Women In The Military Essay, Research Paper
Equality for Women in the Military: A good idea?
I never saw wild thing
Sorry for itself.
A small bird will fall frozen dead from a bough
Without ever having felt sorry for itself.
Chances are that some of have seen the movie GI Jane and have cheered along with Demi Moore?s character as she spit in the face of her commanding officer as he proceeded to beat her to a pulp to prove a point about womens? inferiority and how their presence can make the men weak. I was cheering with the best of them at the time, but now I?m not sure that if I saw it again, I?d be cheering with the same zeal.
When I first started to write this paper, I was drowning in my preconceived opinions about women?s involvement in the armed forces, but I currently find myself at a loss for a well-established, solid ground to stand on. I have explored the opposing viewpoints of this issue and I?m still torn. I have always had a great deal of respect for the armed forces and at one time even visited a recruiter. Sometimes I think that the dream still isn?t dead in me, especially since this past Thanksgiving.
This year, my family (my mother, my sister and I) decided to be a host family to two Great Lakes Naval Base Boot Camp members for the holiday. On Thanksgiving morning, my mother and I went to pick up our two ?recruits?. I was so stuck in a cloud, dreaming of spending my holiday with tow muscle-bound hotties, that it never occurred to me what happened next. Two young ladies approached us and introduced themselves as Midshipman MacIntosh and Shipman McDonough. Recovering from the initial disappointment, I found myself, over the next few hours, greatly appreciating the fact that we were assigned women instead of men.
These two girls were more than eager to answer our numerous questions and share their experiences while proceeding to talk our ears off, gain our respect for them and in turn the U.S. Navy and also, to find a place in our hearts. It was definitely the most memorable Thanksgiving that we could?ve hoped for and have ever had. I don?t believe that any of this would be true if we had hosted young men instead.
Recorded history shows that women have served great purposes in the military since as early as World War I. In fact, women make up almost fourteen percent of its active force today. Myth has it that the first women to serve in combat were Margaret Cochran Corbin who loaded and fired the cannon herself until she was wounded by grapeshot, which tore her shoulder, mangled her chest and lacerated her jaw. The second was a woman by the name of Molly Pitcher, who fetched water and swabbed barrels for the Continental Artillery during the Revolutionary War. World War I brought on the establishment of the ?yeomanettes?, a 12,500 strong force of women who were recruited by the Navy and the Marine Corps to perform clerical jobs that would ?free the men to fight?. This number, however, does not reflect the combined forces of these women and the many nurses that served. When that number is included, the total involvement swells to a whopping 34,000 in size!
In World War II, each of the armed forces found it necessary to establish its own female components. First came the Army with its Women?s Auxiliary Army Corps or the WAAC. The Navy followed with the WAVES: Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service, then the Marines, the Coast Guard and finally the Air Force which in 1941, created the (WASPs) or Women?s Air Service Pilots. These combined forces made up 350,000 female participants in World War II wartime activity.
There are many arguments for and against the involvement in the military that are up in arms to this very day. Of course the most obvious argument for womens? involvement would be the past performance that they have shown. In the book, ?Women in the Marines? by N.R. Rowan, Drill Instructor Wayne Moore from Parris Island, SC, Marine Training Facility says, ?I?ve been in the Marines for fourteen years, and I can tell you, the females listen up! They make better recruits overall than the males. They are better motivated, adapt better, take instruction better and seem to retain what they learn better. I?ve never had a female recruit refuse to jump off the 45-foot rappelling tower. So far three males have refused to jump?.
In the same book however, the following fact is stated, ?the average female recruit?s rifle test score is 200 compared to the average male recruit?s score of 212?. The passage goes on to explain that this is most likely caused by women?s and men?s physical differences. The test calls for the recruit to be in a lying-down position. Since women typically have shorter arms than men, while in a horizontal position, it is harder for them to maneuver their trigger finger. Another argument against the advancement of women in the military was made by Brian Mitchell, a decorated Navy intelligence agent, in his book ?Women in the Military: Flirting with Disaster?, when he stated that in Korea in 1976, when war was hours away, numerous requests were received from females asking to be transferred to the rear. When their requests weren?t responded to, many of the women simply abandoned their posts.
This kind of action caused the DOD (Department of Defense) to write the ?Combat Exclusion Laws? which limit the areas of service available to women. As yet, women are still not cleared to be stationed on the front-line where hand-to-hand combat is needed, but feminists and women alike are fighting for that right everyday.
For lack of a better example, I am forced to refer to the movie GI Jane once again in which a piece of equipment referred to as a ?female aid? was introduced. The ?female aid? was a boost that was to be used by Moore?s character to get over an obstacle on a course, bringing her to where she?d be able to compete with the men. This same idea was expressed again when Moore?s character came in last in the previously mentioned course exercise, yet passed while men who?d finished ahead of her had to complete it again. When questioned about this, the superior officers said that it had been through ?gender norming? that this resulted.
