Richard Kemp wrote an excellent article on why women should not be engaged in direct combat. His argument was vilified. I would like to examine what it is that blinds so many to what is highly informed common sense

First, the concept of equal opportunities has become distorted and misused. Equal opportunities was about creating fairness, ensuring that people weren’t excluded from desirable jobs on the basis of age, disability, class or sex. But it derives its legitimacy not just from the principle of fairness but because it results in increasing the pool of talent and therefore is beneficial to the whole. Where the practice of equal opportunities is detrimental to the company or institution there is a system of exceptions which kicks into place.

However, in practice we seem to have lost sight of the greater whole.  Equal opportunities is now about promoting our own self-interest as if this were a sufficient goal. In fact, we are so focused on creating opportunities for individuals we hardly ever bother honestly to examine what impact this is having on the greater whole.  And equal opportunities cannot even be dignified by ideals of equality as it systematically ignores inequality where this occurs outside the target groups.

Where equal opportunities focuses only on our self-interest it is effectively infantilising those who it supports (mainly women) as it assumes we cannot move beyond an egocentric, childhood position where we refuse to see the greater whole. Women turn into wimmin, stamping their feet and whining “its not fair” until they get, as they invariably do, what they want.  A concept of equal opportunities based on self-interest will eventually lose its legitimacy if it loses sight of fairness and cannot be tempered by the needs of the organisation as a whole.

The other great plank in the eye is the extraordinary refusal to countenance the possibility that there are biological differences between men and women.  On one hand, this reflects an unfounded insecurity about the ability of competent women to get exactly where they want to be without any help. On the other hand it is so blatantly ideological it can only be preserved through the constant application of double think. Despite ascertaining that there are no biological differences, we are quite happy to go along with utterly specious propaganda that men are much more likely to rape, harass and assault. In the meantime the hard medical, biological and behavioural sciences, on which we are so dependent, assume sex differences and would not be able to carry out much of their analyses without them. And as Lady Corston demonstrates in her report advocating that women should  be treated better than men in prisons, we have no problem in drawing on biological differences when they fulfil our self-interested aims. And this is without even getting onto the most elementary discussions about thousands of years of evolution.

All this bodes very badly for the armed forces. They are probably one of the very few remaining institutions where those who join are motivated by a desire to contribute to the common good.  “Securing Britain in an uncertain world” is their current strapline.  But this moves well beyond the aspirations of idealists and do-gooders whose lofty aims drive them into taking well paid, prestigious jobs with nice pensions.  The soldier wishing to make a valuable contribution to society has to be  prepared to sacrifice his life.  What happens when this cornerstone of military participation is subordinated to an ideology where self-interest becomes the ultimate goal?

The military is also one of the few remaining arenas where masculine characteristics, which society seems so intent on diminishing, are sought after and positively valued. It reminds us that if men do have more aggression in them than women this evolved because ultimately it had a protective role.  It also reminds us that men have always been infinitely more prepared to sacrifice their lives than women, and if they weren’t we probably wouldn’t be here. Could we not have the generosity of spirit to recognise and reward this as a uniquely male role?

It is also the one remaining employer where physical strength is uniquely valued.  For me, as a carer, physical strength is one of the greatest assets a person can have. When my husband falls it is the young men on the estate, the ones who the police watch with CCTV cameras who come and pick him up.  However, instead of recognising how helpful a strong man would be for us we are issued with all kinds of very expensive, cumbersome equipment to ensure that if we do get carers even the most diminutive woman would be up to the task. I believe that if half the carers were recruited on the basis of physical strength the service would be positively transformed.  Surely in a context where people’s lives depend so directly and unavoidably on physical strength we might be prepared to recognise and value that men have a greater capacity for this  than women do?

These policies are ultimately motivated by female self-interest.  However we need to learn that self-interest is not always in keeping with the common good, and where it isn’t the common good should take priority. We need to learn to value self-sacrifice above self-interest.  Above all we need to trust men and acknowledge that they too have our interests at heart. If  we can’t do these things, we will live in a society where killing is regarded as an opportunity rather than a last resort and that would be to detriment of us  all.


  1. The question of whether women are as effective on the battlefield as men would surely be decided by the military themselves, but I believe there is a more practical reason to think that it’s a bad idea.

    Whenever troops are on the ground, some inevitably fall into enemy hands. If you recall the first Gulf War, a number of SAS men were held by the Iraqis and treated poorly. There were video tapes that clearly showed signs of beatings.

    What would happen if female soldiers were to fall into enemy hands? If the male soldiers re mistreated, it’s reasonable to assume that the females will be as well – and that probably means sexual assault and/or rape.

    The female soldiers may well argue that it is a risk that they are prepared to take and that it should be their decision, but I don’t think it would work out that way in practice.

    It’s much more likely that there would be public pressure to mount rescue operations, which would cost many more lives than leaving them in enemy custody until hostilities had ceased.

