Are you a Bitch or a Slut? You Decide.

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Today, two women will graduate from Ranger school for the first time ever. Earlier this week, the Navy announced plans to open BUD/S training to women. This has kicked off a whole new round of Facebook debates surrounding the issue of allowing females to serve as infantrymen in the US Military. The following isn’t directly about women serving in infantry, but about some hurdles that need to be addressed before we move forward. Mad Duo

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Are you a Bitch or a Slut? You Decide. 

Cassandra Merrill

Every unit has them: that eighteen year old Chaplain’s Assistant who packs a battery-powered makeup mirror and three bottles of nail polish for a field exercise. But the majority of military females want to be taken seriously. We work exhausting hours, volunteer for details, lead training exercises, and carry our own load in an attempt to be seen as a valuable member of the team. We are dedicated assets who put in the effort so that our fellow soldiers know they can rely on us just the same as they could a male. Yet our reputations are not formed around our resolution and achievements; they’re extrapolated from how we react when our male counterparts hit on us.

Choose your own adventure: Are you a bitch or are you a slut?

If someone expresses sexual interest in you and you refuse him, congratulations!–you’re a bitch. If you sleep with him, you’re a slut. There’s been some talk about women serving in the infantry, but before we can have an impactful discussion on women serving in combat roles, we have to address this struggle that most military females face every day. Prior to accepting that those women can be Infantry, you have to acknowledge that females in the military are more than just flesh mattresses.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, the same stale arguments persist in both discussions.

Females Aren’t Held to the Same Standards

You know who else would like to see the same standards for males and females across all levels of service? Females that aren’t shitbags. The single largest obstacle female soldiers face is that they’re expected to perform to lower physical fitness standards. If a 19 year old male and a 19 year old female both ran the 2 mile portion of their APFT at 15:54, the male would have just barely passed with 60 points. The female would receive a whopping 96 points. This disparity causes resentment between the ranks, especially when its time to submit packets to the promotion board. Don’t get me wrong, after a late night of heavy drinking followed by gorging at Godfather’s Pizza, it’s nice to have almost 19 minutes to breeze through the two mile run. But women are fully capable of knocking out an 8 minute mile. These lower standards are sexist, and perpetuate the bullshit that women cannot hack it. We don’t want 76% of the pay, and we certainly don’t want to be held to 63% of the standard.

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They’re too Weak to Pull their Weight

Scientific studies have proven that men are almost always stronger than women. Reports show that males typically have 50% greater upper body strength and have greater overall muscle mass as a result of testosterone-induced muscular hypertrophy. They have tougher skin and stronger bones, tendons, and ligaments. The common talking point is that the strongest 10% of physically fit females are more frail than the weakest 10% of physically fit males. We are a sexually dimorphic species–No amount of “Girl Power” rhetoric will change that. Okay, so only a small percentage of women are able to bear a 100 lb combat load or fireman carry their battle buddy to safety. That said, of the total population of the United States, only 0.002% of American females join the military in the first place. As long as all applicants need to meet the same requirements, our modern concentrated force can be the best of both genders. My two cents: don’t be a misogynistic asshole, and let the standards sort it out.

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Having a Woman Around Hurts Male Camaraderie

I’ll bet you don’t fart, burp, tell raunchy jokes, walk around naked, swap sex stories, or wrestle in front of the ladies in your life, especially if you’re trying to get your dick wet. The truth is, many males in the military do all of these things around females downrange, along with chewing with their mouths open, talking about the size, shape, and texture of their poop, urinating on walls, and cutting their toenails in the office. Many female soldiers partake in these vulgar activities as well, especially in a male dominated combat environment. We are not all the delicate little flowers you think we are. To argue that embedded females would force males to create a more polite environment is to ignore the actual co-ed experiences observed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Additionally, unit cohesion and the bond of brotherhood come from shared experiences, not the ability to fart in front of your friends, which suggests that after a few shitty missions female infantrymen can be just as integrated as males.

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But Girl Parts are Icky…

Most men are under the impression that women need more hygiene than men, and that we couldn’t possibly go weeks without bathing in the field. Surveys show that four out of five women don’t shower every day, and over a third of women go three days or more without washing their body. A third of women don’t brush their teeth every day, and barely half take the time to wash their hands with soap after using the toilet. So think about that shit next time you meet up with a girl off Tinder for “coffee”. And what about yeast infections? Over 70% of women develop yeast infections regardless if they are in the field or at home. But while yeast infections can cause severe discomfort, they rarely cause serious health issues. In fact, if left untreated, most of these infections clear up on their own. A woman is not really a liability in the field due to the health of her hoohah.

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What about Shark Week? We can’t have a PMSing monster dripping blood all over the place; it would compromise the mission! It may surprise you to learn that many females do not experience their cycles downrange due to strategic usage of their birth control. The bleeding that occurs while you take the 7 inactive pills of the pack isn’t necessary for health. Birth control pills give us more control over our menstrual cycle, which is a great benefit in a combat zone. A female can ensure that she does not experience her period until a time that she is back at the FOB and her personal hygiene would not become an issue. Added bonus: birth control also protects us from getting knocked up.

