why serving in combat does not serve women (or anyone else) well
Why Serving In Combat Does Not Serve Women (Or Anyone Else) Well
by Lucinda Marshall
Crucial as it is for women to have the same opportunities and benefits as men who do comparable work, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s announcement that women can now serve in combat positions in the military should not be misconstrued as a step forward for women.
As the women’s rights advocacy group AF3IRM GABNET said in a statement on their Facebook page,
The Pentagon lifted a ban on women in combat, stating that women can now serve on the frontlines. We in AF3IRM know that this is already common practice and that women of color and transnational women are already disproportionately over-represented in the US military. They are pushed into military duty due to poverty and lack of other options. We do not
celebrate this new “elimination of a gender-based barrier.” We do not celebrate sending us women overseas to kill other women and children in someone else’s name. (emphasis mine)
According to a study by the PEW Research Center, women now make up 14% of the enlisted ranks and 16% of the officer ranks. A look at the racial breakdown of those numbers is instructive,
While 71% of active-duty men are white (including white Hispanics), only about half of active-duty women (53%) are white. The share of white women in the military is also significantly smaller than their proportion in the civilian female population ages 18-44 (78%).
More than three-in-ten (31%) military women are black (including black Hispanics). This is almost twice the share of active-duty men who are black (16%), as well as more than twice the proportion of civilian women ages 18-44 who are black (15%). In addition, more women in the active-duty force than men in the active-duty force and civilian women ages 18-44 are of mixed racial background or some other race.3