Yesterday was Memorial Day. Normally people take a break from politics, grill out and remember our fallen heroes of the military. But over at Vox, one writer, in poor taste, decided to use the day to talk about how the Marine Corps has a “toxic masculinity” problem.
The author, Alex Ward, spends a great deal of time focusing on sexual assaults (which are actually in decline, reaching a 10 year low last year) in the military and how the Marines have a problem integrating women into service. He also goes on to say that Marines don’t want women in combat because it’s a “historically macho club” and letting women in “tears social fabric of the service.”
Let’s discuss, shall we?
First of all, when you think of the military, masculinity comes to mind. We want strong, tough individuals out there fighting for our freedoms. War is not for the faint of heart and generally women tend to think with their emotions, which can be dangerous during combat. Also, it’s been widely reported that training standards for women in the military are NOT the same for men. If women want to serve in combat, then they need to be held to the same standards and pass the same physical tests as the men. And as much as I dislike this next statement, I have to make it: if we women truly want to be treated the same as men, then we are also going to have to sign up for the draft when we turn 18. That’s equality.
Second, there’s also the issue of men wanting to protect women from harm. That’s just a natural born instinct and war will most definitely put women in harm’s way which could interfere with how the battle is being fought on the front lines. If there’s a way to train men to see women as “just one of the guys” in battle, great, but it’s kind of hard to override instinct and biology.
Thirdly, war is toxic. From the dictionary: toxic literally means causing unpleasant feelings; harmful or malicious. We don’t want to send nice people to war because war is an unpleasant and harmful place. The other side is malicious. In order to fight toxicity, we have to send toxicity. So calling the United States Marine Corps “toxic masculinity” is probably actually a compliment, not a jab as it was intended.
Finally, let’s circle back to the sexual harassment aspect of the article. It was completely wrong for male Marines to be sharing nude photos and sex tapes of female Marines online. However, these ladies obviously used poor judgement when taking and sharing the photos with other people. Everyone should be focused on the mission, yet when women were introduced in the mix where testosterone levels were probably already surging, something detrimental happened.
I don’t have a problem with women serving in the military or even fighting in combat. I personally would never sign-up and seriously doubt I could pass the rigorous tests in training. But by allowing women to enter these non-traditional roles, serious thought and discussion needs to go in to how adding estrogen to the front lines will affect the military culture and effectiveness of the team. It’s hard to change natural, biological tendencies and to pretend you easily can is naive thinking.