    • I think we should let them go to war and suffer. Pain and death are to be reserved for men only? And for the advantage of women only??? I thought ‘a woman can do anything a man can do’? Females have been shouting for EQUALITY EQUALITY EQUALITY! I say fine. Here is your rifle, try and stay alive. I’d let them do any of the nasty, hard and dangerous jobs that men do day in and day out, giving women the free time to nothing productive yet complain about how bad men are. Only then might females FINALLY come to realize the monument sacrifice men have made to give women the freedom to complain about the patently false concept of patriarchy.

      Be careful what you ask for…

        • I very much appreciate the writing, as a former soldier who served between 1975-1988 it was plainly evident that women were given privileges simply for being women, I could go into detail but the bottom line is that they are not capable of serving in combat situations and dealing with the physicality of what is required and would simply be a danger to their fellow soldiers.
          An article by a woman American Marine (Rank of Major) who got through the training wrote of her inability to keep up with her men in combat, she lost body mass and literally fell apart over a period of time, she wrote about it and should be applauded for doing so, and by the way she was in exceptional physical condition to start with. Her men didn’t loose body or muscle mass as she had, and on the whole they thrived on the situation.

    • Why do you not think that rape and sexual assault are not possibilities with male POWs? Or is it that you just don’t value men as much as women when it comes down to their suffering. The whole issue of equality shows it’s true colours when applied in the military. As it is feminists pushing this agenda, feminists should be made to go to war on an equal footing with the men, in a women only regiment. The only fighting they would do would be fighting to get back into the kitchen.

      • Lawrence of Arabia excepted, actual and potential prisoners of war (who, hitherto, were male) do not seem to have regarded sexual assault as a significant or likely threat to themselves.

        • Maybe that’s because men don’t have feminism to instil the fear of rapeor seal assault in them. They are ( and rightly so) more worried about being decapitated or executed.

      • No, I don’t value men less than women. The truth of the matter is that homosexual rape (not including child abuse) is extremely rare and to find a group of like-minded homosexuals all in charge of captured prisoners would be very unlikely indeed.

        I would agree with you that if there were reports that captured male prisoners were being raped then there would be pressure to mount risky rescue attempts, but it’s almost certainly never going to happen.

        Consider that, of all the thousands of stories of mistreatment of prisoners during WWII by both the Germans and the Japanese, there were no stories of rape of male prisoners. Had women been fighting as well, I expect it would have been very different.

        • Abu Ghraib? And that was what our side did to them! The majority of abuse was carried out by heterosexual men. It would be nice to think that this kind of thing was very rare. But the abuse was widespread, just not filmed and posted on the Internet often. You have a far more optimistic view of the capabilities of humans than I do.

  2. Excellent article, but it worries me that the implication is that women can pick and choose which bits of ‘Equality’ they want. You can almost hear them saying; ‘When we said we wanted equal treatment, we didn’t mean this!’
    And here’s the other thing, if females were coming home in body bags, on stretchers, minus limbs, in even a fraction of the number of male equivalents, there would be such an outcry, maybe it might wake people up to the obscenity of young people being put in harm’s way to satisfy the needs of a war-mongering, ruling political class.

  3. If we go back to chemistry basics, women lack in the totesterone department, the aggressive hormone. A womans place in a war is preventing it not physically fighting it. No patronisation intended. If it wasn’t for female influence we’d have killed eachother already.
    Female police officers in a lot of situations are superior to a lot of their male counterparts as firefighters not so much. What can’t be accepted by the hyper feminist faction is there is a difference and wonderous it is.

  4. Yes you’re right. The problem is that instead of actually paying attention to what people, even women, want, elites are ultimately deciding the greater good at the expense of individual liberty and that greater good as they see it is a feminist one where women are a whole lot more equal than men. That elite hardly allows individual women and men to work out what they want, we are so bombarded with feminist propaganda, let alone achieve it when we do. That is the problem with equal opportunities – it is all about the elite vision of an ideal society not individual self-interest. I need to re-think what I have written. Thank you Fred.

  5. I think you are right. I realised after reading it that it is of course feminists who are the elites that are ultimately deciding what that greater good is (and it is a feminist one where women are more equal than men) and they are doing this in a way where we are so bombarded with propaganda that we can hardly, as individual women and men, identify what our self interest is let alone pursue it. I think I got things the wrong way round and had I had this insight before I wrote the article I think I would have written it rather differently. Thank you Fred.

    • Thanks Belinda. The complete divorcing of classical liberalism from progressive Democratic ideology has left conservatives carrying the only torch for liberty in the modern body politic. I personally repudiate the tyranny of the majority in whatever particular form its taking, but I’m a realist in that I see conservatives are the last dominant political ally standing for first principles.

      Keep writing and keep carrying the light.

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