A reader pointed me to a column by Greg Sheridan. It is an excellent piece and one that is highly unusual in the Australian mass media as it is intelligently and unapologetically traditionalist. I read it with surprise as Greg Sheridan is not known for traditionalist views.
It's difficult for me to post highlights as the entire column is worth reading. It begins like this:
A nation that sends its women into front-line combat, into close infantry, hand-to-hand fighting and killing, is a nation that either doesn't take combat seriously or doesn't take respect for women seriously. This wretched decision to make all combat roles in the Australian military available to women moves Australia closer to both outcomes. It will make our military less effective, and less respected, and it will make women less respected as well.
It is a decision born of a postmodern fantasy, a kind of derangement of nature contrived by ideology against reason, common sense, military professionalism and all human experience. It is almost certainly a sign that the Gillard government has more or less stopped taking defence seriously.
Sheridan is not only attacking the left in writing this. He criticises Liberal leader Tony Abbott as well:
The fact the opposition acceded to this move indicates its political ruthlessness and its increasing hollowness when it comes to values.
Sheridan makes this important point:
If you're going to make the SAS unisex, you're either going to massively reduce physical standards, in order to get a significant number of women in, or you're going to have unisex in principle, but no women in practice. Indeed, that latter outcome, gender neutral in principle but no women present in reality, is the only semi-respectable outcome this foolish policy could produce.
If feminists really want equality in the sense of there being equal numbers of men and women serving in combat leading to equal numbers of men and women in the officer class, then physical standards are going to have to be lowered. (In reality there is bound to be the inequality of affirmative action, in which physical standards will be lowered and in which female soldiers will be promoted ahead of men in order to balance up the numbers in the officer class.)
Sheridan also makes the argument that we wouldn't throw young women into the middle of the most violent of sports, so why would we throw them into something much worse?:
Do we want women to participate in unisex, professional boxing matches with men? If not, why not? Professional boxing is much less demanding, and much less violent, than fighting the Taliban. Do we want women to play in this weekend's National Rugby League grand final and to be tackled at full strength by Brent Kite or Manu Vatuvei? If not, why not? The NRL is a stroll in the park compared with combat missions for the SAS.
I'll add to this argument. What would it say about us as a society if we really did put women into the ring to fight against Mike Tyson? Would that show that we as a society had a growing regard for women? Or a growing indifference?
Sheridan goes on to insist that there are real and significant differences between men and women:
Here we come to one of the most bitter arguments postmodern orthodoxy has with human nature: its idea that there is absolutely no spiritual or moral difference between men and women. It's like the scene in Life of Brian where one of the men demands his civic right to give birth to a baby.
This is a kind of war on all tradition and all accumulated wisdom, that while everyone accepts that men and women are equal, we must also now accept the manifest nonsense that they are exactly the same.
One of these sex differences is that men feel that they have a masculine role in physically protecting the women in their lives:
But is there a single decent husband who does not feel this way towards his wife and his daughters? If your family is assaulted will you send your wife out first to meet the assailants?
Finally, Greg Sheridan notes that Australia cannot afford to sacrifice its military for ideological reasons. We're not like Canada which is shielded by the US. We rely on military alliances which then commits us to overseas engagements:
The countries that practise the greatest gender equity, so-called, in military matters are the countries that don't take their militaries seriously because they don't face military threats.
Australia does not enjoy that luxury. This is a really profoundly stupid decision, all headline and no substance, but in so far as it has meaning, bad for our soldiers and bad for us.
I congratulate Greg Sheridan for writing this piece. He has done his best to argue on principle, which has led him to articulate a traditionalist position. It's impressive to see this happen in the mass media.