Women in Combat

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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….
  4. 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.


15 thoughts on “Women in Combat

  1. I’m completely on the same page with you about all of these arguments. Just like any debated issue, people are jumping to conclusions that don’t really hold any water. If women are as unqualified as so many people seem to think, why not test them to see if they are qualified or not?
    Another thing which I don’t think you mentioned is that there are already women in military positions who are engaged in combat situations, they are just not formally recognized for it.
    It seems to me like most people who are against women in combat are afraid of change. They are clinging to the antiquated notions that women are weak and their true purpose in life is to have babies while men are strong and their job is to fight and protect their wives and children. We’ve come so far in terms of moving away from these gender roles but for some reason when there is any kind of forward movement like this, people seem to come out of the woodwork and present those old ideas as fact.

    Also, if you wanna talk gender differences, I haven’t heard one person mention that women are able to tolerate more pain than men. Wouldn’t this be an asset to them in combat?

    • That is very true! Many women are already in infantry and front line positions but without having the “official” title or recognition. And they are doing a great job! I think it does come down to fear of change, but I am glad the military is finally making a step in the right direction.

  2. You presented a very energized topic. Thank you. And a thank you for your husband, of course.

    My friend from 27 years ago was a Gunny in the 1st Recon out of Pendleton. Three tours of duty in ‘Nam before wounds took him out of combat. By coincidence, I vividly recall a conversation with him on this topic.

    In short, he was against it. He said essentially there are too many variables out in the field (or jungle as it was in ‘Nam). When you thought it was going to end soon (i.e., get overrun), your mind got to thinking about, well, you know how men are. They would want to “do it” one more time… and having temptation there would not be good.

    He also said he went back into the jungle on a couple of occasions – after they were forced to “seek cover” (i.e., retreat). They found two buddies strung up – castrated, decapitated and with their genitals in the mouths of several Vietnamese women who were obviously raped and mutilated as well.

    As my two WWII neighbors (now deceased and in peace) and my father said, “War is no good” and “War makes young men do crazy things.”

    I do believe in equal opportunity as you voiced. I’m just not too sure of what horrible things may happen to female soldiers on the front lines. Regardless, the door is open.

    Sorry for the long commentary.


    • Thanks for the comment! Your point is something that was also brought up in another articles I read, that women can be raped and that if captured they could be victimized. The articles mentioned (and I agree), that men can also be raped and tortured, it’s not gender specific. I think any woman who signs up to serve on the front lines is well aware of the risks she is taking, as are the male soldiers who put their life on the line.

  3. Personally, I disagree. Ive written a post on it, so I wont go into a long winded detailed explanation, but many of the reasons you wrote your self for why so many people are against it is exactly why I am. If a woman wants to, by all means but personally Im against it. However, Im kind of old fashioned in my views about alot of things(You can thank my overly catholic grandparents for instilling in me the ‘you need to be barefoot and pregnant’ mentality. However Im not THAT old fashioned haha). Anywho, you do make alot of great points. Equality is equal opppertunity. My point of contention on that though is that equal rights has a place and personally I dont think this is one of those places.

    • How in the world can “equal rights have a place”!? It’s either equal or it’s not. There is not a place for equality, it is a human right.

    • I mean, it’s one thing to be against an idea – I’m not even sure where I stand on the issue of women in combat, as a stand alone issue – but I have to agree that coming from an equality stand point, they deserve the opportunity.

      • I guess what I meant was ‘why mess with a good thing.’ meaning that the infantry is ALL men, has always been. Im a creature of habit,I dislike change in any degree(Alot of that comes from needing a routine for my home else my 5yro autistic child freaks out lol). Therefore I believe that yes, women deserve oppertunities, however I just think, for many reasons, its a bad bad idea. Thats just my opinion though. Women can be as bad a** as men, no denying that but some things are better left alone. Thats what I meant, I guess with ‘Equality has its place and this isnt it’. Sorry if it offended or confused 😀

      • I see your point, that the system works the way it is, so why mess with it. But I think looking back on history we can see that that argument isn’t always accurate. Otherwise women and blacks would still not be able to vote. I think change is scary, especially when it’s in the military. I’m sure all these same arguments were made when women were allowed to be pilots or to join the military in general as anything other than nurses. And so far it’s worked out well, and I think this is just another example of a big change that will turn out fine.

      • I appreciate your comments though! Not everyone is going to agree on the issue, that’s why it’s so highly debated! 🙂 your certainly not alone in your view point

  4. I agree that they should get the opportunity to do that if they pass all requirements, but the last one about how it’s amazing any businesses get their jobs done and they aren’t all in a big pile on the floor at work is a little different than living in a foreign country with a bunch of guys who are either married or single who don’t get the phones a lot…. For the most part most I think they could keep it professional but it is 100 % different than a us business where men and women work equally because they go home nightly and don’t have to live in the building with their co workers for 7 plus months at a time, there is no denying the difference in those situations. Most 19-20 year old marines show off around women to catch their eye and that’s where they might have a problem

    • Very true. I guess I was coming at it more from the stress angle. The argument being that in a stressful environment sexual tension can get in the way, and that’s certainly not true for other jobs like doctors and firefighters. But the living situation does put a different spin on it. I guess I just think that people should be able to keep it in their pants when they are on the job, regardless of the external circumstances. I have faith in humanity to overcome their base urges lol

  5. Personally, I don’t agree with it at all. For the sole reason that they will “dumb down” the physical fitness standards to accommodate women in this field. They already have different “fitness standards” for women in PT and just about every training school. Women qualify differently then men. If you think she is equal to a man, she needs to run the mile in the same times, do as many push ups and whatever else the men do. She needs to be able to pass those same standards, not abbreviated ones because she’s a woman. You cannot call us equal, but have us pass a separate, and lower, test. That’s not “Equal”. That’s placating our gender and furthering the “women are weaker” mentality. I say, give it a try if that’s what you want to do, but you should be able to do it at the current fitness level of the men you will work beside. Those men will have to put there lives on the line to make sure you get home and if you can’t keep up on a run, you put them in danger during a fight. What happens when one of these guys in his gear goes down, will she be able to carry him to safety the way a man could? It comes down to safety in the field. If my husband’s life depends on her ability to carry him to safety or to be able to keep up on a mission and she can’t do it, that puts a lot of precious lives in danger.

    • I totally agree, they should not lower the standards. If a woman wants to have a combat position she should be able to pass the exact same test as a man, not a lowed version to accommodate women’s weaker physical strength as is done in other jobs within the military.

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