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Women in Combat: The Perspective of This Liberal Woman

By Edited Aug 26, 2016 2 2


Credit: www.pbs.org

An Unpopular View

 The Women’s Rights Movement marks July 13, 1848 as its beginning.  Since then, women have fought long and hard to be both viewed and treated as equal to that of their male peers in all walks of life.  Initially, women sought equality and rights at the ballot boxes and in education.  Many women and a few men continued beyond in their campaign for greater liberation of women.  One of the many battles fought in the name of the feminist movement is a woman’s right to volunteer themselves to protect and serve their nation.  Today women make up a larger percentage of the military than ever before.  In a report from USATODAY, the number of women in uniform is staggering.  “Today, a record 11% of the 2 million wearing U .S. military uniforms are women. They sweat through basic training with their male colleagues. They've been graduating from the military academies for 10 years.” [1]

While women hold a great and important role within the military system, women who are enlisted in the armed forces should not be placed into combative roles.  Unlike men, women do not posses the psychological and physical traits that are likely to be required of them in many combat situations.

Males and females are very different physically.  It is a scientific fact that women do not have the potential to have the strength and endurance that men do.  Men have a much larger muscle mass than women.  Male have testosterone levels far above that of women, enabling them to build larger muscles at a much quicker rate.  Men also have a higher number of red blood cells than women.  Since red blood cells carry oxygen to muscle tissue, men fatigue at a much slower rate in comparison. 

These simple and proven facts offer concrete evidence that women are not capable of possessing strength and endurance equal to men.  It is only when females take dangerous and usually illegal testosterone supplements that they are capable of building bulky muscles comparative to that of their male counterparts.  While taking such supplements could potentially add the desired strength, the health risks would only add to the liabilities of a female in combat.  There is nothing in the medical world now or within view that would increase the endurance factor of females to that of men.  Lacking the physical strength and endurance, one must only ask themselves a few very simple questions to determine whether women are positive additions to military combat.  How would a female soldier weighing 120 pounds assist a wounded male soldier weighing 200 pounds to safety while under intense fire if she was unable to lift or drag his body?  Assuming she was able to life or drag the wounded soldier, would she have the ability to do so in a timely manner?  Would this not be a liability to the entire unit?

The psychological aspect of war is looked upon as being equally important, if not more important, than physical ability.  A great divide separates the two genders when speaking in terms of psychology.  The initial and most evident of these facts brings us back to the physical aspect of why women are unable to perform as well in combat as men, testosterone levels.  The higher the level of testosterone, the more aggressive an individual is.  As it’s been previously stated, men have a much higher level of testosterone than women.  Women are not as aggressive as men.  In fact, women are generally the people who take on caregiver roles in life.  This is done because of the female’s ability to be compassionate, loving and gentle.  While men are capable of having emotions of empathy, sympathy and nurturing quality, it is with a lesser degree than that of what females are capable of.  Yet again, we go back to the biological make up and determine that the emotional side of human nature is much more profound in women due to estrogen and progesterone levels being many times higher than a male’s.  Another liability of high levels of estrogen and progesterone is depression and the likelihood a person will be affected by it.  Women are more prone to depression naturally, but when apart from their families it only stands to reason the percentage of women in combat who suffer from depression would rise greatly.

Another great concern is men would often feel the need to be protective of the women in their units.  This would obviously cause a massive liability to not only the man who feels he should protect a female soldier, but to the others who may need help or protection more despite their gender.  Female prisoners of war are far more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than that of a man.  When a woman is captured, the fear of this happening to a fellow soldier is devastating to a unit, lowering morale.  Another fear is that women will not be able to withstand this type of abuse and therefore would be more likely to give location and operation information to the enemy that would place many in jeopardy. 

A final and substantial concern is the overall standards of the military being lowered when women are involved.  To date, military physical fitness is very different for men and women.  For age and weight, men are held to higher APFT standards than women.  Many have argued that physical ability should be judged equally with no regard to gender.  Feminists agree that this would be ideal, but instead of keeping the male standards in place would prefer the standards lowered.  Those who oppose changing the physical requirements to allow women to keep up with male soldiers see this as a means of the entire military being weakened. 

There are many duties within the military that women fulfill very well.  However, women in direct combat place not only themselves in danger, but the entire country as a whole.  It is neither a sexist argument nor a feminist one; it is a fierce argument stemming from indisputable facts.  Based on the science of biology, women are not suited for a combat position within the military.

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Mar 25, 2011 11:51am
An interest twist to this, that reaches beyond the intent of your argument, is the fact that the modern day battlefield, I believe, has blurred the lines of what exactly is combat and where it can occur. Now, I know you were talking moreso about women filling "combat roles", such as Infantry or Armor, however, military-wide there is definitely a huge need for increased training....because, even cooks, and mechanics, are being propelled into combat situations. PVT Jessica Lynch (remember her?) was apart of a maintenance company that, after a series of poor leadership decisions, ended up being thrust into a very unpleasant combat situation.

While this can be debated to no end, whether they are 'scientifically' and 'physically' prepared for a direct combat role, the military does have an obligation to train women LIKE they would be in those roles, because the likelihood of it happening has increased significantly over the years.

Good article, Robyn! All things military naturally triggers my opinion...lol
Mar 25, 2011 12:13pm
I personally know of instances where women are not properly trained. When this happens, the military world - which as you know is a completely different universe to the one civilians live in - becomes a very, very scary place.

And that's true of anyone not being properly trained - male or female alike.

It's a difficult battle in my mind as to where women fit into the military. Being a very liberal democrat, I think that of course, woemn should have equality on all levels. However, logic steps in and says women and men are different. Those differences do not make one grander than the other. Those differences do seem to dictate what we are best suited for in certain situations - I believe this is one of them.

Granted, it's just my personal opinion and has no true bearing on public affairs...lol.
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