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My sister Amy has always made fun of my sparkly head­bands and ten­dency to tear up at the scrape of a knee. In high school, I chose swimming (and mostly shopping) while she com­peted in brutal water polo. She is a bril­liant, feisty woman who never backs down from a fight and reveres her country with great sin­cerity. It did not sur­prise my family when she decided to attend the United States Naval Academy.

Sec­retary of Defense Leon Panetta’s decision to lift the 1994 ban on women in combat affects me per­sonally. It poses an incredible risk with no iden­ti­fiable reward except to placate the cries for equality from fem­i­nists thou­sands of miles away from the fog of war. My sister, the girl who played in the backyard with me, could now engage in hand-to-hand combat. The girl who shared a bunk bed with me could now spend months in abysmal living con­di­tions. The woman who will be my maid of honor could be killed before she gets the chance to do so. And many women declare this a victory.

Other sisters of service women can identify with my story. The sound of taps and the visions of grave­yards play in our night­mares. Yet the mil­itary con­tinues to allow political pressure to dictate its policies. That alone speaks to our mil­itary readiness, and con­tinuing to com­promise will lead to an inevitable erosion of stan­dards. The unin­tended con­se­quences of allowing the gender equality agenda to influence the mil­itary seems reason enough to reject the idea.

Top per­for­mance in life-threat­ening sit­u­a­tions requires unit cohesion. While both men and women receive excellent training, the unavoidable inter­action between the sexes will pose a problem. Sexual attraction is natural and inevitable. This opens the flood­gates to innu­merable problems: dating, love, infi­delity, drama, and dis­aster. Fur­thermore, making this work would require desen­si­tizing men to female suf­fering. One struggles to imagine a man reacting to a woman being tor­tured by al-Qaeda pre­cisely the same way he would if it were a man. But altering men’s sen­si­tiv­ities would hardly help the mil­itary and cer­tainly prove harmful to our society.

Infantry and Special Forces units, the oper­a­tions that will now be available to women, offer brutal living con­di­tions. The mis­sions can often last for months, typ­i­cally without access to a base. Showers are rare and sol­diers resort to using baby wipes to keep sand off their faces. The mil­itary does not make pro­vi­sions for per­sonal hygiene or privacy for the units. What per­centage of women would prefer this duty remains unclear, but Army Staff Sergeant Stacey Zinda told CNN last week that “she has yet to have a female soldier approach her about joining a combat unit.”

Fem­i­nists claim that women could overcome these obstacles. Perhaps so. But women stand to gain very little from it. The sexual rev­o­lution claimed to fight for a woman’s right to embrace her own sex­u­ality, but now instead encourages her to abandon it to survive among men. A woman in combat might actually be oppressed because she will nec­es­sarily have to become like a man. Equality never sounded so ter­rible.

But sup­porters of the Pentagon’s decision see it as a chance for women finally to have the right of serving their country to the fullest extent.

“By opening infantry, artillery and other bat­tle­field jobs to all qual­ified service members regardless of sex, the mil­itary is showing that cat­e­gorical dis­crim­i­nation has no place in a society that honors fairness and equal oppor­tunity,” The New York Times edi­torial board wrote.

There is nothing fair about the mil­itary. War does not discern; it kills. There is nothing fair about why some men have sur­vived instead of others who have per­ished in defense of our country. The mil­itary is designed to defend the United States of America, not to award gold stars to everyone who par­tic­i­pated. Women have the right to serve their country, but they do not have the right to demand changes that would affect mil­itary readiness. Neither do men.

Amy has another year to choose which part of the Navy she will serve. She could end up working behind a desk at the Pen­tagon, or some­thing much more per­ilous. She will serve admirably because she is a fighter. She will fight to defend an individual’s right to exert pressure on our nation’s leaders. I just hope that in the future Sec­retary Panetta will offer her and other women more than uncon­di­tional sur­render to gender pol­itics and political cor­rectness.