Discrimination In The Military Essay Research Paper

Discrimination In The Military Essay, Research Paper

Discrimination in the Military

Yes, the military does have sexual harassment and

discrimination against women in the nineties. “Firestone and

co-researcher Richard J. Hurns analyzed a 1988 DOD Survey of men and

women in the military and found that 51.8 % of men and 74.6% of women

reported either experiencing or knowing of sexual harassment. Amoung

the women surveyed, 70.1% had experienced “sexual talk or behavior at

the work place [that] created an offensive, hostile or intimidating

environment.” Amoung the men, 36.9% gave the same answer.”(1) The

percent of women being sexually harassed is much higher than the

percent of men being harassed. Even though it is not tolerated, it

still happens regardless of the consequences, even in the nineties.

While some women’s experiences have been similar to those of black

men, their integration into the military has also differed in several

ways. Because of our society’s fundamental belief that protecting the

home and going to war are a man’s work, men from minority groups have

often been accepted more readily in the military than the women. Women

have been viewed as outsiders in a male environment. Discrimination

and harassment occurs for women because we are entering an all male

dominated area. Some areas are still restricted because of it. For

example: serving in direct combat capacities such as armor, infantry,

and special forces-branches from which much of the senior leadership

is drawn. “In 1994, the annual Navywide Personnel Survey included

questions on women’s role for the first time. Some 65 percent of

officers and almost 50 percent of enlisted respondents said they did

not think women were fully accepted in combat roles. While

approximately 80 percent said harassment was not tolerated at their

command, almost half of all respondents disagreed that everyone is

treated equally in promotions and advancements.”(2) Some of this is

bases on the presumed physical and psychological characteristics of

women which may interfere with their performances of some military

jobs. For example: the physical strength of women. People believe that

women are not strong enough to lift and carry heavy equipment or

wounded fellow soldiers and that we lack endurance to perform these

tasks over a lengthened period of time. Also, there is the idea that

women can not perform strenuous tasks quickly, like loading heavy

shells into a weapon. And combat is not for the weak and slow.

Although allowing women in combat remains a top priority, women are

now serving in virtually every other occupational capacity in all four

branches of the military. A large number of previously restricted

areas to women have been opened in the Army and Marine Corps, and the

Air Force has women training now for all previously closed career

fields. Even the Navy is improving, which is a shock on its own. Even

with increasing sexual harassment cases, the rising number of women

being recruited is not due to any idealistic vision of the right of

women to serve their country in uniform. One might say this trend is

driven by the need to recruit an increasingly intelligent,

well-educated, and fit military in the face of data that reflects the

shrinking amount of qualified male candidates. “By current estimates,

there are 191,399 women on active duty in all four branches of the US

Armed Forces, accounting for approximately 12.7 % of all active duty

Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Personnel. As of September 1995,

women accounted for 13.2 % of all officers and 12.6% of all enlisted

personnel. Approximately 16 percent of all active duty Air Force

Personnel (officers and enlisted) are women, followed by 13 percent of

the Army, 12 percent of the Navy, and about 4.6 percent of the

Marines.”(3) Sexual harassment is believed to be increasing, but one

must remember a lot of sexual harassment goes unreported. It is a

shame women are afraid to report cases for fear of being thrown out of

their job, or just plain lack of knowledge on where to go or what to

do. Women can get the feeling of not trusting anyone in the military

command easier than women for two reasons. One, 99 percent of

commanding ranks are taken by men, and two, men are more likely to

help men than women. A woman can not get help from a commanding

officer that’s a woman, because the commanding officer is probably in

a rut of her own. Women should join forces and overthrow the men in

charge. The US would see a dramatic difference in sexual harassment

cases reported. “A Pentagon Survey of 90,000 service members showed

that, overall, sexual harassment in the military is declining, but

still common, involving over half the women in the military. The

number of women reporting any type of sexual harassment in the

previous twelve months dropped from 64 percent in a 1988 survey of all

the services to 55 percent, according to the report. The unreleased

documents indicated that amoung the individual services, the Navy

improved the most over that period. For 1995, that number had dropped

to 53 percent. The Air Force, as in 1988, continued to show the lowest

overall percentage of harassment amoung women surveyed, dropping from

57 percent to 49 percent.”(4) The Navy has made a strong and

thoughtful effort towards the declining of sexual harassment since the

Tailhook scandal. In fact, all the services have. Beginning this year,

equal opportunity training is to be received by everyone. Everyone

should strive for not tolerating discrimination or sexual harassment.

Each person is valuable to the military, and what happens to one

affects many others. Here are some key task force recommendations:

Evaluate each service member’s commitment to equal opportunity and

document deviations in performance reports. Train leaders on their

roles and responsibilities for equal opportunity programs. Ensure the

chain of command remains an integral part of the processing and

resolution of complaints. Strongly encourage commanders to conduct

periodic equal opportunity assessments. Insist senior officials and

commanders post statements declaring their commitment to equal

opportunity. This shows that even though harassment and discrimination

still occur, it does not go unchallenged. People are waking up and

saying “Enough is enough.” After a certain amount of complaining,

anyone would say “Enough is enough”. What is ment by that is that it

takes a lot of cases and re-occurring problems for it to finally get

the notice it needs. “Basis trainees are learning that at all levels,

the word is getting out that discrimination and harassment have no

place in the military profession and will not be tolerated, Air Force

officials said. The recent focus on sexual harassment in other

military services has also raised attention in this area as well. “The

Air Force can not isolate itself from these social trends,” states the

pamphlet. “Despite commanders’ involvement and education programs,

people will occasionally behave inappropriately. It takes a strong

continuing commitment by everyone to minimize these behaviors and

their effects.”(5) Once men can get over their male ego-trips, they

will start to see the women in a new light. Men could actually

accomplish more working with women instead of against them. What an

amazing concept! Too bad men have not recognized it yet. Even with the

good news that sexual harassment is declining in the Navy, it still

happens by the thousands. Radios are constantly broadcasting that the

Pentagon had to stiffen regulations because so many women said they

were the victims of reprisals for filing complaints. There’s this

story that many believe is the cause of sexual harassment in the

military, especially the Navy. Sailors have always been known for

their bawdiness, but the officers were at least gentlemen. Then

Vietnam came. Being in south-east Asia and increasingly frustrated by

a losing war, a whole generation of naval officers began carousing in

the sleazy bars of Bangkok and the Philippines. The Vietnam vets-and

the exploitative sexual attitudes they developed in Asia-arrived home

in the 70’s just as women were beginning to move into the ranks. This

resulted in a declining of manner and morals with the arrival of

female sailors and officers. For the men, this has ment careers

wrecked by lewd indiscretions. And the Navy’s women have been forced

to learn how both to go along and to fight back-with very mixed

success. One has to wonder if we could go back in time, and erase

Vietnam, would this still have happened anyway.

1.) Archives of Family Medicine. “Women Veteran’s Experiences with

Domestic Violence and with Sexual Harassment While in the Military.”

Vol.4. May 1995

2.) Capital Online. “Survey Finds Sexual Harassment in the Navy and

Other Services Declines”. July 3, 1996

3.) Donegan, Craig. “New Military Culture: do women, blacks, and

homosexuals get fair treatment?”. CQ Researcher. April 26, 1996

4.) Military Women Profile. “Military Women by the Numbers.”

September 30, 1995

5.) National Academy Press. “Recommendations for Research on the

Health of Military women.” September 1995

6.) Navy Times. “Are Women OK as Combatants? Not Really Says Navy

Survey.” September 4, 1995

7.) Vistica, Gregory L. “Anchors Aweigh.” Newsweek. February 5, 1996


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