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Why Isn’t Being a Soldier More Like Being a Mother?
P. Tittle   Oct 12, 2012   Bite-Sized Subversions  

Why should we pay men to actualize their hormonal impulse when we don’t pay women to actualize theirs?

Motherhood is unfair to women in a way fatherhood most definitely is not. Not only are there the physical risks (pregnancy and childbirth puts a woman at risk for nausea, fatigue, backaches, headaches, skin rashes, changes in her sense of smell and taste, chemical imbalances, high blood pressure, diabetes, anemia, embolism, changes in vision, stroke, circulatory collapse, cardiopulmonary arrest, convulsions, and coma), there’s the permanent damage to one’s career: if she stays at home, the loss of at least six years’ experience and/or seniority; if she doesn’t, the loss of a significant portion of her income, that required to pay for full-time childcare.

(And even if she can swing holding a full-time job and paying for full-time childcare, she probably won’t get promoted because she typically uses all ‘her’ sick days, she’s reluctant to stay past 5:00 or to come in before 9:00 or on weekends, and she occasionally has to leave in the middle of the day, perhaps even in the middle of an important meeting. In short, she can’t be counted on. Such a lack of commitment.)

Either way, it’s necessary, then, for all but a few mothers to be attached to another income (typically a man’s) in order to even be a mother: very few women make enough money to support herself and a child, let alone a full-time childcare provider. A mother must be a kept woman; she must become dependent, financially, on a man.

(So of course after a divorce, the man’s standard of living increase 42% and the woman’s standard decreases 73% – he no longer has to support two people, and she is no longer supported, she has to pay her own way, and start from scratch to do so.)

Cut to the man who becomes a soldier. After all, notes Barrington Moore, Jr., “for a young man it’s much more fun to prance around with a gun, or to kill several enemies with a bomb, than it is to sit at a desk day after day, bored by a dead-end job” (“How Ethnic Enmities End”).

What if he weren’t paid to do all that prancing around? Would he be so eager to do so then? Why should we pay men to be a soldier when we don’t pay women to make a soldier? Why should we pay men to actualize their hormonal impulse when we don’t pay women to actualize theirs? (I say hormonal because neither desire is very rational: before she ‘signed up’, she really didn’t like kids much – now she wants to be with one 24/7?; before he signed up, he probably didn’t give other people the time of day – now he’s willing to die for them?)

How many men would do it if they lost six years of seniority or work experience (let’s say the experience they gain is considered as nontransferable to, as not useful in, the workplace as the experience gained by women as they raise a child)? If they didn’t get paid for the duration? If they had to depend on their wife to buy them their food and accommodations, their guns and bullets?

P. Tittle is the author of Critical Thinking: An Appeal to Reason (Routledge, 2011), Sh*t that Pisses Me Off (Magenta, 2011), Ethical Issues in Business: Inquiries, Cases, and Readings (Broadview, 2000), and What If...Collected Thought Experiments in Philosophy (Longman, 2005). She lives in Canada, and she blogs at


“How many men would do it if they lost six years of seniority or work experience”

Yet some of these men and Women lose a lot more than this in the line of duty and responsibility, and for those of us that prefer other less hazardous careers?

Yet I agree with you, we should NOT pay women to “to make a soldier?”

or moreover, a politician!

Actually, FAR MORE civilians are killed in war than are soldiers, and these civilians are overwhelmingly women (mostly mothers) and children.

Why should we pay men to actualize their hormonal impulse when we don’t pay women to actualize theirs?

Actually….. we do. Unfairly.

Western society does reward single motherhood and actively discourages father participation in the form of welfare / child benefit / public asisted housing which are nothing more than incentives to irresponsible and unwise girls and young women to play fast and loose with their reproductive power.

Others who are responsible about their sex lives left to quite literally pay their bills.

And about the statistic you quote about men’s living standards being raised… poppycock. Utter rubbish. Despite this being refutable with ease from common sense and basic knowledge of what happens to any noncustodial father in divorce court this has been a long debunked statistic which was originally generated by cherry-picking the relevent data and I will provide links to studies below disproving your assertation that life is sunshine for divorced dads.

Also, remember that for every woman that commits suicide another three men do, and that post-divorce men have higher than average rates of suicide while divorced custodial mothers risk of suicide is unchanged.

All this in turn leads to broken homes and the broken lives of boys and girls. Of course, exceptions abound but in the vast majority of cases single motherhood is vastly sub-par compared to two parent homes for the children involved for so many reasons. On this I can speak with authority because, gentle reader, I am one.

To paraphrase the brutally ascerbic comedian Bill Burr, anything you can do in your pyjamas is not real work as we would understand it. And having been a single step-parent for a number of months I have direct experience of this. The dirty secret is that much of the time single parenting is often undemanding, even boring at times when the little monkeys are off at school and kindergarden and when playing and homeschooling them…. FUN and directly rewarding in the way that shuffling papers in an office can never be.

In western culture the trials and tribulations of motherhood are raised on high and fatherhood is viewed with as much import as an optional canoeing class after school for kids, despite all the unbiased, reputable studies showing that fatherhod has so may positives for kids if it were a vitamin it would be illegal not to add it to flour.

