Saturday, September 19, 2009

"Think before you open your mouth*": An Australian Experiment in Redundant Reasoning

Gender has entered the national debate with a bang of misogny and irrationality with the announcement that the Government wishes to abolish rules that prevent women from applying for frontline roles. In essence, the Goverment wishes for women to be able to apply and face the same physical testing that their male counterparts must do, without lowering the bar in terms of requirements.

Cue entry of partriachialised hysteria.

Stuart Robert, backbencher for the opposition, was first to enter the stage. After calling the notion, öutrageous,"and telling Mr Combet (who introduced the topic) that he should, "think before you open your mouth," (an interesting charge considering what spewed forth from his), Robert exclaimed:

"My concern is that really only Israel and a handful of countries whose very existence is threatened have gone down this path - the rest of the Western world hasn't,"

Perhaps my feminine mentality prevents me from discerning the finer points to Roberts arguement, but, WTF? Isn't one of the most base reasons for maintaining an armed force is to prepare for the event in which a country's existence is threatened?   Also, am I catching a hint anti-semitism? Well, its alright for the Jews - but, their women are made of different metal.

Enter Neil James, executive director of the Australian Defence Association with this gem:

"It's a simple physicality thing. On the battlefield, academic gender equity theory doesn't apply. The laws of physics and biomechanics apply."

Ummmm... the laws of physics, huh?

Of course, there is nothing like the notion of women being involved in combat that brings out the construction of gender. Even supporters have framed their arguments around the notion that women are not naturally cut out for the job. As MP  Lynda Volz notes:

"You talk to any men who do triathlon and marathon running and ask them if there are not a few women out there that are freaks of nature that beat them home every time,"

That's right, freaks. Because it is unnatural for women to be as strong as men - as it is equally unnatural for them to wish to serve on the front line. But hey, I'm progressive and won't stop them....  gah!

This round of arguments that center around physical ability act to highlight the utter irrationality and redundancy of their bearers. Did they not hear the announcement correctly? Dudes, if women are not up to the physical standard, they won't get in. No ifs, no buts. Moaning on and on about how women aren't up to the standard is redundant. Because, if you are right, well, then, they won't get in.

Naturally, this topic has moved further into the morality of allowing women to serve. For a brilliant write up, visit Larvatus Prodeo.

Image by Dunechaser CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


meloukhia said...

Here in the States we have an interesting problem, because women are technically banned from combat positions in the military. However, the nature of the positions they are allowed to occupy paired with the nature of the wars we started in Iraq and Afghanistan means that women are de facto in combat even if they aren't supposed to be.

This means that when women distinguish themselves in combat or under fire, they don't receive any recognition for it, because the DoD doesn't want to admit that women are in combat. Which is irritating because I don't appreciate seeing members of the armed services missing out on recognition for heroism, and also because it perpetuates the myth that women aren't/shouldn't be/don't belong in combat.

Here, the argument revolves around supposed emotional differences and "unit cohesion" (the same argument used to keep openly LGBQT people out of the military), despite the fact that members of the armed services have repeatedly said that they, you know, don't really care about sex/gender on the battlefield. The "physical differences" argument is pretty irksome too, given that most civilian men probably aren't anywhere near as fit/tough as women in the military are.

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