I never even thought to question this claim (why I dimwittedly didn’t is a subject for another day, I think). Though this doesn’t actually refute the notion that male combatants might be inclined to be particularly or even recklessly protective of their female colleagues, it does refute the notion that we know for sure one way or the other.
I’ve been told on the Internet more than a few times since yesterday that the emotional danger wrought by having women in combat is proven by the fact that Israeli Defense Forces do not gender integrate as a result of male soldiers being more willing to risk their lives for fellow female combatants. I tracked down the source of this, which is in Lt. Col. Dave Grossman’s 1996 book On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Societyin which he wrote:
The presence of women and children can inhibit aggression in combat, but only if the women and children are not threatened. If htey are present, if they become threatened, and if the combatant accepts responsibility for them, then the psychology of battle changes from one of carefully constrained ceremonial combat among males to the unconstrained ferocity of an animal who is defending its den.
Thus the presence of women and children can also increase violence on the battlefield. The Israelis have consistently refused to put women in combat since their experiences in 1948. I have been told by several Israeli officers that this is because in 1948 they experienced recurring incidences of uncontrolled violence among male Israeli soldiers who had had their female combatants killed and injured in combat, and because the Arabs were extremely reluctant to surrender to women.
It isn’t a study. It’s based on this man’s discussions with “several Israeli officers” about something that happened in 1948. This isn’t the most valid argument against gender integration.
Things I Post to Tumblr in Ascending Order of How Shitty My Day Has Been up to That Point
Pictures that make me smile.
Reblogged memes whose popularity peaked no less than two weeks ago.
Mildly humorous videos everyone has already seen.
Links to the New Yorker that allow me to feel less guilty about never ever reading an entire issue but more guilty about the fact that I feel even the slightest need to try to lay claim to the normative trappings of a mostly shallow kind of public intellectualism.
Pictures that make me frown.
Implied reminders of the fact that Breaking Bad has only sixteen episodes left to go.
Cartoons that might be funny were it not for my enormous capacity for self-loathing.
The concept of “improper English” makes my blood boil, and not just because it is a type of speech most commonly attributed in the United States to African Americans.*
[Let me make clear before I go on that this is not going to be a discussion of picayune prescriptivist complaints about usage (like, say, less vs. fewer or further vs. farther). The “proper English” I’m referring to here is determined by more conspicuous linguistic discrepancies—for instance the difference between “we are” and “we be” (i.e. “not conjugating verbs”).]
There are those who would would argue that “proper English” is important because its speakers have greater economic opportunities—we interpret “proper English” as “educated English,” the argument goes, so why shouldn’t we promote its use?
I mean, sure—a highly qualified sure. I’m not going to pretend that a speaker of African-American Vernacular English or some Southern (i.e. “poor”) variety of American English won’t be likely to find a more favorable reception on the job market if they adopt a Standard American English accent and stick to textbook morphology. (Which many of these speakers are able to do with ease, by the way.)
But let’s acknowledge how fucked up it is that our society places such importance on what are, ultimately, extremely minor linguistic differencesthat have absolutely nothing to do with innate intelligence. You do typically see a correlation between declining socioeconomic status and increasingly exclusive use of a non-“standard” vernacular, but the use of those vernaculars is not restricted to the relatively uneducated.
And even if it were: uneducated does not necessarily equal unintelligent.
The way I see it, these language varieties signal first and foremost something about the geographic or cultural or class affiliations of their speakers. As there’s nothing objectively more desirable about the form “proper English” takes from a linguistic perspective**—these varieties are equally expressive and, for the most part, mutually intelligible—I can only conclude that the negative perceptions of these non-“standard” varieties stem from the fact that our society also views certain geographic or cultural or class affiliations in a negative light.
Even more insulting than the denigration of these varieties of English (to my mind, at least) is the insinuation that The Benevolent and Not At All Self-Interested Intervention of Those Who Know Better is required to coax speakers of these varieties around to the One True English. Dude. We all know that “proper English,” discriminatory bullshit though it may be, has its uses. And by “we all” I mean “everyone,” not just “well-off white people.” This is the sort of claptrap English Only supporters say—”if we let immigrants take driver tests in their native languages then they’ll never learn English!”
(Full disclosure: I’m a well-off white person. I’m trying not to speak for anyone’s experience but my own here. It just so happens that my experience involves being pretty pissed off.)
Yes, a knowledge of “proper English” can be beneficial. But it turns out that speakers of other varieties—or other languages—are totally aware of this, not being idiots: if these speakers have access to resources that allow them to acquire “proper English,” they almost definitely will. (There’s a lot of literature to support this, by the way—I’m not just blowing smoke out my ass like I usually do.)
So, in short, if it “grates on [your] ears when [you] hear black people talking and they don’t conjugate verbs or use pronouns properly,” I’m sorry for your ears. Because they’re attached to a fucking asshole.
[If you’re interested in reading more on this particular subject, I’d recommend Word on the Street: Debunking the Myth of “Pure” Standard English by John McWhorter, who knows a whole lot about the closely related study of creole languages (which are perpetually mislabeled as “non-standard” or “uneducated” varieties of their superstrate languages).]
*I don’t have any data at hand to support this claim, but I’m happy to go out on a limb and say it’s true. I suspect that Hispanics/Latinos would be a closer first-runner-up if it were commonly acknowledged that Hispanics/Latinos actually spoke English at all.
**The question of whether our ability to communicate effectively might benefit from the adoption of a more-officially standardized form of English—through, perhaps, the establishment of something like the Académie Française or the Real Academia Española—is a somewhat separate issue. For instance, while some legitimate confusion may result from the increasing overlap between “disinterested” and “uninterested,” I don’t believe there are many English-speakers who would be uncertain about the meaning of “we be.”