Once I hit the fleet, despite developing knee problems, I worked out more often than anyone in my platoon to maintain a first-class PFT and perform anything else that was demanded. The guys could eat fast food daily, smoke and drink, then run 6-minute miles.
Meanwhile, I ate clean and took mixed weight training and Semper Fit classes to supplement our regular PT schedule.
I envied the guys’ natural ability and found their metabolism particularly infuriating.
The guys could eat fast food daily, smoke and drink, then run 6-minute miles
I may have had more to overcome than some of my female peers, but my experience is not singular. To complete the same physically demanding task, a woman expends much more effort than a man. His units of work effort are worth many of hers; and he will be able to maintain a demanding, arduous level of performance for far longer than she in both the short and long term. Double standards didn’t create this reality, and women training harder won’t change it.
In his book Coed Combat, Kinsley Brown, a law professor whose graduate work includes physical anthropology, points out that
When males and females both start out in good physical condition, women gain less than men from further conditioning, so that the gap between the sexes actually increases. A study of male and female cadets at West Point, who all started out in relatively good condition, found that although women’s upper body strength was initially 66 percent of men’s, by the end of their first two years, it had dropped below 61 percent…Sex differences in physical performance are here to stay. As Constance Holden observed in Science magazine, the male advantage in athletics will endure, due to men’s ‘steady supply of a performance-enhancing drug that will never be banned: endogenous testosterone.’ [emphasis in the original]
Army Lieutenant Colonel William Gregor, who taught at West Point, also compared the performances of male and female cadets.
“Gregor found that the upper fifth of women achieved scores on the test equivalent to the bottom fifth of men, but even with equivalent scores, the men and the women were not physical equals: ‘The women who achieved this level of fitness are unusual. They are confident, they are talented, but they are limited in their potential relative to men. The men, in contrast, have the potential to do much better…APFT scores do not measure relative strength or performance [and are therefore] the kindest to the woman, because she works only against her own weight. If we were to add a load, the gap between males and females would widen. If we were to reinstate the 40-yard man-carry that was part of readiness 20 years ago, we would find far fewer women achieving passing scores using the male tables.’ Gregor also testified that a man is more likely to be able to meet minimum standards later in his career, whereas a woman has nowhere to go but down, and rapidly as she ages.”
Females can train as hard as we like; and we may increase strength, stamina, and fitness. But our increased fitness still won’t put us on par with that of the men who are training to their utmost, like men in combat units.
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