Feminism Fatiguednby William MurchisonnWeak Link: The Feminization ofnthe American MiHtarynby Brian MitchellnChicago & Washington: RegnerynGateway; 232 pp., $17.95nThe feminist century — ours — isnmarkedly different from any periodnknown … I was going to say “tonman” but perhaps we don’t talk thatnway anymore. Events have transformednthe relationship of the sexes from one innwhich men occupied most leadershipnroles to one in which women makenlaws, rninister the sacraments, and directncorporate takeovers. Over the pastntwenty years, landmarks have beennswallowed up. The terrain is dreamlike:nfamiliar in its own way, and yet shroudednin mist. So quickly have the changesncome, so broadly,and deeply have theynpenetrated society, that we cannot completelyncomprehend what has been happening.nIt still startles, for instance, tonhappen on a book jacket bearing a titlenlike Weak Link: The Feminization ofnthe American Military. We all knownthat for the past couple of decadesnthere have been women in all branchesnof the military service, but we did notnknow — perhaps had not even thoughtnto wonder — whether the basic meaningnof military service had changed.nWe know in our hips, to borrownfrom Willmoore Kendall, that war isnabout death and suffering and heroismnand that none of this will be differentnshort of the Second Coming. Thus wenassume that the military, in assimilatingnwomen into its ranks, requires that theynlive up to the masculine requirementsnof strength and bravery. The thesis ofnBrian Mitchell’s valorous book — I’llnbe surprised if he isn’t lynched onnaccount of it — is that the military hasnfailed to keep in mind these realities:nthat it has downgraded performancenstandards in the name of equal jobnopportunity; that it is building a kinder,ngentler military that may or may notnpass the next test it faces.nAs recently as 1986, Ronald Rea­n34/CHRONICLESnREVIEWSngan’s secretary of the Army, John O.nMarsh, Jr., asserted that modern militarynvalues mirror “the ethic of ournpeople which denies any assertive nationalnpower doctrine and projects anlove and mercy to all.” Love! Mercy!nA fine theological duo, certainly, butnthe Army is not a seminary. Thenhuman consensus, from Homer tonPatton, is that the army’s job isnunlovingly to stomp the bejesus out ofnthe enemy.nSoldiering-as-a-man’s-job is one ofnthose antique prejudices we are instructednto shed in the last decade ofnthe feminist century: the military bureaucracynseems to have shed it almostncompletely. If you wonder how soldiersncan assert unsoldieriy things, remembernwho appropriates the money thenmilitary spends. Congress. Congress isndominated by political, ah, leaders dependentnon the support of the feministnlobby. The military knows on what sidenits bread is buttered. “Personnel,”nwrites Mitchell, who is a reporter fornthe Navy Times and a former infantrynofficer, “are required to attend equalnopportunity training during which EOnofficers preach the sanctity of sexualnequality and the folly and immoralitynof belief in traditional sex roles. Thendefinition of sexual harassment hasnexpanded to include the open expressionnof opposition to women in thenmilitary. Officers and senior enlistedsnare kept in check by their performancenreports; a ‘ding’ in the block that readsn’Support Equal Opportunity’ can havencareer-ending consequences.”nThe military still resists the introductionnof women into combat but hasnso narrowed the definition of “combat”nthat many female soldiers would bencaught up in the shooting should warnactually come. Meanwhile, the sisterhoodncontinues to campaign.in behalfnof the right of sisters to go into combat,nfrom which the patriarchy has so farnexcluded them. The question of malefemalenroles is one that society, out ofnembarrassment, hesitates to wrestlenwith. To raise it at all is to acknowledgenarchaic patterns of thought. Feministnsuccesses in sweeping aside employmentnbarriers have conditioned us tonnnbelieve that, for professional purposesnanyway, men and women are interchangeablenunits. If a man can stringntelephone wires or sew sutures, so canna woman.nThe Pope finds that fewer and fewernRoman Catholics listen patiently tonexplanations of why all priests are male.n(In the American Communion theynno longer are.) “Come on,” say advancednspirits, “what do you mean anwoman can’t say words over somenbread and some wine, same as a manncan say them?” The priesthood hasnbecome another affirmative actionnfrontier, along whose borders impatientncaravans are camped, awaiting only thensignal to enter. The military is notnunlike the priesthood in that it is ansexual vocation—of secular, not theological,ncharacter. Men are soldiers fornself-evident reasons, such as aggressivenessnand upper-body strength (simplynto leap from a foxhole, carrying a rifle,ntakes muscle).nHistory shows forth a few — a verynfew — female military leaders, like Boadiceanand Zenobia, but no feminizednarmies at all. The Amazons nevernexisted, and the Israelis, contrary to anfamiliar fabrication, employ militarynwomen largely as clerks, typists, nurses,nand so on. Never do Israeli women goninto combat.nOn what grounds, then, do we challengenthe concept of the man as warrior,nthe woman as tender of the homenfires? Ideological grounds, of course:nwhat women want, and these days it isna lot they want. Actually, as Mitchellnshows, feminists have divided motivesnin seeking to integrate the military.nSome want to show they’re as toughnand hard-bitten as any man (thoughnfew if any have achieved this). Othersnwant to sensitize the warmaking profession,nto make it more tender, morenegalitarian, more pacifistic, of allnthings. The Army’s male adjutant generalnrecently expressed the pious hopenthat among American warriors therenwould grow “sensitivity toward andnmore caring for one another.”nThe net result is the same . . . thensanding down of rough male edges, thensoftening of tone and substance. Veter-n