Pentagon studies have consistently found that only about 10 percent of the women in the military services would choose combat if they could. Studies at the military academies have found that women are far less likely to be interested in war fighting courses like strategy and tactics than their male counterparts. And more surveys than you can name have shown that women lag behind men in upper body strength, size and weight. Many women are not strong enough to carry a fallen comrade over her shoulder. Some cannot throw a grenade far enough to be safe from its explosion. Many become pregnant while in the service, eroding readiness.
But the deepest reasons for objecting to women in combat come down to women's inherent delicacy -- a quality we should not lightly dismiss. Captured women are virtually certain to be sexually abused or even tortured. And men will go to extra lengths to protect the women around them -- sometimes at the sacrifice of their own safety, which is why women should be kept well back from the fighting. Feminists say men should stop worrying about us, that we're fully capable of handling ourselves. But most of us don't really want a world in which men stifle all chivalrous feelings for women.
Finally, there is the matter of motherhood. The two remaining women captives are mothers of small children. One is a single parent. The military has traditionally preferred single men to married men, the childless to those with children. Now we are sending not just young fathers but also young mothers into harm's way. This is so unnecessary, and such a terrible price to ask our children to pay. Anne Applebaum declared in The Washington Post that the argument over women in combat is over. Let's hope not.
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