When it was first released as military advocacy, Uncle Sam’s “I Want YOU For United State’s Army” became a patriotic icon. Exactly 100 years later, his recruitment has gained a new progressive meaning—now including women as well.
There are many branches within the army, including military intelligence, engineering, medical corps and infantry, as outlined by Hofstra University. When a non-military citizen pictures the army, they probably imagine the infantry: soldiers lying on the ground with guns. The infantry is the nucleus of the army. Being a combat arms branch, they maintain a constant preparation for combat worldwide. This branch is stoic, treacherous and—in the past—the one that banned women from joining.
“After the Obama administration ordered the military in 2013 to open all combat positions to women, the Army developed gender-neutral performance standards to ensure that recruits entering the infantry were all treated the same,” according to The New York Times.
This progressive legislation allowed 18 female soldiers to become the first group of women to graduate from Fort Benning’s infantry school in Georgia.
The Obama legislation passed in 2013 was a much-needed step to fostering gender-equality in the military. Assuming that they are prepared and willing, women deserve the right to fight and to have equal access to resources that will help them to achieve their military goals.
Many individuals, however, believe it is necessary to prohibit women from the infantry. They believe that what is the most explicitly dangerous and physically demanding branch—infantry—should only be fit for men due to their masculinity.
This opposition to women fighting in the military points out valid physical concerns, including the fact that women’s bodies are biologically smaller than men’s. This absolutely has an impact on how much weight women can carry and what exercises they can complete. It should not stop women, however, from being allowed to fight.
If standards are not lowered for female soldiers, as the 2013 legislation outlines, and if women can keep up with their male counterparts, there is no reason why women shouldn’t be allowed in the infantry.
Although the physical component is the most common argument against allowing women in the infantry, many critics do not stop there. Others claim that a group of military men with a woman fighting alongside them would shift the dynamic from a militant unit to a group of males competing for a female’s attention.
There are many aspects of this argument that are closed-minded. Firstly, it makes the dangerous assumption that all men in the military are heterosexual and are looking for a romantic partner. It also reinforces the stereotype that men are motivated only by sexual impulses and that when a woman comes along, they feel the need to impress her and fight for her.
It would be incorrect and insulting to both genders to assume that men and women are unable to coexist and overcome physical attraction. It seems that men and women willing to risk their lives on the battlefield would have priorities other than romantic relationships.
Many of the arguments against women in the military seem to be made from blatantly sexist views—not from genuine concern for the men and women in our troops. If infantry standards are kept the same for both genders and if female soldiers are held to the same physical standards as male soldiers, there is no reason women should not be able to fight.