In addition: It’s hard to prance around with stumps for legs.

I think that to compare one task (motherhood) that is extremely safe despite what the author of this piece alludes to in comprison to another (soldiering) which, it seems, is composed of trivial hazards such as losing limbs, brain function, shredded genitals which forever precludes biological parenthod and life itself. all of course in agonies which childbirth is the merest shadow of.

And if that last statement seems cavalier of me, ask any mother what she would prefer? Giving birth in a modern hospital with painkillers and every type of medical relief galore or spepping on an IED miles away from your family in a desert and watching the insects jostle for place on your exposed intestines while you gaze down while in shock and realise you will never be having sex again and have to pee with the help of a painful plastic tube forevermore.


Agreed war should be avoided, and killing “in the name of..” any ideal cannot be morally justified ultimately. Self defence would appear to be the only exception?

Yet there are men and women that join the military for whatever reasons, and more frequently at great risk to themselves as numbers and terms are stretched. So although we may frown on their choices, at least we should be grateful that it’s not us that need do this dirty work?
I have difficulties understanding their choices also.

More automation and drones in the coming decades will be used as excuse to save allied lives and casualties, although the expense of lives is of little concern, such is the hypocrisy of war lords? Soldiers are expendible and if they do survive conflicts they are systematically made redundant anyhow?

Women normally choose to have children, more so than men. This is perfectly natural and we should not belittle their choices and sufferings? Child care and nuture is still the remit of women?

Don’t forget how the majority of soldiers don’t actually like war, because it’s their posteriors on the line; the legal culpability lies with civilian politicians who make decisions to go to war.
The responsibility for Afghanistan and Iraq is/was Bush’s as C. in C., not the armed forces personnel who were ordered to enter combat—v. few of them truly enjoyed fighting (although there have always existed anomalies such as George Patton).

we’re getting a little off topic here, but I’m not convinced women more than men “choose to have children”—why do more women than men use/seek access to contraception?  why do so few men get vasectomies?

Unless you are implying slavery and servitude then I would say that women most definitely have power over their own bodies, which is precisely why they use contraceptives and should, and not just trust/charge a partner with the responsibility?

Men should do the same and take responsibility for the same reasons, yet where a trusted partner is concerned, then there is usually no need to distrust, although mistakes and pregnancies still do occur, and can be life changing.

Why not vasectomies? Obviously for the same reasons women do not choose irreversible surgery when young and fertile?

The women I know and have “known” fall into two camps, those that do not want children, (like myself), and those that expect to, and view this as Self fulfilling, which is my previous point. In either scenario men should be supporting their partners, and if not so, then the state.

In my opinion, children and their nurture “become” the priority, although some women may be lucky enough to “juggle” both?

That is.. “juggle” both nurture of children and a successful career? The priority should speak for itself, and weigh both the maternal needs of the children with financial welfare.

Taking consideration of your points, this is the “social” dilemma we face today, society has still not progressed to support mothers and their children beyond a welfare “safety net”? So all of the issues you highlight have root in socioeconomics and progress. Here, today, we again pursue “race to the bottom”.

The “conservative” view is that society should pay men adequately enough for women to prioritise on nurture of their children, or preferably have more sharing and progressive “roles”?

For the fortunate “minority” this is indeed the case, for most, money and finance reigns supreme - QED?

Why is this valid question asked within the framework of a crude gender essentialism?

Single fathers don’t get welfare, child benefits, or public assisted housing?

“remember that for every woman that commits suicide another three men do” - relevance?

“All this in turn leads to broken homes and the broken lives of boys and girls. Of course, exceptions abound but in the vast majority of cases single motherhood is vastly sub-par compared to two parent homes for the children involved for so many reasons. On this I can speak with authority because, gentle reader, I am one.”  - relevance?

“anything you can do in your pyjamas is not real work as we would understand it.”  poppycock.  utter rubbish.  accountants can work at home in their pyjamas.

I think you’re focusing on physical effects to the exclusion of emotional and cognitive effects/efforts.

As for the vasectomies point, I don’t think most men elect to have them even after their requisite two kids.  Also, they prefer not to use condoms.  So they’re NOT using contraception.

SHaGGGz, please elaborate.

A few points here.

Reproduction in the strict biological sense is the entire goal of life, it’s why men compete with one another in wartime and in peace by different means.

It’s a plain fact that the vast majority of women especially during ovulation are attracted to dominant, physically imposing males with aggression viewed as a positive quality, so it’s no surprise that men are the way they are due to female mate selection producing more of the same!

Yet women have the hugest advantage in that they are the gatekeepers of fertility. Humanity is estimated to have decended from twice as many women as men which is no surprise.

Men undertake risky and often life threatening dares, jobs (90%+ of all workplace fatalities are men) and life choices essentially to become more desirable to women by demonstrating they are good providers. Men do seek out better paid occupations than women not because all men are fully paid-up members of an evil patriarchy but rather because as most women won’t give socially and financially inferior men the time of day whhen it comes to romance.

