Women have always been marginalized in various activities and even in careers. This is mainly because of the predominant male chauvinism that makes many people to believe that some jobs are a preserve for men. This is no longer the case in the modern world in which women have become more enlightened and informed about the issues that take place in the society.
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Even though the marginalization of women has drastically reduced, due to intensive campaigns on gender equality, this problem has not yet been completely solved. Gender imbalance is still manifested especially in the military where women have only been given supportive responsibilities instead of being allowed to engage in combat units (Carreiras 123).
In America, women involvement in war stretches back to the period of Britain occupation of America. Even though they did not directly engage in fighting, they could offer logistical support to the soldiers who were struggling to dislodge the British from the western part of US. For example, they acted as nurses, and they also fed the men who were fighting.
The nature of U.S military organization and operation has highly been revolutionized since the colonial period. It is against this background that I support the engagement of female soldiers in combat units.
The largest deployment of women in the history of the United States military missions occurred during the first Persian Gulf War. These women accounted for almost seven percent of the total force deployed. There has been much debate on whether women should or should not be part of combat units. This paper argues in favor of women involvement in combat units because of the following reasons.
The number of women joining the forces has been increasing steadily and there is substantial number of women serving in the U.S. military at present. Even though more women have been recruited in the military, this has not done them any justice at all. This is because they have not been allowed to fully participate in the military like their male counter parts. Hence, they have lacked so many opportunities in the forces.
Many female soldiers have been reduced to nurses and cooks, who simply act as maids for the combats during war and this not right (Mitchell 231). For example, in several U.S missions in Iraq, most of the women have always been left behind in the camps to take care of the injured soldiers. This has actually denied them the chance to fully exploit the opportunities in their career as soldiers. Moreover, it undermines their dignity as military officers.
The few female soldiers who have been engaged in combat units during military operations in I Iraq have demonstrated very good performance in the combat units.
This is enough to justify that women can best serve in combat units. It has also been noted that they are able to cope with dangers involved during such missions and many of them have also died just like other male soldiers. Therefore, there is nothing peculiar about them being combats. The success of most of U.S missions have also been partly attributed to the engagement of women in the combat units.
The ability of an army officer to rise to the high ranks largely depends on their performance in combat activities (Browne 267). Since many women have not been allowed to participate in combat units, they have not been able to get the opportunities for promotion. This has led to the stagnation of the performance of many female soldiers in the military. This best explains why many men occupy senior ranks compared to women.
Many people who oppose the move to have women in combat units normally argue that women are weak and cannot not cope with the dangerous encounters in the battle fields. In my view, such arguments are best on retrogressive thinking and wrong perception. Physical strength is quite important here but it is not the main factor that determines the success of a combat mission.
Currently, the success of any military mission is no longer based on how strong the soldiers are, but how organized, intelligent and well equipped they are. For example, many countries are no longer investing in thousands of soldiers, but they are now buying more sophisticated military equipment that can be handled very easily without necessarily using much force.
Therefore, women should not be locked out of combat units on the basis of their physical nature. For example, properly trained female soldiers can simply handle tanks and helicopters used by combat units. Apart from these, some women are well developed physically just like other men.
The idea of discipline among the soldiers can be used to oppose the argument that female soldiers cannot be fully compatible with their male counterparts in combat units. Some people contend that when women serve with men in the same combat units, the success of the male soldiers is likely to be reduced.
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In this case, such people believe that social problems touching on sexual relationship can occur and affect the soldiers, performance. In my view this can be avoided if the male soldiers respect their female colleagues and deal with them professionally. Why should it be argued that female soldiers are likely to affect the performance of male combats, yet women and men always work together very well in other professions? I think this is just a notion and there is no justification for such an argument.
One should believe that a man and a woman can have a working relationship and keep at bay sexual tension (Hunter 234). Thousands of people do it every day in civilian life. Those men and women in uniform are brothers and sisters. They protect our country and they understand that all they are asked to do is their job. And they know what it is they are and are not supposed to do.
Some individuals also contend that the engagement of women in these units will deny them the chance to give birth to children. Even though this may be true to some extend, I tend to differ with them on the point that people always make different choices on what they want to do. For example, a woman who wants to join a combat unit has to make a choice and ones she has come up with a decision to join the combats, then, it means that they are ready to cope with the rules and conditions set for them.
