Women have been serving in different aspects of the military for over 200 years. Though it may seem like women’s roles in earlier wars were smaller and free of “dangerous” situations, this is not entirely true. Women have always been serving in combat roles—maybe just unofficially.
Women have seen the front lines as early as the Revolutionary War. According to USO, a woman named Margaret Corbin stayed with her husband through the war and helped him with various things. After her husband’s death, she took over his job and got a military pension. Other notable women in this war were Deborah Sampson and Lydia Darragh. These brave women shaped the future for women wanting to serve their country. However, recently, there has been a fight against women serving on the front lines and special forces in the military.
In the 90s, Demi Moore’s G.I. Jane was an inspiration and a look at women’s future roles in the military; however, this may have set the women in the military’s expectations of their allowed ability in the military too high. In fact, they may never be given an equal opportunity to that of their fellow male soldiers. Recently, a policy has been presented to include women in “support” combat roles, excluding direct, ground-combat roles. This means they can be on the front lines in roles such as “tank mechanic, combat medic, or radio operator,” according to The Week.
But, due to recent backlash from politicians, it seems as though things are going backward. The Week interviewed Republican politician Rick Santorum who stated, “men have emotions when [they] see a woman in harm’s way,” he said. “It’s natural. It’s very much in our culture to be protective.” Former military officers of both genders backed his words. However, some have disagreed with Santorum’s statement with good reason. Julia Goralka stated, “When rockets and bullets are raining down on your foxhole, you don’t worry about the gender of your comrades, or their sexual orientation, either. American soldiers, whether male, female, gay, or straight, are highly skilled professionals trained to react responsibly under fire.”
Although qualified, women may never have the same opportunities for combat as men in the military. Military combat training is no joke, and if one meets the qualifications with their skills, there’s no reason to exclude them—male or female. Hopefully, one day, women will be given the equal opportunity to serve that they have earned.