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Jewish World Review April 10, 2000 / 5 Nissan, 5760

Betsy Hart

Betsy Hart
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Women warriors -- LT. GENERAL CLAUDIA KENNEDY, the Army's highest-ranking woman, recently rocked the military world by leveling an official complaint of sexual harassment against another Army general, harassment she says took place in 1996.

Yet the year after the alleged incident, according to the New York Times, Kennedy apparently alluded to it in an ABC News interview when she said she had experienced sexual harassment but had turned the matter over to her boss and ". . . was very impressed with the way it was handled. . . . it was investigated carefully, and there was a very positive response on the part of the Army."

Unfortunately for the supposed harasser, last year he had his name put forth for a high level promotion, at which point Kennedy seems to have changed her mind and decided the issue needed to be officially revisited. An appalling about-face by its chief woman warrior? The Army isn't saying so. Doubtless, they don't want to appear insensitive to women.

Meanwhile, Commander Kathleen McGrath is the first American woman to take a warship to sea, this one to the dangerous waters of the Persian Gulf. In training for the mission she recently directed her crew in backing the U.S.S. Jarrett into port in San Diego. Docking the ship was a tense affair, TIME magazine reported. But Commander McGrath soon got her reward. Her recently adopted two and three year-old children ran up the gangplank into her arms as she asked "Did you see mommy's ship come in?"

Then there's the U.S.S. San Antonio. A Marine troop carrier currently under construction, it's the first to have a woman's touch. As TIME reported, key electrical systems will be lower to accommodate the average 5-inch height gap between genders. And it turns out women need more toilet paper than the men (on other ships they hoard the stuff) so the TP storage units will hold seven rolls instead of two. The women's bathrooms will have more ventilation "due to hair spray," along with more outlets and mirrors "for hair and makeup."

Nothing is overlooked. Those industrial grade washing machines that are murder on the undergarments of the women warriors? The new ones will be built with "gentle" cycles.

Yep, it's not your father's military anymore, to paraphrase General Kennedy herself. She's right: It's no longer lean or mean. So, is it still a fighting machine?

"No" says investigative reporter Stephanie Gutmann in her devastating critique of America's newly feminized armed forces, "A Kinder, Gentler Military." Gutmann meticulously chronicles the problems of rampant sex and pregnancy in the "new military," the extraordinary lengths the services must go to in order to accommodate an influx of women and the push to fully integrate them into combat roles. (No one figured, for instance, that large numbers of women would develop urinary tract infections on those long desert marches because they were too embarrassed to relieve themselves in front of men.) And she finds extensive evidence of double-standards between servicemen and women in physical abilities and other areas.

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Worst of all, Gutmann shows how the military now employs coercive quotas for integrating women while adopting a politically correct gag rule to help ensure no one of military stature publicly points out the obvious --- these changes aren't working. (Though privately or once retired, many servicemen and women say exactly that.)

An even more basic issue may be the question of whether a civilized society should even allow women to voluntarily, deliberately, and unnecessarily risk their lives fighting for their country --- in the place of men, a task they are incapable of surviving as well as men.

Elaine Donnelly is president of the Center for Military Readiness and a former member of the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces, and she put it this way: "The people moving to fully integrate women into combat positions in the military are in effect saying that violence against women is OK --- as long as it is at the hands of the enemy."

So, ironically, America is outraged over the rape and torture of civilian Bosnian women in that conflict, yet at the same time is apparently willing to unnecessarily subject American women to what would be that and worse in a time of war. All in the name of "equality of military career opportunity."

Yes, women have always served admirably in important support roles in our military. And some have lost their lives doing it. But never before has America been so determined to deliberately, foolishly and gratuitously put significant numbers of women squarely between our worst enemies and the men back on the home front they are defending.

We should be ashamed of ourselves.

JWR contributor Betsy Hart, a frequent commentator on CNN and the Fox News Channel, can be reached by clicking here.


04/05/00: Confessions of a soccer mom
03/30/00: Getting an education about schools
03/22/00: If you're a parent, act like one!
03/14/00: Not child advocates, but self-advocates
03/06/00: McCain not what he seemed at first
02/29/00: An effective answer to social problems
02/22/00: The feminists' newest target: Toys
02/06/00: Harassing the harassers
01/31/00: It doesn't take a village to raise a child --- it takes a scheduler
01/25/00: Psuedo science and global warming
01/18/00: Socially responsible nonsense
01/10/00: Monica may be onto something
12/27/99: Sometimes it matters quite a lot what government thinks
12/17/99: Teens have no inherent 'right to privacy'
12/10/99: Buying a minivan and tossing the SUV
12/03/99: On the mommy track
11/05/99:The waste of recycling
11/01/99: Welcome to Harvard pre-school
10/22/99: No disaster for women that Dole is out
10/19/99: 'Humanitarian' hypocrites
10/15/99: On a first-name basis with a three-year-old

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