Friday, May 26, 2006

Keep the women in the kitchen (& kitty pix)

It takes balls to put in print that you don’t think a woman should be allowed to do certain things in this day and age.

“Which leaves us with the thorny question of women serving in armies that are hell bent on slaughtering each other.
To me the answer is simple: Do not send women into combat.”

That’s what Mike Strobel is talking about in his column. I must say, I find it surprising that a number of people have gone on the record, asserting we shouldn’t let women fight in combat.

What has even started this discussion? The funeral for Nichola Goddard, Canada’s first female soldier to be killed in combat, is today, in Calgary.

It is true this is our first “official” death of a female combat soldier. And yes, it does give you a moment’s pause.

But to go so far as to say that we shouldn’t allow women to be in combat situations is a bit extreme. And I can’t help wondering how the families of the men who have fallen in Afghanistan feel. Like their son’s/brother’s/husband’s sacrifice wasn’t as meaningful? Because the media attention over the death of one female soldier has been unlike anything since… Well, four of our soldiers were killed in tragic circumstances.

Now, Kevin tells me that Nichola was an artillery officer. Being somewhat unknowing with respect to military stuff, when he tells me her death was likely an accident, I figure he probably knows what he’s talking about. What she was doing is elusive to me, mentally, with respect to where she would have been in this particular situation. Kevin, being trained, actually being one of only two men in a whole unit (probably not the right term. Company? Whatever. Big group of soldiers.) to “survive” a training exercise in which all his commanding officers were even “killed”. I should get him to do a write-up on how they do these training exercises – pretty interesting, actually.

I’ve always been more interested with his weapons knowledge, because he’s a good marksman. Even impressed the guy at the firing range when he was teaching me to shoot and he hadn’t used a gun in years.

But I digress. Now, some might think I’m being hypocritical here. I’m not always terribly keen about “affirmative action” being used to hire woman as firefighters, for example.

Look, bottom line: women should be able to do whatever they’re capable of.

I just don’t think the standards for police officers or firefighters or soldiers should be lowered to make it easier for women to get in.

Height regulations, sure. But not when it comes to safety.

I feel saying that we shouldn’t have female combat soldiers is actually disrespectful to Nichola Goddard and undermines her sacrifice and the loss her family has suffered. She chose to be in the military. And believe me, not just anyone gets in. If she had the capability, the qualifications, to be there and to serve her country, she’d earned the right to be a soldier in every sense of the word.

And that includes the right to die.

It doesn’t make me happy about it. But if a woman is fully trained and every bit as capable to serve as a police officer or a firefighter or a soldier, I have no problem with that either. And that means I’m accepting the fact that they might die.

Yes, they might die. Those jobs are dangerous.

I have a few problems with some departments, who have promoted women because they aren’t capable of physically doing front-line stuff. In those cases, I have to ask why they’re letting the women be on the department. So for those who saw my rant about that, well, it’s one of those ‘knowledge isn’t always a good thing’ things, because it isn’t for or against women. It’s for each person on a job being capable of doing the job. I don’t think we should hire “token minorities” just to fill quotas IF the person being hired isn’t capable.

Especially when there are lives at stake. And I can’t get over that, because it’s important to me that my husband have the best possible back-up available when he goes into a fire.

And, in fairness, there are a few men as well who should be put on leave until they’re physically capable of doing the job.

But don’t get me started.

As I type this, I can imagine that people elsewhere are wondering, “Why the fuss?” Us wussy Canadians… It’s 2006 and people are grappling with the death of the first female soldier killed in combat?

We should consider ourselves fortunate that our losses have not been greater, for certainly, the loss of a woman in combat that our American friends know something about.

I think we should show our respect to Nichola Goddard’s family and to her, by honouring her choice to serve her country and mourning her loss as we would any other soldier, instead of turning this into a discussion that seems to infer the loss of a woman in combat somehow matters more than the loss of any man.

As far as I’m concerned, each death is tragic. If only our soldiers never had to face combat, but that isn’t the reality of the world we live in.

And I’m thankful there are those who choose to serve, whatever colour or gender they may be. They are heroes, all.

There will be COZY NOIR definitions to vote over, posted tonight. Still a bit of time to email me with one. Be sure to drop by over the weekend and cast your vote.

