Women have been assigned different roles in the military in the past years but the issue of whether they should be included or involved in combat still remains controversial. Different argument have been put forward as to why women should or should not be allowed to serve in close line or in the front line during wars. Most of these arguments revolve around the perceived differences of men and women and also on cultural norms and beliefs of the roles of both the women and men. Most countries have in the past excluded women in combat roles which in the modern world are being regarded as part of sexual discrimination in job areas.
Apart from the perceived differences cited between men and women, some arguments are based on the effects which may arise due to these both sexes working together especially in wars. In the modern world, just a few countries allow women to be involved actively in combat roles. Some of the countries which have allowed this include Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, Germany and Switzerland among others. This paper will seek to establish the arguments for or against women involvement in combat and their effects both on the military and in the whole world (Vaught & Donnelly, 2005).
Argument for and against involvement of women in combat activities One of the arguments against the involvement of women in combat revolves around the physical differences between men and women. In normal circumstances, women soldiers are less physically strong than their counterpart men which make them to be more disadvantaged in wars especially while fighting males. Biologist argue that the skeletal system of women or females is usually less dense thus making them to break easily than that of men. Specialists in aviation argue that the body of a woman is less adept especially at handling g-forces which pilots experiences and which accelerates during wars.
The lack of adequate physical strength in women makes them to be less desirable in serving in combat roles (Sagawa & Campbell, 1992). Another argument against women involvement in combat roles is based on psychological concerns. The psychological concern of involving women in combat situations is that this may lead to the disruption of the esprit de corps notion. This refers to the unity of trust that soldiers have in carrying out their tasks. Male soldiers argue that it could be hard to trust that a woman would perform her tasks in areas where trust is essential.
This argument is purely based on the view of men for women especially where critical tasks require to be carried out. Another form of psychological concern is that including women in combat situations may lead to formation of romantic relationships in the soldier’s arena. Such relationships could destroy or limit the front line’s capability of fighting. Another concern is that women who may want to evade combat roles may become pregnant deliberately thus causing inconveniencies within the combat unit (Vaught & Donnelly, 2005).
Inclusion and involvement of women front line during war or in combat units is also criticized on the basis that this would lead to risking the lives of women who may be captured by the enemies. Women are more prone to sexual assault by enemies than their male counterparts and thus should not be involved in areas which could lead to such torture or other bodily torture. A report by presidential commission verified that male combats kidnapped by enemies were less likely to be subjected to sexual harassment and abuse unlike the women.
Men are mostly subjected to physical torture while women are prone to both forms of abuses (Sagawa & Campbell, 1992). Tactical concerns are other reasons cited as to why women should not be included in combat roles. This argument states that the main reason for not allowing women to serve in the front line is not attributed to their performance incompetence but rather on the infantry of men when they see a woman being wounded during the war. This was experienced in 1948 in the Israel defense forces commonly referred to as the IDF.
During this period, women were allowed to serve in the front line. On one occasion a woman soldier was wounded and this led the soldiers loosing control as they were experiencing an uncontrollable urge to protect the wounded woman. This eventually led to the banning of women involvement in combat roles until in the year 2001 where women started serving on experimental basis in the IDF. Men are instinctively bound to protect women especially in the face of danger. This is attributed to their genetic make up and the traditional believe that men are the protectors especially in a family setting.
Due to this nature of men, it is argued that inclusion and involvement of women in combat roles would lead to disruption in the battle field and eventually the soldiers would lose control over their enemies (Shiloh, n. d). Also on the tactical concerns, during the war the soldiers from both sides aim at making the opposing group to surrender. Some soldiers especially the Islamic soldiers are known not to surrender to women soldiers. Some civilians in different countries are also not known not to fear female soldiers.
Encouraging involvement of women would thus lead to more death and injuries as no group would be willing to surrender even when a group is loosing. This notion is based on a traditional and cultural believes that men are the head or the leaders in given society. Women are not highly regarded especially where issues of providing security are concerned. Also, in special operations involving discovery, it is feared that if the recovery or the combat mission is discovered, the male soldiers would prioritize in saving their women counterparts rather than fulfilling the mission.
This is based on the notion that though men are programmed killers, it is hard to program them to abandon or neglect women in face of trouble (Simons, 2001). Another reason of keeping women outside the combat roles is that their involvement would be detrimental to their children. Combat units require dedication of much time in providing security for the country and its civilians. Involving women in such time consuming activities would deny them a chance to be with their families quite frequently. This would lead to negative effects especially with the young children who may not get the maternal care they deserve.
Having a family may also lead to more absenteeism on the part of women as they try to create time to be with their families. This could be detrimental to the effectiveness of the combat units (Center for Military Readiness, 2004). Due to the nature of a woman’s body, it requires to be attended to quite often or on a regular basis. A woman may require taking a bath quite often than a man. During war, such facilities may not be available which may inconvenience a woman. Involving women in combat units would thus lead to ineffectiveness in the performance of these units as certain needs have to be attended to before commencement of an operation.