On P. Tittle’s comment that most of the dead in wars are women and children is not correct. For example, the genocide in Rwanda might well have been called a gendercide as 80% of those murdered in the conflict were male. Another example being the war of the triple alliance in Paraguay where 50% of the prewar population and nearly 90% of the prewar male population died.

In the news one often ears of the poor women and children refugees fleeing from one area or another… but few seem to wish to ponder why that is, because most of the men will have been killed first.

Gender essentialism or stereotyping is of course, not always true with very notable exceptions but the bottomu line is that most men and women feel comfortable in their scoiallyproscribed roles which in turn are a product of biology, different mating stratgies.

To state that human male and female behaviour is all socially constructed is blindness at best as the case of the Reimer twins and John Money quite clearly proved.

I think that the present day system of supporting children is unfair to mothers and fathers.

It’s quite correct that women ‘can’t have it all’ but looking objectively, when did fathers? True, in the ‘bad old days’ being shackled to a house without modern labour and time saving domestic appliances and screaming kids were no fun but neither is coughing your lings out, slowly and painfully in a coal mine hundreds of feet below the surface.

I have many friends who would love to stay at home and have more time nurturing their children now that they are toddlers or older.

This might be to be a champion of the obvious:
the advantage men have is willingness to use violence to achieve their goals, not necessarily even violence but the threat of violence. In the home a man can threaten to slap a woman; on the street he can merely brandish a stick to intimidate.

The willingness to use violence on the part of men is in fact the principal difference between the sexes.


...someone pointed out the fact that single mothers are given money and/or goods/services from the government, which disproves your earlier statement that “soldiers are paid, but not mothers”. You ignored that and said “Single fathers don’t get welfare, child benefits, or public assisted housing? “

Then you have your claims that joining the army is “fun” and many men want to do it.

If that was true, conscription would not exist, which is a reality in many countries around the world, including developed countries like Switzerland.

Your arguments… do not stand up to scrutiny.

In Reply to InTomorrow,

Men and women are both violent but usually in different ways.

I am assuming that most on the forum are in the states so I will quote these statistics although I live in the UK where the stats in most issues are almost identical, link to actual studies provided directly below.

For example, in cases of domestic violence the US government’s own stats state that women are most often the instigators and commit half of the actual violence.

In cases of child abuse a biological mother acting alone is more than twice as likely to kill their children than the biological father.

Those examples are of women acting directly. However a very important type of violence is instigated violence, for example when a woman wishes to quickly dispose of her mate there are a vast variety of legal options she can persue where the man under law is immediately at a disadvantage.

An example of this might be falsely accusing her partner of DV, calling the police and being given only 5 minutes to leave the house with whatever he can carry. Also in these cases the haplees husband finds that any joint bank accounts have been looted and any credit cards maxed out to the limit thereby robbing him of the ability to legally defend himself.

Another example would be of FALSELY accusing a man of rape. Not only does this vile slur endup with his reputation being destroyed and him put at risk of retribution from the false accusers friends and family but also from the public at large, law enforcement and finally if he goes to jail the very real prospect of him being raped, infected with STD’s and murdered as those accused of sex crimes are the lowest of the low in prison.

Vast amount of cases in the link below.

By “crude gender essentialism” I meant the notion that men inherently have a desire to commit violence and women a desire to nurture. This is the same sort of garbage that has been used to justify status quo barbarism since time immemorial. As Celda mentions above, this does not stand up to scrutiny.

Reproduction in the strict biological sense is the entire goal of life, “it’s why men compete.”  ...  I’m not even going to read the rest of your post. There would be no point. I have neither the energy, nor the time, to refute evolutionary biology as the be-all end-all explanation for human behavior.

Celda - My question was not ignoring the point.  One, I never argued with just single mothers in mind, so if single mothers get such help, and not married mothers, that just limits my argument to married mothers.  If single fathers also get such help, then the point doesn’t weaken my argument.

Good point about conscription.  I had American and Canadian men in mind.  Men who willingly enlist. 

Shagggz, I agree that crude gender essentialism is garbage.  Delete the second last paragraph of my piece; the rest can stand without it.

“Men and women are both violent but usually in different ways…”

It would appear to be so until you look at the more intimidated status of women; the provocation from men builds up until women retaliate, though they may transfer the retaliation to a man other than the provoker—you know how prevalent transference is.

... “For example, in cases of domestic violence the US government’s own stats state that women are most often the instigators and commit half of the actual violence.,,,’

Domestic violence is a small percentage of the whole when you include war statistics, the violence perpetrated on women during war.
One might want to distinguish between manipulation v aggression (e.g. mother v soldier). Manipulation is virtually universal, so it is difficult to even make generalisations concerning manipulation; however aggression, that is to say outright violence, can be examined through stats including war stats .. and men are the greater aggressors because it isn’t merely that men are capable of violence—women and children not too weak are naturally capable of violence—it is also that men are quite willing to use violence to further their ends and are more willing to use threats (legally: menacing) of violence. So on three counts men are the greater aggressors: capability and willingness to use violence, plus threats.


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