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Women In Combat

Women in Combat

Since the Revolutionary War, women have contributed to combat in one way or another. Now, women serve in the same capacity as men in nearly all branches of the United States Military. Learn about women in combat and the laws that govern this in a custom research paper.

For most of human history, the idea of women in combat has been anathema. There are examples of women who have served in combat roles, with Joan of Arc perhaps being the most famous and successful, but many such cases are anecdotal. By the 20th century, many women were beginning to serve in the military in support roles, such as nurses or clerics. However, with the rise of modern feminism, many have called for expanding military options to allow women in combat.

The United States military provided the same enlistment qualifications for both men and women in 1979, but continued to prohibit women from serving in direct combat roles. This ban was formalized in 1994. On January 24, 2013, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta removed the ban on women in combat, paving the way towards full equality in the U.S. Military branches. Some nations already have no restrictions on women in combat. Israel, for example, declared in 2000 that all military roles were to be open to both men and women. Sweden has allowed women to serve in all areas of its military since 1989.

There are, of course, some concerns about women serving in combat roles. The first is that of physical performance. Women, by biology, are on average, smaller than men with less upper body strength. Other objections include the following:

  • Potential disruption of combat readiness because of romantic relationships.
  • Male soldiers cannot psychologically handle seeing a female comrade wounded.
  • Privacy issues for both sexes.

Women were, for the most part, constrained by their traditionally determined gender roles. They served their country well, but we must not bastardize history by taking a few anecdotes of women in combat and constructing a romantic fiction that would exaggerate their role as actual soldiers. Their contribution was more on the peripheral of combat. They served as spies, messengers, and, chiefly, as suppliers in the military's logistical chain. Evans quotes a contemporary observer as saying that the road leading from Cambridge to Boston was lined with houses in which every woman was putting together supplies for the army.

The Revolutionary War was and example that while women's patriotic efforts spanned the entire range of war making activities, the typical feminine contribution to the war effort was more apt to be logistical than combat. Women made a great contribution to the war effort, but the scope of their contribution was governed by the traditional roles accorded to them by a male-dominated society. When they attempted to go beyond those roles they risked social censure or, at the very least, a demand that they redirect their efforts to accord with a more traditional view of their proper role. Women fought, but their more typical contributions were in feeding, clothing, housing, and offering moral support to the combatants. All of that, however, involved a patriotic spirit of self-sacrifice.

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