Friday, September 15, 2006



Submit!

The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee has called for submissions on the Human Rights (Women in Armed Forces) Amendment Bill. Two copies, by Friday, 20 October 2006, to

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Secretariat
Bowen House
Parliament Buildings
Wellington

I know this one is a bit of a no-brainer, but if you do have a strong opinion on it, then it is worth letting the committee know. A submission is not difficult - it can be a letter as simple as "I support/oppose this bill" and stating the reasons why. If you need help, the Office of the Clerk has a helpful guide here.

6 comments:

As a member of a NZ Territorial Force combat engineering unit i have no problems with females in the ranks at all. They offer a slightly different perspective and the affect on the other troops would be slightly positive (guys tend to be slightly better behaved around gals I have noticed in these situations). Some would ask wether they can hack it and my response is that the physical requirements are only one part of the role. There are many roles within any unit and females should be allowed to enter them if they are found capable rather than being disallowed simply because of their sex.
Serving Sapper

Posted by Anonymous : 9/15/2006 01:16:00 PM

Anon: But the point of Pillay's Bill isn't whether women should be able to be in the military or in combat roles etc. it's whether under *any* circumstances, e.g., an existential-threat-all-out-war-with-a-draft, the military should be able to use sex as a criterion for assignment of roles. It's conventional, and I believe correct wisdom that the military should and must retain that ability. If you get to the point where the very survival of your community is at stake then the only question is whether you do more for that project of communal survival by fighting or staying at home (or working in a lab or....). At that point the young men have to fight and die and the young women have to stay home as the upper bound of the community's ability to continue and to reconstitute itself (baby boom) post-conflict is directly proportional to their absolute number. A division of labor on the future of the community front is determined by asymmetries in human reproductive potential. That's not a reduction of women to state-owned baby-factories any more than drafting guys to fight in that situation makes them state-owned cannon-fodder or forcing some smart guy (who wants to fight) to work in a crypto- lab makes him a state-owned idea-factory (or it is only to exactly the same extent in each of these cases). War at that ultimate point is about winning and communal survival. At that point then the only question about each individual is what capacities they have that bear on the project of ensuring the community has a future, and how those capacities can be best used to promote that future. The standard view is that *then* asymmetries between sexes must play a part in calculations. *That's* what Pillay's Bill would make impossible.

i/s and I have been round on this issue before here. But i/s is a slow-learner and has enormous blind-spots into which this issue falls squarely.

It is a no-brainer to *reject* Ms Pillay's naive and dangerous Bill in anything like its current form.

Posted by Stephen Glaister : 9/16/2006 04:50:00 AM

Stephen: But i/s is a slow-learner and has enormous blind-spots into which this issue falls squarely.

That's one way of putting it; I'd instead say that I am interested in individuals, rather than abstracts like the community or humanity, and regard coercion around subjects such as people's reproductive choices as fundamentally illegitimate (and no matter how much you deny it, what you are advocating is squarely aimed at that subject, and does treat women primarily as brood-mares to be used for the benefit of the community rather than as people free to make their own decisions about how to live their lives. But then, you seem to think that drafting people doesn't make them state-owned cannon-fodder either, whereas I can't think of any other way to describe them. Like forced reproduction, the draft is fundamentally immoral. If people won't fight voluntarily for your community, then there's clearly no moral mandate to force them to...)

If women care as much as you do about the survival of the community, then they'll do as you suggest and stay at home. But if they choose not to, then all we can say is that they don't share your values. And it is absolutely their right to do so.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 9/16/2006 10:18:00 AM

Right....you are interested in individuals to the *exclusion* of wider collectives such as nations (whereas I'm not: I'm interested in individuals, but there's more...). But this is just to say that the whole level of fact at which war is real and at which a military has its distinctive being (i.e., where it's not just a natural disaster response brigade/police force etc.) is invisible to you. The military *under any circumstances* for you is just another career choice that someone might make or might not make as they see fit... But this is just to say that you don't know what a military is (perhaps that you can't even imagine what one is).

