I was born in 1973, brought up in an atmosphere of equality, always taught that the only differences between men and women were biological. At University that was reinforced because of classes together, girlfriends, partying, it just seemed obvious to me, and probably others of my generation.
But strangely, perhaps archaically, while women have equal rights in our society (and I’m talking about the US here, but I believe it applies to pretty much every Western nation), they are banned from combat roles. Not to put too fine a point on it, why?
Possible reasons, and my take on them:
- If women are killed, men might show a more chivalric attitude and protect the women more than say, their fellow brothers. Absolute bullshit. Look at WW1 or WW2 documentaries, men gave their lives for their fellow soldiers, sometimes for seemingly idiotic reasons.
- If women are injured, men might see some female flesh. Men could see that at a football game or a magazine, you don’t see that distracting them from the football. With bullets whizzing past their heads I bet they’d be more interested in not dying than stopping to see a boob.
- Women are the more delicate sex. ROTFL. I think the past 50 years has shown that to be a fallacy.
- Women don’t have the aggressive attitude needed for combat. Clearly the men who drafted the “no women in frontline combat” rule don’t know women very well. I bet some women could throw a grenade further …
- Men might have problems taking orders from women. Some men have been doing that for centuries, why do we have a problem with it now? If we are truly equal then there should be no difference between saluting a female superior officer than saluting a male superior officer (you salute the rank, not the person).
- Women’s monthly cycle will interfere with frontline military operations. That’s a more valid argument, but still archaic, and nonsense. Frankly, if I were an enemy soldier and I knew there were women with PMS fighting me, I’d lay down my arms.
- Women are child-bearers. This is a more realistic argument – men can impregnate many women but a woman can only bear one (or up to six or so) child at once. BUT – if a woman has joined the military she’s not likely to be bearing children, so that argument really is a bad one. There are many women who don’t join the military, who CAN bear children.
- In a real war, receiving news of thousands of young women dying may turn public opinion more than the news of thousands of young men dying. Yes, I can see this. But, in say, WW2, many tens of thousands of civilian women died in bombing, so in today’s world that shouldn’t be true. I know that’s not true though, our society would view it with horror more than men dying – you EXPECT male soldiers to die in war, not female soldiers in the same numbers.
I can’t really think of any other reason why women wouldn’t be in frontline combat roles, which means that, forgoing any of the above, the powers that be are blocking them for no reason. Now, as we stand, women who are in Iraq are suffering under the same conditions as male soldiers – in fact a woman just died in a car bomb incident, with several missing. If they face the same conditions then they should be given combat roles – they are capable, bright, just as caring as male soldiers, and just as tenacious. To overlook their capabilities because of biology is ridiculous and misogynistic.
Maybe just to prove that point, Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester of the Ky. National Guard was just awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in combat. So just in case anyone thinks it was for political reasons, here is the criteria for the Silver Star:
The Silver Star is awarded to a person who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Army, is cited for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force, or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party. The required gallantry, while of a lesser degree than that required for the Distinguished Service Cross, must nevertheless have been performed with marked distinction.
To sum up: I think women should be given the equality they have fought for. If a young woman wants to serve her country in combat then she should be allowed to, and not denied solely on the biology of her body. Clearly, from Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester’s example above, women are as brave and gallant as their male compatriots. I do not feel more sorry for the female soldiers who die than for the male soldiers, I admire them all, I feel for their families just the same.