And I’d like to introduce you to a new blog. Well, not exactly new, but he’s made the leap from aol to blogger, so that pesky people like me can comment occasionally instead of harassing him with emails. Bill the Wildcat’s blog is one of the more eclectic blogs I visit regularly. He talks about soundtracks and fiction beyond crime fiction, about trips to the store and cats with blue stripes…

In short, it’s pretty interesting. And he writes with his wife, which proves what a brave man he is!

Funny courtesy of JT Ellison who has a very interesting post up today that writers should check out.
A pompous Baptist minister was seated next to a cowboy in the first class section of the plane on a flight to Texas.

After the plane was airborne, drink orders were taken. The cowboy asked for a whiskey and soda, which was brought and placed before him.

The flight attendant then asked the minister if he would like a drink. He replied in disgust, "I'd rather be savagely raped by brazen whores than let liquor touch my lips."

The cowboy then handed his drink back to the attendant and said, "Me, too. I didn't know we had a choice."

Kitty Pictures!


The gang - Left to Right Stuart, Rebus (all black), Simon, Russel



Yes, the playfighting has begun!


JT Ellison said...

You've really done a nice job with this blog today. I don't want the comments to turn into an idealogigical flame war about the war. That said, God Bless Nichola, and all our girls and boys who are sacrificing their time and lives so we can blog, and write, and generally live the good life.
Glamour Magazine has an amazing story this month about the female batallion who were hit with an IED, lost several soldiers and had many women injured. I read their story with pride, knowing they showed the same courage as the men.

JT Ellison said...

And the kitties are getting so damn big! Are they staying with you?

Sandra Ruttan said...

I agree I don't want this to become a heated debate. This is one of those times I wish columnists would actually have a heart and stop for a second to think how her family and husband of just four years must feel right now.

God bless them all.

And as for the kittens, well, I think we're going to keep one. Kevin's mom recently lost a cat, so we think she might take one or two of them. Of course, kevin has moments he says we should keep them all...

S. W. Vaughn said...

Kitties! *melt-squish* Mine ran the Indy 500 up and down our bed aaaall niiiight last night. All six of them.

I won't touch the other issue. That's a huge hot button and I want to leave some room on your bandwidth for other comments...

BTW, any sadists reading Sandra's blog: I only take lumps for my writing. So don't ask. :-)

James Lincoln Warren said...

I'm old school on this one. I do not believe that sacrificing your life is an honor. Show me a posthumous medal and I'll show you a circumstance where things got so out of control that only a human sacrifice could salvage it. The pain of Nichola's family, as with any dead soldier's family, would not exist if Nichola were alive.

It is ridiculous to say that anybody should be able to do anything they want if they are capable of it. Morality is not defined by ability. It's bad enough to send off boys to their deaths. Men are fungible. Not so women, not if you want civilization to endure.

But the biggest problem with women in combat isn't women, it's men. Soldiers have strong bonds of comradeship, but they understand that they may be called upon to sacrifice each other for the greater good. For any man of conscience, this is almost impossible to do with a woman. Having a woman in combat, IMHO, severely degrades a combat unit's ability to perform, no matter what her personal capabilities may be.

The best thing, of course, would be for us to do away with armies and navies altogether. But until that happens, I have to say that it tears me apart to see women in combat roles.

Good thing, I guess, that I'm no longer on active duty, because my opinion on this matter is obviously not in concert with that of the U.S. DoD.

Why would anybody want to go to war? A military man's job is protect our loved ones. He does so out of a sense of duty, not sangfroid. Not so easy when the loved ones are on the front lines.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Well James, I'm not particularly happy about the idea of anyone dying.

But I'm not sure if it's any different for soldiers than it is for firefighters or police officers, fundamentally. I'll ask Kevin his opinion on that, having been in the military, now being a firefighter.

Personally, I'd rather not see anyone go to war. It's amazing to me that Costa Rica not only survives but thrives in what has been a troubled region, without an army.

SW, it's fun when the kitties get mobile, isn't it?! Ours are getting so active!

And curious! And now they climb all over me!

Bill, the Wildcat said...

I'm actually quite passionate about the idea of women in combat. I grew up with a tomboy for a sister, one who could have kicked my butt throughout much of our childhood. Women die from war all the time... even without being soldiers. Why would someone deny them the right to defend themselves or others? Still, I don't think standards should be lowered to meet some quota. That's a slap in the face to women, as if to say they can't make it on their own.

I agree that to single out this woman's death is an insult, not just to the others who die but to her, as well. Does her death only have value and significance because she was a woman? Obviously, that's ridiculous.

