On Equality, Part 1

In all the discussions over the merits–or non-merits–of feminism, someone always chimes in with the question, “What’s so wrong with the premise that men and women are equal?”

This, folks, is a classic case of intellectual dishonesty.

The more appropriate questions are,

(1) In what ways are men and women equal?

(2) In what ways are men and women not equal?

(3) How should that equality–or inequality–affect public policy and discourse?

Let’s take, for example, a recent issue of gender equity: men and women in the military.

Recently, our government has decided to go full-circle and lift the ban on women in combat. While it is true that women have already–in various forms–served in combat roles, with casualties to prove it, they have been precluded from specific combat assignments, including Special Operations roles.

Moreover, women have also been–due to the ban on their serving in combat roles–exempt from having to register for Selective Service. I.e., they have been exempt from any future draft.

Now, that’s in danger of being off the table. There are already plans to integrate women into some Special Operations roles, although they will have a tall order getting through said training. Women may soon be eligible to go to Ranger School, but their chances of graduating are going to be stiff, as the physical demands are extraordinary. Ditto for BUD/S, Basic Reconnaissance Course, and the Q Course (Special Forces).

As for draft eligibility, I say “equality” goes both ways. If we, as a society, demand that women and men be treated equally in military matters, then they should be subject to the same risks that the men are. That means they should be subject to Selective Service, just the men are.

(Note: I oppose Selective Service for everyone, but (a) if you’re going to have it, and (b) if you demand that men and women are ‘equal’ with respect to the military, then women should face the same risks. Period.)

But here’s the thing: does the military REALLY treat the sexes equally? Of course not.

Fact is, NONE of the branches of the military impose the same physical standards on both sexes. Even in the Marines, the women are permitted to do the flexed armhang in lieu of pullups, the latter required of men. In the Army, the minimum pushup requirements for men (42) is more than double the requirement for women (19). In fact, a 21-year-old woman who does 42 pushups will get a score of 100 whereas a man who does that many will only get a minimal score (60).

So who are we kidding here? In terms of physical strength, women and men are not equal. It is science. If that were not the case, the military would not have separate standards for the sexes.

At the same time, not only are men and women not equal, but women are getting preferential treatment at the expense of men.

Men have to register for Selective Service, which subjects them to the risk of being drafted in the event that our political class decides to embark on large-scale kinetic diplomacy. Women, OTOH, are free to join the military, and are not subject to combat assignments except by choice.

Still, it begs the question, within that sphere, is there ANY basis for equality of the sexes.

I can think of a couple:

(1) Each sex is afforded basic human dignity;
(2) Ceteris paribus, with respect to job performance, one’s sex should not count for or against their selection, evaluation, or promotion.

Let’s look, for example, at Ranger School.

If I’m a Ranger Instructor, that means Jane Doe is going to have to hold her own with the boys. Same rules. Same standards. She’s gotta earn it. That means she’ll need to do the same number of pushups, run the same comparable times, carry the same amount of gear on any marches, be subject to the same food deprivation as everyone else, hold her own in hand-to-hand combat exercises, show that she can effectively lead a small unit on various patrols and assaults. Just like the boys, she will have to do very difficult things without showing signs of fear. She gets no easy treatment. She gets no special breaks. Playing the “girl card” results in dismissal. Playing the “unfair card” results in dismissal. (Every aspiring Ranger is subject to varying degrees of “unfairness”, as that is to be expected in combat. One must learn to deal with it.)

If she can hack it, she earns the tab, just like any guy who earns it. If she can’t, then she’s in the same league with the rest of us mortals.

But unless you grade the sexes equally, then you cannot reasonably tell me that they are equal–in that respective sphere–in any more than basic human dignity.

12 thoughts on “On Equality, Part 1

  1. Not all women believe feminism is a matter of exact equality in all circumstances. There are many women who are fighting for the right to serve in combat positions.

    Wanting equal pay for equal pay for equal work or equality before the law isn’t a matter or pure strength. But at the same time I’d like to see some guys go up against Ronda Rousey, the current women’s UFC champion.

    • A more appropriate metric would be for her to go up against the men’s UFC champion.

