The U.S. Military Announces Women Can Now Take On Combat Roles. History Is Made (Video)
Ever since a 1994 Pentagon ruling banning women from entering the military fields of armor, artillery, infantry, and other forms of combat roles in the United States Armed Forces, there has been a push to rewrite history by allowing females to take on the same duties as their male counterparts. And, after today’s announcement, it seems like that battle has been won. This morning, Pentagon officials represented by Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter relayed the news, stating there will be “no exceptions” for women who opt to take on the more dangerous military responsibilities traditionally carried out by men. This news comes nearly five years to the day after the United States Congress and President Obama worked to repeal the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy of the Untied States military that prohibited openly gay men and women to serve in the military.
According to the New York Times, today’s development was three years in the making, and faced a healthy set of obstacles along the way, among them the Marine Corps, the only branch of the United States Armed Forces to request exemptions to allowing women in combat positions. As writers Matthew Rosenberg and Dave Philipps expain, “the Marine Corps has long held concerns that integrating women into combat units could erode morale in all-male platoons and lead to increased sexual tension that would undermine fighting capability,” an argument that seems to suggest that male Marines are incapable of separating their military duties with their intrinsic human sexuality. And, whether or not such an argument is offensive to male Marines is not known based on this particular article, but it was apparently not enough to dissuade Secretary Carter and others from moving forward with the new regulations. Furthermore, many studies appeared to support the notion that having women in combat does not, in fact, have an inherent effect on male morale or ability to partake in combat duties. Additionally, concerns about the possibility of higher rates of sexual assault have apparently been assuaged based on a Marine Corps study conducted by a women’s advocacy group. In the video below, Secretary Carter speaks on the recent developments, and offers some insightful commentary into the behind-the-scenes initiatives that took place to make it possible.
For many, this bit of news is yet another achievement for women after millennia of subjugation and prejudice that has held them back from participating in social and political life in cultures around the world. For others, it brings with it a deep sense of irony when coupled with the ongoing fight for women’s reproductive health. In today’s world, where many countries ban things like abortion, female drivers, and female clergy members, the U.S. small but significant step is one headed in the right direction. For Americans, this news comes just days after a Planned Parenthood facility was attacked, resulting in three lost lives in what has been described as the result of the conservative “War on Women.” However, it also comes during a presidential campaign that by most measures seems to point in the direction of the first ever female president in a country that prides itself on being a bastion of liberty and freedom to the rest of the world. The positives and negatives for American women could be rattled off in an endless cycle (gender pay gap versus the first female head of the Federal Reserve in Janet Yellen, etcetera), but nonetheless there has been significant progress made.
So, now that women have reached positions of great power in this country (albeit in much smaller numbers than men), and women will now be able to fight in combat-specific roles, what section of the country’s political and social systems should be the next to take a large step forward towards equality between the sexes?