- Posted January 24, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Women in combat: Your take
Worth a try, but....
After being 100% honest with myself, I cannot think of a reason why women should not be in combat arms that runs any deeper than "I just don't like it," which isn't a very good reason at all. The arguments about physical differences, male protection instinct, and sexual assault are legitimate problems to examine, but do not hold enough weight on their own. So I say, there's no better way to either confirm the critics or shut them up forever by letting women have a go at it. That being said, I do have some criteria that I believe must be met....
If women want total equality, which is what I assume this whole thing is about, then they need to have it. Equal in ALL categories. If infantrymen have to shave their heads and sport close cropped military haircuts, so should infantrywomen - no high buns and hair ties. If infantrymen can't wear makeup or nail polish in uniform, neither can infantrywomen. All these regulations exist so that women can maintain their "femininity" while in uniform, which I think is fine. But if it's combat you want, there's no room for that.
Moreover, no more female scale for the APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test). Currently there are separate male and female grading scales acknowledging the natural physical strength differences between the sexes. However, since proponents of gender integration seem to say that this is not true and should not be criteria for exclusion, then we need to get rid of the female scale altogether. And, I wish to note that women should not pat themselves on the back just because they can meet the minimum requirements on the men's grading scale, as if doing so proves they can hack it with the men. True, I have male Soldiers that meet the minimum scores and are allowed in the infantry. Also true, those same Soldiers are usually not respected, accepted, or positive contributers to the team. Saying you can meet the minimum standard isn't saying much, regardless of your gender.
Finally, no special privacy/hygiene considerations in the field or patrol bases (a security perimeter Soldiers live in when out in the field usually involving a slit trench latrine and baby wipe showers). If my men have to get naked and wipe each other down for prickly heat and squat over a hole in the ground in front of everybody to defecate, I would expect the same from my women. It's not hazing or discrimination, it's the infantry. If women want to be a part of the team, they play by the exact same rules as everyone else.
As a final note, I have read many articles that say women have already been serving "on the front lines" in combat, and this is all a moot point. The fact that women have been exposed to enemy fire and served bravely is true and is no small thing. However, simply coming into contact with the enemy is not an automatic jump to being "infantry-worthy." I have not seen women exposed to multiple-day long patrols in grueling mountainous terrain living in patrol base conditions (described above) carrying upwards of 100lbs of gear on their backs. That is the type of combat we are talking about when we talk light infantry, and we would do well to acknowledge that the combat experience of women during the past decade may not be an automatic infantry qualification.
If DoD is willing to truly ensure equality for males and females - equal standards in every aspect - and women are able to perform just as well as their brothers in arms, then they've earned the right to be there and I'd have no problems with it.