April 14, 2015
Throughout the history of the armed forces, there have been innumerable heroes who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in serving their country. They are given prestigious medals, high ranking titles, and even have movies made about their heroic efforts during their service. However, if one were to look back through the pages of our Nation’s history, there is something that almost every single hero has in common: they are all men. Women have been serving in almost every conflict since the American Revolution in some capacity; however, they were officially not allowed to engage in any situation that is considered an active conflict until 2013 when the Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta removed the ban on women serving in combat. While there are many concerns over the morality of women in combat, physical differences between genders, the presence of women in a war zone, sexual assault on women, among many others, these are all issues that are either placing blame on the wrong variable or creating fictional issues where there are none. The morality issue of women fighting in combat is part of an old belief that men are the providers and protectors, while women are the docile homemakers. This is not a new belief and it is important to address this notion of gender inequality when it comes to discussions of morality, particularly when they are instituted from outdated, theologically rooted opinions. Albert Mohler II, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, stated this when asked about his opinion on the issue: “If it is true that a majority of the American people affirm their readiness to see women ‘join combat units, where they would be directly involved in the ground fighting,’ the American people are demonstrating their disregard for the moral wisdom of the ages. The nation is forfeiting the responsibility of men to act as protectors of women, and acquiescing to the failure of men to fulfill their duty” (Mohler, 2009). While outdated and seemingly misguided, this notion of women breaking through the gender lines being seen as immoral and unnatural is not limited to the religious zealots of today’s world. In 2013, a writer for CNN called the ban removal a “dangerous experiment…What protections will they have against being thrown into front-line infantry units as organizational dividers soften and expectations change?” (Boykin, 2013). The notion that women seem to not know what they are getting themselves into and that any show of strength by women is a show of weakness on men is erroneous, at best. This sort of mentality that women are to be pitied is exactly the reason why it has taken so long for equality in the military to begin practice, although it is still a far way off.
The notion that women are more emotionally and physically fragile than men is not a new idea, but it has not taken many factors into account. Specifically that these combat positions are not simply being handed to any woman who is interested in applying. In the same way that male soldiers are required to pass vigorous trainings in order to be accepted to certain programs, women will have to do the same. They will also have to do the same sort of training camps as men do, although the two genders are separated during such camps. On the United States Marines online journal, The Marine Corps Gazette, the reason for this measure is stated as follows: “… gender-segregated recruit training was deemed critical to protecting female recruits from ridicule and criticism, scorn from male counterparts when perceived as under-performing, and resentment when outperforming male recruits” (LtCol Collins, 2014). The notion that women are kept separate from their male fellows is for their “own good” is the same sort of notion that kept women out of combat in the first place. It is also the sort of mentality that initially kept them from voting, holding property, working,