The belief that women should not be allowed to go into danger zones is now dated. This belief was the outcome of gender stereotypes that women are less capable as soldiers and fighting is a masculine trait. We cannot create a just society where everyone has access to similar opportunities and an equal shot at their dreams unless gender roles are done away with. Differences in physical attributes do not constitute a just excuse to engage in gender-based discrimination, especially when there are numerous examples of women of not only effectively handling the realities of war but actually excelling at assigned tasks and missions. This is not to deny the fact that certain differences do exist between men and women and which help or hinder the cause of gender separation. But these differences are minor and should not form the basis of gender discrimination in terms of an access to a particular occupation.
The major argument against the drafting of women as infantry members or soldiers is different physical and psychological attributes. Women are usually physically weaker than men in terms of upper body strength and gross motor skills such as running, jumping and so forth. But despite being at disadvantage against men, women have performed feats equal to that of men and one notable example is Staff Sergeant Stacy Pearsell who evacuated a male colleague over 6 feet in height and weighing 200 lbs. There may be differences in physical abilities between men and women but by becoming more aware of gender stereotypes and biases, we have discovered that the differences have been exaggerated. The ability to cope with the psychological strain of combat is not dependent upon one’s gender and both male and female soldiers are equally likely to report stress and evolution in thinking and behavior after witnessing the horrors of war. Even if one is a cook who serves meals to the soldiers or is an infantryman responsible for patrol through enemy territory, he/she is still exposed to the horrors of war and cannot escape the psychological impact of war. Thus, it is an inaccurate claim that men are psychologically superior than women to deal with the horrors of war. The occurrence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) doesn’t depend on one’s gender and even minor shocks like being involved in an automobile accident may give birth to PTSD. Our uniqueness and individuality as human beings means the way we respond to a particular event depends upon our individual personality traits. Women have always been a part of war since the beginning of written history and there are countless examples of women not only surviving the horrors of war but actually performing at levels equal or superior to those of their male counterparts.
Many other arguments have also been presented to oppose women inclusion in combat positions but they have either been motivated by professional jealousy or have little substance. One of the most ridiculous arguments is that inclusion of women will only increase the instances of sexual harassment and rape. Even if this may be true, the key to tackling the issue is education and promoting respect for each other rather than avoiding the challenge by engaging in professional discrimination against women. By the same logic, women should also not be allowed to work in other professions such as Corporate America because this increases the probability of sexual harassment and/or rape. In fact, there are numerous other professions in which women are exposed to same dangerous scenarios as men such as firefighting, police, and national intelligence. Women even stand hand in hand with their male colleagues in the elite Green Berets of the Army’s Special Forces. In all these professions, women have been proving themselves to be a great component of the total equation and have demonstrated that gender differences do not matter much.
Being a military solider as well as a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, I have spent three years with my female colleagues in the war zone and am convinced change is long overdue. I am a witness to the fact that female solders posses amazing strength and determination and I have no doubt that women soldiers can and will thrive on equal footing as their male colleagues one day. America is one of the few remaining first world countries to still fully integrate women into its armed forces. We have numerous examples if we carefully look around that it is better to judge people on their abilities and not on preconceived ideas of inequality or stereotypes. We should provide opportunity to anyone who has the required skills and abilities irrespective of their gender, racial, and ethnic background. Freedom and equality only thrive when differences are appreciated and not become a source of discrimination so as to prevent an individual from achieving the American dream. People should be able to become what they want to, not what others want them to be.
- Dao, James. “Women Warriors.” Junior Scholastic Mar 18 2013: 8-11. ProQuest. Web. 14 May 2013 .
- McNulty, Shelly S., M.A.J.O.R. “Myth Busted: Women are Serving in Ground Combat Positions.” The Air Force Law Review 68 (2012): 119-65. ProQuest. Web. 14 May 2013.
- Dowler, Lorraine. “Women on the Frontlines: Rethinking War Narratives Post 9/11.” GeoJournal 58.2-3 (2002): 159-65. ProQuest. Web. 14 May 2013.