Women in Combat

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Updated: Apr 30, 2024
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Women in Combat

This essay will examine the role and experiences of women in combat. It will cover historical perspectives, current debates, and the impact of gender integration on military operations and culture. Additionally, PapersOwl presents more free essays samples linked to Gender.

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“In Victor Hugo’s novel Les Miserables the lost, hopeless, fool of a teen archetype character is portrayed by Eponine. Eponine loves blindly and is willing to do anything and everything for those she cares about because she knows how it feels to be worthlessly tossed around she refuses to allow others to feel this pain. With her protective impulse Eponine places herself in the midst of a French Revolution barracked battle in order to save Marius and ends up dying in his place.

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She took a stand where women were forbidden and had a small victor.

Women have been proving themselves physically, mentally and morally capable of competing for combat roles since the American Revolution, but the conflict of the past two decades have given women a new found place in the fray. Implemented on December 3, 2015 all combat jobs are now open to both men and women with no exceptions, thus stirring the idea that women integration into routinely male units may be detrimental to unit cohesion and morale.

After, the then Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter rescinded the restrictions of women serving in combat units, arms were raised questioning the effect that this would have on strong cohesion in the military. The final issue not being the immersion, but the double standards, for not only does female assimilation not erode cohesion or destruct unit morale it; in fact has raised the standard of professional conduct in the military.

Women have been serving below the belt of men in the military since the Women’s Army Corp in 1943 and from the beginning they have been fighting for a leveled standard between both genders. Gender bias and arching stereotypes are no new commodity to today’s society with women across the globe constantly rising more and more rapidly in the work forces with the military being no exception.

According to Elizabeth Trobaugh on “Understanding Gender bias in U.S. Military Integration” “Over the last 70 years, women’s roles in the Army have morphed as fast as…society has changed. Many of these changes have been good… women have succeeded and excelled in newly accessible jobs, specialties, and skills… women still face stereotypes about…how capably they perform their duties.” This form of discrimination can be wrapped into a solid position of sexism and researchers have farther broken it down into two forms: benevolent and hostile.

Benevolence is normally seen as a kindly and well meaning; however, the benevolent sexism military women are receiving comes off as positive by “portraying women as needing and deserving greater care and protection.” The opposing hostile level has a stronger outward negativity and is more open. Both types are in the end demeaning women and deeming them as less adept which leads to limited roles and overall lowering the expectations for female soldiers. The forces are not the only male dominated profession that professes these issues.

They are present in engineering, technology, science, and mathematics as well. These double standards are in the end going to cause major damage to the cohesion of a unit when there are some trainers that are allowing females to pass at a lower standard by looking the other way from their failures or reversing it and holding women to an extremely higher level in order to make them prove that they have the capability and right to be there like everyone else (Trobaugh). As society advances and equality becomes cultural as opposed to a modern development there should be no double standards. One standard will do just fine.

This animosity against immersion that fuels the debate that women will disrupt unit cohesion and morale branches from the double standard. Multiple case studies have proved that comradery was only that of as a problem when brought to question then quickly extinguished when those in integrated situations where asked how they felt about the topic. The Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) found that in their review, “considerable research has been done of gender-integrated military groups in non combat roles. In general, the research found no negative impact on cohesion.”

It has been conceived that an element of social cohesion being that of interpersonal relationships is key to success and is more concrete with individuals of similar backgrounds, characteristics, and experiences. Many would thus conclude that homogeneity would make this easiest, but nevertheless there are other variables that lock people together more deeply than a background. Shared experiences contribute highly to a positive coherent connection and can be formed across genders.

The behavioral researchers behind it call this bond “task cohesion,” which is defined as “developed through shared experiences within a group.” The comprehensive and long-term research in mixed-gender groups is relatively inconsistent though with a few examinations suggesting a higher level of conflict and stress from gender diversity (Kamarck). These divisions were; however, minimal or all together eliminated in units with high cohesion. Even so gender was still only reported as a secondary issue amongst conflicting bodies being that rank, neutral of gender, took first in any squabbles (“Military Readiness: Women Are Not a Problem”). Thus gender is not the embedded problem, but the cover lay for a deeper issue of how those in charge choose to handle the divergence.

The heat on women in the military placed by the hierarchy and outsiders looking in could be doused with the implementation of a single standard rule. Currently a new congressionally mandated commission is weighing the possibility of females being registered in the Selective Service System and therefore being included in any future military drafts. Up until now all past drafts have consisted of just able bodied men, but with the pass of combat job freedoms for women and their push for equality it is only fair that they be treated equally in this way too (Kime).

These types of cultural practices are not uncommon in the slightest. For instance Israel has been an inclusive conscription country for centuries, being that they require all citizens to serve in their military upon completion of high school. Their law requires men and women to serve from about two to three years minimum. This method is also seen in Eritrea, gender neutral, having to serve for 18 months directly after graduation with few exceptions (“Reality Check: Which Countries Have Military Service?”).

This in no way states that the United States’ solution to women in combat is to pass a conscription law, yet if they are to overcome this battle it is fitting that all requirements be mediated across the board for both males and females. This could prove harder for women to compete at such high levels for it is scientifically proven that they are simply built differently, but it is just that equality remain equal in all areas especially in status, rights, and opportunities.

Eponine firmly grasped the idea that no matter one’s gender opportunities to excel should be the same for all and took the chance to demonstrate her ethics by breaking the law to save her love. It is not to be said that overnight sexism will disappear with its double standards or for that matter ever go away completely, but by eliminating differing qualifications it limits rooms for gender discrimination. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the leading founder of Pakistan, even asserted that “no struggle can ever succeed without women participating side by side with men.””

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Women in Combat. (2021, Oct 15). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/women-in-combat/