What Took So Long?

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ISAF photo

Army 1st Lt. Brittany Clark leads her patrol in a 2011 route clearance mission in Afghanistan, a role formerly limited to men.

Thursday, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced that the military would be lifting the policy preventing women from filling billets in units tasked with direct combat.

As an Afghanistan veteran, I found myself particularly apathetic to the news—those of us who have served know this is an anti-climactic adjustment that comes so late that it shows a tremendous lag in upper-level decision making.

The military used to be at the forefront of progress—the U.S. armed forces were racially integrated five years before the landmark court decision Brown v Board of Education—but in the last two decades, I wonder if policy is influencing front lines, or simply following suit decades later?

Read the full story on TIME Ideas.

8 comments
apryor1985
apryor1985

Nobody ever mentions that these women are doing these things against afghan farmboys with rusty AK's.  The real problems will come when we face a strong, determined, and well equiped enemy.

atpcliff
atpcliff

Currently, more than 26 countries allow women in direct combat, including Canada, New Zealand, Britain, Australia, Norway and Germany.

In addition, Israel, Turkey, Norway, Russia, Poland, India, China, Afghanistan, Korea and Britain have females in Special Ops. The U.S. just opened up Task Force 160, an aviation special ops force, to women.

apryor1985
apryor1985

In regards to western countries. The dynamics are at work as in america, they are more concerned with pushing the feminist agenda then recognising real combat utility. 

In the other cases it is just a PR gesture to impress westerners. 

Don_Bacon
Don_Bacon

Likening sexual integration to racial integration while attractive on its face, and perhaps applicable in normal work settings, is apples & oranges when it comes to the hard physical work of closing with an destroying the enemy, the primary infantry function.

rpearlston
rpearlston

@Don_Bacon Nice try, but female troops are already doing just that.  They simply aren't classified as being part of the unit, but instead as being attached to it.  It's a difference on paper only, but that discriminatory label (and yes, it does discriminate) has huge implications for anyone who wants make the military their career, as it throws roadblocks in their path.

The same arguments were once made about female police officers and female fire fighters.  Look around, because women are serving with distinction on the front lines in civilian life to, as all types of first responders who are as able as their male counterparts.

The reality (and this is a paperwork only change that does not affect the situation as it currently exists) is that there are far more Karen Waldens (Meg Ryan, Courage Under Fire) than there are Goldie Hawns (Judy Benjamin, Private Benjamin).  It;s time for you to learn to live with it.

Don_Bacon
Don_Bacon

@rpearlston@Don_BaconFire fighting?

Sexual Harassment Survey: Women Firefighters' Experiences

The data compiled below is from Women in the Fire Service's 1995 survey of fire service women on sexual harassment and other forms of job discrimination. It is drawn from the responses of 551 women in fire departments across the U.S.

The survey listed eight areas of overtly sexual harassment and asked women to indicate their experience with each behavior, including how often they had experienced it and whether the behavior had occurred only in the past or was happening at the time of the survey. The eight areas were:
    Unwelcome requests for sexual favors from co-workers
    Unwelcome requests for sexual favors from supervisors
    Unwelcome demands for sexual favors from supervisors (i.e., favors the woman had to perform in order to get or keep her job, position or promotion)
    Unwelcome physical contact
    Sexually explicit posted material (photos, cartoons) the woman found offensive
    Sexually explicit material present, but not posted, that the woman found offensive
    Sexually explicit movies or videos the woman found offensive
    Sexual or sexist jokes or comments the woman found offensive

-- 487 women -- 88% of fire service women responding-- had experienced some form of sexual harassment at some point in their fire service careers or volunteer time.
--One third of the women harassed (33%), or 29% of the women responding to the survey, reported requests or demands for sexual favors from co-workers or supervisors. More than two-thirds of the women (71%) reported the behavior had happened more than once.
--Half of the women responding to the survey -- 277 women -- said they had experienced unwelcome physical contact on the job.
--69% of the women responding to the survey -- reported they were experiencing some form of sexual harassment at the time of the survey in 1995.
--Forty-five percent of the women responding to the survey (246 women) said they had been denied training, promotion or special assignments because they were female.
http://www.i-women.org/issues.php?issue=9

DrinkerOfTheRye
DrinkerOfTheRye

@Don_Bacon Sexual integration on my face is always good.

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