The face of war is never pretty, but this time war showed us images we have never seen before. We saw pictures of mothers being sent to Iraq to fight one of the cruelest regimes in the world. What is the matter with the men of this country -- our political and military leaders -- that they acquiesce in the policy of sending mothers of infants out to fight Saddam Hussein? Are they the kind of man who, on hearing a noise at 2 a.m., would send his wife or daughter downstairs to confront an intruder?
Three young women were part of the maintenance crew that took a wrong turn and was ambushed by the Iraqis. Shoshana Johnson, fortunately, has been rescued, thanks to an Iraqi who told the Americans where the U.S. POWs were hidden.
In the joy of reconciliation, let's not forget the shame on our country that this single mother of a two-year-old baby was assigned to a position where she could be captured. She didn't volunteer to serve in combat; she volunteered to be an Army cook.
Jessica Lynch didn't volunteer for combat either. She wanted to be a kindergarten teacher and joined the Army because jobs were scarce in West Virginia. Jessica was rescued by U.S. troops thanks to an Iraqi who was disgusted by the way his fellow Iraqis were slapping her around as a wounded prisoner. Even that Iraqi understood that a female POW is different from a male POW.
The third woman, Lori Piestewa of Arizona, didn't make it back alive. Her body was discovered by our troops in a shallow grave. Lori was the single mother of a 4-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter. Did the Iraqi threat to U.S. national security really require those two children to sacrifice their only parent?
The reason these sorry things have happened is that the men in our government and in our military lack the courage to stand down the feminists and repudiate their assault on family and motherhood. Shoshana, Jessica and Lori were the victims of trickle-down feminism. The female officers (plus the militant feminists who would never serve in the military) demand the "career opportunities" of combat roles, and claim that a servicewoman is fully deployable six months after giving birth, while the privates get the really dangerous assignments.
Despite 24-hour-a-day front-line coverage of the war in Iraq from imbedded and non-imbedded journalists, some key statistics are missing from their otherwise comprehensive reports.
How many mothers of infants and toddlers (among the 212,000 women in the U.S. military today) were sent over to the war in Iraq? How many are single mothers, and how many are married mothers whose husbands are already serving in Iraq, leaving their children parentless at home? How many are like Army Spc. Tamekia Lavalais, leaving behind her 21-month-old baby whose father is already in Iraq. She said she wouldn't have joined the Army "if I'd known this was going to happen."
The government won't give us the count on mothers, and reporters seem afraid to ask. Is it because that statistic is classified information that would be harmful to national security if the enemy knew it, or because that statistic would be harmful to the reputations of U.S. politicians and generals if the American public knew about our military's anti-motherhood policy? Or is it because reporters are chicken in the face of the militant feminists? Bernard Goldberg tells in his best-selling book Bias that even tough Sam Donaldson "turns into a sniveling wimp when it comes to challenging feminists."
The politicians have brought this embarrassment on our nation because they allowed themselves to be henpecked by the militant feminists. The whole idea of men sending women, including mothers, out to fight the enemy is contrary to our belief in the importance of the family and motherhood and, furthermore, no one respects a man who would let a woman do his fighting for him.
Women serve our country admirably, both on the home front and in many positions in the U.S. Armed Forces. But there is no evidence in history for the proposition that the assignment of women to military combat jobs is the way to advance women's rights, promote national security, improve combat readiness, or win wars.
America is alone in this extraordinary social experimentation to send mothers to war. We hope, when the war is over, that the President and the military will change these shameful feminist policies.
When Feminists Make the Rules
There are two ways of looking at the spectacle of women coming home from Iraq as rescued prisoners of war and in body bags. Some of us are shocked that these courageous young women, who joined the Army to serve in non-combat roles (such as a cook), were deliberately placed in mortal danger. We see these events as a humiliation for America and a step backward for civilization because no military threat required our government to send mothers of infants across the seas to fight the most brutal terrorists in the world.
