Amazonia, here we come!
Two bits of information about the fair sex floated into our window this week. And at the risk of bringing down a whole Amazon army on ourselves, we would like to make a few comments. And we admit they come from a male perspective; what else could we guys in pants – oops! – be expected to deliver.
One of the two unrelated items told us that the first female graduates of the Army’s Ranger training program, came through, with, shall we say, flying colors.
Ranger School is described by The Pentagon as “the Army’s premier combat leadership course, teaching Ranger students how to overcome fatigue, hunger, and stress to lead soldiers during small unit combat operations.” That meant a minimum of being able to complete 49 pushups, 59 situps, a 5-mile run in 40 minutes, six chin-ups, a swim test, a land navigation test, a 12-mile foot march in three hours, several obstacle courses, four days of military mountaineering, three parachute jumps, four air assaults on helicopters, and 27 days of mock combat patrols. Looking around the office, we wouldn’t dare to suggest than any of our male colleagues could get through such a routine.
This particular training course started in April with 381 men and 19 women. It’s the first year the Army opened the course to women on a trial basis. And there is no decision yet – despite all the debate whether women will be assigned to combat — although one is promised in the fall.
The other 84 successful male graduates can apply to join the 75th Ranger Regiment, an elite special operations force. Pointing out that women have been on the frontlines in Iraq and Afghanistan, Janine Davidson , a former U.S. Air Force aircraft commander and senior pilot who follows the issue at the Council on Foreign Relations, said she believed ”… policymakers in the Pentagon are ready to say, ‘We don’t see any reasons why women can’t be (in certain roles).’” But we suspect it won’t be as simple as all that with even the sexes as divided as the general public about the concept.
We suspect the debate is far from over, but whether it will get a full airing this fall remains to be seen what with so many highly controversial subjects in the air. We shudder at the though the strong possibility this could get caught up in the presidential campaign.
Perhaps an even more significant tidbit comes out of the increasingly controversial Food and Drug Administration [FDA]. The FDA has given approval for the first “pink Viagra”, the first medication designed to increase sexual desire in women. The drug, flibanserin, goes on the market after two earlier rejections reverses as a treatment for less than normal sexual disorder, or HSDD. Flibanserin will be marketed as Addyi, and purports in clinical trials to offer women distressed by their low sex drive a modest but measurable rise in sexual desire. The formal estimates to the FDA are that it would increase a patient’s number of “sexually satisfying encounters” by roughly one per month. What is a little disconcerting is that it is not precisely known how the drug works.The product of failed earlier German efforts to develop an antidepressant, it act to increase the activity of the neurochemical serotonin in the brain.
The announcement is bound to produce controversy since it is the third try for the manufacturer to receive a go-ahead, and comes after a political campaign by its advocates pointing out that there are more than two-dozen such products intended to increase the male’s sexual capacities.
Of course, we are not even hinting that these two developments are related. But they do share the kind of controversial nature that is almost certain to produce new battles of the sexes in the media. And we can only hope – with not much confidence – that their exploitation will stay within the bounds of serious and orderly discourse.