Female Infantrymen

America’s first female Army Infantrymen are here, but not all of them made it through.

In fact, only eighteen of the thirty-two female infantry recruits made it through the One Station Unit Training (OSUT) program at Fort Benning, Georgia.... the females needed only to meet the much-lower female standards for physical fitness that separate them from their previously all-male counterparts.

That said, there were some women who certainly gave their male colleagues a run for their money.

“There was even one female that did better than 90 percent of the males on the PT test,” said one 22-year-old male trainee, who reportedly had high PT scores.
An attrition rate from a training program that approaches fifty percent is pretty striking. Some of the special operations training/selection courses are higher than that, of course, but those are built around higher standards -- not lowered standards. Some percentage of the women (at least one of them, I gather from the article) might have met what was until yesterday "the standard." They would have been better served, though there would have been fewer of them, by being held to the same standard as the male infantrymen.

UPDATE: A related story in the Marine Corps Times: "New Concerns that Lower Fitness Standards Fuel Disrespect for Women." The creator of Terminal Lance is among those interviewed.
“Women, from Day One, do not have to do the same PFT as men,” said Maximilian Uriarte, a Marine veteran and the creator of the “Terminal Lance” comic strip. “

“To men, that’s immediately like: ‘Oh, they have not accomplished the same thing I have … Therefore, they do not rate the same respect that I do,’” he said.

One way to erase the gender gap, Uriarte said in an interview with Marine Corps Times, would be to have women meet the same standards as men on the PFT and CFT.

“I think you’d probably lose a lot of women, but the ones you’d keep would be really stellar, fighting, fit Marines that the men would respect on that level,” he said.

11 comments:

douglas said...

My first thought was - "It seems so obvious, no?", but then it occurred to me that it wasn't about creating female infantry that the men could respect, it was about tearing down everything men value- destroying the masculine ideal. It all makes perfect sense in that context. They don't even care that the women will be doomed to being seen as 'less then' because of the lowered standards- collateral damage, casualties will be incurred, but the line advances ever 'forward!'.

Dad29 said...

What does Common Sense have to do with this, anyway?

Krag said...

And to reiterate, how did any of this make us better at breaking stuff and killing people?

jaed said...

Meh. I don't think it's about tearing down everything men value, or about elevating women. It's about making things "fair".

- Women are half the population, and therefore half the Army should be women.

- If the physical requirements mean that less than half the Army is women, well, the requirements are unfair and need to be changed.

- If the requirements reflect the abilities that are actually needed in the real world of combat, well, then the real world of combat is unfair and needs to be changed (NOTE: TBD).

It's all perfectly logical, once you accept as an absolute the premise that in a fair world, women would constitute half of every group. Accepting premises as absolutes tends to lead to crazy conclusions, but it does make one feel virtuous. Accepting anything less than fifty percent, squeezed in by any means necessary, would, to people who think like this, mean compromising their most important principles. So we end up at this point.

MikeD said...

It's all perfectly logical, once you accept as an absolute the premise that in a fair world, women would constitute half of every group.

Well, except for nasty, dirty jobs. Like garbage collectors. Or waste water treatment workers. THOSE can stay at <95% male employment rates. No one seems to mind THAT particular bit of inequality.

jaed said...

There are people who do mind that. It's because the men who do those jobs are sexists, of course.

MikeD said...

I never once have seen anyone call for more women in waste management professions, save for those who are doing so to point out the hypocrisy of the "fairness" argument. But I do not doubt there are those who complain about the sexist treatment of women who are in waste management positions. I'm just sure their chosen solution for that problem is not, has never been, and will never be a call to encourage more young women to enter the waste management industry.

Grim said...

If it becomes prestigious to be a waste management technician -- a garbageman, to use the plain language -- then there will be a drive to make sure equal numbers of women do it. There's no drive to make sure we have equal numbers of women in jail, either.

The infantry isn't being seen as a dirty, dangerous job. It is that, and has at times been far dirtier and far more dangerous than it is now. But what they're seeing it as is a source of prestige. The composition of the infantry is no longer about building an effective fighting force. It's about effecting a transfer of prestige.

Tom said...

Conversely, you don't see any outrage at the almost total lack of male elementary school teachers in some school systems.

I don't think it's about tearing down everything men value, or about elevating women. It's about making things "fair".

Embrace the healing power of "and"! It's about tearing down men, and elevating women, and making things fair, because men have run things for too long, so now women should have their chance.

MikeD said...

Conversely, you don't see any outrage at the almost total lack of male elementary school teachers in some school systems.

Excellent point. For a period of two months, I worked IT in a local elementary school. There were three men in the entire building. Myself, the music teacher, and the janitor. The female teachers thought nothing of using the men's staff restroom if theirs was occupied, because it was highly unlikely one of us would ever be in there. And yet, who has ever heard the same people who complain about how the lack of women in STEM professions is due to sexism never get around to being interested in why women dominate the teaching profession as a whole, and the elementary level in particular?

Because for those people, as Tom points out, it is NOT about equality or fairness, but about "getting even".

Daniel said...

I spoke to a friend of mine who did SOI a decade after I did; they've lowered the standards for SOI even before women in the infantry was an issue.

When I went through Alpha-traz in the early 90's, the benchmark forced hump was based on MCCRES standards: 40K in at least 8 hours. Troop handlers made sure we made it under par. Benchmark hump when he went through was 20K, half of MCCRES. We aren't even training Infantry to FMF standards.