Bears Can Smell Them

You got me there. But until the enemy rides onto the battlefield atop up-armored grizzlies, I think we’re safe.

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Well, shit.

Sexual Harassment and Assault

Few things are more disruptive in the military today than cases of sexual harassment and assault. The common belief is that if women are in infantry units more sexual assaults will occur; so in order to protect our fighting forces, we must remove the opportunity for grunts to be involved in sexual assault/harassment cases by not allowing them to be around women. This is a faulty premise. Sexual assault is not happening because of the surroundings, it is happening because of culturally accepted behavior.

Sexual assault is a crime that has no place in the United States Armed Forces. But somehow, it was considered acceptable behavior for a former XO to tell me, “if it were up to me, you’d be walking funny to work every morning, ifyaknowwhaddayemean”. It was perfectly normal for one of my coworkers to make lewd comments about my ass as he followed me up the stairs. It’s met with high fives when a male “accidentally” grabs a handful of my breasts during combatives. We’ve come to believe that giving female soldiers Surefire Defenders to protect themselves from the men they serve with is a satisfactory solution.

That is fucking bullshit.

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Acceptance of this organizational culture is the root of the issue. It shouldn’t be swept aside with an utterance of “boys will be boys”. The military is taking impressionable young males and teaching them that they’re entitled to a sexual experience simply by showing interest. Stop it. Just fucking stop it. Conversely, it’s not uncommon to overhear females gossiping about a male proposition, and how she’s going to use the situation for personal gain. There are, admittedly, females who file claims of sexual harassment or assault if they don’t get a career boost, or sometimes simply because they just don’t like the guy. This counterculture is equally responsible in creating a hostile work environment. The constant threat of a sexual harassment incident ruining your career is equally as disruptive to a unit as a lascivious comment. Stop that shit too. Filing sexual harassment and assault claims should be reserved for severe or pervasive incidences.

If salacious comments from another soldier made you feel uncomfortable, inform them that you want the unwelcome behavior to stop. Bring a witness or mediator if you need to. If you make bawdy statements to another soldier and they tell you to knock it off, knock it off. Sexual harassment and assault is a serious issue in the military, but keeping females and males separated in an attempt to solve the problem instead of pushing them act responsibly merely sustains the behavior that allows it to thrive.

All of these issues need to be addressed before we can even begin to contemplate female infantrymen. Yes, they are difficult with few ‘easy buttons’ but they are all far from insurmountable. So stop getting ahead of yourselves.

CM

Mad Duo, Breach-Bang& CLEAR!

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About the Authorcassandra_profile

Cassandra is an Iraqi War veteran with eight years of service under her belt. A conversational Arabic writer and former graphic designer, she spent her time in the Army as a propaganda *ahem* product producer in PSYOP. These days, this consummate nerd can be found making fun of people who only watched Game Of Thrones on TV instead of reading the books, taking copious notes during murderporn shows like “Snapped”, and winning hearts and minds in corporate America.

19 thoughts on “Are you a Bitch or a Slut? You Decide.

  • August 28, 2015 at 11:18 pm
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    I’m going to make a suggestion the Nuns gave females when I was in grade school.

    A male (Not going to call them a “man”) who keeps up uninvited sexual talk, innuendo, or actions is to do the following; talk sweet to them to draw them close then hit them in the crotch. Knee their nads, punch them in the junk, crush a testicle or two with a convenient blunt object.

    I don’t know if it will work on “sexual harassment” but sexual assault will go down, that’s for sure!

    Reply
  • August 28, 2015 at 7:01 pm
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    Blessings My Sister in Arms for Life.

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  • August 27, 2015 at 11:25 am
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    Great article, only, I can’t use it in a Law Enforcement atmosphere. To many “inflammatory” words and references. 30 years on the job and the days of speaking freely are OVER.

    Tell you the truth, I was concerned just having it up on my screen at work and reading it.

    THAT, my friends, is how ridiculous all this stuff has become….

    The women I work with want to be judged on their merits at the same performance levels as men, period. In fact, thier is more nit-wit male cops out there than females, IMHO. 🙂

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  • August 25, 2015 at 4:40 pm
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    I like this article. It pains me that you had to write it.

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  • August 25, 2015 at 10:32 am
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    However,6mos of full dedication pre training, well,none of the guys received this allowance.Kinda stackin the deck here.The Tab, It will always be there.They earned it….just with a stacked deck.

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  • August 25, 2015 at 10:32 am
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    Until we can put biology aside and stop being hormone fueled humans, adding females into the combat arms will cause (I FEAR) serious problems in the ranks! I saw what the introduction of Red Cross “Donut Dollies” did when dragged thru the forward basecamps in The Delta back in ’69…it was not pretty. Females in the actual unit will likely cause, intentionally or not, even more serious reactions among the grunts. Deprivation, stress,loneliness…you name the emotion …all lead to some reaction to a female in the unit. Hell, look at the problems in the regular REMF units! I see bad JUJU comin’ with this PC-driven issue.It will not bode well in the execution of the mission. I HOPE I’M WRONG BUT NOTHING SO FAR GIVES ME MUCH HOPE.

