Sunday, March 25, 2007

Military Personae

In a March 24, 2007 article in the Toronto Globe and Mail, Camille Paglia, who I very much admire, wrote about women seeking political power in the United States, and the great need for women to incorporate a military persona. Making reference to Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, she argues:

This profound play, which sympathizes with the fabled lovers even while it
condemns them for their lack of realism, convinced me of the necessity for
politically ambitious women to study military history and strategy. I argued
this position, with little effect, from the early 1990s on, when feminists, in
my view, were too consumed with domestic social welfare issues and with women's
studies courses that preached male-bashing and female victimhood.

The U.S. president is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Hence
the first woman president, especially after 9/11, must have military expertise.
After she was improbably elected a senator for the first time seven years ago,
Hillary Clinton shrewdly got herself appointed to the Armed Services Committee.
This is the new feminism. The path to power for women lies through male

If we think in biological and evolutionary terms, what is the function of the male, beyond supplying his DNA to the female in order to insure continual variation in the characteristics of offspring, and thereby enhance the survival of the species? Apart from our role in fertilization, our function is to stand between the female and her young on the one hand, and the dangers of the outside world on the other. This is the basic military function, defense, maintenance of boundaries (as I have said on previous occasions, the medium is the membrane). The bottom line is that we sacrifice ourselves in order to buy time, and space, for the young to find safety. We are there to take the first hit, stop the bullet, face the predator, serve as a shield. Hector of Troy is the archetype, not Achilles running amok. The military is, or ought to be, about facing death, rather than dealing death.

Can women play the same role? Of course. In fact, if men are the first line of defense, women traditionally served as the second, putting themselves in harm's way to protect the children who represent the future of the race. But this is not to say that women would approach the role in the same way as men. Perhaps one difference can be found in the famous remark Golda Meir, who led the State of Israel in war, made to Anwar Saddat just before the peace talks began: "We can forgive you for killing our sons. But we will never forgive you for making us kill yours."

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