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May 26, 2009

Important Gay Polar Bear Update

Whilst wasting time doing incredibly important things on the Intertubes this morning, the Editorial Staff noticed our Google ranking for "Gay Polar Bear" has dropped precipitously. For reasons best not explained in a public forum, the thought of taking up permanent residence beneath Gay Bears and Hairy Men is intolerable to us.

In times like these the words of that great American, George Herbert Walker Bush, seem eerily apt. "This. will. not. stand.":

The latest polar bear news from Germany concern a court battle over Knut which again serves to illustrate the financial worth of polar bear brands (and which also gives you an interesting insight into the German psyche). In the latest installment of the Knut saga Berlin zoo and Neumünster zoo tried to agree on the sale of the star polar bear from Neumünster zoo to Berlin zoo. The zoos disagreed over the price and took the whole matter to the Berlin Regional court. We have previously reported that Neumünster zoo had sued Berlin zoo for a share of the royalties earned through licensing the "Knut polar bear brand" (see Class 46 post here). Knut's father, polar bear Lars is owned by the Neumünster zoo and both zoos appear to have an agreement which grants Neumünster zoo a certain share of the Knut profits.

Poor Knut. Honestly, folks, the gay polar bear community are sick and tired of the constant jackbooted oppression by everyone from Wasilla Barbie to Hating Haters Who Hate and the Self-Loathing Self-Loathers Who Love to Hate They-Ownselves. Get a load of this frankly unhinged commentary:

I am a gay Republican. I am not "self-hating." I am not confused.

I am comfortable enough with my sexuality to think of myself in terms of traits other than simply my sexual orientation. I believe that my attraction to the same sex should have no bearing to my thoughts on tax policy, trade, foreign affairs or abortion. I believe that my sexuality is merely an incidental part of my life and should not be a major factor in my decision-making.

I am aware that there is a rich tradition of intellectualism, secularism and equality within the Republican Party outside of the Religious Right. I am aware that Hillary Clinton and Dick Cheney hold the same positions on gay rights. I am aware that Bill Clinton signed into law the last major anti-gay piece of legislation passed by Congress — the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. I am self-respecting enough to know that the words of the Democrats on gay rights are no substitute for their lack of action.

I believe that the virtues of classical liberalism — individualism, self-reliance and a rejection of cultural relativism — help gay men, just as they do all of mankind and are better exemplified by the Republican Party than by the Democratic Party. I am furthermore woefully confused by gay men's ambivalence toward radical Islam, which holds them in a particularly low esteem.

"I have been discriminated against more by Democrats than by Republicans. I have been shunned and mocked by Democrats, many of whom will not accept me as a gay man unless I fit into their neatly packaged view of what a gay man is ‘supposed’ to be."I believe that the gay subculture is destructive. I am not completely sure why a person should be "proud" of his sexuality, which is not an accomplishment. I am confused by the discord between a group of people who insist that they're just like everyone else on one hand and then on the other refuse to assimilate into mainstream society.

I am unable to relate to the faction of gay men who revolve their lives around their sexuality: their neighborhood is gay, their friends are gay, their music and movies are gay, their academic interests are gay, the stores that they frequent are gay — their lives are gay. I am not interested, though, in living my life as a gay man, but simply as a man. I envision a future in which a person's sexual orientation will be an afterthought. I do not in any way whatsoever see the Democratic Party furthering that.

I have been discriminated against more by Democrats than by Republicans. I have been shunned and mocked by Democrats, many of whom will not accept me as a gay man unless I fit into their neatly packaged view of what a gay man is "supposed" to be. I have yet to encounter, on the other hand, a Republican who has rejected my presence in the party, shunned me on a personal level or refused to engage me on the issues.

As we enjoy reminding the readership in our more tolerant moments, conservatism is a mental illness. This scientific fact is so selfevidently self evident that we needn't present a single shred of evidence to "prove" our case. It's enough to observe that everyone we agree with feels the reality based community is freedom-loving, tolerant and enlightened ...unlike certain other parties we could name. You know the type: always stereotyping The Other; taking refuge in simplistic characatures of anyone who dares to question their authority.