The feminists, however, view these same events as proof that women are advancing toward equality with men on the battlefield. A New York Times editorial bragged that Shoshana's capture shows how the American military has "evolved" and "the case for equal footing is gaining ground." But, the Times bemoans, the military is "a laggard on the topic of women in combat" and still retains "glass ceilings" that bar women from direct combat. In other words, the feminists want more women put in more fighting roles.
The fate suffered by Shoshana, Jessica and Lori at the hands of the Iraqis is the kind of equality the feminist movement has always sought and why they remain far outside of the mainstream (although they do control the Democratic Party). The feminists' legal oracle in the years before Ruth Bader Ginsburg emerged, Yale Law School Professor Thomas I. Emerson, described the goal of gender equality in his famous 100-page explanation of the Equal Rights Amendment in the Yale Law Journal in 1971: "As between brutalizing our young men and brutalizing our young women, there is little to choose."
U.S. Army regulations traditionally exempted women from direct ground combat, but the feminists in Bill Clinton's Pentagon opened up more "career opportunities" for women in 1994 by eliminating the then-existing "Risk Rule," a regulation that had exempted women in non-combat positions from assignment where they faced the "inherent risk of capture." The abolition of the Risk Rule is what put Shoshana, Jessica and Lori in a combat zone.
The feminists' callous attitude toward enlisted women in the military (contrasted with their warm-and-fuzzy silence about Bill Clinton's treatment of women) was illustrated by one of the feminists' favorite fantasy flicks, G.I. Jane, in which Demi Moore proves she can take it like a man by getting herself savagely beaten and almost raped. Her fellow servicemen are required to watch this travesty as part of sensitivity training to accustom them to abuse of women by the enemy. Where are the male politicians and military commanders who will stand up and say out loud that feminist ideology, like G.I. Jane who showered naked in front of her male sergeant, is an empress who has no clothes?
The sufferings of Shoshana, Jessica and Lori illustrate how the feminist agenda is an attack on the family, marriage, motherhood, and even common sense. The feminists applaud the mistreatment of servicewomen by ruthless enemy men as progress toward the goal of a gender-neutral military, but loudly complain about sexual harassment by American men. The feminists' goal is not to protect women from sexual assault, but to force America, including our military, into a gender-neutral society.
The feminists' tantrums about alleged date-rape at the Air Force Academy again exposed their double standards and hypocrisies. They intimidated the senior officers from stating the obvious: that the problem stemmed from housing cadets in coed dorms and refusing to enforce strict moral standards.
If we hadn't had a war going on in Iraq, the biggest news story this spring would have been Martha Burk's media-generated campaign to force the Augusta National Golf Club to admit women as members. When the Masters Golf tournament opened in April, her much ballyhooed demonstration attracted only 24 feminist protesters, but 150 media people and 92 police cars. Jesse Jackson had announced his support, but he doesn't do rallies that draw only two dozen people. If Burk is successful, the only beneficiaries will be a couple of rich women who can afford to pay a $100,000 initiation fee. Burk's campaign shows how little American women have to complain about.
If feminists were really about rescuing women from oppression, they would speak up loud and clear against the treatment of women in the Islamic world. But for the most part, feminists are AWOL on Islam. (For an analysis of their motives, see Kay Hymowitz's article in City Journal, Winter 2003.)
A Gender-Neutral Military?
A new study by the Army's Training and Doctrine Command reported that mixed-sex recruit training is "not efficient" and leads to a "disproportionate" number of injuries to women. But the Army's top brass decided to keep coed boot camp anyway. Politicians and generals continue to retreat when the militant feminists go on the warpath to demand a gender-neutral military.
A peacetime Armed Services offers great opportunities to women, but it's very different when a real war comes along. A New York Times front-page article (4-18-03) about this year's upcoming West Point Commencement describes the dilemma of female graduates who will soon be Second Lieutenants likely to be sent to the Middle East. They thought that West Point was "an obvious way to get a first-class education at government expense," and now say that war is more than they bargained for.
