Tracy Clark-Flory’s Salon piece, “Do women undermine the brotherhood of war?”, questions the British policy of precluding women serving in front-line roles. She cites a recent Ministry of Defense review that concludes:
[W]omen should be excluded from such roles because their presence might undermine “group cohesion,” leading to “far-reaching and grave consequences.”
The “brotherhood” referred to in her article is NOT gender-specific. Women, in various units, have achieved easy camaraderie with their male counterparts; the relationships develop to an almost sibling level.
Here in the U.S., problems with “group cohesion” arise by virtue of combat units that have women as part of their complement while stateside; suddenly, when the unit is sent to “hotspots,” very often the women are shifted elsewhere (stateside or someplace otherwise considered “safe”), while the men adjust to new (male) members, as they’re preparing to deploy. Men understandably become resentful of such “special status” being accorded by virtue of an accident of biology.
All that aside, however, the fact of the matter is that women are in combat. They’re not carrying their rifles, grenades and side-arms as a “fashion statement.” They’re not flying armed aircraft to one-up the Joneses. They are not staffing and commanding warships for the fun of it. They are warriors, every bit as much as the men they work alongside. And with the seeming epidemic of so-called metrosexual men (otherwise known as “girly-men”), who worry about their appearance more than most women, these women are needed. Yes, men will initially believe it’s incumbent on them to “protect” the women in their commands – until the bullets start flying.