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Thursday, March 31

Warrior Queens

The idea that women need to be protected and are somehow the weaker sex is so bizarre that once again only classical projection could explain it. Men, knowing they might well be the weaker ones but unable to accept the knowledge consciously, pin it outside themselves as if that will make it true. Some woman find themselves longing for the impossible to become possible in the form of an experiment whereby men could be tested for their ability to withstand childbirth.  They think they know what the results would be, given the alacrity with which so many men hop into bed on first getting the sniffles and begin moaning about their terrible illness. Absolutely nothing in actual experience points to any greater weakness on the part of females, but the idea has become so institutionalized that women, at least in the United States, are still prohibited from participating fully in some of the last activities to remain sacred solely to men: active combat and football.
     Not that women haven't tried, numerous times and on both counts. One of the more interesting attempts to me was actually conceived by a man, a British sergeant-major who had been wounded in the Sudan in 1898. He reasoned that mounted nurses would-be able to arrive faster on the scene than either the pedestrian stretcher-bearers or the horse-drawn ambulances. In London in1907 he began to put his plan into action, finding no small number of women enthusiastic to undertake training in first aid, riding (including some cavalry drill), signaling, and cap routine. They could be in the advance guard, so that if they themselves survived the attack, they would be ready to tend the wounded immediately. There equestrian training was overseen by The Blues, who discovered that many of "the girls" were already accomplished from many seasons on the hunt field. Despite their willingness and their skill, however, the women of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry were to find that their biggest battle would be fought against the men at home. One group of members having lunch in a Brighton restaurant were forced to sit at a screened-off table and to be escorted out a back entrance. Others found themselves booed in he streets, or even attacked by rock throwers who took them for suffragettes.
     They were thanked by being turned down for service in 1914.
     To me, one of the most admirable things about women is their fearlessness. It is something I always admire in anyone who displays it, and I have gotten pretty good at scenting out the real thing from the bluff, though nowhere near as good as any horse or dog. Many women don't have the need to pretend since they are made of the aforementioned perishables, they are not entirely untouchable.

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