Columnist

Dave Molter is a freelance writer and Golden Quill and Keystone Press Awards winner. He also is a freelance musician in the Pittsburgh area.

This is the army, Ms. Jones

I had a swell time in the ‘50s wreaking simulated death and destruction.Using my Mattel Fanner 50 or my Hopalong Cassady twin pearl-handled six-shooters, I killed me a passle o’ outlaws and rustlers. Blew the smoke away from the muzzle casually. Dispatched several trail bums, train robbers and claim jumpers with my replica of the modified Winchester Model 1892 used by Rifleman Lucas McCain in North Fork.

I sent countless imaginary Nazis, inscrutable Sons of Nippon and Ruskies to meet their maker, most via the replica single-shot bolt-action .22 rifle I received as a gift one Christmas. If they were Japanese or Chinese Commies they would scream, “Eat leaden death, G.I.!” while charging at me. My Maco toy hand grenade would disintegrate them with a single cap. Mom gave me the grenade for my birthday, wrapped up in a saltine cracker box and tissue paper.

If the weather was bad, I’d stay inside and set up a battalion of green plastic soldiers on the dining room floor, then mow ‘em down repeatedly with my Marx Howitzer cannon, which fired plastic shells. It was hard to tell the enemy apart from my own men. But I never killed a woman. Because there were no female green plastic soldiers. But all that is about to change.

At the request of a little girl from Arkansas, BMC Toys, based in Scranton, will begin manufacturing female Green Army Men (the name is a trademark) in time for Christmas 2020 distribution. Six-year-old Vivian Lord’s hand-printed letter moved BMC owner Jeff Imel, who will have to pay a designer and have molds made for production.

“Why do you not make girl army men?” Vivian wrote. “I saw the pink ones but those are girls and people in the army don’t wear pink. Some girls don’t like pink so please can you make army girls that look like women. I would play with them every day and my friends would, too.”

Imel says a few people over the years have asked why his company didn’t make female plastic soldiers. But never a child. It swayed him. Imel also notes that some customers resisted the idea, noting that toy soldier sets are meant to depict troops as they were during World War II, when women did not serve in combat roles. But times have changed.

BMC will release the female soldiers in their own set, to be called Plastic Army Women, in 2020. Although this does, indeed, reflect the contemporary army, segregating the troops into “his” and “hers” bags sends a somewhat contradictory message about equality, I think. Will it encourage girls to set up their female phalanxes separately? If killed in battle – or, say, chewed up by a rogue Cocker Spaniel – will plastic female warriors be laid to rest in separate, gender-specific trash bags, or will they be combined with their male counterparts in a consecrated coed Hefty bag?

So I’m not sure how I feel about the establishment of separate-but-equal female expeditionary force. Part of me – the part that never had to be schooled on the equality of women in everything and their superiority in many things – says, “Why not?” Yet a bigger part of me wishes that this was one walk of death to which women would not aspire. I see gun shop billboards showing an attractive brunette pointing her snub-nosed revolver at me on the highway. I view it not as empowerment, but as a tool using sexuality to attract men to gun shops.

Yeah … women like guns, too. Meghan McCain says, “I won’t live in a world without guns.”

Yet she is comfortable having every possibility of dying in a world with them.

Not me. No Green Army Women.

My opinion is set in plastic.

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