Women in the Military Term Paper

Pages: 6 (2121 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 7  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Sports - Women

¶ … Women in history [...] problem of women in the military, and offer a solution to the problem. Historically, women have not served as members of the military for a number of reasons. Traditionally, society views women as weaker than men, physically and emotionally, and so they are deemed unfit for combat. There are a variety of other reasons many people oppose women in the military, as well. Women play a vital role in military operations, and have served in combat in many other countries (notably Israel), very successfully. If women choose to join the military and play an active role in America's defense, they should be able to serve in combat or non-combat situations.

The problem with women in the military has many causes and issues. Today, women serve in the military in combat and non-combat roles, but women still do not participate in ground combat, and they are not stationed on combat Naval vessels. In the past, there was a ceiling on how many women can enter and serve in the military at any time (two percent of the total military), and in some branches of the service, women are banned from all combat roles (the Army and Marine Corps). One military writer notes, "Even today, though, the official policy of the Army and Marine Corps excludes women from combat which precludes 12% of skilled positions and 39% of the total positions" (Willens). Thus, women can serve in the military in many roles, but active combat is not one of them.

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This is an issue for a number of reasons. First, many women want to serve their country and fight for it, rather than serve in behind the scenes functions. Second, because women do not serve in active combat roles in many areas of the armed forces, they do not face the threat of a draft, and many people feel that is unfair. More importantly, women in the military face several challenges their male counterparts do not face, such as pregnancy, menstruation, sexual harassment, the need to leave children at home for long periods of time, and gender issues. These issues can create emotional and physical barriers to a woman's performance, and they are perhaps the most contentious problems with women in the military.

Term Paper on Women in the Military Assignment

It may seem that women are the only people involved in this problem, but that is not the case. Many military men oppose women in the military for a variety of reasons, and the families of women in the military are involved, as well. For example, women who serve in the military must be away from home for long periods of time, leaving children and spouses to care for themselves. While this is true for men in the military, traditionally men take less of a leadership role in caring for the family, and so their presence is missed, but not as much as the mother is missed if she is a member of the armed services.

The consequences of the problem are varied. First, many women want to play a more active, combative role in the military, but are barred from many combat positions. Second, if women do gain combat status, many believe they should also face the draft if one is instituted, and that could pose a problem for many women with families and responsibilities who do not want to serve in the military. A majority of women do not seek military careers, and this might create hardships for these women and their families.

In addition, many people feel women are not as physically and emotionally geared for combat as men. Traditionally, women are the nurturers and mothers in society, rather than the protectors, and so, many people feel women are not suited for the rigors of combat duty. Pregnancy and menstruation can also create psychical barriers for some women, who could not serve in combat roles during times of pregnancy or menstruation. Thus, women face several decisions about military service and their own physical limitations. Many women do not suffer health problems like these, and so they do not feel these issues are valid. The ultimate consequences of these issues are varied, as well. Many women are fully capable of handling themselves in combat situations. However, some women could find themselves under pressure or unable to handle certain physical situations and they could technically but the other members of their unit in jeopardy. Thus, the problem of women in the military is many-faceted and must be solved if women are to serve in combat in the military.

Historically, women have served in many military organizations, especially in times or revolution or crisis. Another author notes, "In the past, the few cases of the mobilization of women into combat units were not so much the result of premeditation as the result of the sheer presence of circumstances. Women were armed when the homeland was invaded or when survival of a sociopolitical movement was at stake" (Goldman xii). There are also cases of women dressing and men and fighting in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars (Willens). However, in peace times, women have rarely served in the military until fairly recent times, and then, only in non-combative roles. It is only recently that many areas of combat have opened up to women, including flying air attack helicopters.

One problem historically affecting women in the military is the draft. Military author Willens continues, "Some argue that, should combat slots be open to women, women may be subjected to the draft. The male only draft was considered to be constitutional in 1981 in the Rockster V Goldberg case, largely because the draft was viewed as a way to fill combat slots -- slots from which women were barred" (Willens). Many women feel that women cannot truly gain an equal foothold with men anywhere if they do not take the same risks men take, and that includes serving in the military.

Women have not served in the military in the past because of worries about their physical capabilities, but also, society has traditionally viewed women as weaker than men. Women are traditionally the mothers and nurturers who maintain the "home fires" for the men who go off to war. Separate military branches, such as the WACS and WAVES were not established until 1942 during World War II, and women served in very specific, non-combative roles. In 1948, women's service was integrated with men's in the "Women's Armed Services Integration Act," and it was this Act that limited their numbers to two percent of the overall military enlistment. It was not until 1991 that flight restrictions for women were lifted, allowing them to fly in some combat situations, and more limits were repealed in 1994, defining what jobs women could and could not hold in the armed services (Willens). Thus, there is a long history of women not serving in the military, and it is only in recent history that women have played such an active role in the armed forces.

There is another darker side to the problem of women in the military, and that is sexual harassment and abuse. Two female soldiers were taking prisoner during the first Gulf War and sexually abused, and young women have been abused in some of the nation's military academies as well. The story does not end there. One study of 537 female veterans found,

Seventy-nine percent reported experiences of sexual harassment during their military service; 54%, unwanted sexual contact; 21%, physical violence solely within the context of rape; and 36%, threatened or completed physical assault (30% completed), with 23% citing physical assault outside the context of rape or domestic violence ("Violence against Women in" 14).

Thus, the biggest problem for women in the military may not be where they serve, but the men they serve with. Many women testified the environment of the military favors a male-dominant role, and encourages the subjugation of women, even fellow soldiers ("Violence against Women in" 14). How to solve this problem may be the biggest challenge facing the military and women serving in the military.

How does America solve the problem of women in the military? Opening up combat jobs for women who desire them makes sense. If they can train for them and succeed, they should be able to fill the same roles as men. The Israeli Defense Forces has successfully integrated women into its ranks not only since the formation of Israel, but historically long before that. Women play a vital and equal role in Jewish history, and they have always aided in the defense of their nation (Goldman 137). While they do not serve in combat roles, all 18-year-old women must serve two years in the Israeli Army, and most young Israeli women welcome the chance to serve their country. However, Israel is the only country in the world that requires women serve in its armed forces (Goldman 152). Some women might not be psychically strong enough to endure all the rigors of combat, but many women are, and if… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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