Women in Combat in USA

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Women have faced discrimination in the United States for decades. Fighting for women’s rights has been a struggle that some of the most important women in the U.S. have had to face. Discrimination in politics, labor, society and even in past wars has been a controversial issue. Women are known to have served in war since World War I, World War II and are still serving today in the United States armed forces. Women were able to serve in war as medical assistants, cooks, domestic labors, and even as mechanics, but never in combat. Despite not being allowed to fight in combat, many women found ways to to serve in combat fields and contribute to the war effort. Kate Lindsay, Director of War War One Centenary at University of Oxford, states in one of her articles that Loretta Perfectus Walsh, the first American active-duty women, became the first Navy petty officer when she was sworn in as a Chief Yeoman (Lindsay). Women like Lindsay were able to overcome the generalization that women were only able to able to serve in noncombat jobs.

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Many women sacrificed themselves or contributed to the war effort for their own country when their own country wouldn’t let them fight. Gender roles was a major key that contributed to the way society thought of women and men. Women for example were expected to stay home, take care of household labors, and take care of the children, in contrast of men who were expected to work, and provide for their families. Gender roles have been a major aspect in the armed forces. Women were expected to cook, care for sick soldiers, and do everything a normal housewife would do but on combat grounds. Roles for women had not changed, and it wasn’t until former President, Barack Obama, granted his Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, the approval to enroll women into combat grounds in March of 2015. Enrolling women meant one more step towards gender equality.  As Lindsay herself writes Engaging in combat would undermine the argument that it was not only those who fought for their nation (men) who a right to the ultimate gift of citizenship and right to vote (Lindsay). Women have the right to benefits as a U.S. citizen just like men.  Women should not have to feel inferior or incapable to fulfill an infantry job just because of their gender. Women are as mentally, physically, and emotionally capable as men to fight in American front lines or any infantry positions in the military, they should be allowed to serve in any capacity for which they are qualified.

Over time women have demonstrated physical preparedness. Experts decided that standards would not be lowered for women who tried to enroll in combat positions. In return women have proven to be able to live up to these standards and expectations, and have proven to endure in any physical activity they have had to the test. In the research volume, Women in the Military, researchers have collected data from people who contradict this statement, and many have said that women aren’t physically prepared to carry a wounded soldier out of combat or carry heavy bags in battle fields (Blacksmith 12). The solution to this possible outcome would be to train harder and have and have them physically prepare more to be able to lift more weight than the average women. In the past century women have been adapting and training. The Defense Department figures agree that women have shown that they are just as capable to serve in infantry roles just like men have (Congress Should Challenge Myths About Women, Combat, and the Draft).

Although some readers may object that women are not physically capable of fulfilling a job, I would answer that in time of catastrophic events, or worldwide events like war, both women and men would be called for service if needed, and there wouldn’t be any physical standards included (Congress Should Challenge Myths About Women, Combat, and the Draft). It is said that men are physically heavier than the average women and are generally easier to recruit, deploy, and it is also easier for them to get back in shape. As the Research group of CNN staff have found that, Among the enlisted ranks, women were most represented in the medical (30.5%) and administrative (30.1%) specialties. They made up about 17% of supply units, 14% of communications staff and 10% of electronic technicians (By the numbers: Women in the U.S. military).

As these statistics show not women made a very small percentage in infantry units, Enlisted women made up 2.7%  of the military’s front-line units.(By the numbers: Women in the U.S. military). Many have already gone to Ranger School which includes some of the hardest training sites in the armed forces. Women have already been able to pass this school, when not very many men have. Captain Kristen Griest was the first female to graduate Ranger School in the Summer of August 2015 from Fort Benning, Georgia after long and grueling months in training. After her, two more female soldiers were also able to earn their Ranger Tabs out of nineteen other female soldiers (Michelle Tan). Most men who attempt to get their Ranger tabs fail at the attempt and are not even there for a whole month. Ash Carter opened all infantry and armor units to women after the three females were able to earn their Ranger Tabs. These three females were able to prove that women indeed, have the physical endurance and capability to endure any physical challenge.

Women are not just physically, but also mentally prepared for mental trauma that they may experience. According to Wikipedia researchers, studies have shown that women are able to think and act better under pressure than men can (Women in Combat Pros and Cons). Psychological concerns worries those who opposed opening combat jobs for women. They argued that placing women into combat zones put them at risk of being captured, tortured, and possibly assaulted, but yet again so are men (Blacksmith). Many United States soldiers have been captured during war and have suffered traumatic events like these. Both men and women are at risk of experiencing any of these events. Gender doesn’t signal you as a specific target. Observers have also appointed the possible outcome of pregnancy while women women are in the military. Studies have shown that most female soldiers who are in the armed forces usually stay childless, and even unmarried if they make a career out of the military. Pregnancy is also not an excuse used to get out of the or any military branch. When women happen to get pregnant, they will stay in their unit and as the due date gets closer they go home and come back after six weeks of recovery (H.W. Wilson pg.48). Pregnancy is not an impediment for women who choose to have a family while still being in any military branch. Women are capable to take care of their children and do their job at the same time.

