It’s so wonderful to have an imbecile argument to present in order to make the public discourse more shallow. This format repeats itself in every public debate. People voice the most foolish argument, it is attacked, and victory is secured. But this is not a public debate. It’s deception.
Colonel (res.) Raz Sagi published a book called “Women Fighting in the IDF” two years ago. It’s not just a book. It’s an indictment. According to Sagi, a lot of data “were hidden for years from the public, from the women fighters themselves and even from the IDF’s top officers.” This indictment becomes more even serious because there was no public debate. Things that were said by retired senior officers, like Yiftah Ron-Tal and Avigdor Kahalani, were published and attacked. it was easy. They were defeated by a knockout. But no one dared to raise slightly more serious arguments, like the ones appearing in the book.
I asked Sagi if anyone in the leading media outlets had invited him to one of the studio debates on the issue. Not a single one, he told me. No one approached me. It may be another result of the political correctness, which is becoming the enemy of the public discourse and freedom of speech. After all, the argument that maybe, just maybe, women’s service in a tank is an idea deserving a slightly more serious discussion, will turn the person making the argument into a chauvinist and misogynist. And so, fearing the correctness dictatorship, a careful person chooses the right to remain silent.
There are excellent arguments in favor of women’s integration in the army. There are also successful cases, like the Kurdish female fighters in the Peshmerga. Those claims must be heard. But other claims must be heard, too.
Sagi presents a series of figures and studies suggesting that the incorporation of women in regular armies has led to a drop in the level of demands for operational fitness, and accordingly to a drop in the operational preparedness. The book is based on research from the American, British and Israeli armies, as well as on in-depth interviews and male and female soldiers. The results are troubling. Only 2.5% of women reached the male average in a 3-kilometer run. Sixty-two of 97 female aircraft mechanics failed to perform tasks such as replacing aircraft tires, and more.
Sergeant Kelly Logan from the US Army fought for the incorporation of women in combat roles. She got what she wanted, was sent on an operational mission in Bosnia and was forced to admit: “I had a complete change in attitude. When we had to do things like digging and reinforcing bunkers, the guys ended up doing most of the physical work… Many women were so unprepared for heavy-duty soldiering that they would have endangered the unit in a crisis."
A person whose opinion I value told me that the IDF was working to incorporate disabled and autistic people, and that this carried a price that a civilized society had to pay. That’s true. But women are in a different category. And most importantly, the research presented by Sagi clarifies that not only has the operational preparedness suffered, but the women themselves have paid a heavy price for the social experiment performed on them and on their bodies. Who cares about women, though, when it’s more important to appear enlightened?
And one more thing: The difference between advanced societies and dark societies stems, usually, from the status of women. Advancing women and gender equality is not a women’s interest. It’s a superior need of every human community. While we are in the midst of a period of change, the road is still long. But we are allowed to ask if this road includes turning female soldiers into tank-crew members. Before pulling out a Pavlovian response, we should review the research presented by Sagi.