But not us. We voted for Barack Obama. And because he has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to lead this nation away from the failed policies of the last 8 years, we remain stubborly convinced (after he heals the planet, ushers in a new millennium of world peace, rolls back the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression and makes revolving credit lines a right - not a privilege) ... that eventually old 'Bam will get around to ending the hateful hatefulness of mean spirited, hating haters who hate and make America a place where diversity is more than just a campaign slogan: all sizzle and no steak.

Faster, please.

Posted by Cassandra at May 26, 2009 08:55 AM

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Comments

I sincerely believe that most gays and progressives need a good colon cleansing to allow them to see life more clearly. The Germans should continue being the anal retentive folks we know and love.

Knut is on his own!

Posted by: vet66 at May 26, 2009 11:21 AM

I hope this post didn't come across as making fun of anyone for being gay. I find the whole anthropomorphizing deal with Knut eminently mockable.

But what I found interesting about Alex's post, which I thought was extraordinarily well reasoned, was the reaction it provoked. It's just bizarre to me the way some progressives (as he observed) belittle or attempt to psychoanalyze anyone who disagrees with them:

I have been shunned and mocked by Democrats, many of whom will not accept me as a gay man unless I fit into their neatly packaged view of what a gay man is "supposed" to be.

I would like to think my sexual orientation - and the fact that I'm female - doesn't determine the bulk of my political views. I also think it can't be easy to be in his position and I have always admired people who attempt to reason their way through an issue as opposed to letting emotion or pure self-interest make their decisions for them.

As a young woman, I can remember not understanding why women couldn't do any job they wanted to. As I grew older, my opinion changed when I saw certain tendencies in female aggregate behavior that convinced me that government imposition of "equality" isn't always good public policy. So I suppose his reasoning rings true to me for all the same reasons that make me not a big fan of complete gender neutrality :p

Posted by: Cassandra at May 26, 2009 11:42 AM

What about the ongoing and frankly criminal discrimination against bear/nonbear marriages?

Posted by: Jules Bernard at May 26, 2009 02:01 PM

Exactly.

And gay bearage. Where does The Won stand on that important zoological issue?

I need a Prozac - with all this fighting over my brand, my nerves are shot.

Posted by: Knut, the Adorably Psychotic Teen Bear at May 26, 2009 02:08 PM

Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.


Shut up and produce.

Posted by: Rhett Butler's Modern Muse at May 26, 2009 02:16 PM

So I suppose his reasoning rings true to me for all the same reasons that make me not a big fan of complete gender neutrality

Okay, you lost me on this one. How is Alex' reasoning like your reasoning on the gender neutrality thing?

Posted by: Elise at May 26, 2009 03:38 PM

Cass,

It's articles like this that make me VERY glad I am not at the sharp end of your pen (keyboard?). There's biting sarcasm, then there's razor-edged lemon-coated snark. This is much more of the latter. I love it.

Posted by: MikeD at May 26, 2009 03:42 PM

I cannot *believe* you can't follow my pellucid mental processes!!!!

The nerve of some people! :)

Reading his post, it occurred to me that every time a member of some 'oppressed' identity group (womyn, blacks, gays, hispanics, trangendered Arctic timberwolves) proffers up an opinion in which it is obvious he/she:

- doesn't appreciated being pigeonholed by virtue of belonging to an oppressed minority/protected class of persons,

- prefers being dealt with on the merits to receiving special treatment,

- is capable of distinguishing what he/she might personally desire in the way of public policy from what is in the interests of the rest of a country or some other larger entity

... there are quite a few on the progressive side of the aisle who chalk their opinions up to Stockholm syndrome, being too stupid/gullible to act in their own interests, or exhibiting signs of battered whatever syndrome. It's a patronizing argument.

