Streetwise Professor

May 9, 2021

Combat Is Not Gender Normed, or Died of a Theory. Literally.

Filed under: Military,Politics — cpirrong @ 5:58 pm

One of the developments that has distressed me most over the past years is the descent of the US military into what is now called wokism. The descent began long before the term “woke” gained currency, but it has accelerated since it has, and especially post-20 January.

One of the primary stress points has been over the role of women in combat, especially in the infantry. Clearly here a decisive–and arguably the decisive–issue is physical capacity, notably strength and body mass.

Combat is extraordinarily difficult physically (and mentally as well). It taxes every muscle and sinew. Even movement to combat is physically punishing, especially given the increasing weight of material (including body armor) that the modern soldier must hump before firing a shot.

After WWII, the US Army surveyed veterans. One question they asked was what needed to change in basic training. The overwhelming answer was more physical fitness training. A lot more. Soldiers who had served in the ETO and the jungles of Asia responded that extended combat was far more physically demanding than they had been trained to handle.

In its efforts to integrate women, including into combat billets, the military has had to try to overcome what should be immediately obvious to any sentient being: men are stronger than women. (If this statement offends you, so be it: I am not going to bend to your denial of reality.)

The flash point here has been physical fitness testing. Recently the military adopted a new “Army Combat Fitness Test” (note the word “combat” in the title, as opposed to the old “Army Physical Fitness Test”). The intention was that the test standards would apply equally to women and men, to make sure all had the physical strength required for combat.

The only way this could happen if the test was no test at all. To the extent that the test does impose physical challenges even remotely similar to those required in combat, it was inevitable that women would fail at a far higher rate than men.

And lo and behold, that’s exactly what happened.

But rather than questioning whether this undermined entirely the case for even thinking about letting women serve in infantry units (or other MOS demanding physical strength), the Army is consider gender norming the tests.

Combat is not gender normed. Period.

I say again: combat is not gender normed. A gender normed “combat fitness test” is an oxymoron that makes “military intelligence” look like the epitome of consistency.

I often use Jeff Davis’s phrase “died of a theory.” Here, that will be literally true. People will die. Wars will be lost. The nation’s survival may be at stake.

There are few things more serious–existential even. Serious people–including bad ass women in the military who can hack it physically (there are exceptions to every rule)–understand this. But the US military is currently in the hands of very, very unserious people–and has been for a long time. These are people in thrall to a theory, and are willing to send service men and women to their deaths (and jeopardize the security of the nation) rather than choose reality over theory.

The incoherence of the theorists is also striking. The feminist left argues that men are predisposed to violence and aggression, and are certainly more violent and aggressive than women: indeed, they direct much of their violence and aggression towards women, who are incapable of defense because of their lesser physical strength and aggression. Well, a comparative advantage in violence is an attribute in the military, and this comparative advantage recommends–compels!–that men specialize in socially sanctioned violence–notably in combat arms in the military–and that women specialize in other things.

This is not an assertion of superiority, dominance, or hierarchy. It is a basic point about comparative advantage and specialization. A basic point that is grasped by few, and basically by none on the left, whose obsession with simplistic notions of equality leads them to shrink with horror from the ideas of comparative advantage and specialization.

Yet the same leftist feminists–whose theories have captured the US defense establishment–argue that men and women should not so specialize, but that women and men should both close with enemies in violent combat. In the name of equity. Or something. Like I say, the theorists and the theory are incoherent, so explaining this patent contradiction is beyond the powers of mere mortals.

Various strains of Critical Theories predicated on perverted concepts of equality and delusional views of reality have attacked the brains of those at the pinnacle of the uniformed and civilian hierarchies. I am reminded of this line from Patton’s legendary speech to the Third Army:

The bilious bastards who write that stuff for the Saturday Evening Post don’t know any more about real battle than they do about fucking

Alas, the bilious bastards who want to gender norm “combat fitness tests” are no longer merely editors and writers for newsweeklies.* They run the US military. God save us.

*There are obviously many in the Pentagon, including those holding flag ranks, who know battle. That actually makes it worse. Most likely out of the intersection of careerism and a political class in thrall to the theory, they are willingly collaborating with–nay, directing–policies that they know are are in conflict with basic reality and which jeopardize lives and the nation’s security.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. I recommend looking at the link in the post – the physical standards really aren’t asking for very much…

    Comment by HibernoFrog — May 10, 2021 @ 2:34 am

  2. Yep.
    Women are not fit to serve in regular battle units like infantry, armored, artillery.
    Israel Defense Force created special “light infantry” units where women can serve. These units

    1. Don’t have heavy weapon systems
    2. Are being used for border patrolling only
    3. Are not planned to be used in any high-scale conflict

    Comment by Yan — May 10, 2021 @ 9:57 am

  3. Lack of combat assignment is a serious detriment to career advancement in the military. We simply cannot have that in a woke environment that demands equality in rank between men and women. Therefore we must maintain certain fictions and not worry about the consequences.

    Comment by Andrew Stanton — May 10, 2021 @ 10:02 am

  4. @HibernoFrog. Oh I looked. That makes it worse. They designed the original test thinking that it would be easy enough that the female fail rate would be low enough. That is, the standard was made relatively easy out of fear that a hard standard would lead to the disparities they wanted to avoid. But even with the relatively easy test they still had a big disparity.

    An example–the leg tuck instead of pullups, because very few women can do the latter. But the leg tuck is what causes the women the most problem. So excluding the pullup from the test didn’t prevent the problem they wanted to avoid.

    Comment by cpirrong — May 10, 2021 @ 10:09 am

  5. My father told me that in The War all the good officers he met were from the Reserves or from “civvy street”. The professionals were duds. Some things don’t change, eh?

