Toughness Is Not Reserved for Men

WomenInRangerSchoolDay1This post is in response to two women making history by graduating from the US Army Ranger School and the internet firestorm that has risen in their wake.  The hatred that I’ve seen in response to this event, though easily surpassed by the love, is ridiculous and disgusting.  It comes mainly from people who have never even been to Ranger School or even served in any kind of military capacity.  Their argument against women in Ranger School basically boils down to, “Well, ovaries!  That’s why!”  Which is the same ass-backwards way of thinking that dominates amateur and youth sports.  I am here to tell you that whoever you are reading this, there is someone out there, probably a male and probably a female, who is faster than you, stronger than you, and smarter than you.  The two women who are graduating from Ranger School are probably tougher than you, too.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.

When I graduated Ranger School in early 2010, I graduated by the skin of my teeth.  Those of you unfamiliar with the school, it is the military’s premier combat leadership school regardless of branch.  It is no shorter than 61 days long, including rotations in the barracks of Camp Darby, the mountains of Dahlonega, Georgia, and the swamps of Florida.  Each phase has its own brutal tests and you deal with sleep and food deprivation as well as all the stress you can handle the entire time.  Physical fitness tests, water survival tests, knot-tying tests, simulated combat patrols, and constant evaluation by the cadre as well as your peers demand the absolute best of you for the entire time you are there.  I consider myself 100% LUCKY that I didn’t have to recycle, meaning I didn’t have to return to the beginning of any of those phases and repeat it again.  I spent 61 days in Ranger School and I am convinced to this day that any longer than that may have forced me to tap out.

In 61 days, I went from 195 pounds to 166.  At 6’1″, I was an absolute shadow of myself.  There were nights during Ranger School where I had entire conversations with trees about why they needed to get back into formation and keep walking.  In fact, during Florida phase, I don’t think there was a single night of patrols that I didn’t hallucinate something.  Even in quickly jotted letters home to my wife on rainproof notebook paper, I go from talking about how much I miss her to how I have to go now because my German Shepherd is stuck up in a tree to how I’ve lost weight to Thor’s Hammer.  The feeling in my big toes didn’t come back for just under a year and to this day, I can fall asleep within 3 minutes in any position.  I can even doze off standing up.  By the end of the course, I was the walking dead.  The point of all this is that I only spent 61 days there and it pushed me to my absolute limit.

The two women graduating from Ranger School this week spent 120 days!!!  They recycled for a number of different reasons; physical tests, patrols, etc.  But given the chance to recycle, just like EVERY OTHER RANGER IS GIVEN if their cadre believe in them, they decided to stick with it and drive on.  Not only that, they peered well.  After every phase of Ranger School, you go through peer evaluations.  These are not your normal run-of-the-mill peer evaluations, though.  I remember being absolutely CRUSHING to the weak links in my squad.  There is literally a question on the form that says “would you share a foxhole with this person?”  And I said ‘no’ more than once.  I didn’t just want the weak links in my squad to fail, I wanted them out of the Army.  If they couldn’t pull it together for the people that were going through the same horrible bullshit they were going through, I knew they wouldn’t be able to for their soldiers.  And even as an inexperienced officer at the time, I knew soldiers deserved better than that.  The fact that the two women who are graduating from Ranger School peered well says volumes about their character and their mental toughness.


The standard did not change for them and they met it.  They met the Ranger Standard.  So why the hell are they unfit to wear the Ranger tab?  The answer is that there is absolutely no argument as to why they should not be able to wear it.  They earned it.  Anyone who can present a valid argument otherwise deserves a medal, because there isn’t one.  These women are strong, capable, tough, and well deserving of the honor they are about to receive.  Moments like these are important not only for the military, but for the athletic industry as well.

Women have been carrying greater and more important roles in society for decades now but some men are still trying to hold them back.  Why?  Men and women held to the same standards should be able to perform the same job and you can be damn sure that if a woman does a job better than a man, I want that woman on my team before I want the man.  That’s just common sense.  Right now, I am training a female powerlifter who just deadlifted 341 pounds in training less than a week ago.  To any guys reading this: yes.  341 pounds.  Get over it.  Because she wants 400 and nothing is going to stop her.  I am also training a young woman who at 15 years old, can run faster than any other athlete on any of my programs right now, regardless of gender.  Her sprint form is immaculate and she will play college softball wherever she wants to.  What is the common thing that defines these two women as well as the two that are graduating from Ranger School?  EFFORT.

I guess if there is one thing I am driving at here, it is that it doesn’t matter whether you’re male, female, short, tall, small, big, whatever.  It doesn’t matter what tradition dictates.  It doesn’t matter if your dad doesn’t think you’re good enough.  It doesn’t matter if you got cut once from the team.  It doesn’t matter if you go undrafted.  The only thing that matters is whether or not you want it bad enough to work your ass off for it.  And if you do, you’ll get it.  It might take 61 days or it might take 120.  Stop worrying about everyone else and just go make it happen for yourself.


Congratulations to the entire class of Rangers who will graduate Friday.  Don’t be late to formation.  RANGERS LEAD THE WAY.