A Rhino Den Conversation – Women in Combat
Editor’s Note: What you see posted on The Rhino Den barely scratches the surface as to what goes on behind the scenes with our motley crew of writers. From time-to-time I am going to post excerpts from rather lengthy email strings. Here is an example of an email discussion that has been reformatted and edited to portray a conversation. – RU Rob
By Mr. Twisted and Jack Mandaville
The Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, recently released a statement that, by 2016, women would be allowed in all combat jobs in the military, thus ending over 200 years’ worth of tradition for them to…well, not be in combat jobs. I sat down with Jack Mandaville to have a look at this topic from the point of view of a couple used-to-be grunts.
Mr. Twisted: “Jack, what are your thoughts on this decision from SecDef…wait, are you already drunk?”
Jack: “I’m not sure. It’s been a steady mix of Bailey’s and coffee for me for about three hours now. Not sure if I’m drunk or overly caffeinated. I do know I’ll probably need to purge in the next hour or so, though.
“So what’s your question, man?”
Mr. Twisted: “Well, it was something about women in combat. But with you being overly caffeinated and/or simultaneously drunk, I’m wondering…is that a guy’s only trait, or do you think women could pull that off? I mean, after all, I think that’s the basis for any seasoned warrior — the ability to maintain a droning, semi-conscious awareness of all things while still being influenced by both stimulants and depressants.”
Jack: “Of course women could pull it off. Look at Amy Winehouse and Janis Joplin. These were two strong, independent women who defied the notion that only men can be self-destructive… and they did it with both class and dignity–which puts them in the same echelon as guys like Jimi Hendrix, Jack Kerouac and Heath Ledger.
“The real question is, can both men and women party together without any major disturbances to the force?”
Mr. Twisted: “So, you’re saying for any woman to be a warrior, she must take horse tranquilizers and sniff airplane glue? Far out. But to answer your question, that depends entirely upon your definition of “party.” I had a squad leader once who liked to shove privates into wall lockers and knock them down the stairs. He thought it was the best possible way to spend a Saturday night. I could see Amy Winehouse pulling that off.
“One of the things everyone is going to be talking about is the “standards” issue. “Will they lower the standards,” or “will women get different standards than men,” or “will I have to start wearing a bra so they feel more comfortable…” How do you think that will affect things? Oh, and yes, the Force will be majorly disturbed. Something about chromosomes and midi-chlorians…it’s high tech stuff.”
Jack: “You got hazed/trained, too?! My first NCO liked beating the back of my legs with PVC pipes. I wonder if they have ‘Battered FNG Shelters’ for people like us?
“Wait… where were we?… Oh yeah.
“I believe it’s too early to tell how standards will be affected. I certainly assume that the male partygoers will expect the females to hang in there. We can’t have these chicks passing out early on us. There has undoubtedly been enough women in the past who have proven themselves worthy and, in some instances, outdone the boys–like that chick who almost beat Andy Kaufman in the Inter-Gender Wrestling Championship.”
Mr. Twisted: “I had this soldier once who was actually built like a girl. He had really wide hips and man-boobs. He was terribly out of shape, but he got promoted pretty quickly because he filled out paper work really fast. I’m not really sure how that relates, but I wanted to get a jab in at him and thought it worked here.
“Andy Kaufman ass-kickers aside, what happens when a woman ends up in a rifle platoon and a couple of the dudes want to, you know, do that…thing…with her…?”
Jack: “Oh, that ‘thing.’ Well, that’s a whole other issue.
“Here’s my take. Men and women are both genetically wired to do that thing with each other–and sometime with the same gender. (It’s science. You can’t argue with science–unless you’re from a Kansas-based fundamentalist church that has an enthusiastic hatred for that kind of thing.) Putting them together in an environment where they have constant contact with each other in extreme situations will surely trigger certain sexual emotions. This seems to be one of the major issues facing a gender-integrated rifle platoon. We have to ask ourselves certain questions.
1) Will a sexual relationship between two platoon-mates cause tensions or hamper unit cohesion?
2) Can men and women work in this atmosphere without doing that ‘thing,’ and will there be certain policies set up to prohibit it?
3) If a male Soldier or Marine does enter into a consensual relationship with a female platoon member, will he have to constantly endure questions like ‘do these cammies make my ass look big’ and ‘I saw you smile at PFC Smuckatelli, do you think she’s cuter than me?’ … I can’t stand that shit, bro.
4) And lastly, how big were the man-boobs on this guy? Are we talkin’ A, B, or C cup? D cup?”
Mr. Twisted: I’ll try to address them in order, but I went mostly to public school, so all bets are off.
1) Yes. Someone will want to do someone else, and then a third party will either A) be jealous, or B) also do that someone else and cause even more problems. I saw every episode of Seinfeld, so I know how this turns out.
2) All I know is that, if they are allowed to do it, they damn well better be wearing a reflective belt during the act!!!
3) I foresee a “relationship counselor” MOS within the rifle platoon.
4) Probably an A cup, but his hips were like Beyonce. It was weird. We even asked a guy who had a PhD in biochemistry to explain it. He couldn’t.
I honestly have mixed feelings. Though I think there is a case to be made for women in combat, I think it would only work well if they kept the standards the same across the board and minimized the amount of drama within a platoon, we all know that A) the standards thing won’t happen, and B) the drama thing will probably never go away as long as we have a culture that continues to uphold people like Oprah and Dr. Phil as people worthy of taking advice from.
Jack: Alright, you sold me on the standards not being upheld. As far as the drama thing not going away goes, let me add on. When you serve in a tight-knit military unit like an infantry platoon, folks are going to lash out every once in a while. You can’t avoid it. All that testosterone crammed into an inescapable situation can cause the closest of friends to get at each other’s throats–sometimes verbally and sometimes physically. It’s just the nature of the beast, always has been. What happens when a male and female butt heads? I’ve witnessed guys get into all-out fist fights with each other and then the two bastards are drinking beers a few hours later and laughing it off. I don’t think that scenario would play out with a male vs. female confrontation.
“So what would be the solution if, hypothetically, this happened? How does the ‘relationship counselor’ approach a complicated issue like this if we as a society are still harboring the mentality that men and women are to be held to different standards regarding how they treat each other?
“Also, will the relationship counselor be expected to carry a rifle like the rest of the platoon or is he more similar to a clergy member? Maybe we could have Soldiers and Marines keep their main MOSs as infantrymen and just designate and train one member of the platoon to hold a secondary billet. Is anyone even listening to me?
“Now, back to an equally important subject… did the Beyonce hips guy meet the physical requirements or was he just an overall blob? Speaking of overall blobs, I agree, Dr. Phil is a stain on society.”
Twisted: “Imagine Dr. Phil but shaped like Beyonce but…not hot. And the term “barely” would be paying him a compliment in terms of physical standards being met.
“I think we have four solid take-aways from this discussion: One, Amy Winehouse would have made a fine soldier. 2) Intra-Platoon sex will probably cause a lot of problems. 3) Relationship counselors as combatants will probably get in the way of, well, everything and make everyone madder than they were before. And finally, 4) Tim Kennedy was a hotter version of Katy Perry than Katy Perry was.
“Because our boss, the Chief Boot-Knocka of the Rhino Den, RU Rob, has put a word limit on these posts (which we totally disregarded), please leave something in the comment section indicating whether or not you would like to see a part two of this, because believe me, we’re just scratching the surface on this beast.”