“Why does Leto choose only women for his army?”

This question posed by Duncan Idaho in book four of the Dune Sextet, piqued my interest, and the answer has stayed in my mind for quite some time. I will trim most of the conversation devices from the text in order to convey the theory put forth and into practice by The Worm, Emperor Leto Atreides the Second.

An all male army is too dangerous to its civilian support base. The male army is a survival of the screening process function delegated to the non-breeding males in the prehistoric pack. It was a curiously consistent fact that it was always the older males who sent the younger males into battle. It is these males who were always out on the dangerous perimeter protecting the core of the breeding males, females and the young. The ones who first encountered the predator.

How was this dangerous to the civilians?

When denied the external enemy, the all-male army always turned against it’s own population.


In part they are contending for the females, but things are not that simple with people. The all-male army has a strong tendency toward homosexual activities which are fed by issues of sublimation, deflected energies, jokes designed purely to cause pain, loyalty only to ones pack mates and the like.

“I remind myself of something which he has said and which I am sure is true. He is every soldier in human history. He has offered to parade for me a series of examples – famous military leaders who were frozen in adolescence. I declined the offer. I have read my history with care and have recognized this characteristic for myself.”

The homosexual, latent or otherwise, who maintains that condition for reasons which could be called purely psychological, tends to indulge in pain-causing behavior – seeking it for himself and inflicting it upon others. This goes back to the testing behavior of the prehistoric pack. When it breaks out of the adolescent homosexual restraints, the male army is essentially rapist. Rape is often murderous which is not survival behavior. Rape was always the pay-off in male military conquest.

“Then tell me Atreides, how are women better soldiers than men?”

“They find it easier to mature.”

Rape is foreign to women and they have a compelling physical way of moving from adolescence into maturity. Carry a baby within you for nine months and that changes you. The loyalty in a male army fastens onto the army itself rather than onto the civilization which fosters the army. Loyalty in a female army fastens on to the leader. Men are susceptible to class fixations. They create layered societies. The layered society is the greatest invitation to violence. It does not fall apart, it explodes. Women make common cause based on their sex, a cause that transcends class and caste.

In recent years there has been much public speculation as to whether or not woman are fit for combat duty. This is the best argument/theory I have heard for or against the idea. Can you convince me otherwise?

I thank The well respected Custodian for his information.
He raises a very good point.
The current weight of infantry gear is too great for the splay of the female pelvis.
But as technology and culture seem to be the most noticeable new appendage in recent human evolution, we can and do look to the future, where the aim of every technology is to pack greater functionality and power into smaller and smaller packaging all for the sake of mobility. This push will soon find us with solders who are more combat effective with less encumbrance than a high school student.
As we evolve, the theory above will again bear some consideration.
A friend of mine, who was an instructor Marine, gave me what is probably the best reason I have heard for not allowing women into some jobs in the military. When he stated that he didn't think women should be infantry, I (and several of my friends) laid into him, asking if it was because they screwed up the dynamic? He said no. Was it because they caused trouble with the men? Nope. Because they're too maternal? Hell, no, he said. Probably three of the best five Marines he had handled in boot were female. Was it because they weren't as strong as men in the upper body? No, he said, noting that women had much better endurance than men, and the times when that upper body strength was a problem vs. when endurance was valuable made that laughable.

Okay, we said, stumped so far. Moral reasons? No way. He was adamant that if men fought for their country, women should/could too. Finally we gave in, and he told us.

When he was training a mixed platoon, the women had, in many cases, outperformed the men. He noted that he didn't think the selection effect of these being the more 'driven' women was a factor, here; he just plain thought they kicked ass. However, after several weeks of side-by-side training with the men, in mixed companies, several of the women began lagging behind in marches and having difficulty on the obstacle course. None of them had complained, and none had taken any measures other than Tylenol to keep up. He and several of his colleagues, who were all noticing this problem in their platoons, had a full medical check done on all boots, both male and female.

Around 85% of the females had multiple stress fractures of the pelvis. This was why they had been lagging. None of these were due to trauma injury; all were due to the fact that (according to the surgeons and orthopaedic specialists who looked at the data) the female pelvis simply wasn't designed to handle the loads placed on it in a normal training regimen, most specifically in terms of lugging weight (critical for infantry).

This was why, in his opinion, women shouldn't be in the infantry. Simply because the normal training regimen caused bone damage. He was of the opinion, and I agreed, that if you had to modify the training in any way (other than say having separate bathrooms) in order to get women through, then you had a severe problem.

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