GOP Senator Inadvertently Explains Why Women Are Better Suited For Combat Than Men


On Tuesday, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) helpfully explained that young men are so hormonally driven that they can’t act rationally. Cursed with a “hormone level created by nature,” they are just wired to lose control of themselves and rape.

Addressing the subject of military rape, the Georgia Republican offered a briefing on biology to his colleagues on the Senate Armed Services Committee:

"The young folks who are coming into each of your services are anywhere from 17 to 22 or 23. Gee whiz, the hormone level created by nature sets in place the possibility for these types of things to occur. So we've got to be very careful how we address it on our side.”

Well now! For a long time, conservatives have argued that it was women who were too hormonal and irrational for combat. But Chambliss has set them straight. It’s really young men who can’t be relied upon to control their emotions and urges under pressure.

It's true that Chambliss doesn’t have first-hand experience of combat because he got a medical deferrment during Vietnam, so he wasn't exactly tearing it up on the battlefield. But still, it seems like he’s onto something here. Do we really want people who are prone to violent hormonal outbreaks doing a job that requires concentration and steady nerves?

I think not. Female troops have already been unofficially serving in combat for decades, and they have distinguished themselves on the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan as pilots and in military police units. One hundred-fifty-two have been killed, and nearly 900 wounded. Tanya Biank, author of Undaunted: The Real Story of America’s Servicewomen, explains that women soldiers have exceeded all expectations, despite particular challenges that men don’t face, such as wearing armor that was not designed for their bodies: "They have performed phenomenally. They have done more than just pull their own weight.”

Perhaps they could perform even better without dealing with the hazard of young men who can’t control their irrational impulses.

The stakes are pretty high, so we had better look at the science, too. It turns out that scientific evidence supports the Chambliss theory that compared to women, men are irrational. According to a study from Arizona State University, for example, women demonstrate an evolutionary trait of being superior to men in not letting passing moods influence their “rational decisions.” Can we afford to let people whose mood swings rule their behavior operate dangerous equipment and deploy weapons? It just doesn’t seem safe.

Violent crime experts have suggested that people who rape may be particularly emotionally reactive, insecure and have difficulty dealing with anger. That kind of mental instability really doesn’t belong on the front lines. Performing critical tasks in stressful situations requires strong coping mechanisms, maturity and self-discipline. As Chambliss reminds us, young men just don’t seem to have what it takes.

Combat also requires teamwork and loyalty toward fellow soldiers. And yet in Iraq, women serving in the U.S. military are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire. How we expect our military to have functioning, cohesive units when young men naturally harbor urges to attack other troops? We should probably just get rid of them and let them do something useful, like maybe answering the phone or sorting the mail.

Research has shown that women may have superior collaborative skills as well as communication skills. There’s even a study showing that when a group includes more women, its collective intelligence rises. All this would be pretty handy in executing a complex mission, wouldn’t it?

For once, Saxby Chambliss has actually advanced the national conversation. The implications of his perspective are crystal clear. Nature has rendered young men unfit for combat, so we’d better leave that serious business to people who can handle the job: women. And maybe some men who have passed their hormonal "rape" years.

With their cooler heads, more women running the show might mean less need for combat in the first place.

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