Fine, guys. They don't agree with you. Argue the point on the merits without descending to ad hominid rhetoric.

I think you can be female and yet not think women act exactly the same as men do (and vice versa). You can be gay and not think the gay community in general behave the same way the hetero community does. You can be black (and not one whit ashamed of your heritage) and still admit there's some serious pathology in black pop culture.

IOW, you can choose to be an individual who thinks for him- or herself without betraying your cohort, whatever the helk that is.

Posted by: Knut, the Adorably Psychotic Teen Bear at May 26, 2009 03:55 PM

In other news, how cool is it that Knut's dad is named "Lars"?

Sausage almost ended up being named Lars. I am trying to remember the names that made the shortlist:

Sausage
Lars
Beowulf
Fang

That poor dog :p

Posted by: Knut, the Adorably Psychotic Teen Bear at May 26, 2009 03:58 PM

I think you can be female and yet not think women act exactly the same as men do (and vice versa). You can be gay and not think the gay community in general behave the same way the hetero community does. You can be black (and not one whit ashamed of your heritage) and still admit there's some serious pathology in black pop culture.

Ah, gotcha. No argument there. In fact, it's often struck me as funny that some Institutional Feminists argue both (a) women are just like men (when it comes to jobs, for example) and (b) women are better than men (when it comes to the moral high ground, for example). I've always liked Golda Meir's view:

Whether women are better than men I cannot say - but we're no worse.

I must, of course, make a mild protest about:

As a young woman, I can remember not understanding why women couldn't do any job they wanted to. As I grew older, my opinion changed when I saw certain tendencies in female aggregate behavior that convinced me that government imposition of "equality" isn't always good public policy.

I think women (and men but I'll let them fend for themselves for the moment) should be able to do any job they want and are capable of. To me, this is the essence of treating people as individuals: just because 99-44/100% of women cannot do (fill in the blank) doesn't mean the few women who can shouldn't have the opportunity. And that, of course, was what the government was supposed to be doing - insuring equality of opportunity. Then someone figured out that there was no metric for "opportunity" and we ended up in the morass of "outcomes" and we're still stuck there - 35 years later. Sigh.

I cannot *believe* you can't follow my pellucid mental processes!!!!

The fault is entirely mine. I'm having a remarkably bad day in a lot of minor ways: spilled the vinegar, got soundly defeated at cards, and discovered I'd bought shrimp with shells on rather than off which means someone has to peel them before we can have dinner. I'm thinking about ordering pizza instead.

Posted by: Elise at May 26, 2009 04:27 PM

just because 99-44/100% of women cannot do (fill in the blank) doesn't mean the few women who can shouldn't have the opportunity.

I used to think that. But there are institutional costs in many fields to accomodating that 54/100 of a percent that are very likely disproportionate to their contribution to institutional welfare.

I have major issues with the aggressive individualism that sees no legitimately competing interests between individual rights and societal welfare. When does mainstreaming a severely handicapped child "tip" into a situation where everyone is worse off?

You can't easily take women to the field (for instance) in the combat arms. My husband like to tell a story about being out on the salt flats for a FIREX. No portapotties. No privacy - not a tree or a large rock in site. So how does the military accomodate the very real need of women and men to a bit of privacy. I don't mean to be gross, but unless a woman is willing to do what my husband had to do (IOW, take care of elimination of both kinds in full view of his compadres, wash himself in a helmet full of water) she doesn't belong out there. And even if she is willing to do all those things, I can't pretend it wouldn't be very distracting to the guys to have a naked woman right next to them. I've been around the military long enough to know that weaker women get taken advantage of and often the more confident ones egg guys into situations that aren't exactly conducive to good order and discipline.

So where individual rights intersect with collective well being, there has to be some equilibrium point. Finding it is the trick.

Posted by: Knut, the Adorably Psychotic Teen Bear at May 26, 2009 04:37 PM

And I thought it went without saying in the comment above that there are many fine professional women in the military, and I don't mean to imply they don't or wouldn't do a good job. But certain MOS's live in close quarters and can't carry all the amenities with them.

