So, my Gender & Politics class this week discussed women in military. Since 1994, women’s roles have been dramatically expanded and the only area they are not allowed now is ground combat (they can kill the enemy directly all they want from air and sea). I don’t think there’s going to be any changes here particularly soon, but my guess is that those who are all concerned about womens’ upper-body strength and privacy and “hygiene” issues will discover they are wrong when this change does come. It seems to me that whenever there’s a change that is going to upset a tradition-bound status quo, the naysayers go on and on about how it’s just going to ruin everything, but it never actually seems to after the fact.
The same day we discussed women and combat, there was this AP report that the Marine Corps is adapting to the end of DADT just fine, and lo and behold, the Marines remain an effective fighting force. This case is particularly notable as the Marine Commandant just months ago was arguing about how difficult this would be for the Marines:
Marine Gen. James F. Amos, the face of opposition in the military to lifting the ban on gays serving openly, now acknowledges his concern has proven unfounded that repeal would undermine the war effort. In fact, he says, Marines have embraced the change.
In an Associated Press interview, Amos called the repeal in September “a non-event.”
That is in contrast to his cautionary words to Congress in December 2010, shortly before President Barack Obama signed the repeal legislation. The ban was not lifted until this year to allow the Pentagon to prepare troops for the change.
“Successfully implementing repeal and assimilating openly homosexual Marines into the tightly woven fabric of our combat units has strong potential for disruption at the small unit level as it will no doubt divert leadership attention away from an almost singular focus on preparing units for combat,” Amos testified. Still, he said at the time that if the law were changed, it would be faithfully followed by Marines.
He now sees no sign of disruption in the ranks — even on the front lines.
So, obviously Amos was wrong. Kudos to him for stepping up and admitting it. But, in thinking about this in the context of the earlier racial and gender integration of the military– not to mention the opposition it seems that any major progressive change always receives– I started wondering: are they naysayers every right? Seriously, think about all the gloom and doom predictions that always occur when we first allow women to do X. These days, the gloom and doom seems to come from allowing gays to do X (e.g., somehow my traditional marriage will be devalued– and maybe even crumble apart) if gay couples are allowed to get married. Even more broadly, I’m sure that some times those who predict all sorts of bad things will happen from a new social policy are right, I just cannot think of any actual examples.