Facing Women in the Military
Article by: Krittika Roy
(U.S. Army photo/Sgt. 1st Class Jason Epperson)
Since the dawn of Western literature, war has captivated poets. The glory of warfare is engraved in literature, eulogizing the principles of courage, loyalty, treachery, and trickery. It has become mere entertainment to achieve the nuance that marks any sensitive understanding of the human condition, ultimately becoming profound with our deepest human abilities. The connotations related to the glory of war are most importantly associated with the experience of a man. Men are the most noble when risking death in the heat of combat, and this has become almost a fact. Traditional perspectives make people feel uncomfortable with the idea of women fighting, notably the idea of mothers coming home in a casket rather than a father. There are concerns that women will interfere with group bonding and cohesion. There is also the argument of concern surrounding the dangers of sexual harassment and the capability women possess to do the job, particularly within front-line positions. Interestingly, it is the same arguments that interfered with the integration of African Americans and individuals from the LGBTQ community into the military, that also affect the acceptance of women in the military. Thus, I question, should the inclusion of women in the military, be normalized in literature and various cultures?
Yes, the inclusion of women in the military should be normalized in literature and cultures around the world. Gender discrimination is prevalent, and if the military cannot abolish sexism, the world too will not see equality for several years to come. Gender stereotypes and institutional bias within the military are of no surprise. They stem from two forms of sexism, and distinguishing the differences facilitates a greater understanding of gender discrimination. Hostile sexism is the antagonistic attitude toward women, while benevolent sexism is masked as positive, portraying women as people who deserve greater care and protection in society. However, both forms deem women as less competent and inevitably lowers their expectations through limiting their roles. These beliefs are highlighted in male-dominated professions, including the military. The Georgia Army National survey sought to discover whether women were truly failing to meet physical requirements in skill training. The survey showed female soldiers had a positive view of their own abilities. The survey also asked respondents if they provided women with quality training provided to the male soldiers. Seventy percent of respondents stated they needed additional training, and were not given a chance. Firstly, trainers either have been allowing women to pass testing at a lower standard and refused to help advance their capabilities if they failed. This is known as “if she fails, therefore she can’t syndrome”.
Let’s take benevolent sexism into consideration by acknowledging the issue of safety and sexual harassment. One of the major reasons cited for why women should not or can’t serve in the military is due to the fear of being subject to sexual crimes. Sadly, many do not acknowledge the crime of rape against women in the military, as it is not their place to begin with. Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) gathered that women admit that they were discharged after being raped, or are afraid of reporting their rape. What may we generally gather from these facts? That it is dangerous for women to be a part of the glory of war? That they do not possess the same skills, ambition and principles of courage like the great men of the military do? Should women not avoid these dangers? Ultimately this article can continue to be as long as the list of women that were betrayed by the military and the number of women who are passionate about serving, but are restrained from partaking. The problem is pervasive and is reinforced by those in upper command, and not just in the military, but in general. It is an obstacle we should overcome, if and only if, the military as an entire cultural stigma progresses beyond these sexist views.