Women Continue Their Fight Against Gender Inequality in the Armed Forces

Let freedom and sovereignty reign in the land of immense opportunity. Nonetheless, opportunity does not mean equality. Women have been fighting long before the birth of America to be treated and perceived equally. Sexism and gender roles are still prevalent in today’s society, especially in the armed forces. 

Over the last decade alone, America has come so far in regard to women's rights. Heartbreakingly, there is still a mentality among many that women are substandard to men not only in the workforce, but in the most prestigious armed forces in the world: The United States Military. 

Image Credit: Time Magazine - Photographer: Zoran Milich ​

 

For years, women and men have had "equal but different" physical standards in the military concerning physical strength and fitness. The military acknowledged that men and women have diverse physical qualities which led to the generation of a separate physical grading scale. 

Congruently, women were also prohibited from the majority of admired combat roles including special operations, infantry, and other ground roles that required a higher level of physical performance. 

Now that women are able to pursue these combat arms-type positions within the military, the physical mandate of the mission is not the issue anymore. Society continues to say how women are inferior to men, therefore, are susceptible to rape and sexual harassment. 

Image Credit: Accredited Times - Photographer: Sgt. Jennifer L. Jones

 

Staff Sergeant Debra Rhodes of the Marines is among thousands of women in the military who experience sexism. 

“Some officers will overlook me with the same training as a guy and same amount of schooling just because the male officers like another male better than me,” Rhodes explained. “I asked a staff sergeant why he overlooked me, and he told me it was because I am a women.” She said how she was appalled that some people still possess these certain mindsets of women. “It’s offensive and they [male officers] know they’re being disrespectful,” Rhodes said with fury. She explained how she wishes that people “love ourselves enough that we can love and show compassion for others especially those of a different background or different gender.” 

Image Credit: Maryland Public Television

 

Retired Sergeant Naval Officer Milton Smith has a much more traditional approach to gender roles. “There are jobs that are meant for men, and jobs that are meant for women,” Milton said. “Men are usually stronger than women, and that type of strength is essential in the navy… especially at sea.” Former naval officer Smith explained how in the 1940’s there were not many women involved. “I think it was just based upon the culture shift because it was really around the 70s and 80s that I noticed a lot more women joining the naval forces,” Smith described. 

 

Smith emphasized in “traditions opinion” that “women can’t handle what men can.” However, Smith admitted to the experiences tied to his profession in the Navy. “I have never personally been involved with a woman in the Navy, but some women would come to me and as soon as I heard of it happening. I reported it and several punishments were given to those who sexually assaulted women,” Milton Smith said. “Tragically, some guys have gotten away with it because the Navy is a male dominant occupation. Young ladies are better off staying home and cooking supper. It’s wrong to treat another human being like that, but ultimately that’s what happens when women join the military,” Smith said. In talking about the future of Feminism and women in the military, the former naval officer had made the point that “it has taken over 200 years for women to vote after the Revolution. It’s 2019 and there's still inequality [so] I’m not quite sure there’s much that we as a country can do except let it [sexism] run its course.” 

 

ROTC Army program 20 year-old Elizabeth Black said she believes that people are more open to equality today more now than ever in history. “Sexism is all around us,” ROTC Army program 20 year old Elizabeth Black said as she believes that people are more open to equality today more than ever in history. “As a country we have come so far with women’s rights. We truly do not have that far to go [and] therefore, I believe everyone should be a feminist and “fight” for women's rights. 

Image Credit: Task & Purpose​

 

Simultaneously, Petty officer Dylan Kuhns of the Coast Guard sees himself as a feminist and equal rights for women. “It doesn’t matter what sex you are, as long as you have the right mind of a patriot and are willing to die for your country, then it shouldn't matter whatsoever.” “Unfortunately, some men that I train with will talk about women like they are sex toys,” Kuhns said. “I personally have never been exposed to sexual harassment or witnessed it. But there is no doubt in my mind that it happens.” Kuhns believes that men and women should be treated equally. “Just because you’re a women doesn’t mean that you’re not a human being,” Kuhns said. 

 

Just the matter of fact of the absurd ‘traditional’ thought that one human being is better than the other based solely on biology should have never existed in the first place. Psalm 139:14 claims that each and every single one of us are fearfully and wonderfully made.

HCXO,

Alexandra