Over the course of 2012, I wrote six different columns on the Pentagon’s combat exclusion rules. It was the topic, as I made an end of year list, that I wrote about more often than any other. Gender equality isn’t normally a topic I focus on, but national security and foreign policy are. The combat exclusion rules were the last remaining gender exclusion authorized by law, categorically. They were administratively impossible to apply, they denied women training and advancement opportunities, and they were, I believe, one of the reasons why the military has sexual abuse and rape problems (it treated them as second-class citizens).
But mostly it just annoyed me. Honestly, I don’t know a single woman who would want to serve in combat. But the exclusion, and its defenders, were so paternalistic that its existence was a sign of how conservative and reactionary we can be as a nation (not politically, just that whole “change” thing). The repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell hasn’t been simple, but it has been relatively easy. The earth did not fall.