I guess I just don't buy into the argument that individual welfare always outweighs the needs of other people.

Posted by: Knut, the Adorably Psychotic Teen Bear at May 26, 2009 04:40 PM

I'm perfectly willing to balance individual rights against societal welfare. I would simply ask two things. First, that we be sure the problem is really social welfare and not just a preference for the way things have always been. Second, that we're explicit about it. Telling women it just won't work for them to be combat troops because of institutional costs is one thing; telling them they can't do it because they're not capable of doing the job is a far different claim.

And I have to admit I'm having a hard time coming up with fields outside the military where institutional costs would make it not feasible to let qualified women do the job - even if there's only one woman in the whole world who fits that description.

Posted by: Elise at May 26, 2009 06:09 PM

Well, I can think of a lot of dirty and dangerous jobs which require either physical strength or the ability to put up with sub-par work conditions (and where you have to be able to fend for yourself - and defend yourself).

I think if women can do these jobs and require no special accomodation, they should be allowed to prove themselves. My personal opinion (ducking) is that bias against women is one of the last acceptable prejudices.

What I won't countenance is women who want it both ways: to be protected as fragile flowers while claiming the prerogatives of independent, capable people who don't require propping up. And I've seen way too much of that attitude in my life to turn a blind eye to it.

I'm not blind to sexism. Few around here liked it much when I pointed out the way Hillary was treated. But if women want to compete with men, they need to step up and compete - even when that means absorbing a few of the same body blows men regularly deal out to each other.

Posted by: Knut, the Adorably Psychotic Teen Bear at May 26, 2009 06:24 PM

I was always ready to absorb the same body blows as the guys. I didn't appreciate getting put in a double bind sometimes, as in "you should be able to carry things and walk fast, but lots of us will persecute you if you try to wear pants and flat shoes." But my job was primarily mental. I was completely prepared to compete with the guys on an even playing field. When I was very young, that was sometimes difficult, but these days hardly at all. The guys got used to us, and that was the end of it.

As for men having a difficult time focusing on their jobs with distracting women in their workplace, I call that a problem for the self-control of the men. They'll learn to deal with it when they have to. The extreme form of that argument amounts to purdah: the presence of women is so explosively sexual that men have to keep them under wraps. That may be true for men who've been accustomed all their lives to keeping the women behind closed doors, but men raised in societies that decline to do so soon learn how to deal with their urges and get on with their lives. And I figure, men who can't control themselves around women are not strong enough to qualify for the job.

Posted by: Texan99 at May 26, 2009 08:15 PM

Well, I have to disagree with you there.

The military is no different from any other walk of life. We have the whole spectrum, but more importantly the demographics make the military a very different social situation.

At any rate, it isn't just the men who have to control themselves. It's the women.

Years ago I thought as you do. But I've seen what my husband has had to deal with over the last 3 decades and it changed my mind. I don't think it's reasonable to bunk large numbers of young people together and expect that they'll "control themselves". They don't. We already know that even without fully integrated living quarters.

THey just don't. People are people, and you're dealing with some very ancient and powerful drives - especially in wartime. It's fine when you're in an office environment (though HQ battalions tend to be the Peyton Places of the services) but when you've had to deal with units where all kinds of stuff is going on after hours and it breaks up families and takes the whole command down to parade rest you realize pretty quickly that self control isn't much in evidence.

There's a reason we have rules. They were put into place as a result of experience, and I'm always somewhat suspicious of the idea that after thousands of years human nature will miraculously change just because we want it to.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 26, 2009 09:17 PM

I find it interesting that a gay man doesn't want to be identified/stereotyped in terms of his preferences but who he is as a person and the left will have none of it.

Isn't that what the Progressives are doing? Stereotyping people to maintain the culture of perpetual outrage? It is the only way they have credibility, you know.