This could also lead to delays which could turn out to be very costly (Simons, 2001). Arguments for women involvement in the combat roles or units originate from the weaknesses of the above weaknesses. To begin with, the argument that men are more physically fit than women though true is criticized on the basis that the modern wars entails use of technology rather than physical fighting. As such, women should be included in the combat units. Also, some women are as physically fit as their counterpart men in the combat and thus denying them a chance to participate in combat activities would be unfair and discriminatory.
Research has showed that a woman who is correctly and appropriately trained can become as tough as their counterpart male soldiers. It was verified by a research carried by environmental medicine research institute that no testosterone is required for one to be strong. All one requires is training and physical fitness exercises and this can be attained by men as well as women. Physical fitness and strength should not be cited as a reason to lock out women in combat activities (Snider & Watkins, 2000). It has also been argued that involving women in combat activities would reduce the cohesion of the combat units.
This is erroneous since a study of the level of cohesion for both gender combat units and male units revealed that there is no significant discrepancy in their cohesion. For cohesion to be effectively maintained, good leadership rather than gender orientation is required (Patterson, 2005). The issue of absenteeism by women combats due to pregnancy and other family responsibilities thus causing disruption has also been found not to be true. On the contrary, more male soldiers are reported to be absent in a year than the women even with the pregnancy leave inclusive.
More men soldiers are involved in cases on drug abuse and alcoholism as well with issues concerning discipline thus they are more likely to miss work than the female combats. Also, more males in the combat have been found to be single parents and thus the issue of parenting should not create a barrier to women’s admission to combat units (Vaught & Donnelly, 2005). Refusing to employ women in combat units could be viewed as discrimination based on gender orientation and also wrong traditional beliefs.
Such discrimination views women as inferior as compared to men and thus are treated as second class. This has been extended even into families where more men are reported as being violent to their wives that are encouraged by the notion that women are weaker than men. Women are another source where military combats can originate from and therefore refusing to incorporate them in combat units would translate to a shortfall in manpower in the military arena (RAND Research Brief, 1997). Sexual harassment is another argument put forward to justify the exclusion of women in combat units.
Women in other profession also face the same dangers and are not even trained on combat. Including women in combat would ensure that women are prepared to fight in circumstances where they are faced with such risks or how to take it without much destruction of their ego and self esteem. Male soldiers are also exposed to such dangers and thus issue of sexual harassment risk should not be cited as a reason for excluding women. Apart from sexual harassment, it is argued that putting women in the front line would be risking their lives.
No life whether for female or males is more precious than the other. Even male soldiers are exposed to life threatening issues while in combat units and hence female soldiers should not be treated as special but equality should be practiced (Patterson, 2005). It has also been argued that involving women in close battle or wars would hinder the men’s effectiveness due to their instinctive nature of protecting women. This was however not found to be true since in the desert storm, women performed successfully their duties.
Approximately 40000 women were deployed during this war as was recorded by the defense department. These women performed well and it was noted that no special attention or consideration was accorded to them by the male soldiers. Also no form of conflict related to gender was reported. This serves to show that women can perform equally as well as the male soldiers (Simon, 2001). Apart from the gender difference between men and women, involving women in combat units would increase effectiveness in carrying out of duties. During war, Grenada and panama were faced with issues of assigning duties.
The legal barriers and restrictions may lead to arising of conflict during war periods which would in turn lead to lowering of effectiveness. Elimination such barriers on assignability would lead to increased flexibility within the military circle thus ensuring that all positions are granted to the best person. With the current situation where women are barred from serving in the combat units, no woman no matter how qualified would be given certain posts. Abolition of such barrier would thus ensure effectiveness in a unit (RAND Research Brief, 1997).
Another important aspect of allowing women to serve in the combat zones is that it could help in areas where searching civilians is vital. Having female soldier in combat areas may help in reducing offense which could arise due to carrying out the searching activity. Women civilian may be offended if searched by male soldiers which may in turn lead to an acceleration of a problem. During the American invasion to Iraq for example, some American women soldiers were acting as mortuary officers like Captain Rose Forrest.
It was observed that the Iranian women were more willing to open up to the female American soldier since the Iranian culture dictates that women should not speak to strangers. Inclusion of women would be vital in such circumstances (Willens, 1996). Conclusion 15% of American army is made up of women but they are still prohibited from serving in the combat units or zones by the military policy. While rising debates involve whether women should be allowed to serve in combat zones and the ideology of equality in career choice, careful analysis should be carried out on the impact this would cause.
In the past, women have proved their competence in combat zone and those willing should not be denied a chance to join. However, where their presence though in rare cases affects the cohesion and the ability of the male soldiers to focus on important matters, it should not be encouraged. To ensure there is cohesiveness in an integrated combat unit, the leadership should be willing to treat all individuals equally. All individuals who meet the required standards should not be restricted from joining the combat units.