Women in the Military Argumentative
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Women roles within the military have been a topic for discussion or a debatable topic for quite some time. Like all arguments, there are two sides; the first side consists of those who support women having equal rights in the military with the alternative being those who do not. For as long as a military has existed those who supported male supremacy have had a hold on women’s rights within the military, but as time goes on those people are losing their grip. The arguments that these people have been using are becoming outdated and are simply proven wrong, sexist, and unequal. As time goes on women are finding more equality within the United States Armed Forces, which brings about the questions of how unequal is the military today and why aren’t things changing faster? When it comes to being in a war women in the United States have seemingly always had jobs to do; however, there was only a specific amount of things that women were able to do to contribute. Women were restricted to duties that resembled those of a housewife. According to An Oxford Companion to the Romantic Age women’s roles during the American Revolution consisted of “buying and sending of uniforms for the troops, in the making of flags and banners for the volunteers, and in the raising of public subscriptions.”
Women also worked in the hospitals as nurses to care for the wounded soldiers, Florence Nightingale being one of the first. Although these duties were and are still important and necessary women were restricted to these jobs and only these jobs. Women were not allowed to participate in any combat, or combat like activity; reasoning for this however is somewhat unknown. Yes, it is believed that women had household duties, such as cooking, cleaning and taking care of the children and these things are necessary but this is just an example of stereotypes in a male dominant society, the men work while the women stay at home. During the Civil War, Red Cross founder Clara Barton began to question these stereotypes and why they were there to begin with. Barton lived during the time of the civil war and held multiple viewpoints in women involvement. Barton believed that women had and have a right to participate in war she explains this when she states, ” I see no reason why women have not the same privilege to be shot that they have to be protected, the same right to danger that they have to safety.”
By saying this she is asking why women have the right to be protected but do not possess the right to protect themselves and responding to the male thought process that “woman “shant say there shall be no war—and shant take any part in it when there is one and because she dont take part in war, she mustn’t vote and be- cause she can’t vote, she has no voice in government.” The issue is circular; men believed that women should not be able to participate in combat because she does not vote which means she does not have a say in the government. These circumstances are not by women’s choosing however, the only reason the women did not have a say in anything from voting to war is because the men did not allow them to. In fact, the men denied women from many rights such as testifying in court, owning property, starting or owning businesses, or even signing as a witness on legal documents. Women had their entire lives restricted and men would try to justify it with reasons that would not exist if men did not make them that way. Eventually women were permitted to participate in combat but even so there were “stringent limits on where they could serve, what they could do and what units they could join.”
In 1948 the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act was created permitting women to enlist in the Air Force, Regular Navy an Marine Corps as well as reserve components. In 1972 the next major act followed when Congress repealed the combat exclusion law, which prohibited women from engaging in combat. After the law was repealed women were “permitted to fly combat aircraft and serve on [some] combat vessels.” The Department of Defense (DoD) then repealed the risk rule and put a new restriction in its place. The risk rule is what restricted women from certain tasks based on the “risk of exposure to direct combat, hostile fire, or capture” and the restriction that replaced it just prohibited women from “direct ground combat.” As time progressed more research was done involving women integration. Findings resulted in the question of whether or not service requirements were in place to prevent women from obtaining positions that were open to them and if women were getting equal opportunities as men to work in their specialties. This connects back to the circular issue that women should not be able to have a say or participate in war because they do not vote and do not have a say in the government.
Women were being denied certain jobs that were open to them because they did not score high enough on their aptitude tests because of the lack of exposure to certain areas. This lack of exposure was due to the fact that men did not allow women to be exposed to the certain fields similar to the fact that men did not allow women to vote or have a say in the government causing them to not be allowed to participate in combat. Over the progression of time, there have been more changes made with women integration in the military however there are still restrictions today that bind them to certain duties. Women are not allowed to fight in the front line in combat, women are just now allowed to be deployed on Trident submarines but are still not able to be deployed on fast attack submarines. Although some of these restrictions have legitimate justifications it still is not right that there is no equality within the Armed Forces work field. For instance, one of the reasons why women are not allowed to deploy on fast attack submarines is that it could in fact cause a breech in national security.
For example, although it is against the rules to have sex during deployment these humans are trapped in such a small space that when walking through the submarine, if two people are walking towards each other it would be impossible for them to pass each other without touching. These people are in such tight areas for six months or more and regardless of rules it is human nature to have sex. If the women were to get pregnant, after a few months the submarine would be forced to surface to send her home providing opportunity for the submarines location to be given away causing for either the mission to be postponed so that she can safely be let off or potentially causing a disruption in national security. Whereas, on an aircraft carrier the woman could simply be flown off the ship with little to no chance of disrupting national security, which simply is not possible with a fast attack submarine. The argument that the women should be forced to be on birth control does not stand because birth control is not 100% effective. Although not necessarily fair to women, breeches in national security are not something America is wiling to risk, with good reason.
With that said just because the reason is justified as to why women are not allowed on fast attack submarines does not mean that something else can not be changed elsewhere to make job opportunities equal for men and women in the armed forces. Women cannot be assigned to duties on a fast attack, even with good reasoning there are less job opportunities available to women than men creating inequality and an idea that men are superior to women. There should be an equal amount of job opportunities for men and women. Although the military is growing more and more equal over time, the inequality does still exist, justifiable or not. This brings about the question why are the things that can be changed not being changed faster? One answer could be money.
It is not an unknown fact that the United States is in an excessive amount of debt and we simply do not have the money to pay for certain things that would allow for more equality, such as something as simple as separate bathrooms on every vessel. Equality within the military is not as high a priority as other money costing necessities. There is also still the anti-feminist opinion that women are too hormonal or are not as strong as men and are not capable of doing tasks that men do and even though this statement is invalid it is still an argument the United States military branches have to fight. As time continues we can only hope to find that the military will move women integration at a faster pace and find alternatives to the necessary inequality that exists today.