However, you'll see that I'm not really as brave as that sounds, because I'm publishing this here rather than at the more heavily trafficked W4. Comments moderation is also turned on here.
On this Memorial Day, I'm not willing to "remember our men and women in the military who have fallen." I'm willing to remember our men who have fallen, especially those who have fallen in just and justified wars (such as WWII). But today we're remembering warriors. And women shouldn't be warriors. If they are, they shouldn't be. Locutions like "our men and women in the military" signal an acceptance of women in the role of warrior, and I will not use them. It signals this even more when one is talking about women who have been killed, because getting killed is one of those things that are especially likely to happen in the military because, y'know, people are fighting.
I'm sure that during the days when men and women were strictly segregated in the armed forces and women had a much, much lesser and strictly ancillary role, there were women who got killed. Probably nurses, especially, were not all that far from the scene of action in many wars and were at some risk, and I'm sure some did get killed. Nonetheless, no one thought in the 1960's that if you remembered "our men in uniform" or "the men who have died for our freedom" you were "disrespecting" some nurse in a field hospital who got killed in WWI. This is because that "remembering" was related to men qua warriors, and no one expected us to talk as if women are also warriors.
Now, it is an unfortunate fact that our government, from the Carter administration on, has increasingly used women in warrior roles. This use was expanded in the Clinton administration, and GWB did not reverse those uses. To all intents and purposes, women are now serving in combat roles. I'm quite sure that someone will argue that to refuse to use the phrase "our men and women in the military" or "our men and women who have died" is to deny reality. But I disagree. Such phrases have more than one function. They do not simply function to acknowledge the present situation but also to fix it in place, to treat it as normal and even normative. They signal acceptance and a refusal to disapprove.
And I won't do that.
So today, I remember the men who have died for our freedom in great and necessary wars of the past.