Dense polemic arguing that women are unfit to serve in the armed forces will likely convince only those who already agree with the author’s contention.
Browne (Law/Wayne State Univ. Law School) joins a distinguished group of male authorities who, for two centuries, have explained that science proves women are unfit to hold property, own a business, vote, practice medicine, fly a commercial airliner or join a police force. Science certainly missed the boat with these, but Browne maintains that facts, not his personal beliefs, prove that women make poor soldiers. Despite presenting an avalanche of studies, Browne follows the common activist tactic of setting up and systematically knocking down straw men—usually “woman’s liberationists” who believe men and women are identical. He devotes many pages to proving women are smaller and weaker than men, a critical defect even in noncombatants, he insists. Browne’s closely reasoned arguments often skirt the main point. He assembles studies proving that men possess greater situational awareness and physical coordination and relates many stories of heroism involving great strength or intense pain, which, he maintains, women could not duplicate. Yet he provides no evidence that superiors think that female soldiers are performing at a lower level than their male counterparts. Many readers will agree that allowing women to pass physical-training tests with a lower score is dubious, and the author provides many thoughtful observations on the differences between men and women. But he delivers a lawyer’s, not a scientist’s, case. Like a good lawyer, he makes his position clear at the beginning, bolsters it with evidence to support it and brushes aside evidence that does not.
Readers genuinely interested in exploring both sides of the controversy of women as soldiers will quickly realize they’re getting only one here.