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The Ambiguity of Equal Rights

This is a sad story. The Marines have postponed applying a rule, enforced for more than 40 years, that requires marines to be able to do 3 pull ups. While the story does not indicate what will happen in the future, we know from other areas, such as police and fire departments, that the effort to increase female participation has led to the reduction in strength qualifications.

If one favors equal rights for women (or for any other group), then one wants to see both sexes subject to the same rules. One does not want the qualifications changed so that more women can pass the test. The original argument for equality was that some women could do the job as well as the men who became marines. That is a valid argument, but it does not justify reducing the qualifications. In fact, it condemns it.

Unfortunately, we now live in a world where women’s equality is seen as a justification for reducing the standards. Assuming the original standards were valid – and it is hard to see how upper body strength is not an essential attribute for marines or firefighters – reducing them will only reduce the effectiveness of the operation (and will likely force those who have the requisite strength to work harder to compensate for those who lack it).

For someone who believes in genuine equal rights, the right thing is to support applying the original rules to both sexes. If there were only a choice between relaxing the rules or discouraging women’s participation, one would have to choose between the lesser of two evils. Happily, as a matter of political positions, one does not need to make that choice. There is the clear winner of genuine equal rights. Sadly, though, in the real world, such genuine equality is rarer than it should be.

Reader Discussion

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on December 27, 2013 at 19:34:23 pm

Surely you're not so naïve as to believe that the main proponents of integrating women into the military were ever interested in having the same standards applied to both sexes.

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djf
on December 27, 2013 at 20:18:56 pm

Mike, I'd like to see your argument on whether women should be charged more for health insurance than men, since they are more likely to encounter greater health expenses than men? Thanks again for your thought-provoking posts.

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Ken Masugi
on December 28, 2013 at 07:29:28 am

Is it possible that there are just more jobs that the marines need which don't require physical strength? I mean flying a drone hardly requires upper body strength. Its possible that regardless of the sex they now have a job for you to do if you cant do the previous physical requirements.

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Devin Watkins
on December 28, 2013 at 11:23:40 am

No, their interest has always been in weakening military culture / prowess!

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gabe
on December 28, 2013 at 11:28:56 am

certainly there ARE some jobs that do not require any strength - if one is ALWAY on stateside duty. However, interesting thing about the Marines - every job / occupational specialty is also assumed to be a fighter / rifleman.
Not only that, let's take your drone operator: nice if you are conducting operations from a stateside base; but what if it is a forward deployed operation? Should our genteel lady be excused when the field installation is set up while the men dig, trench and / or erect the site & equipment.
Let them play a video game instead and then they can feel "soldierly"; leave the heavy lifting to those who can do it!

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gabe
on December 28, 2013 at 18:18:41 pm

Is it better to have that woman who doesnt have the body strength not in the military, not allowed to help her country in whatever way she can? Every person that enters the military is and should be pushed to be as strong as they can, to be able to tackle every job, but I dont care if the person is paralyzed from the waist down, there are still jobs they can do, if they are willing to serve they should be put to the best use we can.

Now there is a difference between cant and wont, if they just want to lay around all day and not work for it as hard as the men, well too bad! But I dont think that appears to be what they are talking about here.

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Devin Watkins
on December 29, 2013 at 10:15:34 am

My point (although implied rather than stated) was that when you lower these standards to accommodate the unfit you also lower them across the board for everyone. In the end, you have a weakened force.
You are correct that these folks, male and female, may still be able to contribute - but only in certain positions.
let them be cooks, data processors (stateside not overseas), etc.
Mostly, my concern is for those soldiers who have been wounded. I would rather see the Dept of Defense accommodate wounded soldiers than to enlist someone without the physical strength to perform all duties required of a soldier. At least the wounded soldier has proven his or her mettle - and deserves better than to be cast aside.

take care
gabe

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gabe
on December 31, 2013 at 10:36:59 am

The male chauvinist (and hardened feminist) has said that women and men are “different”, therefore they cannot be “equal”; and they are superior. The progressive makes the equal and opposite error of saying that men and women are “equal”, therefore they cannot be “different”. Truth is men and women are "equal AND different"!

Vive la différence!

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David WS
on December 31, 2013 at 10:44:13 am

I should add that the best description I have heard of women in the military comes from CS Lewis the Chronicles of Narnia: Susan is given a bow and arrow, and at her asking to join in the fight, she is told the following “Only in time of great need…” That, I think is a good rule of thumb for women in the military.

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David WS

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.