Monday, March 19, 2007

The Women's War

The New York Times Magazine for March 18 has an article by Sara Corbett on "The Women's War on the experience of women returning from the Iraq war. Corbett reports that many of these women have been thrown into "post-traumatic-stress-syndrome"(PTSD) by the combination of combat violence and sexual assault.

The Iraq war is a remarkable experiment in the attempt to integrate women into combat. According to Corbett, 1 in 10 of the American soldiers in Iraq are women. 160,000 women have been sent to Iraq and Afganistan, as compared with 7,500 female soldiers in the Vietnam war and 41,000 in the gulf war.

In Darwinian Conservatism, I claim that war is predominantly a male activity. My claim would be refuted if this experience of sending so many women to war showed there was no difference between men and women in combat activity. But if this article is accurate, there is some evidence that women suffer from combat in a way that men do not.

Given our evolved human nature, it should not surprise us that when young women are put in military units in combat with young men that the women are exposed to male predatory sexuality. Neither should it surprise us that women are especially traumatized by combat.

If the behavioral differences between men and women are culturally constructed and not natural, then we should expect that eventually women and men will be socialized into a gender-neutral pattern, so that men and women react to war and combat in the same way. I doubt this. The reports in this article suggest that I am right--that the evolved natural differences between men and women make it dangerous for women to be treated the same as men when it comes to war.

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