by Marcinho Savant
A 2013 report by the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs shows there were 214,098 women serving active duty in the U.S military (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard); 118,781 in the Reserves; 470,851 in the National Guard. Women have served honorably and bravely in the U.S armed forces since the Civil War. There are one million, eight-hundred, fifty-three American women veterans.
Last week the Pentagon stated that all combat roles, previously restricted to men, will now be open to women. There is evidence that women have long been active in combat over the centuries, including the The Dahomey Amazons or Mino (“Our Mothers”). The women formed an armed force in Africa as an all-female military regiment of the Kingdom of Dahomey, now called the Republic of Benin. Their heyday was long and endured until the end of the 19th century.
Using the name of her deceased brother, Robert Shurtleff Samson, Deborah Samson Gannett, from Plymouth, Massachusetts, was one of the first American woman soldiers. In 1782 she is reported to have served for 17 months in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. She was twice injured.
Cathay Williams (September 1844 - 1892) was an American soldier. She is the first African-American female to enlist, and the only documented to serve in the United States Army posing as a man, under the pseudonym William Cathay.
“Well, I know who wouldn’t, but I can say that I truly have a deep respect for women who truly sacrifice themselves and have to see war in its true form. I couldn’t do it. Just thinking about the risks you take, and as a mother … I don’t see how they remain focused on their tasks at hand. It would drive me nuts.”
In a post currently on polling site debate.org, “Should women be allowed to serve in equal combat roles in armed forces?” 59% say “Yes”; 41% say “No.” One respondent on the site, “george.kim,” had a detailed, and pointed reasoning for restricting women from roles on the front lines.
“NO! Can a female carry 130 lbs of gear running up and down 5 flights of stairs, kneeling and standing, and engaging an enemy less than 5 meters away? There are some female that can do 40-50 pushups [sic] and outrun males, but think about it. They weigh like 125 lbs while males weigh around 180-200 lbs. Can they bench press 200lbs? No. They are weak. When I went to basic training, 95% of the females fell out of a 16k march. Not kidding. Out of those who made it, none of them carried a crew-served weapon such as machine guns and AT4s.
“I don't want to risk a mission because females can't climb a steep mountain in Afghanistan for 25km. Also females can't carry extra weight such as rockets, and machine guns and heavy gear so those gear needs to be distributed among the remaining males, further burdening the males. It’s a fact, females just are not stronger than males. Stop trying to argue it. Maybe 1 out of 500 females is stronger than the worst physically capable INFANTRY male. Plus, they get pregnant and have to leave the unit for a year, further burdening the tasks on the remaining males.
“Males can roll around in the mud and not take showers for 3 weeks. Females will get infections and has to deal with their hygiene. Please, be realistic, this is the military which involves WAR, the life or death of a COUNTRY! Not, some small business. Females, I know you think you are the most powerful gender in the world, but please be realistic, almost all of the females just aren't physically capable, its nature. You have hips for giving birth, not running like males do. Please don't get me started on females in special ops.”
There is also a noteworthy amount of buzz about the decision from some members of elite forces such as Navy Seals, and Airborne Rangers, and Green Berets, some members of which find that women are ill-suited to the work, and should remain ineligible. The reasons are virtually identical.
While many women are eager and honored to step up to the front lines, they are already serving - are mothers, sisters, and wives. They long for the opportunity to make the same contributions, on the same level, and for the same recognition as their male counterparts, however, physiology is an immutable obstacle, according to some.
In an article posted on livescience.com, “Men are physically stronger than women, on average.” A study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that men had an average of 26 lbs. (12 kilograms) more skeletal muscle mass than women. Women also exhibited about 40 percent less upper-body strength and 33 percent less lower-body strength, on average, the study found.
“Preparing to be a military mom at a time when my babies are very young is probably the most dreadful part of my choice to be in the military ... Understanding the sacrifice that awaits me as far as time is concerned is nerve racking, but knowing that I’m setting a promising and solid foundation for my children makes a powerful decision that I don’t feel I’ll regret.
The researchers found that height and weight differences between men and women could explain only about half of the difference in strength. Researchers reporting in 1993 in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that men’s brawn could also be attributed to a larger cross-section in individual muscle fibers.
“However, women may have an edge in some physical tasks. Because women usually have more body fat and may be better at burning fat as energy early on in exertion, they could have better endurance than men,” according to a 2001 study in the American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism.
“Men have more muscle mass and greater levels of circulating testosterone, on average, which also means they use more energy than women do. And men's muscles tend to fatigue more easily than women's, possibly because women recruit muscle groups to share the load more efficiently,” according to a 2003 study in the Journal of Applied Physiology.”
Despite differing opinions, The White House has made clear that the policy’s move to battlefield equality is now settled law. It remains to be seen if the move turns out to be more wise, more fair, more equal, or undeniably more dangerous for females desirous of competing and achieving alongside their male peers.