Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Obama, Women, War

I've read Obama wants to require women to sign-up for the Selective Service just as men do in case we initiate another draft, and that he wants full equality among men and women. No more keeping women out of combat zones (not that they are restricted now, but they are supposed to be.)

Daughters fighting and killing alongside sons.

I remember when my boys had to register. Squeezed my heart even as I prayed they'd never be called up.

I wonder if Obama would be okay with his girls entering the military against their wills during wartime. If so, he's far and away different from every daughters' daddy I've ever known.

It's not hard to realize the reasons why women and men are not equal on the battlefield. Upper body strength differences that could mean life or death when dealing with injured soldiers. Natural protective instincts in men, regardless of how vigorously the tendency is 'trained out of them,' tendencies which cause responses to be altered, again potentially costing lives. There's more.

For me, I know myself and I know my daughters. Putting us on the battlefield would not only weaken the military, but would damage us emotionally and mentally. Yes, the psychological effects harm men as well. War is hell, after all.

But years ago I watched my toddler sons use sticks as swords and guns. I saw them instinctively imitate explosion sounds as they dropped marbles on their Lincoln Logs to blow their creations to smithereens. Plastic green soldiers strategized and 'died' among the furniture, books, and building blocks, even stuffed animals took hits while I implored of the boys to 'be careful!' Childhood brothers punched, they kicked hard and wrestled until I thought they'd suffocate, they played at war from the time they were three feet tall. I know it's not politically correct to say it, but they are wired this way.

My girls didn't do those things at such young ages. Cassie was a tomboy but she didn't play the sort of games the boys did, until the boys taught her. It wasn't instinctive. Caroline has always been sweet. She freaked out if someone stepped on a spider, preferring to escort the bug outside to 'go find your mommy.' The girls preferred games which included cute imaginary animals, dressing up, tea parties, hide-and-seek, and playing grocery store. Their scuffles were noisy with words and ended quickly with tears - oh, the tears and wails at being injured whether physically or emotionally. It took me forever to console them. The boys, not so much.

While my sons are tenderhearted men, still, there is a thrill at guns, explosives, demolition, and all those vigorous-type things while the girls are intrinsically gentler. I don't believe it's upbringing because the differences were apparent at such young ages. Plus, the girls were heavily influenced by much-older brothers in the household and still, the deep-seated nurturer exists in each girl. My daughters can shoot, it's true, and they've learned their way around a man's world, but still, there is an innate gentle nourishing spirit in them. They want to cook and bake for the men in our family, they want to 'surprise them' with special moments, hand-made gifts, sweet kindnesses.

Yes, men and women are different. Much the same, true, but different enough that I believe women should only enter the military if they want to and even then, they should be kept out of combat zones.

Obama is squeezing my mother's heart with his views. Let's hope wiser heads prevail before much damage is done to future mommies and daddies of our compassionate nation.


Robyn McIntyre said...

I'm not a mom, but I've lost my share of friends and family to war and seen the wounds in those who survived to come home. No one sane believes in war, but as long as we have a standing army, I think women should have the same obligation to serve as the men. In what capacity, though? This is a conversation we should have as a nation before anything is done about registering women for the draft because we ARE wired differently.

Sandy's Notes said...

If they said that men would stop fighting our wars, this has to include all sides, and it would only be women, then the wars would stop immediately, we would make peace and fix our differences. Instead though, we have men at the helm, and yes I know I'm generalizing, and we have women fighting wars that men started. This whole thing makes my stomach turn. There should be no draft, there should be no wars! Haven't we learned yet?

Cherie said...

Robyn, thanks for your heartfelt comment. It's a wrenching thing to witness a friend or loved return from time served in the military. The changes are usually heartbreaking. I agree that it's a conversation that needs to be had - and soon. No easy answers. You are so very right, Robyn, 'no one sane believes in war.'

Sandy, I'm right there with you. I, too, am sick to my stomach with war. There should be no wars! I often wonder if women were in charge if we really could prevent them from happening. I don't think we've learned. I just don't think we have - as a nation and a world, I mean.

deanna said...

I appreciate your words and thoughts, Cherie, and the comments, too. Heavy duty. And so was the news today about the mom and child from our church community in the hit-and-run. We can't escape stupidity and sin. I'm grappling here, with hard reality.

Mike S said...

Having seen plenty of combat I can say that 'War is Hell' comes nowhere close to describing the real thing. It's part of the reason that those like Dumbya & Cheney make me ill. Imagine the most devastating, bloody, multi-vehicle car wreck conceivable, then have it play on a continuous loop with different folks every time around. I'm a great believer in the idea that if women were in charge we'd stay at peace.

As for military service, I've been in rough spots with women that far outperformed most men, and vice versa. Sadly, with the technology of today, it's all too possible to cause horrendous damage, injury, and death without being physically superior or stronger.

Perhaps one day we'll figure it out and use all that effort to create good rather than power with which to 'control' those who disagree with our religion, lifestyles, ethics, or any number of other phony reasons we go to war continually as a species.

Cherie said...

Deanna, grappling with you over these hard realities.

Mike, I so appreciate the comments of one who knows. There seems to be no easy answer. That being said, unless my children feel so compelled to fight, I sure don't want them forced to. And that being said, I do believe there are some things worth fighting for. Like freedom. But is that what the wars of the world are about these days? Hmm..

thebookbaglady said...

It was great to talk with you today!

Tucker updated Maricel's blog.

Love, Gretchen

Cherie said...

Same here, Gretchen! Thank you so much for all the information - and correct pronunciations - that you shared with me. And thanks for the heads up about Tucker's update.

I hope we talk again soon!

cecily said...

We don't have anything like drafting here - no compulsory service of any description. If there was, I guess women being conscripted is following feminism through to a logical conclusion... but I'm glad I don't have to think about it too much. (I know some pretty tough, strong women though. Maybe they're pretty too!)

tony said...

Its a strange way to introduce the concept of Gender Equality.I,m not that sure that Men are instinctively programmed for War.My Instinct has always been to Run........

Cherie said...

Cecily, I, too, know many 'tough women' and on the other hand, many not so 'tough' men. For me, though, generally speaking it's that tender-hearted, nurturing spirit that women have - deep down and entangled in our very beings - that makes the definitive difference to me. It just seems like it's more fragile than men's make-up. But what do I know. I'm glad you don't have to think about it too much, too. Wish I didn't. I'm not a very good feminist, I'm afraid.

Tony - Well, you must be smarter than the average man, then. Running is the smarter move! ; D

I don't know that men are instinctively programmed for war, but it's a more 'natural fit' - ick, that sounds really bad - I mean, it's not such a far stretch for a man to feel the instinct to protect his family and way of life with brute force, to stand his ground with toughness and unwavering determination. I know that I have mother-mountain-lion instincts when my kids are threatened but I always feel MUCH safer when Tom or one of my sons, or my dad or brother are with me.

This conversation is giving me lots to think about - stretching my field of influence and information. I'm no where near a definitive conclusion.