This week NPR reported that a military commission is ready to recommend a policy that would allow female soliders to participate in ground combat. Though there are currently hundreds of thousands of women serving in the U.S. military, they are still barred from participating in ground “nose-to-nose combat.” This restriction leads to a further imbalance of power in the highest levels of the military, since combat success is often the swiftest and most direct way to move up in the ranks. There’s a fierce debate about whether or not lifting this restriction will help or hurt women in the military; some people argue that telling women they have the chance of being drafted into combat will lower female recruitment numbers — but yeah, we don’t buy that either. Personally, we salute this comment on the NPR story, written by a (male) former infantry soldier:
Women are and have been just as capable as men to lead, operate and survive in adverse situations. This is a debate between an ‘Old Guard’ and a more progressive and responsible force. What are we so afraid of? Anybody that is willing and able to volunteer should have the chance. Those with limitations be it physical or mental will not make it. It’s that simple.
This week in Dismantling Stereotypes about Feminists Being Unlovable Shrews, Tracy Clark-Flory at Salon interviews Stephanie Coontz, author of a new book about the cultural impact of The Feminine Mystique. Coontz makes the claim that feminism has actually benefited the institution of marriage, and that marriages that cling to the sharply defined gender roles of the past are today statistically more likely to end in divorce — all of which feels like an invigorating gust of fresh air given the soul-killing ubiquity of the Real Housewives franchise. The whole interview is full of insight about the changing definitions of marriage, feminism and masculinity. Coontz observes that, overall, in the last few decades,
[M]arriage has become much fairer. It’s also become much more satisfying for men and women, when it works. On the other hand, there’s a lot less support for the new model of marriage — which is that women as well as men should be breadwinners, and that men as well as women should be nurturers. Our whole political system, job structures and social expectations around work are based on the idea that the person who works will be totally available and will have someone else to take care of obligations. So, women end up trying to go back and forth between the roles, and men don’t really get access to both.
Speaking of Salon and Clark-Flory, we’ve got to discuss something that continued to reverberate through the blogosphere this week: Salon’s announcement that it was shutting down its popular feminist blog, Broadsheet. It’s undoubtedly a bummer, and many readers’ immediate assumptions were that Salon was either cutting the page because they didn’t value the importance of feminist journalism – or they were finally retreating from the controversy that it, like any feminist blog under a mainstream masthead, often incited (“no feature in Salon’s history kicked up the amount of righteous dust and ad hominem rage as Broadsheet,” they noted in its eulogy. Figures.) The full explanation paints a less sensational (though still pretty discouraging) picture: Broadsheet was Clark-Flory’s one-woman show, and now she’s interested in covering other beats. (To which we say, Salon: can’t you just hire another writer or two to take it over? I know these two writers with a feminist blog in DC; they’re not bad…) It’s an interesting parable about both the function of feminist blogs in mainstream media outlets and the perceived “limitations” of being seen as “only” a feminist journalist. Still, Clark-Flory’s done great work with Salon (and, as mentioned above, her great interview with Coontz makes us think she’ll still be covering the topics we read Broadsheet for), and we wish her the best of luck in the future.
Finally, we’d be poor record keepers – as well as failed proponents of over-sharing – if we didn’t amend yesterday’s post on diary-keeping with this important video. Feminist diary enthusiasts: we can assure you that this board game is worth every penny of that $1 that you paid for it in that thrift store in suburban Maryland. Or wherever SOMEONE might HYPOTHETICALLY pick it up and obsess over it for several secret-sharing-filled weeks in 2007. Or, you know, 2011.