This sense of special treatment or favoritism was initially supposed to expand only to the physiological differences between men and women, which the law required, but it definitely went far beyond that and this is exhibited by the following examples. These examples span from easier treatment in training exercises, a separate grading scale and even the modification of weaponry! At West Point, women carried M16 rifles for rife-runs and bayonet drills, while men continued to carry the much heavier M14s. West Point women were initially allowed to brace the M14 on their knee when drawing back the bolt for inspection. Later, the bolt springs were shortened to reduce tension, thus making the bolt easier to draw.
The special treatment affected the morale of the classes at West Point and Annapolis desperately. As the special treatment extended to such luxuries as more privacy in the form of the issuing of shower curtains to females or even something pidd?ly like the fact that women did not have to get the standard ?Army haircut?, the low morale was verbalized in the following ways. Male students of all the academies registered overwhelming disapproval of the changes. Surveys of midshipmen at Annapolis showed that 81 percent of upperclassmen and 74 percent of underclassmen still opposed the integration. As much as I hate to admit it, with the presence of such dissention in the ranks, there is no doubt in my mind that performance and overall quality of these classes would suffer.
I wanted to know more about the dissention that could occur within the various military institutions. While I could not get in touch with anyone from West Point or Annapolis, I did manage to locate an individual who attended the Citadel. The Citadel has a 153-year tradition of accepting males only, but on August 11, 1995 all that changed when 20-year old Shannon Faulkner was admitted to the schools? 2000-member cadet corps. After just a few days though, Faulkner called it quits complaining of illness, but I?m sure it had a lot to do with the massive amounts of hazing she must?ve endured. In that same year, 3 other female cadets were admitted to the Citadel and one Nancy Mace was just last year named the first woman to graduate from the institution. Her scores were very high among the men as one of just four freshmen to pass their fitness test the first time around. Along with these physical triumphs Mace added a Magna Cum Laude academic performance to her list of achievements. These achievements may stem from the legacy that her family has left, her father Emory is the Citadel?s most decorated living graduate, her sister is a 1992 West Point graduate and her brother is in his freshmen year at West Point. All this considered, interviewed a gentleman I came across that had attended the Citadel in the early 80s to get an insider?s viewpoint. He gave the following information:
My name is Mark Shutock, I attended the Citadel from August 1978 ~ May 1982. In my first class (Senior) year I held the rank of Cadet Lieutenant Colonel and the position of Cadet Battalion Commander. The Corps of Cadets is organized as one regiment with four battalions.
I was in favor of the college remaining one of a small minority of all-male military colleges throughout the United States. There are several reasons for my feelings.
First, I feel that the brotherhood formed by a group of males in a tough environment such as the Citadel would be eroded by admitting female cadets. My life at the school was a Spartan one with a total lack of privacy. I don?t see how this could be maintained with females in the barracks.
Secondly, the college was forced to admit females against the will of the school and the students. Many students enrolled because of the all-male policy, and school was not able to offer that to them for their entire enrollment. As you probably know, the Citadel participated in a lengthy and costly legal struggle to maintain its all-male status. We lost, and were forced by the courts to admit female cadets. Many all-black, all male institutions, and all female schools filed ?Friend of the Court? papers in support of my Alma Mater. Their support consisted of evidence that an all-male environment is conducive to the learning process. Women seeking a military career have a variety of other options for a military education, such as The Military Academy, The Naval Academy West Point, etc. I don?t see that it is wrong to allow males to attend an all-male institution if they so choose.
Finally, there is the concept of tradition, foreign in most places today. The school has been cranking out quality male citizens and military officers since 1842. I don?t see the need to change a concept that works. I?m glad that I attended the all-male Citadel.
Lest you think that I?m a hopeless male misogynist, I am still a staunch supporter of my college and a firm supporter of females in the military, who have served since before WWI. Currently, many Military Occupational Specialties are still restricted to women, those that require direct access to combat. The list has been reduced somewhat of late. I agree with the policy for several reasons. I think we both know what will probably happen to females if they are captured by enemy forces. (As in the recent Gulf War). The demands of combat weigh heavily on the body, such as carrying extremely heavy loads of weapons, ammunition and equipment in the case of light infantry units. I won?t even address the issues of males protecting females, menstruation, pregnancy and prostitution, which have been documented as issues in combat zones as well.
Whether the kind of equality that has been strived for all along will be achieved or not, there is no question in my mind, since it has been proven that the squeaky wheel gets the grease and feminists seem to do nothing but squeak, even so, when this ?win? does occur, will there be celebration or devastation?
I think that my final opinion on this issue is best defined by the following statement. There should be no overall ruling on the case of women?s involvement in the military, I believe that it is necessary to judge each instance on a case by case basis, with deeply researched and fair decisions that are well documented so as to be referred to and taken into account when similar cases arise.
Weekly Reader: Should a Woman Enter an All-Male School? Anonymous
Tribune News Service: Judge Puts Another Woman on the Citadel?s Front Line