      I was recently engaged in a similar conversation about women’s tennis players. One of my high school friends pointed to Billie Jean-King, who defeated Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes” match.

      What often gets left out is that she defeated a 55-year-old man who was well past his prime. You want a real comparison metric, then she should have played Rod Laver, or Ken Rosewall, or Jimmy Connors, or John Newcombe, or any of the other top men of that era. I can tell you why that never happened: it would not have been a fair fight.

      Now don’t get me wrong: I enjoy watching women’s tennis. I was a huge Martina Navratilova fan back in the day. (Her lifestyle aside, she literally changed the way the game is played by the women.)

      Still, putting her up against her male contemporaries–John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander–would have been a disaster for her.

      Now let’s talk about this concept of “equal work for equal pay”…

      Fact is, that doesn’t exist EVEN AMONG THE MEN! This is because there are a number of factors that go into how your compensation is determined, not the least of which is one’s own negotiation skills.

      Where I work, we had two senior staffers–MG (a male)–and RH (a female).

      RH had better academic credentials than MG.

      RH had better accomplishments than MG.

      They each were hired by the same person, MS (a very feminist, egalitarian woman).

      But guess who got more money? It was MG.

      This royally pissed off RH, but it doesn’t surprise me.

      This is because, no matter how egalitarian the boss–MS–was, MG was just a better negotiator and had far-better people skills. RH was a hard academic who didn’t know how to negotiate. MG had the audacity to ask for big bucks and big perks.

      RH was smarter, but smarts alone don’t cut it. RH–as a career academic–thought that her merits would guarantee a better rating. But MG had more real-world marketing skills. He could tell you to go to hell, and tell you in such a way that you’d be relishing the trip. RH, in turn, would suck all the oxygen out of the room.

      My point in this is that “equal pay for equal work” is not as cut and dry as it sounds. After all, if a woman in her 20s gets married, has a couple kids, and takes 12 weeks of family leave apiece–thereby putting her out of work for almost 6 months over a couple years–that should factor into productivity, as well as labor costs.

      Moreover, in a free market, some people are better negotiators than others. And women–as a group–are not as aggressive in negotiating their compensations as men are.

      As for women in combat, you are missing the point: if a woman has the right to serve in combat–by virtue of being “equal”–then she should be subject to the same downside risks as the men, and that ought to include Selective Service. Moreover, they should be subject to the same objective standards as men, which they currently are not.

      • I think Ronda could take on a guy in her weight class. If we go with average for everything, then yes, on AVERAGE men are stronger than women. But there are always exceptions and the world should allow for these exceptions.

        I did not “miss the point” I just don’t agree carte blanche with your point with your point.

        • Sure you did. My point is that the women cannot have it both ways and then claim “equality.”

          To demand the right to the upside benefits of being eligible for combat-related assignments while being exempt from the downside risks of said eligibility is not equality.

          And yes, men–on average–are stronger than women. This is also true at the ends of the scale. Ronda couldn’t hold a candle to the top-ranked man in the UFC world, any more than the top woman boxer could hold a candle to the top man in her weight class.

          When the comparisons are apples-apples, the men win hands down on that one.

          • But I’m pretty sure Ronda would make short work of the “average” man. Why should she go to the top end with men outside of her weight class? You wouldn’t ever do that to a man. UFC isn’t boxing.

            It’s always about extremes with you. It seems like everything is always black and white. I don’t like arguing and since this is never about sharing perspectives or uplifting people anymore, I’ve grow tired of it. I don’t think you like women very much, at least that’s what comes across.

          • Savvy says:

            Why should she go to the top end with men outside of her weight class? You wouldn’t ever do that to a man. UFC isn’t boxing.

            No. I’m talking about her going head-to-head against the top man in her weight class. That is apples-to-apples.

            This isn’t about a top UFC female against the “average” man; THAT would be apples-to-oranges.

            I’m about apples-to-apples comparisons.

            It’s always about extremes with you. It seems like everything is always black and white. I don’t like arguing and since this is never about sharing perspectives or uplifting people anymore, I’ve grow tired of it. I don’t think you like women very much, at least that’s what comes across.

