This is a link to an article in the New York Times, Sunday, March 7, 2010 about what is being called the latest experiment by our military in Afghanistan. The plan is to send women Marines in with men Marines so the women can talk with Afghani women in order to gather "information." Of course, publicly, the emphasis is on information and not "intel" but stuff about the Taliban is more than welcome. Now it is worthwhile to think about this for a few minutes.
First: Can you imagine what would happen if someone, some politician, were to criticize this "experiment" as foolish? It would, in all probability, be interpreted as sexist, as an attack on using women to help "win hearts and minds."
Second: Try to imagine how bureaucrats will try to assess the success of this experiment. Of course, they have to do so quantitatively or by the numbers so they would count the number of "interactions" and the number of times these "interactions" were successful in gathering "usable intel." And, moreover, as this is an experiment conducted by the military and assessed by the military the resulting "progess reports" will find "progress." As noted before here, that is what "progress reports" are meant to show, "Progress!"
Third: Imagine the hubris involved in thinking that we can pluck a few women - or men for that matter - out of American culture and put them down in Afghanistan so that they can "relate" to the Afghani women after a few hours of "training." Do you need proof that we Americans think there is a "method" or "program" to solve every problem? Well, this is it. "Yeah, that should work. American women who don't even know the language of those to whom they speaking [well, not really as an interpreter is required] to say nothing of knowing absolutely nothing about the local situation are going to be able win over the confidence of these Afghani women, win their 'hearts and minds.' By the gods, do we really think that these women are so desperate, desperate housewives, so to speak, that they will flock to interact with these foreigners?" Doesn't seem likely, does it?
Now if you were going to have these women actually live, side by side, with the Afghani women for relatively long periods of time, that might work. "Might work..." But of course this is not the plan. Send in the troops, send in a few women with them, and the Afghanis will see we are really on their side! This is about as foolish as dropping food packages after you have bombed people to demonstrate that you are really their side! Yeah, that would work for me. Bomb my neighborhood and then drop food and I would rally to your side!! NOT SO MUCH.