Military Allows Women In Combat
by Aeshna Chandra on Tuesday, February 12th, 2013
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced on January 24 that women are now permitted to join the Army and Navy infantry, participate in hand-to-hand combat, and fill other, more dangerous positions. Public reactions to this announcement were varied: some praised the action as a progressive step towards gender equality while others decried it as a dangerous, unhelpful mistake that could cost thousands of Americans their lives. Some say that sending women into the line of fire is dangerous, but I believe that allowing women into combat is not a mistake or a bad choice. Instead, it is an acknowledgement of the women who are already fighting in close quarter combat. Many soldiers who have experienced the front lines have said that women are already fighting in combat and that this announcement merely formalizes what is already true. If women are already an integral part of the army as soldiers, nurses, doctors, and more, why has this announcement, which increases their role in combat and allows them to fight on the ground, ruffled so many feathers?
Women started to have a voice in national politics during the 1920s with the Suffragist movement and continued to gain power through World War II when they filled the jobs left by young men away at war. Since then, gender equality has progressed, but there is still a lot of work to do before women are treated the same as men. Women already fight in combat, but the announcement that allowed them to do so has been called a “dangerous experiment” and a risk to the safety of the army. Women can be just as dangerous, powerful, and tough as men, and yet they have been called “too weak” and “too soft” to handle the stresses of combat like their male counterparts do.
Although this country has been getting more and more progressive as of late, gender equality is still a ways away. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is arguably one of the most powerful people in the world, but her success does little to even the balances in American culture, as evidenced by the uproar that the recent Pentagon announcement has caused. Maybe allowing women to fight in hand-to-hand combat is a dangerous experiment, but how will anyone ever know if it isn’t tested? Maybe women are too weak and unprepared for the Middle Eastern desert (although billions of women have lived there since the dawn of civilization), but how can that assumption be proven true if no woman can try? Maybe, just maybe, women are in fact suited for combat and capable of doing the exact same things that men in the same position do, but how will anyone ever know if they don’t allow women to do it in the first place?
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