Maybe they failed to study General Douglas MacArthur's great Duty, Honor, Country speech, wherein he told the cadets that, when "slogging ankle deep through mire of shell-pocked roads ... covered with sludge and mud ... in the stench of ghostly trenches,... in loneliness and utter desolation," their duty is to muster the strength and courage to kill the enemy. Weapons have changed, but the mission of the U.S. Armed Services remains the same.
Wars still demand tough, tenacious and courageous men who can endure the most primitive and uncivilized circumstances and pain in order to survive in combat against enemies who are just as tough, tenacious and courageous, and often vicious and sadistic, too. Our Marines and special forces who blasted into Baghdad had to carry 200 pounds of gear in 100-degree heat and blinding sandstorms, and go without a shower for 50 days.
The armies of every potential enemy are exclusively male. Every country that has experimented with women in combat has abandoned the idea, and the notion that Israel uses women in combat is a feminist myth. Commenting on the sex-integration practices of the U.S. Armed Services, one Israeli general said, "We do not do what you do in the United States because, unfortunately, we have to take war seriously."
The feminist push to repeal all the regulations that exempt women from military combat must be the strangest of all aberrations indulged in by the feminist movement. The very idea is so unnatural that it almost sounds like a death wish for our species. My new book Feminist Fantasies includes a major section on the feminization of the military.
The Movie that Explains the Feminists
Some feminist academics tell their Women's Studies students that feminism has moved away from the radicalism of the 1960s and 1970s toward a more moderate style of feminism. Don't believe it. The words may be more artful, but their reaction to mothers fighting in Iraq proves that their goals are just as radical as ever.
Those who seek to understand the peculiar ideology and goals of the feminists would find it instructive to watch the feminists' current favorite movie called The Hours. It's a dreary and depressing tale that makes heroines out of three women who cynically put their own self-fulfillment above every other goal. They betray their marital promises, abandon a faithful husband, flout moral standards, and walk out on the duties of motherhood.
The feminists like this movie, which exalts selfishness, because they admire a woman who seeks her own identity apart from any man. But The Hours actually dramatizes the folly of feminist ideology. The movie shows that the narcissistic pursuit of personal happiness by the three female leads, Virginia Woolf, Laura and Clarissa, produces only loneliness and suicide.
The anti-family, anti-marriage, anti-motherhood, anti-fulltime-homemaker ideology of feminists was articulated again by their icon Gloria Steinem in an ABC radio interview on January 16, 2003. She continues to assert that married women are not "whole people [who] have their own names, have their own lives." She still spouts the 1960s feminist line that wives pay "the price of marriage" by giving up their own identity and adopting "their husbands' identity."
The feminists' goal is to remake us into a gender-neutral society by eradicating from our culture everything that is masculine. The feminists despise macho men, such as the brave firefighters who charged up the World Trade Towers and our Special Forces who dared to enter the caves in Afghanistan. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's court ruling to sex-integrate Virginia Military Institute was not to achieve sex equality but to diminish the macho in men.
We see manifestations of this feminist goal in the implementation of Title IX; it is used as a vehicle to abolish wrestling teams and other masculine sports. We see this in the war on boys through forbidding boys to play cops and robbers and overprescribing Ritalin. We see the feminists' handiwork in textbook revision and in the constant haranguing by the language gestapo to persuade us to use such gender-neutral idiocies as he/she.
Feminism doesn't have anything to do with whether a woman is single or married, a homemaker or a business executive. The feminists' goal is not about achievement for women, or else they would be lauding Condoleezza Rice and Elizabeth Dole as role models, which they do not. Feminism has to do with the attitude that a woman must put her own self-fulfillment above every other value. That attitude is not compatible with marriage and motherhood, and it doesn't produce happiness. My new book Feminist Fantasies (Spence Publishing Co., 2003) contains many examples of how the feminists' attitude toward life destroys even their own happiness.
