Lessons from Sparta: Man up and spare women from combat
WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2015 – President Obama recently ordered all combat slots opened to women.
His feminization of the U.S. military is not about promoting equality of opportunity. It is a deliberate act of national self-destruction and a gift to our enemies. It denies men their exclusive role as protectors. It strips women of a special protected status. And it destroys a social compact that predicates civilizational self-defense upon sex-role differences that has saved the West from barbarism for millennia.
Some history is in order. In the ancient Greek city-state of Sparta of 500 B.C., virtuous women proudly bore and raised sons to become Spartan soldiers, admonishing them not to return from battle except with, or upon, their shields. Hard men cultivated bravery, military skill and a tenacious refusal to retreat or surrender lest they shame themselves and their ancestors formed the most fearsome professional army in antiquity. Together, Spartan men and women defeated Persian tyranny and bequeathed a great treasure to the Western world through a social compact around which Western defense coalesced, guiding us ever since: men who would sacrifice all in the protection of their women and children, and women who raised children to honor their fathers for doing so. Together they formed a partnership of the sexes in executing vastly different but equally important missions that succeed simultaneously to defend a stable society.
With the Spartans as exemplar, the West made biological differences consequential as regards rights and duties. Superior male physical strength, aggression and risk tolerance conferred leadership privileges in private and public life but were harnessed to defend women, children and country. The Spartan virtue obligating men to hone and wield their physical advantages to protect, provide and if need be die for women and children inspired Roman paterfamilias, the medieval chivalric code, the maritime custom that women and children are first into lifeboats and laws drafting men for military service. And feminine delicacy, childbearing monopoly and a superior capacity for nurturing earned women legal and customary protection along with primacy in raising and educating children.
Sex role distinctions informing this social defense compact endured for millennia. In the 1950s “Leave it to Beaver” and “Father Knows Best” era, fathers went into the world to earn a living while mothers ran households and raised their children. Boys gravitated toward rough-and-tumble games and sports to prepare for the ultimate exercise of masculine virtue—defense of the country in battle—while girls cared for baby dolls, held teas and developed skills as nurturers, family organizers and keepers of the hearths to which future husbands would return from battle—literal or figurative. A boy might tease a girl, but hitting her was a venal sin. Film, music and fairy tales reinforced the prince’s duty to rescue a princess in distress no matter the rigors that would befall him. The theme song of the hit TV show “All in the Family” recalls these halcyon days when “Girls were girls and men were men.”
But in the 1960s, the compact began to unravel. Feminism encouraged women into the workforce as men’s rivals. By the 1970s, the male national service obligation—the draft—ended, Roe v. Wade diminished women’s sacred role as lifegivers and the military academies capitulated to feminist pressure to admit women. The 1980s introduced New Wave androgyny with Boy George and Billy Idol, and the 1990s brought us the Sensitive New Age Man—weak, deferential to women and so in touch with his feelings that he wept at Hallmark commercials. By the 2000s, “metrosexuals” described the proliferation of urban male hipsters whose meticulous grooming, clothes shopping predilection and other lifestyle choices located them on a continuum between heterosexuality and homosexuality.
Now, even the biological foundation of gender is crumbling. Bruce Jenner, dressed in drag to play a woman named “Caitlyn,” garners honors as a “hero.” Taxpayers subsidize genital mutilation surgery for teens and prisoners while veterans go untreated for PTSD for “lack of funds.” Stores refuse to categorize toys by gender and proudly advertise boys playing with Barbie dolls. Schools let girls wrestle boys and allow boys dressed as girls to use girls’ locker rooms.
The gender war is omnipresent. In advertising men are bumbling, clueless fools, dependent upon wiser, dominant female “partners,” more mommies to them than wives. Mothers helicopter over their sons, guarding against playground boo-boos. Dodgeball, home economics, God, military recruiters, and anything remotely resembling a weapon are banned from schools. The President’s Physical Fitness program, instituted by JFK during the Cold War to beef up American physical prowess, has been ditched. Marriage no longer unites man and woman to build family and nation but merely expresses the “liberty” of the participants—who appear in new numbers and combinations on a mushrooming list of “genders” for the Supreme Court to bless. Young men, absent healthy role models to help navigate the transition to adulthood, ape thuggish rappers and play violent and misogynistic video games to bleed off aggressive tension. Magazines like Cosmopolitan discourage young women from marriage in favor of learning sexual techniques to satisfy the guy-of-the-week. Europe-wide, men hold their manhoods cheap and do naught while an invasion of Muslim men costumed as refugees rape their women.
That the West of 2015 has abnegated the ancient social compact for civilizational self-defense is most acutely on display in the U.S. armed forces, where transgendered soldiers openly serve a commander-in-chief who throws like a girl, rides a bicycle with a helmet, golfs in 1950s-era girl’s saddle shoes and—against logic and expert military advice—now sends women to battle men. The dangerous and suicidal lie underlying Obama’s fundamental transformation of the military is that women, far physically weaker and less aggressive than men, can prevail in the physical death struggle of combat.
Could anything be further from the truth? Who doubts that if men and women fight hand-to-hand the former will make short, ugly work of the latter? Given a choice, what enemy would not elect to battle female American soldiers rather than their bigger, stronger, meaner, more vicious, testosterone-fueled male counterparts?
Placing American women in combat sends terrible and morally corrosive messages: We are not serious about defeating radical Islam. Men no longer merit the pride that comes with bearing the sacred duty of protecting women, children and nation. Women are the functional equivalents of men without special responsibilities or aptitude for raising children, nurturing families and transmitting moral values. And our civilization is no longer worth preserving since women, who we know are inadequate to the task, are sent to defend it.
To describe the Obama women-in-combat policy as a progressivist-inspired tragedy does not imply female inferiority. While biology and logic render the battlefield the special preserve of men, and kitchen, church and children an overwhelmingly feminine domain, each sex has equally crucial civilizational responsibilities. Women give life and with all that they are and do make our civilization worth defending. They are the intellectual equals of men. They have strengths and capacities men lack. All other occupations and pursuits should be open to them.
And nothing in the Spartan model proscribes military training for women. Before the 1960s, both sexes learned firearm safety and competed in shooting matches in U.S. public schools. Women form the last line of defense should their men fail on foreign battlefields. Their personal sovereignty entitles them to self-defense, including with guns, against predatory males. Women should develop their warrior spirit, just as men should nurture the children they father. The women with whom I served in the U.S. Army, and whom I taught at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, were patriots and heroes who offered much to the country—but not as combat soldiers.
Yet now the West is threatened not only from a foreign ideology—radical Islam—born in lands once Persian-ruled, but from a progressive ideology attacking from within. We battle, weakened, on two fronts. Only if we kill political correctness and man up our country can we save the civilization the Spartans saved for us.
Women have no place in combat. Shame on us men for imperiling our daughters, sisters and wives. Men must take up their shields and promise their women to return only with or upon them. A women-in-combat policy relieves men of their obligations as protectors, denies women their due veneration as lifegivers and nurturers, and undermines the civilization women and men jointly create and defend. It must be scrapped. The Spartan-inspired, sex-role based social defense compact must be reinstituted. Impose a draft to create a pool of men trained to do what men and men alone are supposed to do: fight, kill and die to protect women, children and nation. Women must be encouraged to be women, and men to be men.
Unless we civilizational descendants of the Spartans who died at Thermopylae and Plataea resisting Persian tyranny cling fast to the principle that men alone are warriors and women are the essence of the civilization men fight to defend, we will lose everything.