A Few Good Women

by W.F. Price on July 8, 2012

A female marine who deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan makes a case against women in USMC combat units, bringing both humanitarian and practical arguments to bear. The female marine, Captain Katie Petronio, lays it out with brutal honesty, including “We Are Not All Created Equal” in the title:

As a young lieutenant, I fit the mold of a female who would have had a shot at completing IOC, and I am sure there was a time in my life where I would have volunteered to be an infantryman. I was a star ice hockey player at Bowdoin College, a small elite college in Maine, with a major in government and law. At 5 feet 3 inches I was squatting 200 pounds and benching 145 pounds when I graduated in 2007. I completed Officer Candidates School (OCS) ranked 4 of 52 candidates, graduated 48 of 261 from TBS, and finished second at MOS school. I also repeatedly scored far above average in all female-based physical fitness tests (for example, earning a 292 out of 300 on the Marine physical fitness test). Five years later, I am physically not the woman I once was and my views have greatly changed on the possibility of women having successful long careers while serving in the infantry. I can say from firsthand experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, and not just emotion, that we haven’t even begun to analyze and comprehend the gender-specific medical issues and overall physical toll continuous combat operations will have on females.


I was the senior Marine making the final decisions on construction concerns, along with 24-hour base defense and leading 30 Marines at any given time. The physical strain of enduring combat operations and the stress of being responsible for the lives and well-being of such a young group in an extremely kinetic environment were compounded by lack of sleep, which ultimately took a physical toll on my body that I couldn’t have foreseen.

By the fifth month into the deployment, I had muscle atrophy in my thighs that was causing me to constantly trip and my legs to buckle with the slightest grade change. My agility during firefights and mobility on and off vehicles and perimeter walls was seriously hindering my response time and overall capability. 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. I understand that everyone is affected differently; however, I am confident that should the Marine Corps attempt to fully integrate women into the infantry, we as an institution are going to experience a colossal increase in crippling and career-ending medical conditions for females.

It really is tragic when a woman loses the chance to be a mother, just as it is terrible when a man is stripped of his fatherhood by an evil, uncaring state.

One of the potential consequences of feminism I hadn’t thought of was that women will not only be led down the primrose path in regards to becoming a mother, but will be physically or chemically prevented from doing so by the state. For example, I have been wondering what women who just started serving on submarines have been required to do while deployed, as an onboard pregnancy could easily be fatal to a mission. Submarines remain submerged for months on end, and a woman who found herself pregnant on the ship could force the submarine to surface for a medical evacuation if there were complications, thereby compromising stealth and ruining the entire mission.

I am almost certain that females who deploy are coerced into taking chemical birth control – either officially or not – which should be a cause for great concern. Trends tend to start with innocuous precedent, and we could well see such practices expand from the military to society in general.

My main argument against women in the military has centered around waste. The military is a necessary evil that should be as efficient as possible, and no larger than necessary. Making it an equal opportunity employer will introduce bloat and inefficiency, forcing the rest of us to pay more than we should for an institution that at best serves an ambiguous greater good.

However, it appears that there is more to be concerned about than simple inefficiency and waste. We are creating a model for a dystopian, and probably dysgenic, form of reproductive control in our own armed forces, and using women’s bodies for tasks that nature never intended. It’s pretty sick, when you think about it.

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