The British Army has declared that women can kill people just the same as men can. More women are joining the Army; there are more female officers; women can now be submariners in the Navy. Equality is making leaps and bounds.
On the other hand, the tragic story of Anne-Marie Ellement shows that there are still fundamental problems – problems not confined to the armed forces. Part of the problem is that female soldiers still wear skirts.
This is not a trivial matter. Skirts are restrictive of movement and therefore not practical army wear in any case. (Kilts are different: they are cut to allow great freedom of movement.) Notice, in this picture, that one out of the three soldiers is kitted out fit for battle. He’s the bloke. Ideally you wouldn’t do battle in ceremonial garb, but he could; she and she couldn’t. Joanna Lumley managed to do all sorts of stunts as an inappropriately-dressed Purdey in the New Avengers – but that’s telly. A barrister friend said that at a case the other day, the small hearing room was strewn with suitcases full of briefs (the paper kind), and one Lady Barrister asked them to move the cases as she couldn’t open her legs enough to step over them, owing to a ludicrous ‘smart’ skirt.
More than this, however, is the fact that skirts differentiate the sexes on sight. Surely soldiers are soldiers, whether they’re male or female? If you’re going to allow them the same duties, and treat them the same in law and war, then you must allow them to wear the same uniform. It’s called ‘uniform’. Not ‘biform’ (see my post on school uniform for further ranting.) Women in skirts are sexualised objects; women dressing different to men are different to men.