The engagement of women in this process will not only improve military operations but it will also bring in new perspective on how war should be carried out. In other wards, it will change peoples’ perception that defense can only be provided by men. This can make our society to have a different attitude toward war.
Physiological concerns have also been used to deny women the chance of going to combat units. It has been argued that women can face some difficulties during combat missions. For example, they can find it difficult to cope with menstruation during their combat activities.
“But those who rebut the woman’s body as military liability claims argue that menstruation does not incapacitate or debilitate most women” (Holmstedt 239). For example, “female military nurses have had a long history of functioning in wartime under primitive, unsanitary conditions without questions being raised about menstruation interfering with the performance of their duties” (Mitchell 198).
Tactical concern is another reason that has popularly been used to lock out women from combats. Such people argue that women are not very tactful when it comes to facing the enemies. It has also been alleged that ones a women have been hurt in the process of fighting, they normally lose confidence and their male counterparts end up concentrating on helping them at the expense of fulfilling the missions.
Even though this is likely to happen, it can be solved by simply engaging more women so that this peculiar feelings and sympathies can end. Ones more women have joined the combats the unique feelings that people have about them will automatically be solved.
Most of the challenges experienced when female combats are involved are mainly caused by their small number in the units. If more of them are engaged, they will be definitely treated just like other male combats. Through specialized training and motivation, women can equally serve as male combats.
“The role of women in the Marine Corps all began on August 13, 1918, when Opha Mae Johnson was enlisted as a Marine Corp” (Schwartz 14). Since then, the role of women in the Marine Corps and the rest of the armed forces have changed a lot. Lieutenant Colonel Dorothy Klasse is a member of the United States Army Corp of Engineers. She says that in her nineteen years of service as a military engineer, she has assisted in the integration of women into combat squads.
The number of senior women in the military has increased in the past ten years. Lieutenant General Carol A. Mutter became the most senior ranking female officer in 1998. She was a member of the Untied States Marine Corp, and ended her military career as Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower and Reserve Affairs at Headquarters Marine Corps.
According to her, gender played no role in her advancement as a Marine. Secretary of the Navy John H. Dalton delivered this part of his speech at Lt Gen Mutter’s retirement ceremony, “General Mutter has been a Marine of distinction, one whose legacy will make us remember that most important distinctions are not matters of gender, or race, or color but those of performance and action, and remaining true to the Corps. General Mutter has lived out her career, and her life, in that way” (Hunter 256).
If we allow women to work in small combat units, they will be able to adapt to the combat operations more effectively. If we allow these women to receive even more training in these jobs, and acknowledge what they are doing, they will be able to perform their job better. Women will always be in combat. So we should understand that fact, and take advantage of what they have to offer. Women are capable of doing their jobs in an all male dominated environments.
From the above discussion, it is very clear that women can be very important to the combat units if they are well trained and integrated with male combats. The success of female soldiers in Iraq missions is a clear testimony that the military is really losing the chance of using the vast skills and tactics that female soldiers have. The ability of women to advance their military career therefore lies with the legislators, who are supposed to come up with laws that will empower them to join combat units.
In addition to these, proper structures need to be employed in the military in order to uplift the status of women in the service. This can only be done by repealing some clauses in the military act that tend to marginalize female soldiers. It is also important for people to start thinking about women differently. Last but more importantly, the government has taken some action and it is now working on modalities of how to involve more women in combats.
For example, “in February 2010, the Secretary of Defense approved the proposed policy to have more women in the navy and signed letters formally notifying Congress of the intended change” (Schwartz 33). Since there was no opposition, “the Department of the Navy officially announced that it had authorized women to serve onboard submarines” (Schwartz 34).
Browne, Kingsley. Co-ed Combat: The New Evidence That Women Shouldn’t Fight the Nation’s Wars. New York: Wiley, 2007.
Carreiras, Helena. Gender and the Military: Women in the Armed Forces of Western Democracies. New York: Routledge, 2006.
Holmstedt, Kirsten. Band of Sisters: American Women at War in Iraq. New York: Stackpole Books, 2008.
Hunter, Michael. Honor Betrayed: Sexual Abuse in America’s Military. New York: Barricade Books, 2009.
Mitchell, Brian. Women in the Military: Flirting With Disaster. Berkley: Regnery Publishing, 1997.
Schwartz, Heather. Women of the U.S. Marine Corps (Women in the U.S. Armed Forces). New York: Wiley, 2010.