Australian Defense Force ~ what we want to say

So, the ADF hey?! Seems like this topic has been bashed to death over the last few weeks but at the same time… sort of feels like a cop out if we don’t at least attempt to weigh in on the debate. The conversation is ostensibly along two lines;

a)     the girl who was webcast without her consent having sex.

b)    should ladies be allowed to serve on “the frontline” in armed combat?

However, somehow the two issues are blending and bleeding together in a great big misogynist vs feminist debate. Pick a side Australians, you will be called up to swear allegiance before this fight is even close to closed.

So ladies and gentlemen, here’s the story according to feminaust.

First off, two young peeps had sex.

STOP PRESS! Two young people had sexual intercourse with each other.

It seems that it was consensual, mutually agreed upon and potentially satisfying although obviously we can’t know exactly how so. There were a few things that were different about these two youngsters getting naked than the millions of other sexual acts amongst young people that were happening at the same time, they were;

a)     they technically shouldn’t have because they were both cadets at the Australian Defence Force Academy and they have a no fraternisation rule there.

b)    the dude involved decided at some point prior to the act that it would be a good idea to broadcast it to a select few of his classmates via Skype.

That’s pretty much all we know. Why the girl wanted to sleep with this guy, why he chose to broadcast, why the other fellows wanted to watch, how it was set up, all the rest we don’t know and any comment by us non-knowing people is just speculation.

Now, when the young lady found out that she had been watched during this very private moment, she complained. As far as I’m concerned, this seems like an entirely natural thing to do, except of course that she’s in a defence force… where complaining about violations against your rights and your body are seriously frowned upon, add to that she’s a WOMAN in a defence force who dared to complain about a violation of her rights, body etc… not cool man. Chicks should just be happy they’re allowed to walk those hallowed halls, making complaints about fellow cadets is just NOT ON.

Next it appears that her complaint wasn’t taken entirely seriously. Maybe she was reprimanded for doing the dirty with a fellow officer, maybe also for being naughty in other ways. Either way, the lady felt the need to go to the press with her complaint, a fairly drastic measure considering the closed club that the defence force tends to be.

Various powers have made their thoughts known, insults have been slung, articles and opinions have been written but above seems to be what we know. That’s not what I want to concentrate on in this post though. I want to concentrate on situation b).

Ok, onto issue b). Women on the frontline. WHAT? Women on the frontline? Where people shoot guns and get shot and get taken prisoner and all that other stuff that soldiers, sailors and airforce peeps accept as part of their job every day?!?!?!?!? No way, that’ll be the end of all life as we know it. Women can’t be expected to fight on the frontline, they’re not strong enough, physical enough, they’re not born killers, they’ll get raped and that will distract the men and then they’ll get shot and DIE.

Sorry, that was a digression, just a short roundup of some of the arguments I’ve heard over the last week as to why women shouldn’t be fighting as ground troops and honestly I’m pretty sick of it. I can come to terms with the fact that most women can’t and won’t pass the demanding physical and psychological tests to become active ground forces, what I can’t accept is the idea that they shouldn’t be allowed to try. That for some reason, women have no right to defend their country in the way that they want and are best suited to. It astounds me time and time again that certain members of the establishment should continue to invent ridiculous reasons to exclude women from some domains. One of my “favourite” comments was penned by Robert Burton-Bradley quoting Neil James as saying;

“The other thing the feminists never justify in their arguments is would they be prepared to have women suffer disproportionate casualties compared to men just to satisfy their whims.”

I don’t know about you but as a feminist, I would never send ANYONE into combat on a whim. In fact, as a human being I would never send anyone into combat on a whim and Mr James fails to provide any evidence that women would suffer disproportionate casualties. He just thinks it’s commonsense that they would. Who’s commonsense Mr James? Yours or mine? Because my whim of having women in one on one combat has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the women who WANT to do that. Personally, I couldn’t think of anything worse than being trained for armed conflict, but some people want to do that, are good at doing that and aspire to be paid to do just that, and quite frankly, if they meet all the physical and other requirements to do that, I doubt that it was on a whim, probably more likely to be as a result of sustained, purposeful intent.

The next argument is that the women will be raped and that will distract the men because they’ll want to be chivalrous (ignoring the total lack of chivalry in the defense force that issue a) reflects) and protect them. I just want to make some pretty serious points on this assumption that I really think some people need to understand. Women are raped all the time in conflict settings, in fact rape is used as a weapon of war and terror on a regular basis but it’s not active armed forces that are being raped, it’s civilian women and girls, it’s women in state sponsored military “brothels”, it’s happening in the barracks, it’s security forces raping the women they’re supposed to be protecting, rape has been used in conflict as a weapon of genocide. On top of that sexual violence is abhorrently prevalent in “regular” society. 1 out of 5 women will experience sexual violence. Three quarters of those women will know their attacker. Women live with the threat of sexual violence everyday they leave their house and just as frequently they face it in their own homes, with their partners, parents, siblings and family friends. They experience it in their schools, churches, universities, sporting clubs, at the local pub and everywhere else that they choose to live their lives. Mr James, as a woman I live with the threat of sexual violence because instead of standing up against it, people like you make excuses for it. Make comments like “she was raped because she chose to be a combat troop, therefore it’s her fault”. I can just see you down the track after an incident of sexual assault to an Australian soldier is made public saying “I told you so!”. Well I’d like to tell you, right now, that you only have to look around your hometown, talk to your friends and family and take a little bit of notice to realise that sexual violence is a part of our lives and the only way to stop it is to make it unacceptable, not tell women that they have to protect themselves by not putting themselves at risk. That’s called victim blaming and that’s something we feminists definitely don’t hold to.

So I’ve now satisfactorily satisfied my whim to blast my opinion across the cybersphere.

Feel free to comment, disagree, add far more reasoned and researched arguments to the discussion.

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