Thursday, May 19, 2005

Back To The Future

So John McHugh’s bright idea to restrict women’s combat roles, which would have virtually eliminated their support roles in medical and maintenance units, went down in flames after withdrawing the amendment amidst a howl of protest from veterans and the Pentagon. Instead we get this:

“The House Armed Services Committee approved the narrower provision after Democrats, along with the Army, said the amendment rammed through a subcommittee last week would close nearly 22,000 jobs to women, undermine morale, and hamper operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We want women to serve everywhere, except in ground combat," said Rep. John McHugh, a New York Republican. McHugh, chairman of the personnel subcommittee, said the amendment would require Congress to vote before women would be allowed in direct combat units.”
McHugh is no friend to women, as his voting record shows, and this attempt at faux chivalry stinks of the very sort of discriminatory selectivity the right claims to hate so much when it means giving consideration to groups that have been shut out of equal treatment for centuries.

But this is nothing new. Women are not exempt from the front lines, in this or any war. They have suffered and died in wars since the beginning of time, but have seldom been outright allowed to shoulder the weaponry and exhibit the aggression that might let them fight back. Furthermore, the idea that a woman’s life is somehow of greater value or more precious than a man’s is not only obscene, but merely a bullshit excuse belied by the actual treatment of women and the low value our culture puts on them.

McHugh is part of the Christianist right-wing patriarchy, eager to recapture the good old days of female subservience justified by religious interpretation and primitive biblical texts 3000 years old.

Rather than awaken to the horror that war truly is (as I'd hoped might happen when women began serving at the front), it seems some of us would deal with that by retreating back into a comfortable old duality, with men being torn to smithereens in combat, and women dutifully waiting at home to pick up the pieces, or suffering and dying as civilians with the combatants.

Ah, the good old days.

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