Posted by: Cricket at May 26, 2009 10:08 PM

I find it interesting that a gay man doesn't want to be identified/stereotyped in terms of his preferences but who he is as a person and the left will have none of it.

Bingo :p

That was the entire point of my post. There is a certain irony in asserting that being black/gay/female doesn't define you as a person and therefore shouldn't govern how others treat you (on the one hand) and then pulling an about face and demanding special treatment on account of the characteristic you want society to disregard.

Women do this a lot when they assert that hiring women presents no special challenges to employers (IOW, you can't discriminate against us because you think we won't take work as seriously as a man) and then demanding special accommodations be made for your personal choices (nursing rooms, liberal pregnancy/parental leave policies, etc.)

On the other hand, I get annoyed at the way women's choices are often dismissed as frivolous or unprofessional when men make many of the same choices and no one views their behavior as detrimental to the company. Case in point: years ago I worked at a bank in California. The vast majority of employees in my department were female.

A supervisory position arose and several of us were asked to throw our names into the hat. My boss asked me to apply because she thought I'd be a good candidate. But I knew I wasn't going to stay at that job and also working at that point in my life could in no way have been described as a career. I worked to bring in extra money, but my main priority was the welfare of my two elementary school-aged boys. I was able to work b/c my husband was getting his Masters' degree and was home more than usual. But I wasn't willing to put in the extra hours that would have been expected at the next level.

In the end, a man from outside the department was hired. My boss was livid b/c the hiring committee essentially dismissed all the women who applied (I didn't) on the grounds that they were all mothers and were therefore both undependable and unwilling to work extra hours.

So who was their pick? A young single guy who turned out to be not only extremely unreliable, but utterly unwilling to do anything beyond the bare minimum required :p

Nice going. They should have hired my best friend at work, a black mother with two children who never missed a day at work and performed every task with skill, intelligence, and conscientious attention to detail. Instead we got an egotistical jerk who alienated everyone in the department and was never around when we needed something.

But hey - golf and leaving work early to get ready for that hot date on Friday aren't as "unprofessional" as a mother who misses one day a year because her kids got sick.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 27, 2009 07:31 AM

Geez lady... give me something to disagree with here! Otherwise you're gonna get an echo chamber of "yeah, me too".

You're dead on. And actually your story about the bank manager made me a bit mad as well, and I don't even know the players involved.

I can't say I understand the hiring committee's decision at all, but then again, my only hiring experience is that I've gotten to interview all of my co-workers and my last two bosses, knowing I had a veto. Funny thing is, while it was not intended this way, both of my bosses and all but three of my co-workers that we hired were women. And one of the three guys we had to fire within 2 months of starting, because he simply refused to do any work.

On the women in combat arms thing, the SINGLE best argument I've ever heard against women in combat arms came from my FEMALE Platoon Sergeant. Her objection was that if you opened the recruiting stations to allow female infantrymen (infantrywomen?) tomorrow, you'd have them immediately supervised by a completely male chain of command. No female sergeants, no female officers, ALL men. And as for crossplanting female MPs or supply staff, or any other combat support service soldiers as infantry NCOs and officers, that was a no-go as well. Having zero training at leading other soldiers into combat, both class taught and experience taught by example over years of infantry experience, any officer or NCO thrust into an infantry slot would be a liability she believed. Now, I know that it's no excuse to say "because there are none now, we can't ever do it" otherwise we'd still have a segregated military. However, no one was pushing for black officers such as the Tuskeegee Airmen to be turned into infantry officers to allow them to lead blacks into combat. Instead they just had an all white cadre until such time as blacks rose in rank. But does anyone here honestly believe that same process would be allowed in today's environment (politically speaking of course)?

Congress would have a fit if you had companies worth of female soldiers with no female cadre over them. Cries of sexism and accusations of discrimination would lead to calls to rush promotions, or cross-plant other females into the infantry. It WOULD happen. So the danger is not just a social issue (which I fully agree with, even my MI unit sometimes became "Melrose Place" as you put it), but a leadership deficit problem as well.

