It seems that the United States is at it again. This week’s headlines? The violation of the Geneva Conventions (again) by the United States with the publication of Saddam Hussein in his underwear; the Red Cross confirming reports of previous abuse of the Quran by American soldiers; and the attempt by Congress to pass legislation that would prohibit women in combat. Never a dull moment in the home of freedom and democracy.
Prior to the proposed legislation to exclude women from combat, women were ‘only’ prohibited from combat positions by set Pentagon policies. This new plea of legislation would legally bind the military from using women in this manner.
Traditionally, the view of women not serving in combat situations in the military was supported by the premise that their presence would undermine unit cohesion and that they could not meet men’s physical standards. In fact, there is a tradition to these views: they are the very reasons that women were barred from the military altogether a century ago.
Contrary to this belief, there are many studies that indicate that military readiness would not be affected by allowing women to serve in combat roles. As for physical standards, it is true that women are physically less capable than men in certain respects, though women win in the pain-threshold category hands down. Not all roles in the military require the same level of physical ability. With that said, combat is an expertise that will result in deaths if its members are not all capable.
Instead of prohibiting women from combat altogether, men and women should have to meet the same high bar of physical fitness. It just isn’t fair to exclude strictly on gender when there are a good number of perfectly capable women who are able and willing to fight.
It is not unheard of for large groups of men in the service to be brought back in body bags. We praise these men for their selfless sacrifice and their sense of duty to their country. But what of women?
The reality of sexism in the United States is that it is politically and socially unacceptable to bring scores of women back from Iraq in coffins.
Just look at Jessica Lynch, the military’s propped-up ‘hero’ who was described as having battled ferociously before being taken prisoner. As the truth of her capture and imprisonment leaked, she dropped off the radar. Apparently, sodomy doesn’t carry well in the media.
Yes, there are chances for women to be raped, but it’s just as likely that men will be sodomized once captured. In fact there are abundant reports of male prisoners at Guant