WASHINGTON -- More than half of female Marines in boot camp can't do three pullups, the minimum standard that was supposed to take effect with the new year, prompting the Marine Corps to delay the requirement, part of the process of equalizing physical standards to integrate women into combat jobs.
The delay rekindled sharp debate in the military on the question of whether women have the physical strength for some military jobs, as service branches move toward opening thousands of combat roles to them in 2016.
Although no new timetable has been set on the delayed physical requirement, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos wants training officials to "continue to gather data and ensure that female Marines are provided with the best opportunity to succeed," Capt. Maureen Krebs, a Marine spokeswoman, said Thursday.
Starting with the new year, all female Marines were supposed to be able to do at least three pullups on their annual physical fitness test and eight for a perfect score. The requirement was tested in 2013 on female recruits at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C., but only 45 percent of women met the minimum, Krebs said. [...]
Because the change is being put off, women will be able to choose which test of upper-body strength they will be graded on in their annual physical fitness test. Their choices:
Officials said training for pullups can change a person's strength, while training for the flex-arm hang does little to adapt muscular strength needed for military tasks.
- Pullups, with three the minimum. Three is also the minimum for male Marines, but they need 20 for a perfect rating.
- A flexed-arm hang. The minimum is for 15 seconds; women get a perfect score if they last for 70 seconds. Men don't do the hang in their test.
So, let's get this straight. Both men and women have to do three pullups as the minimum standard to pass their annual physical fitness test--but more than half the women couldn't do that. So now women can choose, instead, to do a flexed-arm hang for a minimum of 15 seconds, but men don't get that option. If a woman can do eight pullups, she gets a perfect score--but a man doesn't get a perfect rating unless he can do twenty pullups.
But we have been constantly told by a cadre of feminists that the only reason women have traditionally not been allowed to hold certain combat roles is gender bias and discrimination, not because women generally (as opposed to a handful of freakishly strong women) don't have the physical strength needed to survive in these roles. So why the different standards?
As I see it, the only gender bias and discrimination going on here is aimed at the men, who are being told they must do the three-pullup minimum--no arm-hang option for them--and that they can only get a perfect rating if they do twenty pullups, which is more than double the number women must do for a perfect rating.
So, if the military is going to push for a true gender-blindness, then they have only two choices: make the standards for women exactly as hard as the standards for men, or make the standards for men exactly as easy as the standards for women.
If the military does the first, then not that many women are going to be able to qualify for combat roles, let alone handle combat roles long-term, and the supposed benefits of being able to serve in combat and earn promotions based on that experience will never materialize.
If the military does the second, then soon practically every man will qualify for perfect scores and ratings on the dumbed-down physical fitness tests which will help their career advancement in the military as well.
The only way the military can bend to the whims of those who desire to see it used for a social experiment that pretends to increase the equality of men and women is to engage in active and even punitive discrimination against men, forcing them to achieve standards and perform at levels their female counterparts will never, ever be asked to match. And the men will know this, which will, some say, create a predictable effect on troop cohesion and morale.