OK, so I know an 18-year-old young woman who just graduated high school. She'd not related to me, but she's the daughter of a very close friend, I've watched her grow up, and I'm sort of an Honorary Uncle since she has no uncles who are blood relatives. She mostly got good grades, got in some trouble, but not too bad, good kid, tough, friendly, lots of options, including being admitted to some good colleges. Like a lot of people straight out of high school, she wants to do a lot of things and doesn't really know what a lot of them entail, like most of us were at 18. She wants to go to college, take a year off and travel the world, join a World Hunger charity, become an astronaut. I managed to talk her out of joining some organization that goes to old war zones and cleans up old discarded landmines. The WAY I talked her out of it is not one that pleased her mother. I suggested looking at enlisting in the military. You know, at least possibly get TRAINED on how to diffuse bombs before you do it, get that travel time, money for college, learn a trade, etc.
She's basically going for it gung ho. All the college plans, etc, are dropped. She wants to enlist in the army. OK, so I asked her what job she was going for? You know she's a bright kid and I'm all for women in 2016 learning to climb telephone poles and string telephone wire, become electricians, plumbers, mechanics, all those formerly male-only trades that could make here her a lot of money after a three- or four-year stint in the military. She says, "You know, women can do anything men can do?" I say, "They sure can. One might be elected president this year. So, what job are you going for?" She tells me that it is a job that JUST opened up to women and I'll never guess. So we go through the guessing game and I'm guessing, like I said, a bunch of mechanic-type-jobs or firefighter or whatever. I'm not even close.
"I'm gonna be an Eleven-Bravo Infrantrywoman! Isn't that great! Then after I do that I'm gonna join Special Forces!"
Like I said, she's 18 and not a blood relative and I'm only an "honorary" uncle, but in desperation I tried to ground her. Then I told her I'd tell her mother not to sign any papers (not that the mom needs convincing). She reminded me that she was 18 and a responsible adult and could do whatever the hell she wanted.
Anyway, she hasn't signed on the dotted line yet, so I still have time to talk her out of it. I've never rooted for her to fail at anything, but I'm thinking that there is a first time for everything. Here I was preparing myself for her going to college and giving her frat boy dates "the speech". I'm not naive enough to think she'd be 4 years old and innocent forever and I knew she'd go into the big bad world someday and have to fend for herself, but I didn't think that I'd ever have to talk her out of... this. I checked out the US Army website and my nightmare is true. It's no longer a hypothetical. Women can now enlist in the Infantry.
My ace in the hole "nuclear option" is sitting her down for a "I was an 18 year old guy once. Here's how they act when no women are around" speech. I was never in the military, but I've been in plenty of locker rooms and drunk late night poker parties and they were bad enough. And that's not even considering being in a war-zone. That's just being in an austere environment as the lone young female with nothing but young guys around. I've always tried to protect her from that environment. Anyway, if I'm to be called a sexist, fine. I'll admit to a double standard. If she was an 18-year-old guy instead of a woman, I'd obviously be concerned about him getting killed or maimed in a war, but I wouldn't have nearly the same misgivings. And that doesn't even consider the long-term effects of her carrying a 100-lb. rucksack for miles at a time for several years. That can wreck a healthy young MAN's back and knees. I've never heard an orthopedist weigh in on whether a woman's body can take that kind of abuse long term. She's healthy, young, tough, and in great shape. I'd like her to still be that way in four years.
Anybody got any advice for how to talk her out of this, including "Don't try. Mind your own business. It's her life"?