Sexism in the Military

Delta Winds cover 1997Delta Winds: A Magazine of Student Essays
A Publication of San Joaquin Delta College


Sexism in the Military

Marie Gatz

There are people who feel that the military has no place for a woman. If you try to sign up for nuclear submarine duty, and you're a woman, you will find that the above statement could be true. You will discover that you are not qualified for the job simply because of your sex. Obviously, someone feels that submarines are no place for a woman. My friend, a major in the U.S. Air Force, has expressed unfriendly feelings towards women serving in the Armed Forces. It is frightening to know that there are top-ranking military officials who have such negative views about this issue. It is my opinion that the United States military advocates sexism, by the exclusion of women from performing duties which may involve close encounters with men.

Currently, women are ineligible to participate in the U. S. Navy's nuclear submarine program. Perhaps to counteract any attack from women's right's advocates, the navy has released a new pamphlet entitled Today's Navy, which states that they have "greatly expanded opportunities for women to serve aboard combat ships to help ensure that the career paths for women are equitable to their male peers."

How can expanding opportunities on separate combat ships create an equality with male peers?

It seems as though the navy has created a separate institution for women to perform their duties, as a form of appeasement, to prevent possible accusations of being biased toward one sex.

An equality between men and women cannot be accomplished by creating separate institutions. The segregation of minority groups cannot be a form of equality, and if so, shouldn't the separate institutions be equal in population, compared with that of men's institutions? The equality in population of separate facilities will probably never happen; it would cost the government too much money.

Beyond this issue, the question of equality lies not in the idea of separate institutions, but rests in the question of WHY the military feels the need to create separate institutions for women.

The answer to this question may be as simple as this: the government lacks the ability to make adult men responsible for their behavior towards women.

The idea of working closely with women is so uncomfortable, the military has gone as far as creating a separate ship for women, instead of accepting them as part of a submarine crew. This is especially disturbing because it clearly shows an obvious contempt for women in this area of work.

The creation of separate working facilities could cause a deep resentment on the part of both men and women, which could result in an eruption of hostilities. If men and women are forced to work separately, how can they come to a truce about working together?

Infantry combat is an activity in which women are denied participation. I am not aware of any substantial reasons as to why women are not capable of handling this type of work. The reason for this denial of participation seems to be the argument that women do not have the mental capability to handle the horrors of combat. This may be true, but men do not do much better, for many of them suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

Women have been allowed to fly fighter jets for the military. This could be a privilege given to women because of the exclusion from other areas of fighting. The accommodations the military has made are long overdue and slow to come, but they are steps towards better opportunities for women in the military.

The fact is, women will not feel equal to their male counterparts unless they are allowed to participate in all aspects concerning military defense.

Former slaves felt as though they would never be equal unless they were entitled to all the rights and privileges enjoyed by non-slaves. The movement for racial equality eventually enjoyed some success with the passage of the civil rights amendments. How the military succeeds in elimination of discrimination against women is unknown.

There may never be a bill passed by Congress ensuring equal rights for women in the military, but these problems do need to be addressed, and solutions need to be proposed.


Work Cited

Today's Navy: Let the Journey Begin. June 1, 1996. Informational Pamphlet.