… battles are ugly when women fight… [The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, 10.48]
C.S. Lewis’s quote has become once again relevant as drafting women has become something for serious consideration among the American Chiefs of State. Although I am not a hundred percent certain where I stand on the matter, I have become entranced with the idea as a variety of complications and implications come to mind were such an idea to be implemented.
It is argued in one camp that drafting women is not a good idea. Women, some say, aren’t as physically or emotionally strong as their male counterparts . Religiously inclined people will say that God did not create women to take part in warfare.
In the camp of those who speak for drafting women are those who logically carry through the idea that women are equal to men. Feminists should appreciate the logical coherency of the argument . Biologically speaking, to the biological evolutionist (modern or not), this may be unsound [2 (role of female physiology within evolutionary context of attraction)], but to a variety of rights groups, drafting women may be just another practical step to eradicate discrimination between the sexes. Since above biological evolutionists (and biologists) posit that men and women have enough “overlap”, drafting women for war, shouldn’t be a problem… Or should it?
Things to Consider
On the other hand, are men physically and emotionally invulnerable as women? History, as seen by the post-war traumas of PTSD, would say ‘no’. What about men who are smaller in build and are unable to physically achieve standard requirements or men who are emotionally unbalanced? The creation of ‘Man’ as a macho, war tank, I think, is a dangerous one to espouse, since it dehumanizes the male experience within war and renders their sacrifice as being ‘another day at the office’. The fact remains that although men may be more physiologically suited to physical activity not all men are equally ready for war.
At any rate, this dilemma is easily resolved within some institutions such as the Canadian army. As of 2015, male and female cadets are expected and required to carry the same amount of gear . In basic training, if the person is unable to carry the weight required, they are removed. Therefore, with physical and emotional testing, men AND women are perceived as adequate or inadequate.
Evoking God is another issue. As a person of faith, I may believe God did not create women to take part in warfare, but humanists, secularists, materialists, deists, atheists have no such concepts regarding ethics or morality. Also, religious factions decrying a decision to draft women is all well and good, but these outbursts on social media has no real impact on a situation that has as yet to actually take place. Furthermore, although God may not have created women to take part in war, one could say that He didn’t create humanity as whole to take part in war.
Part and parcel of this whole conundrum is how the art of warfare itself has evolved. Practically speaking, working within the army does not necessitate carrying a gun or taking part in actual combat . Many men (and women) could conscientiously decline service and help in other ways – in medical, support staff, strategic, etc positions. Drafting women doesn’t necessarily lead to a woman being “forced to fight” any more than one could force a man to fight. Are people proposing that the US Army drag people onto the battlefield in handcuffs?
On the other hand, given our current climate, I could see how ethical necessities may arise in which women are forced to fight. Is an offensive defense within the realm of those who stay at home? In the past, there was the idea of “going to war”, which still remains with us to this day. As battles take place in the Middle East and parts of Asia, it is easy to keep the women at home, but what role does a woman play when the fight has arrived on her doorstep? Is she to be a passive agent when her home or country is under direct attack from without or within? This is something to consider as terrorism is no longer a distant activity but may happen within one’s neighborhood.
There are two myths propagated by the feminists: the wage gap myth and the biological equality myth. Men and women, they say, are equal. Period. Those who hold to some sort of awareness and logic would say ‘equal but not the same’. At any rate, men, feminists tell us, are not restricted by fear or institutions. A patriarchy reigns supreme which enables men to hold onto privileged positions in privileged places.
Yet, somehow, these same feminists turn a blind eye to many obvious infringements on male autonomy – one being (for the Americans) the Draft.
With a sort of fascinated horror, I am looking forward to seeing how this concept of female draft is going to actually work out. Will it happen? Will feminists finally get the “equality” (and its inherent responsibilities) they want? Will they too be enlisted in wars they don’t believe in? Will they too be inflicted with PTSD and war injuries? Will they too come home to be repudiated by their families because ‘they have changed’?
This I have to see.
The Ideals of Christian Literature
I began this contemplation with a quote from C.S. Lewis. This quote, I think, is very true – on many levels. Women being forced to fight is an ugly prospect considering the physical disparity between them and their opponents. This is doubly true when the women are not trained to even defend themselves. However, tying ethical or moral standpoints to C.S. Lewis’s work is a dangerous thing, because his view is either not fully formed or it is incredibly complex.
Let’s have a look at the situation. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Chapter 10, has Lucy getting a small weapon for defense. Susan gets a bow and arrows. Both weapons, it may be noted, are given to them (with the understanding they will be put in danger and go into danger) AND both are defensive and/or long-range. Father Christmas tells Lucy that “battles are ugly when women fight”.
Fast forward several years to The Horse and His Boy. Archenland is under attack. A small contingent from Narnia, led by King Edmund the Just and Queen Lucy the Valiant(!), come to the rescue. Queen Lucy is described as fighting from the sidelines with the archers. Not working with the medics. Not running errands. Not carrying messages. Fighting – as in long-distance battle.
Quoting Lewis, therefore, is a bit iffy, in my opinion. Lewis, like Tolkien (as seen by Eowyn), probably had a more complex idea of women and war. That is to say, women could take part in war but it is a necessary evil, more often than not predicated by ‘war on the doorstep’. This may have been a personal view they held – or they may have been drawing on more historical/social aspects of Germanic people, such as the Vikings or Anglo-Saxons, where women remained at home but were ready to kill should their villages be attacked.
If we look at modern warfare – with the increased focus on long-range weaponry and the threat of terrorism on home soil – women perhaps may find a more active role than the neo-Victorianism would like us to believe.
The Sad Truth
Was humanity meant to war? I do not believe so. War is one of the most devastating forms of sin and places a huge imprint on millions and billions of peoples’ lives. To say that ‘men’ are made for war is a lie. Participating in war takes a toll and there is a price to pay – psychologically, physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. In the Bible, we read that King David, ‘a man of the sword’, was considered unfit to build God’s temple.
Perhaps then, we should say that ‘drafting’ isn’t a good idea for ANYONE.
Should we force people to fight? Are we going to have to physically drag people onto a battlefield – or swell the ranks of prisons with recalcitrant folks who don’t want to fight?
Is a forcibly drafted army going to be an efficient one? How reliable is a squadron of men who don’t want to be there? Would you want to fight with someone who didn’t want to be there?
What about conscientious decliners? Quakers? Amish and Mennonites? Pacifists? Emotionally or psychologically unstable men (who LIKE the idea of killing, for example)? Should we allow those people to go on the field?
All of these questions may never have a simple answer. To be honest, I am as uncertain as the rest of you may be. However, there is one thing I am sure of. The practical application of a theory (drafting & and the expected role of men and women in war) will get ugly pretty fast.