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Gender Roles, Survival Instincts, and Procreational Drives in the Combat Zone
June 2, 2004
by Ray Blumhorst

Not having all the answers to difficult questions has never stopped me from exploring the reasons behind complex issues. With such an awareness of the obstacle course I am about to enter, I look at the events of the past few months at Abu Ghraib in Iraq and wonder if military planners, social scientists, and others have clearly thought out all the ramifications of putting men and women closely together in combat situations.

Progressive social scientists today would have us believe that gender is a social construct so much so that the roles men and women play in life can be chosen by them without deference to any natural sexual drives or inclinations they are born with. According to social scientists, and women's studies professors who tout their theories, "Boys need not be boys, and girls need not be girls." The premise that gender is socially constructed is strongly advocated in many sectors of American society today (including the military). It is now the law in California schools as well as some other states in America, that gender is a social construct.

Social scientists and their ilk provide anecdotal evidence as can be seen in this article, Death By Theory by Wendy McElroy to support their bogus claims, but in my opinion they have used as much political muscle as science to implant their viewpoints into our social consciousness. The aforementioned, tragically failed gender experiment cited in Wendy's article makes me wonder if adequate objective considerations were also overlooked, when politically correct, military planners established policies that allowed the tragic debacle at Abu Ghraib to unfolded in all its sexist and bigoted ways.

Under the Clinton Administration strong efforts were made to increase the participation of women in military and combat roles. The effects of those policies, those social experiments, have never been more clearly in view than they are today as our young men and women perform their combat roles in the "theater of war" in Iraq. Many, many fine young men and women of high moral character have "done their duty" in the face of great danger in the "finest traditions" of military service, but some as we have seen at Abu Ghraib have not. Abu Ghraib is a shining testimony to the ill thought out influence of politically correct thinking that has run amok in academia and government, and has driven scholarly research, objectivity, and common sense out of many areas formerly governed by the objective reasoning employed in critical thinking.

We find ourselves today at the point where women's roles in combat have increased significantly. Truly, the dynamics of male and female sexuality have never met under more stressful conditions. In a gender perfect world, constructed through the omniscient wisdom of gender feminists, a non heterosexual gender model would reign supreme in all areas of our society so that no one would ever again need to be burdened by some stereotyping burden of sexuality inherited at birth. Given that so few gender feminists have ever experienced the true horrors of war in any sense, I find such reasoning (if one can call it that) used to evaluate the behavior of men and women in the military to be highly implausible to say the least. Such ill thought out experimentation with human lives in time of war can be costly as we have all too painfully become aware.

I recall many years ago, when serving in the U.S. Navy in Vietnam, how one of our crew members committed suicide by jumping over the fan tail of the ship. He jumped, holding a trash can full of valves, after receiving a "Dear John" letter from his girl friend. A brave marine tried to save his life but to no avail. A 2nd (but this time unsuccessful) suicide attempt in our division brought home to me the reality that I was stuck in a really unpleasant, stressful situation. I remember commenting to a ship mate that, "Maybe people don't value their own lives very highly in the combat zone, eh?" I was surprised to hear his revealing, albeit cynical, reply, "Nah the suicide rates are very low in the combat zone, but then who's really keeping score of what's what?" Ever the doubter I looked up suicide in the Encyclopedia Britannica and found his remark tended to support the evidence. Here it is from the 1973 edition, "Trend data associated with several wars indicate that wars tend to depress suicide rates even though men in the military ordinarily have higher suicide rates than civilians, and, of course more men are in the military during war time; it seems that, in wartime, suicide rates drop among career military men as well."

If the above can show that war has a strong effect on a human being's motivation, related to his desire to stay alive in time of war, can we possibly take the next step and conclude that war might also heighten a threatened individuals desire to procreate? I recall a poignant moment from the movie, "Enemy at the Gate" starring Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, et. al., where just such a motivation unfolded between a man and a woman under just such adverse war time conditions. Considering the lack of studies I have seen on this, and the willingness with which people (predominately men) have overcome their desire to survive by knowingly going to certain death in combat I have conflicted feelings myself about this. If we are going to continue to put men and women together under the stresses of war, and expect celibate behavior, perhaps we should take a closer look. Maslow's hierarchy of needs (physiological, safety, love, esteem, self-actualization) could be interpreted as support for the view that warlike settings might well motivate some healthy, young, well fed, heterosexual human beings (who perceive life threatening surroundings) to highly prioritize procreation behavior out of a subconscious drive to insure preservation of self and species.

Given the dynamics of today's modern "gender integrated" military, military planners would be wise to consider such possibilities aside from the heterophobic babble of women's studies professors and other gender constructing social scientists. Those purveyors of modern gender propaganda appear to me to look no further than the promotion of their own political agendas. Military planners would be wise to do their own research and discover the myriad influences that contribute to impairment of our nation's military readiness, when burdened with the legal requirements of a politically correct, gender constructed agenda.

Can America be so foolish as to not realize that we do not send eunuchs to combat, but instead fine healthy young men in the prime of their lives, and now fine healthy young women in their prime. If America is so foolish as to send mere heterosexual men and women so closely together into such violent depravity, and then further ask them to forsake all semblance of their natural human (sexuality), then in my opinion it asks too much of mere human beings.

In conclusion, even though it may appear from what I have said above that I am an advocate of an all male military, nothing could be further from the truth. Considering that men are still about 98% of combat deaths and injuries, I propose that the time has come for America to realistically admit the violent roles it has historically forced men to carry out in combat, and compensate men fully with social services according to the violence they have endured. Instead of endlessly sending so many men to combat, then endlessly blaming all men for all violence as domestic violence laws do, America should begin to confront that blatant hypocrisy by creating a Violence Against Men Act (VAMA). If America chooses not to do this, then America should just send all women to fight the wars, and let men choose to stay at home and keep the home fires burning. If gender is a social construct and men have historically been so privileged, then let gender feminist advocates be the first to bear the oppression of any present or future military combat, before advancing any other half baked, heterophobic theories about gender being entirely socially constructed.

This article first appeared on Men's News Daily (5/30/04).

Ray Blumhorst is currently a Supervisor of Maintenance, and has worked in California public schools for 30 years. In addition to his day job, he worked for 8 years as a part time teacher in California public schools in the evenings. Ray is a Vietnam Vet, and a member of the National Coaltion of Free Men, Los Angeles. Ray is also a victim of domestic violence and is currently the plaintiff in a civil rights lawsuit for an injunction against ten state funded domestic violence shelters that refuse to provide shelter or even motel vouchers to male victims. The action is currently on appeal before the 2nd District Court of Appeals of California.

This article first appeared on Cybercast News Service (5/25/04).

Glenn Sacks is a men's and fathers' issues columnist and a talk show host on KMPC AM 1540 in Los Angeles. His columns have appeared in dozens of America's largest newspapers.

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