It feels like we've been having the same argument about women in the military since before the Planet Earth was even formed, but since we're finally at a point where women might soon be allowed into all areas of service, even combat, the anti-lady forces are really starting to lose their shit. At issue right now is whether the Army ought to open the elite Ranger School to women. Your initial reaction might be, "Sure, as long as the woman is up to the job, why shouldn't she be given the chance?" But, oh, you would be so very wrong, dear—at least if you believe Stephen Kilcullen, a member of the hardcore Ranger Brotherhood, who wrote a shitshow of an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal in which he trots out the bizarre argument that women shouldn't be allowed to be Rangers because we wouldn't be doing it for the right reasons. Whaaa?
Mr. Kilcullen went to Ranger School, you see, and he was "an officer in light, mechanized and mountain infantry before leaving the Army in 2004." Two things which no doubt taught him a great deal about the Army but don't seem to have taught him much about women. The crux of Kilcullen's argument is that allowing women into Ranger School would damage the "ethos and culture" and "harm its core mission of cultivating leaders willing to sacrifice everything for our nation." Well, at least he gets points for creativity and for not outright mentioning our propensity for crying or our tendency to get menstrual blood all over everything?
Kilcullen tries to argue that there's something specific to Ranger School that makes it an unsuitable place for women, but it's clear he's not a big fan of letting women in anywhere in the military. For instance, he complains that the Navy "embarked on a taxpayer-funded retrofit of its submarines to accommodate 10-20 women in its submarine." Well, of course it was taxpayer-funded, you bozo, since we tax-paying folk (half of us are women, btw! hi!) fund EVERYTHING in the military. And it's no more frivolous an expense than updating any military vehicle to make it more functional, so spare us the guilt.
Anyway, Kilcullen's main problem is that he thinks the Army is considering letting women become Rangers solely for the advancement of their careers. He quotes Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno saying,
Ninety-percent of our senior [infantry] officers are Ranger qualified. If we determine that we're going to allow women to go into infantry and be successful, they're probably at some time going to have to go to Ranger School.
To your average person that basically reads as, if we're going to open up this field to them, we're going to have to open it up all the way—which makes sense if you subscribe to Obvious Logic magazine. But what if you secretly hate women for some mysterious reason and need a way to keep them out of your clubhouse? Well, then you would interpret that quote as meaning that women are only going to Ranger School to get ahead and not because they love Amurrica, land of the free and home of the brave (men). Uh, yeah, that makes total sense. Oh, wait, I meant to say it makes NO SENSE WHATSOEVER. Or maybe we just don't understand what makes being a Ranger so special that a woman could never love her country enough to do it? Let's let Kilcullen tell us the secrets of the Ranger Brotherhood:
This unique culture lures the kind of young, smart soldiers needed to get the toughest jobs done. The promise of something bigger than oneself—bigger than any career track—is what motivates these men.
It is this culture of excellence and selflessness that attracts young men to the Ranger brotherhood. The Ranger ethos is designed to be deadly serious yet self-deprecating, focused entirely on teamwork and mission accomplishment. Rangers put the mission first, their unit and fellow soldiers next, and themselves last. The selfishness so rampant elsewhere in our society has never existed in the Ranger brotherhood.
Oh, well, now we can clearly see why a woman would never fit in there, because if there's one thing we're historically terrible at, it's putting the needs of others ahead of our own. As anyone who has ever pushed a watermelon-sized human out of their pelvis and then raised it—foregoing sleep and all other manner of pleasures—can tell you, being a woman is mainly about saying "Me, me, me" all of the time. And it's our famous selfishness that Kilcullen finds so odious:
The notion of allowing women into Ranger School because denying them the experience would harm their careers makes Ranger graduates cringe. Such politically correct thinking is the ultimate expression of the "me" culture, and it jeopardizes core Ranger ideals.
Wow, that is just all kinds of mixed up. Does Kilcullen really not understand that women are just people who happen to pee out of a slightly different shaped organ than men? We are capable of feeling just as much commitment to helping our country as any man—and, in fact, many of us have already died in service of it. We are just as capable of hard work and bravery and being team players and all that other stuff as men are. So why is it selfish when we want to be the best of the best and selfless when men want to do it?
Well, if you follow Kilcullen's winding line of reasoning, it's because women joining the Rangers actually puts men and the "mission" in danger. You see, some people believe we women emit noxious chemicals that magically melt "unit cohesiveness" and cause everything around us to fall into chaos and ruin. If women are present at Ranger School, these men believe, everything will suddenly be different, and different automatically means terrible. But will it actually be terrible? Signs point to no.
You can practically recite from memory all the usual arguments made in these types of situations: women bleed, women make men feel scary emotions, women aren't strong enough. But, of course, those are all objections that have been proven to be bullshit. The women who want to go to Ranger School will, and should, be subject to all of the same standards as the men. And in order to survive it, they'll have to be up to the challenge—same as all the men. Will a lot of them fail and never graduate? You bet. But that's also true of half the men who enter Ranger School now. So what? Does the fact that they might fail mean they should never be allowed to try? Noooope.
Arguments about who should and shouldn't be allowed to do things have existed since practically the first second the U.S. Military existed. Blacks, Jewish people, gay people, women—it's always claimed that they'll ruin everything, and yet, look! Here we are with a military teeming with various minorities and weaklings and we're doing just fine. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Martin Dempsey, even said this regarding the recent repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy:
What were we afraid of is we didn't know. And I think that the way we were given a year to make this assessment to educate ourselves to collaborate, to build the sense of trust ... I think it worked out well.
It did work out well, and there's no reason to think that allowing women to achieve anything they're capable of in the Army, or in any other field for that matter, won't work out just as well. But nevertheless, Kilcullen, who seems desperately afraid of what he doesn't know, closes his piece with this gem:
After all, the military does not exist to provide careers. It is a responsibility, a way of life and a higher calling that only 1% of our citizens choose to follow. A top-notch fighting force composed of dedicated and strong men who are the very best at what they do is what defines our armed forces—and the Rangers as among their best. Let's not destroy this small but incredibly important culture under the banner of "me."
Hey, you're the one who decided women are going to destroy everything, buddy. Will women change things? Sure, but who's to say having women Rangers won't make the Army even better than it already is. Since when has having even more smart, qualified, brave, strong people fighting on your side ever been a bad thing? It's you that wants to keep capable women out for no other reason than you want to ensure things are always the same way that they were for you. Sorry, but who is it that's flying that "banner of ‘me'" again?
Image via Alistair Cotton/Shutterstock.