One would think that the armed forces are there to fight battles other than those of gender equality.
After all, an army is the least egalitarian institution one could imagine. An extra star on the collar entitles a man to issue peremptory orders that must be obeyed on pain of severe punishment.
And the US army is even less egalitarian than its British counterpart. Since the US officer corps has no tradition of class, the army accentuates privileges of rank. Thus, if British officers often address their superiors by Christian name off-duty and sometimes even on, their American colleagues stick to the formal ‘sir’ in most situations.
Yet these days no institution can blow away the smokescreen of the zeitgeist. And the zeitgeist issues its orders with Pauline authority: there is neither male nor female, neither gay nor straight, neither original nor trans, for ye are all one in wokery.
The US army fought a rearguard action against such frontal attacks, but it was outgunned. It has merely managed to win a skirmish against transsexuals by allowing them to serve only in their original, aka real, sex.
But all other battles have been lost. In 2011 President O’Bummer pushed through a law allowing open homosexuals to serve. And in 2016 the first women donned the uniform of the US infantry.
Women now make up 14 per cent of US personnel on active duty – and more power to them, says the feminist in me. Alas, when it comes to physical fitness, women tend to have less power.
Nevertheless, logic demands that all soldiers irrespective of sex meet the same minimum requirements of fitness. Hence the US army introduced the gender-neutral Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT).
Again, the egalitarian in me applauds. If we have gender-neutral public lavatories, surely everything should go gender-neutral – including, and I can’t stress this enough, the women’s dressing room at my tennis club.
But here’s the snag: God still makes men stronger and faster than women. That’s why 65 per cent of female soldiers fail ACFT, against a mere 10 per cent of men. This affects promotion prospects, putting women at a distinct disadvantage.
Given the current climate, such blatant discrimination simply won’t do. Hence the army is considering scrapping the same ACFT for all, replacing it with separate tests for men and women. This sort of thing works in sports, where men and women don’t compete together (unless the men claim to be women). But in the army?
To begin with, it’s not immediately obvious why the US army needs women in the first place. Unlike, say, Israel, America has plenty of able-bodied men to staff her 200,000-strong army.
Many experts believe that women can slow down a unit because their presence activates men’s chivalry, dormant though it nowadays may be. Thus a male soldier is more likely to come back for a wounded woman than for a man. Under some circumstances, such noble instincts may endanger the mission or even the unit.
Also, a woman taken prisoner may well be raped, which fate is less likely to befall a male GI. Thus a frontline female soldier faces greater risks, which offends my sense of fairness.
However, accepting that the US military can’t survive without going unisex, surely all soldiers have to be able to satisfy the minimum requirements of fitness, both physical and mental? Unlike with sex, here the choice is strictly binary: either such minimum standards are essential or they aren’t.
Fair enough, with modern warfare increasingly resembling computer games, not all army jobs have to be physically arduous. A woman is as capable as a man to operate a PlayStation console even if she can’t run as fast.
It would be fine to lower the required physical standards strictly for such jobs. Yet that would still make many other branches of service off limits for many women, which runs against the grain of modern sensibilities.
Hence the planned ACFT streaming, regardless of the branch of service. Woke worthiness trumps combat readiness, which is cloud cuckoo land.
I wonder if female soldiers will in due course be allowed to wear stiletto heels on duty, as Italian policewomen already are. We can’t force female persons to wear men’s clothes, can we now?