Gender equality in armed combat

Essay by raticate85University, Bachelor'sA-, October 2006

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Gender equality has been a long standing issue since the 1970's. Women of the time first adopted softer measures of equality via fashion. That's how shoulder pads came into vogue in the first place (women with shoulders as broad as men deserve as much respect was the motivation behind the unfortunate trend which has mercifully faded into oblivion). Time eventually saw women taking an increasingly hard-nosed stand in their quest for equality including equal jobs, equal pay and equal rights, among other things. Even so, can this be rationalized for a phenomena as brutal as combat?

The field of battle has generally been a patriarchal one. In times of war, pop culture has it that courageous men in the army don army fatigues and run helter-skelter into head-on danger whilst courageous women in the army wear cute nurses' outfits and tend to the injured male with soft hands and a loving smile.

Naturally one may argue that the hegemony persist even with the inclusion of women in wartime imagery (men in direct contact with danger with the women in a supporting role on the sidelines, a role delegated to the gender through millennia of cultural conditioning). Yet the reality of combat is such that it either comes to your life or the life of your enemy. If you are unwilling to kill the enemy, you may be killed yourself or worse.

Indeed, there have been many reasons, including the one in question, given as to why women are not suited for combat. A very real issue to be considered is that of sexual harassment. To the discredit of men, I find it very hard to believe that they are able to leave women units living in close proximity unmolested (we know how men are). Yet, a feminist may argue that...