            I’ll let MrsLarijani speak for me on that one.

            The issue here is equality.

            All I have suggested is that if (a) women are graded on a different scale than men in the same arena, (b) women are afforded the same upside benefits that men are, in that arena, while not being subject to the same downside risks, and (c) women are given the same opportunities in that same arena in spite of (a) and (b), then you cannot reasonably suggest that the sexes are being treated equally in that arena, in any material sense.

            You have taken it as a personal pot-shot, when in fact all I am doing is calling attention to the elephant in the room.

            I’m sorry that you are having a hard time seeing the reality, but–sadly–that isn’t my problem.

  2. we have a friend in the military who gets very irritated w/women b/c they pull the menstruation card all the time & get out of stuff. he said you can’t depend on them.

    • That’s my point.

      If women are (a) graded on a different scale than the men, (b) exempt from the same downside risks that the men have to face, and (c) afforded the same opportunities for promotion that the men are–in spite of being graded on a lower scale and being exempted from similar risks–then you cannot say that men and women are being treated equally in any material sense of the word.

  3. Savvy –

    Granted, you have the 1st ammendment on your side. So, you can say what you want. I would caution you to not make snide personal comments like “I don’t think you like women very much”. He has a wife whom he keeps very happy. That should be proof enough that he enjoys the female gender.

    Between Amir & I, I strive for extremes, black & white far more than he does. So, I would argue your point is invalid.

    If you would like to point out HOW he is being “extreme”, please do. I’m not seeing it. All you are doing at this point is name calling. As I tell my preschoolers “use your big girl words”.

    • My answer is that I wish you the best in your future endeavors. I see name calling/snide comments coming from the bloggers by saying ‘As I tell my preschooler “use your big girl words.” I do not wish to “go at it” so to speak. I need peace in my life where I can have it. There are no friends here. I expressed my opinion that I don’t think that Amir likes women very much. Just because he likes one, doesn’t mean he likes them all. There is a great deal of hatred towards “feminists” whoever you think they are, but a good number of them are women. There is a great deal of agreeing with Roissy who is a complete cad. So good luck fair people.

      • Of course Roissy is a cad. But he is successful because a good number of women have freely chosen to give him what he has the audacity to demand. As the saying goes, it takes two to tango.

        Women–as a group–are naturally attracted to the qualities he exudes, just as men–as a group–are attracted to the qualities that the supermodels exude.

        Do I like women? Hell no. I LOVE women. I just don’t pedestal them. They are no better–or worse–than the men.

        Having said that, I’m going to turn the tables on you, Savvy. Quite frankly, you have shown yourself to be dishonest in every material respect, as you have totally ignored what has been said in favor of what you wanted to hear.

        I raised a legitimate issue about what has been done in the name of “equality”, which has resulted in a gross inequality. The best you have managed to put up is a female UFC champion who could perhaps take on an “average” guy.

        Again, that is not an apples-apples comparison, nor does it address the point I made.

        If group A is graded on a tougher scale than group B, and group A is exposed to more downside risk than group B, and both groups A and B are afforded the same benefits, then you cannot reasonably suggest that both groups A and B are being treated equally in any material sense.

        The definition of a misogynist: any man who wins an argument with a feminist.

  4. There are many women who are fighting for the right to serve in combat positions.

    No there aren’t. This is a pathetically small number of women who actually want this. Such a distinction only affects officers who are looking to command people from different branches. And really only benefits those people who want to be generals (one in a thousand). You can’t be a division commander (2 star general), only ten needed in the whole army, unless you have been a combat brigade commander as a Colonel. It is those 70 Brigade commands that need to be “opened up to opportunity” so that one woman every two years can be a division commander.

    Those five or ten women who think they are in that zone are the ones pushing this and are willing to throw all the other women in the Army under the tracks to grease their career paths. It isn’t about what is good for the Army, or good for the nation, or good for all those enlisted women who will be forced into combat branches against their wills to fill quotas and give the women officers a “mixed” unit to command. It’s just about what is good for a handful of self-promoting career women.

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