For today's installment of War Story Wednesday, I wanted to address another disturbing occurrence that I personally observed: the treatment of women in the military (and the Marine Corps, specifically). Now, I have some specific anecdotes I could share...but I got distracted from writing my post, and now that the day is going on...I don't feel up to getting into it.
Rather, for now, I wanted to point out a couple of non-personal items relating to women in the military:
- First, I hope everyone out there understands that the nature of the two recent 'wars' has necessitated the involvement of female service members in an unprecedented way. Due to the quick overthrow of the governments in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the resultant lengthy and turbulent occupations, women served on the front lines in a direct way like never before. Many of these brave women were near the action so that they could be close at hand in the event that a female Iraqi/Afghan needed to be searched.
- Unfortunately, this was because of the enemy's willingness (sometimes even preference) to use women as suicide bombers. Although, I think that this was a rarer occurrence than it was hyped to be. For example, there have been over 160 suicide bombings in Israel since the year 2000, only 8 of which were women. In Iraq specifically, an intelligence report showed that female suicide bombers were mainly used to assassinate specific individuals.
- As a result, female Marine Corps officers will be attending Infantry Officers Course at Quantico, for the first time ever. One of my college professors, himself a former Marine officer, expressed his mixed feelings on the matter to me. His hesitation, shared by many, is the potential danger of female soldiers and Marines serving on the front lines being wounded or killed. Before you fly off and call him a condescending patriarchal male control freak and declare that women should be able to decide for themselves, it isn't simply the 'patriarchal male protective instinct' skewing the opinions of guys like him. It is the idea that most decent men are instinctively more protective of a wounded female than a wounded male, and, are more likely to freeze up or break down at the death of a female than a male comrade. My professor's hesitation was especially aimed at the idea of infantry units being under the command of a female officer; again, I know it sound patronizing and bad, but let me explain a bit more on his behalf. He was worried that a unit under the command of a woman would be much more likely to fall apart if their female commander were wounded or killed. At the risk of inviting feminist wrath onto myself (a statement that itself is likely to incite said wrath - sorry ladies, it's true), I have to say that I agree with him to a point. I know that there was only one female operating from my base in Iraq who was killed, and I spoke with her exactly once, but when I heard about her death...well, I was totally shaken. I remember her name: PFC Steele, from the Army National Guard. I don't remember the names of any of the guys from my base who were killed, even though there were 8 from my own battalion and several more from a supporting unit serving with us. Okay, I guess that is sexist? Go ahead and tell me how I am part of the problem...
- To end the list on a positive note, I recently discovered the facebook group "U.S. Marine Corps Females". I am a huge fan, because it isn't an exclusive group only for the Women Marines themselves, it just celebrates the idea of women being Marines, and the Marine Corps in general. Semper Fi, my sisters!
Maybe next time I'll actually get a little more into my personal examples...