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.