Wars have flooded the history of humankind, in which women often had to take the place of men not only in the production lines but also in the field of battle. Although most militaries appreciated their help during dire times, they also refused to consider recruiting female soldiers as equals after. Numerous reasons are being offered, ranging from the assumed inability of women to perform tasks necessary as fighting units, to a higher possibility of injury, to humanitarian and economic concerns (Harel-Shalev & Daphna-Tekoah, 2019). In the US, 50.8% of the population is women, most of whom are excluded from combat roles in the army (Tepe et al., 2016). The given paper will prove that female soldier should be considered for recruitment because women make up a great number of those eligible to serve, they are not physically weaker, do not spoil discipline, are not in greater danger, and, finally, recruiting gifted female soldiers can affect the economy only positively.
Main Arguments against Women in Combat Units
The main arguments utilized to justify barring women from engaging in combat roles in the US military are as follows (Laurence et al., 2016):
- Due to physiological differences, women are not capable of performing to the same standards as men. That includes strength, durability, accuracy, and other vital metrics.
- Disciplinarian–mixed units have more poor discipline, and male soldiers tend to become motivated to protect female soldiers in combat, despite the tactical disadvantages.
- Social – women are more likely to be mistreated by the enemy (including sexual assault) than men.
- Economic – on average, women require more time and maintenance to be trained and perform in the field.
These arguments were expressed by US military general staff, command staff, newspapers, and regular citizens. They serve as gatekeepers for women, barring them from combat units.
The Number of Women Eligible to Serve is Growing
The US military has more women serving in its ranks than any other nation, notwithstanding that their performance in combat roles has received much criticism and pushback from the traditionalists of the military. In 1994, they succeeded in banning women from all combat roles (Harel-Shalev & Daphna-Tekoah, 2019). After the 2001 plane bombings, the position was revised. Some real progress was achieved after 2013, when the ban on women serving in combat was removed (Harel-Shalev & Daphna-Tekoah, 2019). The number of women incorporated into the fighting force slowly grew. Women graduating from ranger schools, serve in riflemen, machine gunners, or mortar operators, or perform other active combat duties, though there is significant political opposition to the trend, exemplified by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford of the Marine Corps.
Women are not Physically Weaker
Most of the arguments stating that women are physically weaker are not supported by evidence. While it is actual testosterone and estrogen have different effects on how muscle mass is formed and accumulated, the results, for the sake of performing strength-related tasks, are relatively equal (Tepe et al., 2016). While testosterone influences muscle and bone mass in men, estrogen increases density in muscles and bones, allowing for, potentially, similar levels of performance while appearing to be leaner (Tepe et al., 2016). Accuracy and other performance metrics can be achieved through higher standards of training.
Women do not affect discipline
Poor discipline in mixed units comes from the existing societal norms and relations towards men and women. Due to social constructions present in our society, men see women as potential mates. (Harel-Shalev & Daphna-Tekoah, 2019). Until this paradigm is changed, discipline will suffer from unwanted sexual advances, changes in priorities, and other poor performance-related issues in the combat zone. A quick solution to the problem would be to create male-only and female-only combat units. However, these solutions are not exhaustive, especially in the light of other genders and sexualities struggling to achieve parity when joining the military (Harel-Shalev & Daphna-Tekoah, 2019). However, this issue cannot be considered from the point of the measure of guilt, and women should not be accused of being sexually attractive and prevented from serving in the army because of that. It is not a woman who may spoil the discipline, it is social settings that should undergo changes.
Social Dangers of Serving in the Front Lines
Social dangers serve as the most persuasive argument against women serving in combat roles. In a battlefield where most combatants on both sides are men, women are in much greater danger of being sexually assaulted (Harel-Shalev & Daphna-Tekoah, 2019). At the same time, barring access to combat roles would not be in the spirit of egalitarianism, as it would suggest that the lives of men are less valuable than the lives of women. The military is a dangerous career, and people who voluntarily accept the risks to serve their people and country should not be prevented from doing so.
Examination of the Economic Side of the Issue
Finally, economic reasons are cited to explain why recruiting women is inefficient. Since an average male is stronger than an ordinary woman, it is claimed that it requires less time and resources to train one into a soldier when compared to a woman (Tepe et al., 2016). Therefore, it is said, recruiting men is more efficient. While it is true that, due to the existing social stereotypes and paradigms, most women tend to bygone physical exercise, thus being, on average, weaker than men, the assumed financial losses due to training can be compensated for by the overall quality of the recruits (Tepe et al., 2016). Allowing women into combat roles would increase the potential recruitment pool two times, and strict initial requirements would make sure that only those who are genuinely committed to service would get in. As a result, lackluster male recruits that were taken in based on their gender and a shortage of better recruits alone would be replaced by physically capable, talented, and highly-motivated women (Laurence et al., 2016). While training them may be more costly in the short term, their performance in the field would be more than makeup.
As it is possible to see from the analysis provided above, the majority of arguments against women in combat units stem from misinformation or clashing with the dominant social paradigm. The current views of men on women are that they are weaker, inherently less competent, and are supposed to be competed for and protected from danger. So long these views prevail in society, they will affect the military, and prevent women from being trained into capable Soldiers and used in combat roles. However, social conventions and paradigms work both ways. Suppose women are allowed to participate in combat roles. In that case, they will eventually popularize the notion and prove to society that they are capable of fighting for their country as men are. It would be a gradual change, but it will be for the country and the world to benefit and ensure that the US military has its best and most dedicated talent serving in combat roles.
Harel-Shalev, A., & Daphna-Tekoah, S. (2019). Breaking the binaries in security studies: A gendered analysis of women in combat. Oxford University Press.
Laurence, J. H., Milavec, B. L., Rohall, D. E., Ender, M. G., & Matthews, M. D. (2016). Predictors of support for women in military roles: Military status, gender, and political ideology. Military Psychology, 28(6), 488-497.
Tepe, V., Yarnell, A., Nindl, B. C., Van Arsdale, S., & Deuster, P. A. (2016). Women in combat: Summary of findings and a way ahead. Military Medicine, 181(1), 109-118.