Posted by: MikeD at May 27, 2009 09:19 AM

Interestingly enough, the recruit training battalions at Parris Island offer an interesting case study in integrating women into the military at all levels.

My husband was an RTB commander for one of the male BNs. There are three male recruit training bns, one female RTB, and one 'support' BN for convalescing recruits and the like.

Although women will, in many cases, be integrated into largely male commands upon graduation from recruit training, they are not trained in integrated RTBs. Hmmmm... I wonder why?

Well, one reason is that recruit training involves a very careful and precarious balance between authority and pedagogy. DIs have the power of life and death over recruits. They work hella long hours under intense pressure, and part of their job is to intentionally stress recruits. It's part of the learning process - teaching recruits how to deal with conflict and stress and rise above them.

Place men in authority over young women who are being conditioned to submerge their individual will and conform, and you have a recipe for disaster. It ain't so much that men are monsters or women are gullible, will-less saps. But men are physically bigger and stronger (and generally more aggressive). Women - in general - are more likely to be intimidated by verbal and physical displays of aggression.

Also, women are subject to different physical limitations. Women's PT standards are different from men - we don't require them to do as many pushups or pullups, nor to run as far or as fast as men.

Sorry, but that matters. It matters a LOT. You can't have a cohesive unit where some folks only have to do x but others have to do x plus y. That fosters resentment and discord.

So there are real issues here. People love to make rules based on normative considerations of how the world *ought* to work. I believe it makes far more sense to base rule making on how the world observably *does* work.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 27, 2009 09:38 AM

"So there are real issues here. People love to make rules based on normative considerations of how the world *ought* to work. I believe it makes far more sense to base rule making on how the world observably *does* work."
From the back of the balcony over the main congregation there arose a Hallelujah!

*Zaphod now settles back into his pew and adjusts his peril-sensitive sunglasses on his nose. The simple act of doing so might lead some to conclude that not everyone, like Zaphod for instance, is aware of how the world does work... Yet almost everyone has on opinion on how it -ought- to work. Such is the challenge.*

Posted by: Zaphod B. at May 27, 2009 10:37 AM

Okay, so it sounds to me like one of the main objections to women in combat units would go something like this. Whenever men and women work together, office sex is a fact of life. It presents enough problems in civilian situations between two people at the same level it can create a dyad that threatens teamwork and morale and even more problems in civilian situations between a superior and inferior where it raises issues of favoritism and can pretty much destroy morale since everything starts to look unfair to those outside the relationship. Nonetheless, those problems can be managed and even in the worst possible circumstances the worst possible outcome is loss of revenue perhaps leading to destruction of the business. Terrible but not fatal.

In a military situation the consequences are much worse because the two things most threatened by office sex are the two things most important to the military: the chain of command and unit cohesion. In a non-combat situation the outcome, while far more devastating than it would be in a civilian setting, is not fatal. In a combat situation, the outcome may literally be fatal. A breakdown in the chain of command or a failure of unit cohesion can kill people.

Assuming I’ve grasped that argument correctly, I don’t have any quarrel with it. (And I recommend reading “The Forever War” for a rather bizarre attempt to get around this problem.)

Women - in general - are more likely to be intimidated by verbal and physical displays of aggression. Also, women are subject to different physical limitations.

I can understand that this would make it unreasonable for most women to be included with men. But I still maintain that it’s possible some women would be able to withstand the aggression and respond to it appropriately and some women would be strong enough to compete with men. Not many, I know, but I don’t think it’s impossible. I realize there may be other reasons why integrating women into these units is inadvisable. I also realize that since it could be difficult approaching impossible to identify which women would hold up under pressure beforehand this may well be a case where the institutional costs of integrating capable women is high enough to outweigh the rights of women who could and would like to be included.

Nonetheless I still think the point that some women may be qualified is an important one. This is simply one of my bugaboos. I’ve too often seen description (“most women can’t”) become prescription (“therefore no woman should”). That’s fine if we’re talking institutional or societal costs arising from accommodating too few qualified women but not so fine if we’re talking about assumptions regarding women’s abilities and “appropriate” interests.