Following up physical, and psychological concerns, social pressure has also become an issue among women who want to pursue a combat or artillery position in a military branch. According to the research article Women in Combat , eighty percent of people who completed a survey on their opinion on opening combat jobs to women, said that women should not be allowed on infantry positions (Women in Combat). Despite social pressure and opinions, women have worked to prove their their ability to take on a job that most people consider to be only for men. Feminist groups have come to their defense by saying that women should be given an equal opportunity as men. Over time, women have set up their standards to prove people wrong in their biased opinion. Women are found in everyday jobs, ones that are more suitable for men Allowing women to be in infantry units would be an additive step towards gender equality. Being in a military position should be treated like any other occupation, especially in infantry artillery. The Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states, Equal protection under the law; cannot be denied entry into the military due to sex or race because of this protective amendment (Temchenko). All people with intentions to protect the U.S. with military service in combat should be given the opportunity to do so. H.W. Wilson Studies have shown that most men join the military because of financial issues and post-service benefits, unlike women who have joined to have a sense of patriotism (Women in the Military, Pg. 44). Constitutional rights apply to both men and women. No discrimination. No gender roles.

Foreign countries have allowed women to serve in combat positions. Countries such as Syria, and Afghanistan have allowed their women to serve on artillery units due to personnel shortages. The U.S. military branches have also found themselves in the same position. As generations go by every year there are less and less people who get the willing desire to serve in military branches for the U.S. Researcher of military recruitment rates stated that all-volunteer forces are severely troubled by falling retention and recruitment rates (Rob Callahan). Military branches are not in a position in which they can underestimate women’s ability to serve when they are running out of military personnel. Studies have shown that women are much easier to recruit than men. Allowing women to serve, doubles the talent pool for delicate and sensitive jobs that require interpersonal skills not every soldier has. A wider personnel base would allow militaries to have the best and most diplomatic soldiers working to end any type of conflict quickly. Allowing a mixed gender force would also keep the military strong in any aspects. A mixed gender force would also keep the military strong in any aspects. An observer stated that without women, the military would have shortfalls they would not be able to fulfill without them. Army General Camille M. Nichols is a female soldier who spent forty years of her life working in the military. Nichols describes her journey in the military in a positive way, reflecting a sense of pride when she talks about her patriotism, I am proud to have served besides many women. I am proud to have served in combat myself. (Lisa Ferdinando). Nichols is a first-hand example that women have no barriers. She was able to experience firsthand what being discriminated was like but that never stopped her from doing what she was most passionate about. She was able to demonstrate that women shouldn’t be underestimated for their ability. Her service made her one of the most respected women in the military.

Women’s effort to have gender equality has been going on throughout centuries. Ash Carter’s approval to open all military jobs to women was a step closer to gender equality. It was viewed as another victory for feminine groups. Two years after having approval, 2017 President-elect Donald Trump announced the possible ban of having women serve in infantry and artillery units in the military. Army secretary, Eric Fanning, a defender of women’s rights  stated, the initiatives will be hard to stop because of societal changes, it is harder to reverse decisions about who can wear the uniform than those about who can be forced to remove it (Richard Sisk). Advocates say that it would be very hard to change or reverse the policy due to the fact that many are already serving and have showed their ability to serve in combat roles. The decision of opening all infantry jobs to women should be kept open. The Pentagon, and former president Barack Obama made the right decisions in giving the opportunity to women to show their ability in every military job. An individual must be given the opportunity to show what they can do at the best of their abilities to prove a theory wrong or right. Female soldiers have been able to prove and show that they are more than capable of taking an all-men based job.

Physical, and mental issues are not an impediment for any female soldier willing to be part of any infantry, combat, or artillery positions. Women have broken these barriers by proving anti-feminists, any biased or prejudiced opinions wrong. Female soldiers have worked to show their abilities in any high standardized physical tests. Social pressures have not stopped women from doing their jobs or pursuing any all-men based job. Many have taken negative opinions as a sense of motivation to prove their opinions wrong. Women advocates have shown their support towards them and have shown full support to keep this policy. Opening all combat jobs to women have has been another step towards gender equality, and has shown that the improvement and importance it has given to women. Gender roles should no longer be part of the twenty-first century. Modern women are no longer just entitled to work in household labors or be a stay at home mom. Barack Obama and the pentagon made the right decision to open all military jobs to women. All women should be given the opportunity to show the best of their abilities.

Many women have been serving in combat since World War I and World War II without the approval of doing so. Many served in combat and contributed to the war effort without anyone’s approval in time of need. The stronger our military base, the better. The focus should be put into making our military branches stronger and improving it. Women who are already deployed and are at service have shown that they have the equal ability men have in military readiness. Therefore women should be given the opportunity to serve on front lines or infantry positions in the military and should be able to serve in any capacity in which they are qualified for.  

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Women in Combat in USA. (2019, Aug 15). Retrieved November 26, 2022 , from

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