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Critics assess U.S. military’s role in ‘gender wars’
The U.S. armed forces has become a prime engineer of liberal social experiments, while condoning double standards for how men and women are punished for sexual misconduct, say people fighting what they consider political correctness on campus and in the military.
“The military is not a conservative organization,” said Elaine Donnelly, who heads the Center for Military Readiness (CMR). “It is on the cutting edge of liberal social change.”
Kate O’Beirne, Washington editor of National Review magazine, said the Iraq war is producing an unprecedented number of killed and wounded military women. She said the military signs up mothers despite their child care responsibilities.
“Does our national security really have to rest on single parents and teenage girls?” she said.
More than 60 military women have been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. Eight were killed in Vietnam.
Charles Gittins, a Naval Academy graduate whose law practice specializes in military criminal law, listed several cases in which a man was punished more harshly than a woman even though both were equally guilty of violating a regulation.
“When you put 18- to 25-year-olds together in close quarters, sex is going to happen,” said Mr. Gittins, referring to the coed dormitories at Annapolis and other such facilities throughout the armed forces.
Karin Agness, who founded the Network for Enlightened Women at the University of Virginia as a conservative counter to ardent feminism, criticized what she calls a leftist production on college campuses, a play called “The Vagina Monologues.”
The play treats favorably a 24-year-old woman seducing a 16-year-old girl. “This rapist is considered the hero of the story,” Ms. Agness said.
These assessments of the “gender wars” were offered recently at a conference in Washington sponsored by Mrs. Donnelly’s center. The theme: “Respect for Women: Where Is the Military Taking Us?”
Mrs. Donnelly, whose group opposes combat roles for women, lauded the military’s history of promoting minority and women’s rights. But she argued it has veered off course by adopting politically correct attitudes toward sexual harassment, in which the man is presumed guilty.
She accused the Army of violating its own regulation against embedding female soldiers in support companies that deploy with land combat units. She said the Pentagon too often agrees with “ideological feminists” who “want to change the culture of the military in rather radical ways.”
“Women in the military are not the problem,” she said. “It’s the policy-makers.” There are, she said, “many generals making policy in the Pentagon who have daughters in the military.”
The Army denies that it is violating what is called the collocation rule for female soldiers. The Pentagon bans military women from ground combat, such as armor and infantry units, but allows them to be on combat aircraft and ships.
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