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Moms, Body Bags, and Combat

Dr. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker

The Pentagon just sanctioned women fighting on the front lines during combat. Women have served in combat zones for a long time, but military women have just “won” the right to move to the front and be slaughtered.

I wholeheartedly disagree with this decision.

As a strong advocate for women’s rights, I understand the Pentagon’s reasoning. Women and men are equal intellectually, psychologically, socially and mentally.  As a governmental agency, they must prove that. No discrimination allowed, lest they get sued, picketed, or appear politically backwards. The problem is, they have their eye off of the ball.

The Pentagon’s job is to help secure the safety of the country and make certain that the U.S. has the strongest military possible. Those two things should always trump politics or social engineering. Combat is no place to make political statements. The truth is, most women would have a harder time throwing a 210-pound wounded fellow soldier over their shoulder and get him to safety than their male counterparts would. Women soldiers are as smart, as good at flying aircraft or crafting war strategy as men, but who would you want dragging you to safety if you were shot—a 130-pound woman or a 180-pound man?

Second, mothers should not come home in body bags. Many women who go overseas have small children at home and as an advocate for children, I don’t think that children should endure their mothers putting themselves in harm’s way. When a woman becomes a mother, she signs off the right to deliberately put herself in life-threatening situations. Being her children’s mother is her first priority—not her career. Jobs come and go, but children stay in our lives forever. A mother can have someone replace her at her job, but not at home.

This is tough for many career-oriented women to swallow, but it is the truth. Kids can’t stand up for themselves and say this, so we must. We must be bold enough to throw aside political maneuvering and do what’s right for our kids. They deserve to have their mothers come home after work healthy and alive, not dead in a body bag.

I fear that we have come to this place for one reason: we want what we want. Women want equality, and we have made many wonderful strides in this area. I’ve lived them and seen them. But when our desire to have opportunities for self improvement (more opportunities for the sake of having them) wins over parenting our children well, we’ve taken our eye off of the ball. What would children say about their mothers on the front lines if they could? Would they say, “Go, Mom!” Would they be proud or afraid? Certainly they would be the latter. And this just isn’t fair to them.

Women have earned the right to perform at very high levels in the military and I say “kudos to them.” Keep it up. But when it comes to the point where others’ lives suffer because of women’s desires to advance in their careers, we need to vocalize the inappropriateness of this. There are jobs that women and men should share, and some where only one sex should be. The front lines of combat are a place where mothers most certainly should not be.

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