Marine Corps group under fire for honoring essay that advocates infantry ban for women
The Marine Corps Association is coming under fire for giving its top essay award to an argument in favor of banning women from serving in the infantry, War Is Boring reports.
The winner of the Marine Corps Association’s 2013 Major General Harold W. Chase writing contest was Captain Lauren Serrano, for an essay entitled, “Why Women Do Not Belong in the U.S. Infantry,” in which she argued that women have no place there because it’s a boys’ club where “men…raging with hormones…and easily distracted by women and sex…fart, burp, tell raunchy jokes, walk around naked, swap sex stories, wrestle and simply be young men together.”
Such an environment, Capt. Serrano argued, “promotes unit cohesion,” and thereby serves a vital function “in both garrison and combat environments.” She then claimed that the only forces that readily include women are those in countries engaged in an existential struggle for survival — like the Kurdish Peshmerga or the Israeli Defense Force.
The award is supposed to recognize “articles that challenge conventional wisdom by proposing change to a current Marine Corps directive, policy, custom or practice,” and authors “must have strength in their convictions and be prepared for criticism from those who would defend the status quo.”
But as Edward Carpenter — himself an active duty Marine — noted, Capt. Serrano’s article “article doesn’t challenge conventional wisdom. Instead it backs the old guard’s deeply entrenched position that women — like blacks and gays before them — have no place in the infantry.”
“The idea that women don’t belong in the infantry is just the latest variation of an old notion,” Carpenter continued. “By the same thinking, women don’t belong in the voting booth, in public office, in the military, in aircraft, on spacecraft, on ships, in submarines. Having run out of places to attempt to exclude women—because they seem to thrive wherever they get a chance—Serrano ignores the legacy of fearsome female fighters, from Joan of Arc to Lyudmila Pavlichenko.”
Capt. Serrano’s most egregious claim, however, is that the women should be excluded from the infantry in order to avoid sexual assault and harassment because adjudicating such claims is an expensive nuisance.
“I can personally attest to the harm sexual assault/harassment has on any unit,” she wrote. “Every time there is a report of sexual assault/harassment, several Marines have to dedicate important man-hours to resolving the issue. The special courts-martial I sat on required approximately 15 Marine officers to dedicate an entire week to the court-martial, putting a hold to all matters pertaining to their primary job.”
She concluded by arguing that “[i]f women are part of infantry units, it will be a matter of when, not if, more sexual assault cases will happen.”
As Carpenter noted, “[t]he way to prevent sexual assault and harassment is not to attempt to blame the victims, to keep men and women separate and unequal. The solution it is to educate all service members, male and female alike, create a culture of respect and consent and absolutely crush under the full weight of military justice anyone proved guilty of breaking our shared ethos.”