The US Marine Corps came under fire on Memorial Day after Vox published an article that criticized the branch of a “toxic masculinity” issue.
Penned by Alex Ward, the article crafted a narrative that insinuates how the US Marine Corps needs to have a “come to Jesus” moment with its own perception of masculinity and needs to make changes to its culture in the aftermath of the Marines United scandal.
Coming down on a US Marine advertisement in which a female Marine was shown going through the transformation of adolescent to combat veteran and community leader, Ward claimed that the “commercial’s protagonist was shown serving in the infantry,” citing the challenges all four female Marine Infantrymen face in a culturally hostile environment.
“Historically, only men have served in the infantry in any military service,” Ward said. “As of today, only four women serve in the Marine infantry. Not 4 percent. Four, total. But the commercial -and the opening of combat roles to women- fits in with the cultural changes the Defense Department implemented during the Obama years. Those changes, though, are hard for some in the Marine Corps to accept. The Marine Corps needs to change. It doesn’t want to.”
“The Obama administration opened the door for women to serve in combat roles. The unhappiest service about that order? The Marine Corps,” he added. “In September 2015, Gen. Joseph Dunford was the top Marine, and he recommended women be excluded from some of those combat roles. (Dunford is now the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.) Mattis, before he was nominated to be defense secretary, questioned whether women should join the infantry.”
However, the woman portrayed in the ad, an interesting fact confirmed by “Marine Corps Recruiting” YouTube moderator Gunnery Sergeant Justin Kronenberg:
“This is not ‘Social Justice Warrior’ stuff – just warrior stuff,” he wrote. “The Marine Captain protagonist of the film is not being portrayed as an infantry officer- she’s being portrayed as a logistics officer, which she is. She’s portrayed reacting under fire like all Marines are trained to do, which she’s done in real life, in a real firefight. Her story, service and dedication to our country is no less than any of yours because she happens to be a woman. We are recruiting those who share our fighting spirit, and who also meet our higher-than-ever standards and requirements. If that doesn’t describe you, then you can probably find better ways to spend your time instead of posting comments on a recruiting-specific social media page.”
While it is true that the US Marines put up the most resistance when the mandate of integrating women into combat roles was put on the table, it was not mere “sexism” that drove the decision- studies conducted by the USMC had shown that women were not only more prone to injuries frequently sustained conducting infantry operations, their overall performance -and the performance of the mixed gender units they were a part of- suffered greatly compared to all-male units.
When one runs a business, does one willingly hire lower-performing employees over top-scoring ones for the sake of diversity, thus affecting the bottom line for some skewed sense of “the greater good?”
Keep in mind that this resistance came at a time where Marines feared that integration of lower-performing female infantrymen would be forced into infantry units, thus lowering the standards. While this has apparently happened in the Army Infantry, the total of *four* female Marine infantrymen out of many candidates speaks volumes to the Corps’ stalwart defense of maintaining the standard.
Furthermore, despite Ward’s claim of “the identity crisis of a historically macho club now being forced to let in women” as the source of behavior such as the Marines United scandal speaks of aforementioned scandal as if it represents every Marine. The issue -which likely has taken place since the first foot soldier carried a rolled up parchment sketch of a nude woman whom he loved/was slighted by- was perpetrated by Marines of multiple nationalities and states of service in a private Facebook group. The actions of a few may cause repercussions for everyone, but the Marines United group no more represents the Marine Corps than Vietnam-era Mai Lai massacre mastermind Second Lieutenant William Calley represents anyone who went through Officer Candidate School.
At this point, there isn’t even any point to further eviscerating Ward’s claims- in addition to not understanding the point of the commercial he was criticising, he failed to understand that there is more to the resistance towards women in combat roles than taking down a “NO GIRLS ALLOWED” sign from the combat unit clubhouse. In a field where performance quite literally separates one from a shallow hillside grave marked with one’s own rifle and helmet, it is completely understandable that infantry troops -Army or Marines- would resist bringing in a factor that has statistically proven to perform at lower capacity- with rare exceptions. In light of those exceptions, Marines have adapted, because…well, that’s what Marines do when they are presented with a change in tempo.
Ultimately, Ward’s lowest and most unforgivable blow is was his timing- by allowing the release of the Op-Ed on a day of remembrance such as Memorial day, Ward metaphorically managed to urinate on the graves of –at the very least– 44,540 Marines (and counting) who gave their lives since the birth of this great Republic.
In one fell swoop, Ward managed to take a self-righteous agenda -no matter how well-meaning he meant to be- and remind us all that there is such thing as a “time and place” for such discussions.
Memorial Day was neither the time nor the place.
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