It's hard to debate a group of combat infantrymen on the question of whether or not women should be allowed to enter their ranks. Still, I shall try... it's going to take me two posts (in addition to this one):
1) The Anecdotal Argument
2) The Evidenced Based Argument
Before moving into the first argument, however, I'd like to address a situation I keep finding in the discourse that has put me into a bit of a tailspin these last few days. Granted, by "discourse" I mean the comments and trolling going on on various websites and social media pages--still, it's discourse; so, I've been perusing social media, like the Inveterate Veteran Facebook page, and I've been reading the comments on sites like Marine Corps Times, OAF nation, and Debate.org. My purpose in checking out what's being said had been to get a bit of sentiment from veterans before writing my arguments for this post--i.e. I wanted to see what kinds of thoughts people had in regards to women working in the infantry; but, I never thought I'd see so much of a divide between veterans. . . "Why?" I wondered... "What's going on?"
In the end, as often happens with social media, the divide among opinions wasn't all that abnormal; indeed, regarding whether or not women should be in the infantry, there was the kind of argumentation that shows people's views from differing experiences:
I believe X because of [experiences] 1,2,3
I believe Y because of [experiences] 4,5,6
While the opposing views (X or Y) might be backed by strong feeling, they were almost always supported by anecdotal evidence from personal experiences (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6). So, over time, we see that this type of argument is almost wholly anecdotal, and only somewhat logical.
What put me into this tailspin, however, was an idea I saw over and over: because a person was or was not a combat infantryman (or infantry veteran), determined whether or not that person had a place even weighing in on the topic of women in the infantry. The argument, of course, being: if one has never done the job how can they possibly have anything to say about how the job should be designed . . .
Apparently, having credibility to weigh in on a moral* issue only comes after having been an infantryman--at least to some people out there.
So, before moving into my original intent--outlining my argument for women in the infantry, I find it necessary to explain, even though I've never been in the infantry, why my arguments may still offer value. Here it goes:
My first problem with the "Well you were never in the infantry, what do you know?" argument is fairly simple--the whole purpose of my wanting to write a post about my feelings (and they are feelings; i.e. opinions, personal ideas, individual values, etc. etc.) on this subject came about in response to an article by a Marine CPT who's a female and who doesn't think women belong in the infantry. So, given the fact that she has something to say but she herself isn't and has never been an infantryman should mean that all responses to her arguments don't come with that requirement.
Secondly, I'd say that anyone who uses the old "What can you possibly say about X group when you've never been a member of X group?" argument is actually missing the whole point of logical discourse. Having not been a member of the KKK, for example, doesn't mean that I can't judge whether or not what they believe, say, or do is morally justifiable--it would be just as easy for me to say, "Because I'm not a member of X group, I actually have a lot to say about X group that maybe you, as a member of X group, haven't thought about..." alas, either argument isn't really necessary because it's what I'd call a "red herring"--it's purpose is to replace the actual argument (and logic that comes with that argument) with something unrelated to what's being argued. To be more specific, if I have a moral qualm with what's happening in the X group (or, for example, the KKK), being a member or not a member is unrelated to my moral qualms.
Thirdly, if you're a member of the infantry of the United States, where do you think you get your power? Do you think your experience is the only thing that drives legislation and policy in our country? Would you really want that anyway?
Trigger Warning. CAUTION: The Following Four Paragraphs Might Offend You
If you're the kind of person who thinks that only the military has the right ideas about the way the world should work, you're not the kind of person who represents the ideals of the United States. You may think you're God's gift to being a badass because you were in the infantry; you may think the way the infantry runs now is the best and only way it should be run . . .
What you feel or think as an infantryman doesn't matter as much as what you feel and think as a citizen; infantrymen don't give power to the infantry--voters do. Plain and simple. And if the majority of voters feel it's immoral to bar a whole gender from doing a job; well, guess what, what you have to say about it doesn't much matter... and it shouldn't.
Maybe the argument should be, "Oh, you're an infantryman--well, what credibility do YOU have?"
I don't care how many wars you've fought--if you think our military (and the policies our military works under) belongs to anyone but the PEOPLE of this country (and, remember, those people are overwhelmingly NOT infantry veterans), well, you can go ahead and get the hell out of our beloved country. Clearly you're fighting for the wrong reasons anyway; so, I'd rather you take your weapons and move out. I hear there are whole regions waging war for war's sake--go kick it with them.
Now, sure, that may be a little personal--but, I gotta say, I'm just a little peeved with reading comments from people who say things like "Women shouldn't be allowed to be in the infantry because that's the way the infantry has always been." That's so circular it makes my head wanna explode!
Lastly, I'd like to say this (and, sure, this may be really offensive; but, I don't care):
Have you ever considered how little good you've actually done carrying a gun in a foreign country? Dare I say, you may have even made things worse?! That's perhaps a sad and cynical thought--especially for a veterans blog--but, really, short of taking care of those to your right and left, I don't really think the average infantryman has much of a leg to stand on saying that they made the world a better place.
In fact, if anyone gets credit for making the world just a little bit more peaceful, it's all the people who aren't so apt to go pick up weapons to kill other people. Perhaps, then, the current infantry isn't ideal. <Gasp!> Perhaps a little change in the way of bringing the military into line with the modern world would be a good thing? <Gasp!> Perhaps so little is actually gained by fighting wars the way the infantry currently fights that adding a few women to the mix won't compromise our effectiveness at all? <Gasp!>
Alas, I don't like to be that cynical and so I'm going to get on with my original posts--first I will give an anecdotal argument as to why I believe women belong in the infantry and then I will try to do better than that with Post 2.
* "A working definition of an issue of moral concern is shown to be any issue with the potential to help or harm anyone, including yourself."
The next article in the series is Of MPs and Infantrymen: Women in he Infantry Part 2.