The female troops under a male command structure is interesting. I do think Congress would have trouble with that although I suspect the women admitted to the combat units would not. I figure if you’re smart enough to get into a combat troop you’re smart enough to realize your best hope of staying alive is having experienced officers. In the unlikely event women ever do make it into combat I hope a steady stream of them testifying before Congress that they’re perfectly happy with their experienced male officers would quell Congress’ desire to micromanage.

At any rate, it isn't just the men who have to control themselves. It's the women.

Yes, this is a different argument than “women can’t serve with men because men will become sexually inflamed and attack them.” And I have a story I loved about this very point.

Years ago - back in the late 80s - I was working as a consultant and a women who worked at one of my clients was married to a naval officer. A group of people from the office took me out to lunch one day and talk turned to women in the military. The Navy wife spent a solid 5 minutes talking about how horrible it was that women were serving on ships, they just couldn’t keep their legs closed, the last ship that went out with them a bunch of them came back pregnant, it was disgraceful they couldn’t control themselves, how could the Navy ever have allowed in people who behaved as badly as these women had? I didn’t say a word (she was the client, I was the consultant) but one of the men who worked with her looked up from his sandwich and said, totally deadpan, “Well, I’m pretty sure the women didn’t get themselves pregnant” and went back to his lunch.

Posted by: Elise at May 27, 2009 03:32 PM

*snort*

It has always annoyed me (though I understand the biological imperatives behind it) when people place all the responsibility for abstinence on the woman. Because, you know, we all just hate sex and are never tempted ourselves.

What a load of horse hockey. But the world is full of stupid people. Sadly, they almost always reproduce.

Other than that, I'm with you. I don't maintain that some women can't compete or hold their own. I've known women who can and do.

I just don't care for the argument that individual "rights" should be arbitrarily privileged over societal interests. After all, society is composed of individuals too, and it's their welfare that, in the aggregate, composes societal well being.

So... which "individuals" are we protecting?

Posted by: Cassandra at May 27, 2009 04:41 PM

Well, if your looking for non-military examples of institutional costs, you have to look at compliance regulations and logistics.

For example, by law an employer must provide a nursing mother with a private place (not a restroom) in which to pump as well as the time to do so.

Now, watch "Deadliest Catch" on the Discovery channel. There isn't a whole lot of privacy available and a crew of 4-5 guys work sometimes for more than 36 hours straight without a break. So now, you've got to take a room (where space is at an extreme premium) and declare it off-limits for 20 minutes at a time *and* work substantially shortstaffed every couple of hours.

You don't think that the other 3 men who not only don't get a break every 4-6 hours but also have to pick up her slack are going to resent that she will get paid the exact same as them? (If she didn't *that* would be discriminatory).

In an office environment, these sorts of things are rather insignificant, but there are some cases where that's not the case.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 27, 2009 06:32 PM

In the unlikely event women ever do make it into combat I hope a steady stream of them testifying before Congress that they’re perfectly happy with their experienced male officers would quell Congress’ desire to micromanage.

But it's not just Congress that is the problem.

Part of Navy Seal training involves a medical test. Since the test is itself rather non-stressful the Sailors are essentially sent into the cold ocean wather and then stripped down to their underwear to make them cold (keeping them mentally stressed while physically resting). These sailors will then be ordered to stand in a line chest to back so that skin-to-skin contact can help keep them warm (less cold).

