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Women Serving In Combat Roles In The Military

1889 words - 8 pages

It is worthwhile to reflect on the social and political advancements of women during the past one hundred years. Women now have the right to vote and to own property. They let their voices be heard instead of sitting silently in the kitchen. Women hold jobs previously restricted to men - police officer, firefighter, construction worker, doctor, truck driver and scientist. Obviously, this list is not all inclusive. Unfortunately, there is still one area that remains restricted to women. Women have assisted the military forces as far back as the Revolutionary War and yet there remains positions that women are excluded from. Female military personnel, having proven their ability to handle combat situations and having gained the support of the American public, should be permitted to volunteer for combat designated positions.
A historical analysis will establish that women are capable of meeting the demands of war, having served in numerous combat and combat-support positions. Mary Hays McCauley, also known as Molly Pitcher, fought in the Revolutionary War, taking over her husband's cannon duties after he was wounded. Margaret Corbin also fought in the Revolutionary War during the Battle of Fort Washington. During the Civil War, thousand of women served in both the Union and the Confederate armies, primarily as nurses. Elizabeth Newcom joined the Missouri Volunteer Infantry during the Mexican-American War disguised as a man, and served for some time before her deception was discovered (Valceanu 22). These women were not an exception, but merely doing what had to be done. Even though the majority served as nurses, they still witnessed and experienced the devastating physical and psychological effects of war and proved that they could indeed handle the pressure.
In 1942, because of the need for men to be available for combat positions, the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps was created. This permitted women to fill combat-support positions, at least for the duration of World War II. Greater progress came after World War II with the Women's Armed Services Integration Act of 1948. This would be the first time that women were permitted to serve in the military during peace-time. However, each branch had a two percent limit on the number of women that could be enlisted at any one time, and promotions were very restricted (Valceanu 22). Certainly, this shows advancement for women in the military, but it was merely due to the shortage of men available for military duty. Equality for women in the military was definitely not a consideration at this time.
While women would also serve during the Korean War and the Vietnam War, there was little progress until the 1970's. In 1972, women comprised only two percent of all military personnel, ninety percent of which were in "traditional female medical and administrative positions" (Binkin 10). It would appear that there was very little progress during the twenty-three years since...

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