher rate than men. The Army is now considering changing how the numbers are presented to make it more “fair” for women. Because, according to the Army, women and men have “physiological differences.” You think?
The ACFT is only the most recent example of the US military stumbling over itself trying to promote “sameness” while acknowledging differences.
There’s an easier path, of course. God created male and female. Men and women have equal worth, but they are different. Both male and female should be treated with dignity and respect — and sometimes that means they’ll be treated differently.
But when you eliminate a standard or absolute, the search for a relativistic measure that is universally agreeable is, ultimately, futile.