Why are women in combat a big deal? Women have been a part of wars and combat clear back to the bible. In American history, there are stories of women dressing up as men during the revolutionary war to fight. Even today, multiple countries allow women in combat roles. Alas the United States, the land of the free and home of the brave, restricts women from combat roles in the military. This is a revolving door and at the moment. The Pentagon is working on ways to politically allow women into combat roles, but there is much debate about the topic.
I find most debates are unfounded by statistics and research. Usually topics are thrown around with little to no thought put into them. They are usually general stereotypes with little to no knowledge or thought put into a solid argument. Women are weaker, women have periods, there will be sex or rape, the standards will be lowered, etc. I usually just shake my head and don’t bother commenting. However, as women in the combat roles falls into a taboo topic, I thought I would address it. I will state here that these are my opinions and thoughts on the matter and less about how the topics taboo.
The first argument presented is always women are physically weaker. Hence if we allow women into combat arms the standard will be lowered and everyone will be in more danger. I think this is the worst argument that I have ever heard come out of someones mouth. That is a general stereotype. If instead of being concerned about gender or race and instead focused on standards the correct people would end up in the job. There are incredibly fit females and there are incredibly unfit males and vice versa. If a high standard was set and maintained then I would feel safer and better with someone who met and maintained the physical standard. Whether it is a 12 miles in 3 hours 35 pound ruck march, a 5 miles in 40 minute run, 6 strict pull ups, or the current male standard for the physical fitness test (for whatever branch of service, Army, Marine, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard), an individual’s ability to physically maintain their performance should dictate whether or not a person is in the job, especially combat. The fact of the matter is that if people are qualified then they should be allowed to do the job they are capable of. If people are not qualified then they should not be in the job. Regardless, everyone in the military should be able to have the same training to instill equal skill and confidence because at the base level every military member should be an infantryman.
“Bears can smell the menstration” (Anchorman). The next argument that comes up is girls have periods, they can get pregnant and they can’t pee standing up! Yes, women and men have different anatomy. I know shocking! However, the difference in anatomy has rarely created an issue. There are many health risks in combat jobs, just like other jobs. When training or in combat their are going to be times when Soldiers are in the “field” (aka camping) for a prolonged amount of time. How does a period affect women in this position? It doesn’t. How do I know this? Because I’ve been there and so have many other females. Women go to the field in noncombat jobs. Yet, we continue to have it brought up as a reason why women shouldn’t be in combat. The bathroom argument has never made sense to me. If your safety is important and you have to go, you’re going to go, just like anyone else. Fun fact, technology has created a funnel that allows women to pee standing up. Something else I would love to point out is, guys can’t stand up and take a shit; eventually a guy has to squat too. The body has normal functions and its not a big deal. If a girl isn’t ok with going to the bathroom in front of guys she’s probably not the one trying to be in the infantry. Yes, women can get pregnant, women can also use highly effective birth control and so can men. Got it, if a woman is pregnant she probably shouldn’t be in combat. I’m not going to argue that, but pregnancy can be prevented if people are responsible.
The third argument I am going to label professionalism. I believe that it encompasses mental, emotional, rape or sexual assault, and harassment. This, I actually believe is a valid argument. Not because women aren’t professional, but because there are too many men and women in these jobs that are NOT professional enough to put aside bias, stereotypes and pride, for the job. It’s not the one professional is the hundreds of others that aren’t. Sadly, even without women in combat positions they are still not professional enough to be in the same job. These are the individuals, who break protocol, harass, haze, make bets, sleep around, try to look cool and are out of touch with their own importance, make it near impossible for U.S Soldiers to just be Soldiers and not gender, race, or sexuality. The only thing standing in the way of not just women, but sameness in combat jobs is true professionalism.
Regardless of all those points above, women and all Soldiers deserve the same training as men. To deny training to an individual for any other reason than they are simply unqualified by their own scores is to ruin our own force. Making individuals meet the same standard and allowing full training is the only way our military is going to get better. Politics and numbers need to be put aside and the best training needs to occur for everyone. If a military member can’t meet the standard at any moment (with exception for injuries, medical conditions, and I’m sure a handful of other reasons) they need to be relieved from their job. If they are unable to meet the basic criteria laid out for Soldiers then they need to be relieved from the military. This needs to happen regardless of race, gender, sexuality, or any other possible discriminatory bias people can create. War is no longer conventional. It is asymmetrical, there is no front line and every service member deserves the best training to protect themselves and the others around them.