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  • August 22, 2015 at 10:44 am
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    No editor? okay…so read”AND that above above all you are not a sell out ticket punchin opportunist.”, as”prove above all , that you are are not a….”

    I type like ass.

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  • August 22, 2015 at 10:40 am
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    Great stuff “wink,wink”-haha….seriously though.

    Only the strong survive, IF selections are not compromised…then rock on.

    The battle does not stop there, once posted, you have to prove your metal, AND compatibility to team members, AND that above above all you are not a sell out ticket punchin opportunist.

    I say “you” as in any person(male or female), because in most cases highly specialized unit team integration isn’t all about standards, its about fit and acceptance….and trust.Thats just the tip if the iceberg , just how a person reacts to any taunts, just may make or break you.We have been conditioned from a young age(and also instinctually,I believe, when poor judgement could kill you or wipe out your tribe…)and the media to concentrate on differences rather then like traits.Negatives are focused on….but I digress.The show will go on regardless, once the money train gets rollin’…..though it seems to me, that if enough females truly wanted this, it would’ve happened before now.Man’s world?No, its PC world now, and the one thing that has always bugged me above all else ,is why so much noise is made by groups of people who will NEVER be directly involved the situation they are so ardent in promoting, ie; the consequences will never touch them.So, be careful what you wish for….

    Good luck ladies, and thanks for not getting all crossfit chick on this subject, and PMS might just come in handy when huns are at the gates.hmmmmmmm……

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  • August 21, 2015 at 11:30 pm
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    I’m for adding Sister to those choices.

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  • August 21, 2015 at 7:24 pm
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    Would like to see a similar article by a candid woman who served in the IDF.

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  • August 21, 2015 at 7:23 pm
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    Hilarious article, and good points, to boot.

    All the best from a fellow MISO expert. Airborne leaflet/speaker monkeys!

    -T

    Reply
  • August 21, 2015 at 3:45 pm
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    Very well written, I nearly lost it at “shark week”! I’m a retired tanker, and the only experience I had working with women actually in my unit was in recruiting. My CO was a linguist, and extremely good at getting guys to do anything and everything, with nothing more suggestive than a smile, and that sweet southern accent. The only girls I saw in a line unit were either medics, or truck drivers. They were both in what used to be 15th FSB- the medic was nicknamed Little Miss Makeup, and worked at what was then Killeen’s closest thing to Hooters, after hours of course. The other was a truck driver. Sweet girl, very good at her job. She really wasn’t much to look at eye to eye, but in Iraq guys would stop whatever they were doing to watch her walk by. She was good at getting guys to do stuff as well, but I never inquired as to the benefit. There may have been none, just a chance to talk to the fairer sex. Anyway, you hit the nail on the head, for both male and female. Professionalism needs to be made a priority again.

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  • August 21, 2015 at 2:54 pm
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    Nicely crafted wordsmithing my friend.

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  • August 21, 2015 at 12:55 pm
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    Awesome article! I’ve been around the military for over 10 years and have seen some of the treatment of women and how women act. Most just want to be validated and want to work hard and do their part…not be a pretty little princess in camo. <3 thanks for writing!!

    Reply
  • August 21, 2015 at 11:16 am
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    A really well thought-out article. It’s rare that I can’t think of a single point to take issue with, but you hit every nail in this discussion squarely. Great work.

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  • August 21, 2015 at 11:08 am
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    Awesome commentary. Keyboard drenched in coffee at “shark week”, but worth it. Have been closely following this discourse, and by far, this was the most intellectually based dissertation.

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  • August 21, 2015 at 10:58 am
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    Love this article! I agree with everything said here. Personally I feel that harassment and inequality are not strictly military issues. Sexual harassment and assault are absolutely inexcusable, but the punitive prohibition of anything which makes others uncomfortable can be just as damaging. I think any infantryman will tell you they have seen more naked male parts than an average hooker, hell after a PT session in silkies the entire platoon knows who has the biggest member. I was a sniper, we were all sure my spotter was gay, not a big deal to me, but a potential issue nonetheless. We would eat, sleep, live and work in close quarters due to the nature of our job. Spooning for body heat and showering with someone who might be checking you out the whole time takes some getting used to. Until we get to a place where any pair of grunts can live, eat, sleep, work and shower together then segregation will have to stayin place. During grappling I ended up with a handful, facefull and everything else of man junk and same with every other dude there. It wasn’t met with high fives, but some guys were given plenty of shit for, “enjoying grappling too much”. My point is women have breasts and they have butts and many men find those features attractive. If you have large breasts that hit you in the face during pt, I’m going to give you as much shit as I give the guy who the CO ordered never to wear silkies again (wardrobe malfunction near base housing). If that’s not what you signed up for combat arms isn’t for you.

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  • August 21, 2015 at 9:23 am
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    Nice article. I really enjoyed the points you made. Good to see some people from the PSYOP community making meaningful contributions. Hope to see more. Cheers! Win the Mind, Win the Day!

    Reply
  • August 21, 2015 at 9:04 am
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    Good article. I guffawed on “Shark Week”.

    Reply

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