Now imagine a male officer ordering the sole female to essentially engage in a half naked female sandwich between two men. I don't think it'll matter one whit if the female is OK with it or not. The public outcry from the you-know-who-types will make the entire issue toxic.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 27, 2009 06:50 PM

In an office environment, these sorts of things are rather insignificant,

Hah! Speak for yourself, mister. Breast feeding is a topic that makes me crazy and would probably cause every feminist (Institutional and Real) in the universe to revoke my membership card in the sisterhood if they knew what I think about it. Once upon a time, I was in the ladies' room at work (large, soulless corporation) and a woman I did not know came in and demanded to know why there wasn't an electrical outlet in "my" restroom. I just looked at her and she launched into a diatribe about how she had to pump and there was no electrical outlet and she’d been assured when she came to this building for a meeting that there was an electrical outlet and Human Resources would hear about this. She then she demanded to know where the HR office in this building was. When I said I had no idea, she berated me for not knowing. I figure if she ever did manage to find an outlet, the poor kid had colic for a week after drinking the milk.

And don't get me started on women breast-feeding in restaurants. Yes, I know lactation is perfectly natural but so is fornication and I don't want to watch that over my broiled scallops either. Don’t get me wrong. I understand that women have babies and think it’s fine - great, even - if they breast feed them. And I certainly don’t think that a woman who is breast-feeding a baby should have to quit work or never eat at a restaurant for two years until he’s weaned. I just don’t understand why this perfectly natural function has somehow become a sacred ritual that is supposed to be The Most Important Thing In The World to everyone in a 5-mile radius.

Anyhow, thank you for letting me get that off my chest. As for your specific example, it’s not women doing the job that cause the institutional cost - it’s the regulation. Without the regulation there would be no institutional cost. I’m also not sure the regulation would work the way you think it would. The last time I checked regulations like that recognize BFOQ (bona fide occupational requirements) and at least in my opinion the ability to work a straight 36-hour shift would definitely be a BFOQ. Of course, no one is suggesting me for the Supreme Court.

As for your SEAL example, the original point was the issue of female combat troops having all-male officers so my remarks were directed at that. As for your point, maybe someday we’ll find out. I personally think that if the women who want to be SEALs are okay with the sandwich that will be the end of the story. If you’re right, well, a very left blogger I read regularly talks about Liberal Paternalism. She and I don’t always mean the same thing by the phrase but it would definitely apply to this situation if you’re right about the outcry.

Posted by: Elise at May 27, 2009 08:16 PM

I have been rather silent on this as I am really beginning to think that my accounting book is a Tome of Satan and will need a silver bullet along with the wooden stake and the Holy Water.

Women in the military...I have mixed feelings about it precisely because of the issues presented and how the playing field also can undercut morale. The PT requirements were increased for men of a certain age when they should be slowing down so there would be no change in the numbers since the female recruits did not have the upper body strength of men.

The numbers looked the same, but the breakdown told the story and it wasn't pretty. Ask the Donovan or BillT. I think they know what I mean...and it rather torques me because I want a 150 lb guy to get my son/husband out if he is wounded and not some 110 pound girl with cramps.

Even when I was working out, and weighed all of 130 at 5'8", I could barely lift someone my weight and height in a fireman's carry, let alone walk with them. Don't even ask me how I looked trying to pick up my six foot plus brother that way...we both collapsed laughing our heads off.
But what was funny to us just goofing off can have horrific consequences on a battlefield. If women are going to be in support positions, then they need to train as if they are going to do some heavy lifting...because adrenaline is only going to do so much. I sort of speak from experience...

Posted by: Cricket at May 29, 2009 01:03 AM

I've been silent, too, Cricket. But mostly because I'm one of those women who has always believed that if women want a man's job, she needs to be able to do it exactly as required for the man. Most of the jobs I've held over my life were definately not typical *women's* jobs, and I knew going in that if I wanted to keep my job, not to mention earn the trust and respect of the guys I worked with, I better be able to pull my weight. IM(NS)HO, the biggest mistake with allowing women into combat-related fields was the lowering of the physical standards. I said it from the start waaayyy back then (and was given the 'Stink Eye' by many a woman), and have continued to say it to this day: If you want to do a *man's* job, fine, but you better be as capable as the man you hope to replace in every way, shape or form.

Posted by: DL Sly at May 29, 2009 11:29 AM

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