    Comment by dearieme — May 10, 2021 @ 10:42 am

  6. ‘The point is that we are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.

    ‘When one looks at the all-prevailing schizophrenia of democratic societies, the lies that have to be told for vote-catching purposes, the silence about major issues, the distortions of the press, it is tempting to believe that in totalitarian countries there is less humbug, more facing of the facts. There, at least, the ruling groups are not dependent on popular favour and can utter the truth crudely and brutally. Goering could say ‘Guns before butter’, while his democratic opposite numbers had to wrap the same sentiment up in hundreds of hypocritical words.

    ‘Actually, however, the avoidance of reality is much the same everywhere, and has much the same consequences. The Russian people were taught for years that they were better off than everybody else, and propaganda posters showed Russian families sitting down to abundant meal while the proletariat of other countries starved in the gutter. Meanwhile the workers in the western countries were so much better off than those of the U.S.S.R. that non-contact between Soviet citizens and outsiders had to be a guiding principle of policy. Then, as a result of the war, millions of ordinary Russians penetrated far into Europe, and when they return home the original avoidance of reality will inevitably be paid for in frictions of various kinds. The Germans and the Japanese lost the war quite largely because their rulers were unable to see facts which were plain to any dispassionate eye.

    ‘To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.’

    [Orwell, ‘In Front of Your Nose’]

    Very sad to see officers selling out their troops, and, in effect, their country, so as to avoid being ‘the nail that stands up’ and risk their promotions and pensions – especially from men and women who have pledged to throw themselves in front of the bullets for their countrymen. Assuming, of course, that they haven’t themselves drunk the Woke ‘kool-aid’ and aren’t just going along to get along.

    I never thought I’d say this, but the American officer corps ought to be taking note of the courage that the French officer corps is currently displaying with regard to the vile bullshit with which the French elite are soaking the Gauls. Macron has just learnt the meaning of the phrase ‘a shot across the bows’.

    @dearieme – if you think the apes they train at West Point are bad, you should see the types they let into Annapolis!

    Comment by Ex-Global Super-Regulator on Lunch Break — May 11, 2021 @ 1:41 am

  7. @Prof:
    “Oh I looked.”
    Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that you hadn’t – you provided the link after all 🙂

    She’s an impressive an insightful woman – I enjoyed reading that (I mean, apart from the farcical situation…).

    Comment by HibernoFrog — May 11, 2021 @ 2:34 am

  8. @Ex-Global Super-Regulator on Lunch Break:
    The French army has form is this respect – the former Army Chief of Staff said “I won’t let him [Macron] fuck me up like that!” in response to a budget cut, and eventually resigned (
    But I think there is a big difference in the burdens being imposed: The Prof explains what is happening in the US, but in France the problems are a simple lack of investment in the Police and Armed Forces (for example, the average Gendarme car is 7.4 years old, so you gotta figure that some of them are quite old indeed) and in the infamous big-city suburbs, the state spends plenty of money but don’t actually ensure public services, most notably policing. Both kinds of neglect risk a very damaging climax at some point, and I think the army wants something done about it now, while the situation might still be corrected through sensible means, instead of by force later…

    Of course, the parallel with the US still stands: Do what is right now, in order to avoid a crisis later.

    Comment by HibernoFrog — May 11, 2021 @ 2:54 am

  9. @HF – I sincerely hope that this is the root of the problem, and that it is so easily solved.

    The people of France deserve much, much better than they are getting from their elites.

    Comment by Ex-Global Super-Regulator on Lunch Break — May 11, 2021 @ 10:38 pm

  10. À propos,

    Comment by Ivan — May 12, 2021 @ 2:37 pm

  11. I remember going through basic training for USAFA. Women were nowhere near as strong as men, fast as men etc. I was a D1 athlete. There were things I had trouble doing, like pull-ups and push-ups. At the end of basic I could meet the standard. I could run a mile in five minutes too. I was in incredible shape.

    I am sure the women I went through basic were in the best shape of their lives too. But, the worst male was in better shape than they were. And, it’s a matter of life or death on the battlefield.

    Comment by Jeffrey Carter — May 12, 2021 @ 6:08 pm

  12. @Ex-Global Super-Regulator on Lunch Break:
    I’m not sure that the French do deserve much better: For sure, the Elites do really look after themselves and each other at the expense of the wider economy and public (mainly the unelected elite alumni of certain universities and private schools who circulate in the upper levels of the civil service and business. The elected elites were turfed out on their asses at the last election and show no signs of getting back in!). But far more economically significant is that the French public believe in (and have forced the elites to implement) some very strange economics: For example it is taken as self-evident here that increasing taxes and increasing subsidies to poor people is the best way to reduce inequality, rather than, say, reducing taxes to stimulate the economy and allow the poor to get back to work. As far as I can tell, the economics and laws of France are genuinely shaped by the people, and not by special interests (at least, not as much as in the US). Or another example on pensions: People are living much longer, so it only makes sense to push back the retirement age, but even high-school students would be out protesting if such a change were implemented. There’s lots (lots!) of good law and good policy too, but those that hold the economy back the most are, as far as I can see, of the people…

    Comment by HibernoFrog — May 18, 2021 @ 5:28 am

  13. @Jeffrey-I wasn’t a D1 athlete, but my experience (almost exactly contemporary with yours) was the same.

    Comment by cpirrong — May 21, 2021 @ 6:24 pm

  14. @Ex-Global Super-Regulator on Lunch Break. I resemble that remark!

    Comment by cpirrong — May 21, 2021 @ 6:26 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress