Women on submarines

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Let women serve on submarines, Navy is told


WASHINGTON - A Pentagon civilian advisory panel has recommended that the Navy allow women to serve aboard submarines, one of the last areas of the military that remain the exclusive preserve of men.

The recommendation is a landmark in the debate about the role of women in the military.

The Navy argues that submarines have too little room to accommodate women's privacy needs, though it has permitted women to serve aboard most combat ships - including aircraft carriers - since 1994.

The only other areas off-limits to women are front-line combat positions in the Army and Marine Corps, such as tank and artillery crews.

The Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services said the Navy should begin by assigning female officers to Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, the "boomers" that roam the oceans armed with nuclear-tipped missiles. It did not suggest including female enlisted sailors.

In the longer term, the Navy should redesign its smaller Virginia-class attack submarines to accommodate mixed crews, the committee said.

"The submarine service is an elite, prestigious force that requires the brightest and best-qualified work force," the panel wrote in its recommendation to Navy Secretary Richard Danzig and Adm. Jay Johnson, chief of naval operations. "Navy women are highly capable and competitive and would volunteer for submarine duty."

The panel members, appointed by the secretary of defense to advise on issues related to women's role in the military, made their recommendations after a two-year study and consultation with the Navy on its objections to ending the traditional ban on women serving aboard submarines.

"We think the Navy needs to open this up," Vickie McCall, chairwoman of the advisory panel, said in an interview. "There are women who would really like to be on a submarine."

Danzig said he welcomed the panel's conclusions. "The logical next step is to encourage the submarine community to - as dispassionately as possible - evaluate both parts of that and talk about it," Danzig said in a brief interview yesterday.

Many defense officials believe it is unlikely that the Navy will act on this politically sensitive issue before next year, at the earliest.

Last June, Danzig caused a stir in the Navy by telling members of the Naval Submarine League that it was time that they came to grips with the need to include women and to broaden opportunities for minority sailors.

Johnson has opposed including women on submarine crews, mainly on the ground that it would be impractical to meet both sexes' privacy needs. His spokesman, Capt. Jim Kudla, said yesterday that Johnson had not changed his view.

The Navy has estimated that to redesign the Virginia-class attack submarines to accommodate sex-integrated crews would cost an extra $4 million per submarine. The Virginia-class subs are under construction and are due to begin entering service in 2004.


-- - (x@xxx.com), May 05, 2000


Women on subs with men? Wow. Where can I sign up? Just joking.

I for one think that the Navy should keep either the subs all male, or have a sub specific to women. If a woman were to be put on a sub, and the sub were to have to perform their duties, would this be the same as putting a woman on the front line? What about any late night romances that may bloom, after all it is just men and women. The Navy might experience a higher rate of birth to the females that are on the subs. From what I have been told, the men on the subs usually have a higher divorce rate due to the stress and pressures of being away for so long. I wonder if adding females to the crews would increase the stress? Well, maybe not initially *grin*, but in the long term, I would think that it could have some impact on family matters.

But man oh man, could you imagine a sub full of women? PMS would be hitting somewhere on that sub at all times of the month. Yikes!

-- (Sheeple@Greener.Pastures), May 05, 2000.

I've been on a sub and they are small cramped shoe boxes. Of course it was on a retired sub in Mobile Bay. Me being six foot made it even smaller. Banged my head a buncha times. An all female crew might not be a bad idea. They are smaller than men. There is so little room though, thier boobs might get in the way.

-- Outta beer (East of the smoke stack@usa.here), May 05, 2000.

I don't see what the fuss is about myself. If quarters are so close, I assume this means that bathrooms/showers, etc. are very small [as in one person at a time?] If not, does it really take 4 million dollars to throw up some privacy screens? I would think that the few women who might be affected by things like PMS would pale in comparison to the folks who might be affected by claustrophobia.

Pregnancy issues can be dealt with by proper birth control and psychological screening for folks inclined to think that when a man and woman are placed in a small environment for a long enough time they will automagically be sexually attracted to each other.

-- Anita (Anita_S3@hotmail.com), May 05, 2000.

This is a recipe for all sorts of problems. It's stressful enough being away from one's wife for long periods of time. Fortunately the surface guys occasionally get some "R&R" in foreign ports along the way. Not so for the underwater guys. Now, introduce a few females who will undoubtedly end up trysting with certain lucky crew members. Now how about all the other horny guys? TROUBLE, big-time! Our military crews are supposed to be ready at all times to tangle-ass with the enemy, not be pitted against each other.

Sheeple - Your PMS observation is incorrect. When women are cooped up in close quarters together, their cycles naturally synchronize due to Pheremones. It might be hell for a few days, but the rest of the month wouldn't be so bad.

-- Klicker (klicker@keys.to.klick), May 05, 2000.


Maybe we could develop that potential into a devestating force to be reckoned with!

-- flora (***@__._), May 05, 2000.

Given the cramped quarters, I would think the smaller stature of women would be an advantage.

A nuclear sub costs $2 billion. $4 million is two-tenths of one percent of the cost.

-- (retired@and.happy), May 05, 2000.

When I was 6-8 yrs old, we used to play "doctor" AND "Naked Army". We almost always got shot in the same place and we would need a "nurse" to fish around and find the bullet. Those were the days...

I would bet all my rice and beans that somebody will play "Naked Navy" too.

But on the serious side. I think there is an effort to degrade our military, and I don't mean that to say that women are less than men, but we each have our strengths and weaknesses, and the military is not the place for a social experiment.

-- KoFE (your@town.USA), May 05, 2000.

I'm always the champion of women, but on this one, I think women on subs is a bad idea.

-- gilda (jess@listbot.com), May 05, 2000.

I'm with Gilda on this one, I too think women belong in the kitchen. And can you imagine the catfighting on a sub? Those poor guys are doomed...

And when the women go menstrual, where in the world can the guys run off to???? NOWHERE, THEY WILL BE TOAST!

Just kidding.

-- FactFinder (FactFinder@bzn.com), May 05, 2000.

As long as they are willing to go down, it'll be OK.

-- A (A@AisA.com), May 07, 2000.

"The submarine service is an elite, prestigious force that requires the brightest and best-qualified work force," ...

Over 50% of the population is female. What a total waste not to include them. When I read things like this I realize how many opportunities my daughters still don't have. AND ... I realize how much the world loses by limiting their choices.

Privacy issues? I agree with Anita. I don't see it as a 4 million dollar problem. If indeed the best and the brightest are aboard these subs then a simple "turn your head" should suffice.

As far as PMS goes the cycles of the women would indeed become synchronized. In this respect women have a better understanding of the reality that "we are all one".

Rather than saying that PMS is a "curse" we might be better served to ask, "when is a curse not a curse"?

We already know that medical science is inclined to collect and interpret its results so as to favor the particular conditions of masculine physiology and psychology. I believe that the result is a picture and an atmosphere that is manipulative of women, and prejudicial to their self-realization.

To get a three-dimensional look at the problem, one must look at it in three ways - then join them up. The result is like a howl back circuit!

First, there is how the woman feels in herself at the time of the menstruation end of her cycle. Second, there is the effect that her changes may have upon other people. Third, there is the way society may pay her back for these real or imagined disturbances. Finally, does this sequence bite its tail, so to speak, and does the social attitude to menstruation actually affect the way the woman feels in herself? The way to break the circle is to change the attitude. Researchers are beginning to find that the most enduring improvement for PMS can only be achieved by introducing new insights so that the woman begins to modify her own self-image.

How she feels in herself ... Am I simply a hormone-robot to be corrected in my disorder by some technologically complex but clinically simplistic pill? Or am I a webwork of psychological energies of which disease is a last-resort language, or a slave- language of riot after repression? Is this devaluing attitude to our femininity, this encouragement to self-disgust, this eternal and inherent invalidism we are offered - is this derogation itself a cause of the trouble?

How she influences people around her ... There is no evidence that men have cycles of their own, but there is plenty of evidence that as adults they are influenced by the menstrual cycles of their women, and, when children, of their mothers. It would be very surprising if they were not so influenced, but unfortunately, for the main part the effect is made unconscious, since the subject of menstruation is simply swept under the carpet, and given no significance. It is a most unwelcome idea to many men, that in this sense they are really "one flesh" with women. Slang terms for the period reflect social usage and individual experience. Impoverishment of common words for the period impoverishes our thinking about it and keeps men and women separate.

How society rewards her ... the woman is treated as a scientist treats a dangerous piece of radioactive material. Radioactive elements are never touched, since their power would burn. Protective clothing is needed, lead-sheathed rooms, sealed laboratories fitted with remote-controlled tongs. Similarly with the woman at her period. We know also of radioactivity that it is the basic, archaic power of the universe. It is terribly destructive if incorrectly handled. Nevertheless, hydrogen fusion in the solar system created the planets, and the radiation from our star, which comes from processes which are utilized in the hydrogen bomb, created life on our planet, and feeds us all day by day in the food-chain beginning with photosynthesis. I'd like to suggest that the analogy is worth following through, since an acknowledgement of paradoxical benefit and danger is also the characteristic of menstrual taboos.

The particular rise of instinct at menstruation is powerful; it is the opposite experience to the maternal feelings at ovulation. Women are the mediators between life and death. One does not bother to tie up a puppy with a steel cable unless they sensed this to be true.

The lifting of the "curse" ... The principle technique required, by both sexes, is a change of attitude. Joseph Campbell in his great mythographical history speaks of the Odyssey of "the long return ... to the realm of those powers and knowledges which ... has been waiting unattended, undeveloped, even unknown, in that "other mind" which is woman.

As a mother I know my daughters have the ability to change this world for the better, I suspect fathers know that too.

-- Debra (...@....), May 07, 2000.


How does all this relate to the advisability of placing women on submarine duty?

-- Wonderin2 (W2@lost.to.wonder.about), May 07, 2000.

A wonderfully written reply, Debra. As I noted of course, I was kidding around. I do think that the measure of how far society comes is not whether we can put women on military submarines, but if we can eliminate the need for weapons of war in the first place...

-- FactFinder (FactFinder@bzn.com), May 07, 2000.

Wonderin2 -

It relates to the devaluing of womens contributions to this world. In the above article Johnson opposes including women on submarine crews, mainly on the ground that it would be impractical to meet both sexes' privacy needs. The "best and brightest" women are being denied because there is no ladies toilet? Give us a break. It's not about ladies toilets.

FactFinder -

Thank you. I know you were kidding. I also know that you were not. :)

People talk of a time when women "ruled" the world. There was no need for weapons of war then.

-- Debra (...@....), May 08, 2000.

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