Your comments about the role of Pillay's Bill - for you it's all about ensuring each individual's equal access to a field of utterly voluntary employment in the military - are very revealing and clarifying in this regard. The distinctive military possibility is non-individualistic in character and involves compulsion and duty - *all* of which is invisible to you. I guess this is good: if you're going to miss your target it's better you do so by the proverbial mile! It's one thing for me to accuse you of having blindspots, it's quite another to have you "in real time", as it were, do a backwards somersault with 3.5 twists sticking the dismount into the middle of the biggest blindspot of all. Yee haw!

What's going on with you? I conjecture the following:you think liberalism is a theory of everything (to do with a political community), when it is not. Liberalism is a theory about how the community and its representatives/authorities/government relate to the individuals that make it up. It's not a theory of the boundary of that community or of what makes any given community one thing rather than many (i.e., of the lack of "internal" boundaries). Liberalism therefore leaves a lot out.

That's fine - physics leaves a lot out too - but then the important thing is to make sure that when one is concerned with the boundary of the community and attacks on it or across it (not on the individuals in it per se) - or indeed when one is conerned with what makes the community itself one rather than many that one is no longer "doing liberalism" just as one is no longer doing physics when one is studying the emergence and development of life on Earth.

That's a moral you appear to ignore repeatedly, to your cost. There are, for example, all sort of difficult questions about how to interface liberal democratic ideals with the non-individualistic character of a particular democracy with its particular boundary and particular internal history. I don't think that *you* - unless you change your ways - can get the latter stuff in view enough to even formulate the questions properly let alone constructively answer them. Too bad.

Posted by Stephen Glaister : 9/16/2006 02:43:00 PM

While I agree with your wider point regarding wider colectives mattering - is sexual discrimination required in this case?

I.e. are there not other questions than could be asked which achieve the specific aim that one wants to achieve (including a baby boom if required) without direct sexual discrimination? Is there a case in which the latter is not superior to the former?

Aside from that NZ defense force seems to be designed for peacekeeping, absorbing foreign policy expenditures on military hardware and maintaining itself.

As such capitulation seems much more likely than a war of attrition. If we changed strategy then things might change.

Posted by Genius : 9/16/2006 04:30:00 PM

Genius:
is sexual discrimination required in this case?
I.e. are there not other questions than could be asked which achieve the specific aim that one wants to achieve (including a baby boom if required) without direct sexual discrimination?


Maybe that's possible, but I doubt it. As a general point too I think it's better to *not* try to circumvent a direct accounting of the classifications that are affected in discrimination cases. It's frankly horrible when people try to argue for allowing same-sex marriage on (sex orientation-neutral) sex-discrimination grounds just as it was horrible when people like Wechsler argued in the 60's in the US for allowing mixed-race marriage on (race-neutral) freedom-of-association grounds. Similarly, I do think it's straight-out differential treatment on the basis of sex that I support in the relevant cases here - sex-blindness has (only a few) limits be we should squarely face those I think. It would almost certainly be a horrible travesty to try to cover that up by somehow ingeniously engineering another way to get similar results (assuming that's even possible and also gets past HRA S 65 - indirect discrim.).

Aside from that NZ defense force seems to be designed for peacekeeping, absorbing foreign policy expenditures on military hardware and maintaining itself.

Indeed... and in all uses of the military below the level of a WW2-level whole-society-mobilization none of my concerns kick in and sex-neutrality is exactly the right policy (and is what we have). My argument is strictly about preserving the possibility of sex-based differential treatment in the total war case.

As such capitulation seems much more likely than a war of attrition. If we changed strategy then things might change.

If I've understood you correctly, I think I agree, i.e., the Pillay's and i/s's of the world can pass whatever laws they like now but in the face of true crisis, where we'd be having to do the rapid ramping up of forces a la the early days of WW2, we can be sure that any such provisions would be instantly jettisoned. My strong preference is, however, to live in the real world from the beginning and just know what the exceptions and limits to sex-blind-ness are.

Posted by Stephen Glaister : 9/17/2006 04:19:00 AM