Zero Tolerance or Zero Common Sense
Parents are laughing at the intolerance of the zero tolerance rules that have been instituted in so many public schools. Laughing, that is, unless their own sons are victimized by policies that lack common sense. It's a serious matter when a good kid is expelled from school, suspended, or sent to a detention facility to take classes with real delinquents.
Almost all zero tolerance rulings punish boys. Boys are also the victims of the current fad to eliminate recess and build new schools without playgrounds.
It's beginning to look as though these fads can't be mere stupidity. By banning games boys like to play and preventing them from running off their excess energy during recess, this nonsense supports the feminist agenda to try to make little boys behave like little girls.
Here are some recent examples of how the zero tolerance hatchet is wielded in public schools.
Four kindergartners at Wilson Elementary School in Sayreville, NJ, were suspended for three days for playing a make-believe game of cops and robbers during recess, using their fingers as guns. This case is now before the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. (Garrick v. Sayreville Board of Education)
When seven 4th-grade boys (who had never previously been in trouble) at Dry Creek Elementary School in Colorado were discovered pointing "finger guns" at each other while playing a game of soldiers and aliens during recess, the principal found them in violation of the school's zero tolerance policy. After quizzing them about whether their parents owned guns, she required them to serve a one-week detention during lunchtime, sitting in the hall where they were teased and taunted by other students.
An eight-year-old at South Elementary School in Jonesboro, AR, was punished with detention for pointing a chicken strip at another student in the cafeteria while saying "pow, pow, pow."
A first grader at Struthers Elementary School in Youngstown, OH, was suspended for ten days for taking a plastic knife home from the school cafeteria in his book bag. The six-year-old wasn't threatening anyone; he just wanted to show his mother he had learned how to spread butter on his bread.
A third grader at O'Rourke Elementary School in Mobile, AL, was given a five-day suspension for violating the substance abuse policy after classmates reported that he took a "purple pill." His offense was taking a multivitamin with his lunch.
At LaSalle Middle School in Greeley, CO, three 13-year-old boys were given one-year suspensions because one of the students brought to school a key chain from which dangled a 2-1/2-inch laser pointer. The school called it a "firearm facsimile" and sent one of the boys (a good student who had never before been in trouble) to an alternative program where he is taking classes with young criminals and juvenile delinquents in "anger management," "conflict resolution" and gangs.
A seven-year-old at the Edgewood Independent School District in San Antonio, TX, was banished for eleven days to an "alternative school" for troubled students when he was caught bringing a pocket knife to school. For three days, he was the only first grader at the facility among older students guilty of serious offenses.
A 12-year-old at Magoffin Middle School in El Paso stuck out his tongue at a girl who declined his invitation to be his girlfriend. School administrators called this sexual harassment and suspended him for three days.
When the Fred A. Anderson Elementary School in Bayboro, NC, held a Camouflage Day, a nine-year-old proudly came in his new duck-hunting outfit. His joy was smashed when the teacher discovered an empty shotgun shell in his pocket left over from a weekend outing with his father, and punished the straight-A kid with a five-day suspension.
In Hurst, Texas, a 16-year-old honor student was expelled from high school after a security guard found a butter knife in the bed of his pickup truck parked on the school grounds. The knife apparently fell out of a box of household items he and his father had transported the previous day from his grandmother's home to a local Goodwill store. School officials claimed that the butter knife was a danger to other students and placed him in a disciplinary alternative school for five days.
Two eight-year-old boys who pointed paper guns at classmates in Irvington, NJ were charged with "making terrorist threats." A judge ultimately dismissed their case, but the incident may remain on court records until the boys are 18.
In a North Carolina pre-school called Kids Gym Schoolhouse, the state evaluator deducted five points from its high rating because plastic soldiers were found in the play area. The toys were said to "reflect stereotyping and violence and can be potentially dangerous if children use them to act out violent themes."
Zero tolerance is not protecting us from terrorists or criminals. Instead, it encourages senseless abuse of power by school authorities.