It was recently announced that women are now to be allowed to serve in combat roles in the U.S. military.
I am a supporter of this change, but my husband is not.
Normally I would defer to my husband on most military topics, seeing as he is the one who is actually in the military and has the experience. But since he doesn’t serve on the front lines in a combat role (he is a helicopter mechanic), I am hesitant to put much stock in his reasoning.
The reasons again women in combat that he brings up are common ones that I’ve seen so far in public debates and news articles.
- Women aren’t physically as strong: This is true. Most women are not physically as strong as most men. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some women out there who can’t pass the same physical tests that are required for a combat role. They should at least be given the chance to apply for the position and be evaluated on the same scales as the men. A 100 lb. man (there are many very skinny Marines!) is still given the opportunity to apply for the position, but a female athlete in amazing physical shape is not. It’s about equal opportunity, not equal representation of men and women in combat roles.
- If a man and a woman are on the front lines and a woman gets hurt then the men will be distracted by trying to help her; aka, men’s chivalrous instincts will kick in and they will disregard their training to ‘rescue’ a woman or protect her: I found a quote from a news article I read about this to be appropriate and funny. They were interviewing an officer about this issue and he said something along the lines of “most men don’t even open doors for women anymore, I don’t think it’s an issue”. While I do see the point of this argument, I feel that with the amount of training these units go through, they can work through this ‘rescue instinct’ and incorporate it into their training to follow orders and treat all their team members are equal.
- Women don’t have the mental strength for combat: (This argument comes from another military spouse I know, not my husband. I don’t think he would ever say this to my face lol). This I just find patronizing, especially coming from another woman. I am by no means a feminist; I like having doors opened for me and having men clean up their foul language around me. But knowing that there are people out there who think that women are still the “weaker sex” mentally is frustrating to me. But aside from my personal opinion, this is where the screening process and training again comes in to play to determine if a woman can handle the mental strain that comes with being on the front lines. And just as a side note, I’ve met quite a few infantry Marines, they don’t exactly scream “mental stability” to me….
- Along the lines of the “rescue instinct”, men will be distracted by having a woman in their unit (sexual attraction and all that): My goodness, with all this irresistible sexual attraction of women it’s amazing any businesses get work done. How are the doctors preforming life saving surgeries working side by side with a female nurses? How are firefighters rescuing people with female firefighters by their side? I think my sarcasm gets the point across, we can all keep it in our pants when were on the job being professionals.
I’m always open for a good (polite) debate if anybody disagrees with me. I don’t think it’s a cut and dry issue, and it will probably take a while before all the potential issues get sorted out.
But as I said before, for me equality is about equal opportunity. Should every woman be allowed to have a combat role? Not at all, but women should still have the equal opportunity to apply for the position and be evaluated based on the requirements for the job just as any man would be.