Letter: Wonder Women

Letter to the Editor

Where national defense is concerned, one wants to be careful about mixing politics with mission. Our nation’s culture wars have no place on the battlefield. 

With the exception of the periodic exceptional soldier, females don’t belong in line infantry combat units. Men and women were created different for a reason, current cultural politics notwithstanding. NY Times columnist David Brooks said as much when he suggested that respect for this difference is one of the “illiberal institutions” upon which cohesive families, communities and society are founded.

Israel (often cited in this discussion) is undergoing cultural shifts, affecting females in combat. Arguably the best example of a female fighting force presently is the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), whose women combatants make for a tough bunch. But these women became fighters by virtue of a desperate struggle for survival, involving the slaughter and rape of their kin at the hands of the enemy as well as the destruction of their homes, villages and country. Put our young women in a similar catastrophe and those that have the stuff would undergo a similar transformation. However, no amount of cultural politics is going to create Amazons out of America’s princesses, despite “Wonder Woman” hype.

The democratic vision of governance, of which the Kurdish YPG is a part, rests upon recognition of the profound differences between men and women and a deep respect for both. Not to mention traditional Kurdish institutions, many of which are predominantly “male” in makeup and character. It’s a very different situation in present-day America, where men and ‘male values’ are increasingly held in low esteem—if not outright scorn—and find themselves under pressure to conform to more sensitive, correct “female” values. 

But we are in a cultural revolution. Some see us as speeding toward ever-greater imbalances in our society. After all, those “wonder women” in the movie lived without men on an island, where their sole preoccupation appeared to be endless preparation for war. What does that dystopian vision—and the film’s overwhelming popularity—say about our society? Have we been kicked out of the Garden of Eden only to have this alt-female Sparta as our idea of paradise?

Jeff Denker