In a previous post on the ethical dilemmas of the Air Force and the Marine Corps, and other posts concerning Army and Navy Flag Officers, I didn’t explain the core of the problem. Problems such as abuse of power, evident in both articles, and chauvinism, also clearly evident in both articles, run deeper than the abuser simply being a jerk. The core is a worldview regarding human beings that can not be reconciled to the lessons-learned of combat and of civilized civilization. There are three questions to consider in exploring these stories: 1) what is the role of a man and a woman when contracted to be a warrior for the US; 2) which mores, and their foundations must be adhered to in order for a unit to have the human cohesion to defeat an enemy; and, 3) is change good, or is there goodness in conserving a thing that works well? For the purpose of this essay, I’ll stick with the Marines and the first question. We’ll cover the other questions another time, because these cases illustrates so many other issues that VMI graduates face daily whether in service to their fellow citizens or to their families and communities.
There are three ways of viewing the roles of a man and a woman when serving in our Marine Corps: egalitarianism, complementarianism, and chauvinism. Each presents an ontological and teleological view of men and women. Ontology is that we exist – that we have a reality, and teleology is our purpose for existing. These are -logy words so they mean study, but mostly they seem rather wooden.
Americans idolize egalitarianism. The ideal is everyone is equal in having opportunity, and we should strive to make that ideal a reality. Every Marine recruit is equally able to become Commandant of the Marine Corps. Every Marine is equally able to lead, to earn the Medal of Honor, to represent America. Egalitarianism has two human weaknesses: envy, and jealousy. Envy is coveting what you don’t have, while jealousy is coveting what you have and don’t want others to have. There’s a Judeo-Christian commandment in there about coveting, but that’s for another essay. In today’s culture wars, egalitarians say that gender is just a societal construct: definition, roles, and such that can be erased with the purity of equality.
Complementarianism causes mad fits of pearl-clutching. Simply: men and women are ontologically similar: their existence shares many of the same realities, but also have some differences in reality that can not be shared. Those differences are hard-coded in the DNA, and the recent fad in exchanging one’s gender for another can not erase that coding. In today’s terms, you will hear “the infantry is no place for a woman because of the physical demands required of grunts.” That sounds chauvinistic on its surface until you examine what America expects of its grunts. Science and engineering may soon erase those physical differences a la The Suit or Armor as described by Robert A. Heinlein and John Steakley. Until then, men and women are similar.
Chauvinism is very un-American. It considers some Americans as Deplorable. Women are for sex. Men are sexist jethroes fit only for subjugation. All humans, except the dead ones, are chauvinistic to some degree. We are VMI people, not USMA people. We like X but not Z, and never ask Y. With chauvinism it’s not that we have preferences, it is when our preferences have out-sized control our thinking, our actions, and the effects of our thoughts and actions.
In the press and in your associations (clubs, social media groups and such), you will see this issues about Women Marines fighting the fight between Egalitarianism and Male Chauvinism, AKA misogyny. That isn’t the fight at all, and that isn’t why this issue is so dangerous to the Corps and to Americans. A weakness of egalitarians is envy, and there is plenty to envious in the Corps. Women do not have an apparent, obvious, and well-used path to 4 stars and the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. That Generals and Lieutenant Generals are political appointees, not merit appointees is immaterial to satisfying this envy. But, politics and a fundamentalism-of-dishonesty do play a part.
Another take on reality, maybe even the real reality: the purpose of a Marine is to combat. Initially combating recalcitrant American sailors, and defending and seizing ships, Marines continued as a close-quarters assault force to this very day. Close quarters combat (and we can define that as a building or as the battlespace of an infantry battalion) relies on physical attributes of power (strength plus speed), endurance and willpower. These aren’t just about hand-to-hand fighting, but that is a component. It is about carrying the logistics, especially ammunition to continue the fight in this industrial age.
There are tens of thousands of former Marines who visit the VA and civilian hospitals to treat the injuries associated with power, endurance and willpower. And, these were fit, trained men of an age in which hormones, muscle, bone, and brains form to create a very dangerous human being. One side of the argument will tell you that women can combat today, but won’t address the next 50 years of that woman’s life. By refusing to address the life after the Marines, the arguer dumps women in the trash-bin because their reality doesn’t conform to the purpose of the argument. This presents a structural impediment to women in an organization in which the attributes of the male meet the purpose of the Corps.
This leads to another question that no one is uniform is permitted to ask, so I will. Why didn’t the Left, which had the White House, Congress (which promulgates the rules and regulations for the Navy and Marine Corps), and, for this issue, a 5-justice majority on the Supreme Court, as well as the jobs of Secretary of Defense, Navy, and the political jobs, which includes most of the admirals and Marine generals – why didn’t they make a woman the Commandant of the Marine Corps? Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps? Why didn’t they create a career path to 4 stars? Why not? Democrats held most or all of the power from January 2007 to January 2017. Why didn’t they do something about it then?
I don’t mind the opportunism on display in this latest effort. One should usually, but not always, exploit an opportunity to press for victory. It isn’t the opportunism, it is the barbaric, fundamentalism of dishonesty being employed. This fight is about envy, and the absence of a path to undisputed power for women. Their argument is dressed up as egalitarian, but only concerns one sex. Not gender, color, ethnicity or religion, but DNA hard-coded sex. By citing BlackLivesMatter (who actively support the genocide of American blacks and discriminate against men of all colors and the women who love them), these Women Marines attach themselves to a force that is inherently unstable, and highly fractious. Whether it’s BlackLivesMatter or other groups, each victim is assigned a rank by demographic. The demographics are then ranked by level of perceived victimhood. Any demographic that is not subservient to the one above gets destroyed.
So too with these Women Marines. First it’s to have a Woman Commandant. Then it’s to have a non-caucasian Woman Commandant. Then it’s to have a lesbian, left-handed, optometrically-impaired DNA-pure Woman Commandant. And so on. The door will slam shut on true egalitarianism as no man can be promoted because it will be seen as sexist, and a return to the bad old days. Another way of looking at it: there will be a Marine Corps for one demographic, and another Marine Corps for another demographic, and so on, with no trust between them.
How will the parade of tokens contribute to the reality and purpose of the US Marine Corps? Can any marine trust a woman who signed that letter? In a decision between a male and a female marine, can that letter-signing woman decide for the best of America, the Corps, and the mission? Can they be believed anymore? To resolve this issue in America’s favor (and that’s the ONLY side that counts), the Marines must understand how they view women, and if they decide on one of the three viewpoints, all rules and processes and career paths must be aligned to fully promote that path.
For egalitarians, that means one standard (which is defined as the minimum acceptable level of accomplishment) for all Marines: PFT, education scores, and equality of opportunity in all areas of the Corps. For complementarians that means finding a career path to 4-stars using measured equality of outcome, and making compromises based on sex. For the chauvinists, either get rid of the women or the men and get on with it. The Navy can always use its Dental Corps to assault the beach.
So what will it be?