Women have fought in armies even in ancient times and even as recently as WWII. The Russians employed a squadron of female pilots called the "night witches." Interestingly enough, the entire squadron was made up of women, from the pilots to the mechanics... so there was no conflict of men interacting with women.

To change the topic, Sandra thanks for plugging the Lair. And yes... writing with my wife has had its more... perilous moments! haha

Trace said...

I love watching the kitties grow up!

Brett Battles said...

Women are the stronger sex. Enough said.

Well, and that joke was hilarious!

JamesO said...

I agree with James LW about this - violence means that you've already lost the argument and war is the biggest failure of all. That's not to belittle our soldiers, male or female, in any way; I just wish that we lived in a world where their skills weren't necessary.

As to letting women fight on the front line, the point is well made that it is a matter of combat efficiency rather than sexism that prevents it most of the time. I see no reason why a woman should not be as good as a man in any given role, but the vast majority of combat soldiers are men, and men are more easily distracted by the sight of a woman in distress than by a man. This is a cultural construct - there are plenty of armies around the world and through history that have included, or been made entirely of, women. And as a cultural construct, it could be overcome, given enough time. But in that time, should we decide to change our cultural attitudes towards fighting women, many people will die unnecessarily.

So in the end, we're not saying that women shouldn't fight in the front line because they're not as good at it as men, so much as they shouldn't be able to do it because us men are unable to stop ourselves being distracted.

Sandra Ruttan said...

So James, what you're saying is, you men are utterly incapable of functioning with a woman around and therefore shouldn't be allowed in politics or to drive a vehicle or go into any situation where a woman might be in peril?

(I'm ducking and running.)

Brett, JT has great jokes doesn't she?!

Trace, yeah, they're soooo cute.

And Bill, you've given me an idea about an all-female mercinary squad. Oooohhh that could be fun.

Or filled with bitchiness and catfights.

Brett Battles said...

Bitchiness and catfights? I can't wait!! Write it now.

James Lincoln Warren said...

Yes, Sandra, that's exactly what I'm saying--but only as far as harm's way is concerned. I live in California. Both of our Senators are women, and I have voted for both of them and will again. My sisters and mother were all professionals. I have no problem with women in the military--that's how I met my wife. I don't have a problem with a female Commander-in-Chief at all. It's women in combat I abhor.

Combat service is fundamentally different from the civil services, even those that feature great danger. Firefighters do not fight fires accepting the assumption that a fixed percentage of them must die before the mission is accomplished. Police officers' jobs are to diffuse violence, not to initiate or escalate it in the name of an objective. The only military forces with a like purpose are the occupation forces following an invasion.

It's utter nonsense to object to women in combat on the grounds that women are inferior in any way. Maybe it is a sign of cultural prejudice that I feel the way I do, and that in the future, in a more ethically advanced society, people will merrily accept women casualties with the same indifference they do for boys. But I sure hope not.

Andrea at Lochthyme said...

Should women be able to do anything they want to. Sure thing. Just wish we didn't even have to think about woman going to war...peace is so much better. As the saying goes can't we all just get along. :) I know...I'm dreaming.

Cute kitties...they are getting so big.

Sandra Ruttan said...

There's nothing pleasant in thinking about a society that comes to accept women casualties, or male casualties for that matter, with indifference.

Andrea, I'll dream with you. And they sure are getting big!

dedicated to Brett Battles

I'm on it.

Brett Battles said...


Bill, the Wildcat said...

The points made about men's reactions to women around them in combat are an interesting point, but those attitudes will never change if women aren't given the chance.

Sandra, I do think it would be interesting to see how a group of women act differently in a military-style setting. I have a rough idea, because I work in an environment that is mostly made up of women. The dynamic is most definitely different.

Sandra Ruttan said...

It could be interesting to see Bill. And I might have to turn to you for research!

And Brett, thanks for proving how easy it is to make some men happy!

JT Ellison said...

Here's the link to the story I mentioned in Glamour about the women who were hit in Iraq. Did I mention GI Jane iis one of my favorites?

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I agree about women in combat. they chould be allowed to do what they are capable of doing!

The kittens are adorable. The one in the first picture looks like it will be the biggest. Those paws look large!

For The Trees said...

Personally - and I know this is gonna raise a LOT of hackles - I have to chime in with my deeply-held conviction that women should not be allowed to father children. It's just not right. So there!