Sunday, August 11, 2013

Captain Petronio On Differences Between The Sexes

Keeping with the theme of the previous post, I revisited this very well-written article on women in combat.  There's no substitute for the article itself, but in a nutshell, Captain Petronio acknowledges that there are women who are physically qualified to meet Marine combat standards, herself included, but she questions the female's endurance ability over long periods of time while also pointing out higher attrition rates for females even during training.  Regarding combat:  
It was evident that stress and muscular deterioration was affecting everyone regardless of gender; however, the rate of my deterioration was noticeably faster than that of male Marines and further compounded by gender-specific medical conditions. At the end of the 7-month deployment, and the construction of 18 PBs later, I had lost 17 pounds and was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (which personally resulted in infertility, but is not a genetic trend in my family), which was brought on by the chemical and physical changes endured during deployment. Regardless of my deteriorating physical stature, I was extremely successful during both of my combat tours, serving beside my infantry brethren and gaining the respect of every unit I supported. Regardless, I can say with 100 percent assurance that despite my accomplishments, there is no way I could endure the physical demands of the infantrymen whom I worked beside as their combat load and constant deployment cycle would leave me facing medical separation long before the option of retirement.
Regarding training:
This said, we need only to review the statistics from our entry-level schools to realize that there is a significant difference in the physical longevity between male and female Marines. At OCS the attrition rate for female candidates in 2011 was historically low at 40 percent, while the male candidates attrite at a much lower rate of 16 percent. Of candidates who were dropped from training because they were injured or not physically qualified, females were breaking at a much higher rate than males, 14 percent versus 4 percent. The same trends were seen at TBS in 2011; the attrition rate for females was 13 percent versus 5 percent for males, and 5 percent of females were found not physically qualified compared with 1 percent of males.
If life were simple and human beings weren't complex creatures, it might actually be the case that  the only differences between men and women really were just superficial.   But scratch the surface, apply some thought and look a little more closely.  One can fit square pegs into round holes, but there's a cost.  Something gets destroyed in the process. 

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