I was listening to Tim Ferriss’ interview with writer and former San Francisco firefighter Caroline Paul. Late in the podcast (1:22:00) she talks about developing a thick skin, and what it was like being one of only a handful of women in the fire department. The quote below struck me as particularly relevant to the current – and ongoing – saga of female integration into combat arms.
“I mean, it’s hard when you have your homogenous club, like we all do, if you look at your friends they all look like you, and then suddenly it’s forcibly opened, and it’s just difficult. It’s right. You shouldn’t have your club necessarily, you don’t have a right to it, but, still, it’s going to be hard, and I really did empathize with that.”
It’s very rare to hear empathy for the loss of “the homogenous club.” It takes a lot of maturity to be a trailblazer in this regard yet still understand what the other might be feeling and have empathy – especially when you think that feeling is wrong.
I’ve written previously about the infantry being the last “all-boys club” and that a lot of the defense of maintaining an all-male infantry might be couched in protecting that status.