Women in the military. This is an interesting one and deserves a bit of backstory.

In World War I, women served exclusively in support and medical roles in the U.S. Russia, as it happens, allowed female combatants for early on. In World War II, more countries (not the U.S.) began allowing women to serve in combat capacities, largely limited to anti-aircraft units. During this conflict, the United States Army went so far as to officialize their service by establishing such programs as Women’s Army Corps (WAC), the Army Nurse Corps, which is still in existence today. Similarly, the Navy introduced Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (or WAVES). The majority of female filled stations, however, continued to be in the administrative support and medical fields for many more years.

Today, things have changed considerably, and women playing an active role in today’s military (remarkably) continues to be a rather widely debated topic with some legitimate, but many otherwise antiquated arguments. As it is currently, women face some still lingering perceptions (and regrettably, discrimination) before and after having joined the military:


Physical limitations

In the civilian world, the government places limitations on the max physical handling women are allowed to engage in. Presently, the limits are two-thirds of those established for males. Whether this generalization is based in scientific fact is beyond the scope of this article – the point is simply that the government in both the civil sector and the military sector take into account the physical considerations when employing both men and women.

On a daily basis, the extent to which these limitations in the military are enforced will vary widely. In basic training, regardless of the branch, you can expect a great deal of emphasis on safety. Once in the fleet or in the field, however, observation of these rules may increase or decrease. Anticipate several degree in either direction.


Psychological limitations

This is where I begin disagreeing. There exist many in and outside the military who express that women are psychologically unfit for military service. To my knowledge, the scientific community has yet to establish an objective standard capable of measuring psychological fortitude, and as such, it stands to reason that this attribute is going to vary from person to person.

The main proponents of the argument, however, raise a few arguably good points, although I may disagree with their generalization:

-Women interfere with the unit’s espirit de corps… resulting an adverse effect on the unit’s efficiency. It’s impossible to say ‘that’s not true’ because it may very well be, depending on the unit.

-Since women have taken a more active role in our military, romantic interactions between service members has increased. This is true. At the individual level, each soldier, sailor, marine, and airman (male and female alike) has to decide if this kind of involvement is a wise choice or not. Many commands have anti-fraternization regulations in place to avoid the drama and distraction which almost inevitably characterizes relationships between enlistees. So in addition to possibly jeopardizing unit cohesion, fraternization may well jeopardize your career.


Right now, quite possibly because these issues are still on the table, women are (officially) not allowed to serve in front-line, ground based combat environments. The stakes are incredibly high in such scenarios that the military tends to do what it can to mitigate such risks in the field to its assets (people or otherwise). The seemingly everlasting conflict we have in the Middle East, however, has caused these regulations to be revisited, given a few factors – the nature of modern warfare, a decrease in number of ground forces, etc. As a result, females, whether they’ve signed on for it or not, are finding themselves in these combat scenarios in spite of the objections.

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