Women in the military

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Women serve in various capacities in most militaries around the world, historically in non-combat roles. The participation of women in military is higher in the industrialized world as compared to other nations. While expanding the potential talent pool to be recruited from is usually deemed good in other contexts, the prospect of allowing women into the military tends to get some folks all riled up every now and again.


Women have served in armed forces in various roles, often supportive, to varying degrees throughout history. Women served as what would now be called nurses from at least the time of the Crimean clusterf War. The history of women openly serving in combat roles in substantial numbers goes back to WWI-era Russia.[1] In WWII, both the UK and Germany made use of female soldiers in anti-aircraft units, and the Soviets incorporated women into the armed forces as pilots, snipers, tank drivers, and all manner of other combat and non-combat roles. After the Great Wars, women were more or less taken back out of combat roles and even many support roles, and for a time the issue lay more or less dormant, aside from a brief fiasco known as the Arab-Israeli war. However, in the 1980s, some (primarily Western) countries began allowing women in some or all military roles, though in many countries many or even all military positions are still closed entirely to women.

The many reasons women are told they can't die for their country like men[edit]

The Center for Military Readiness (CMR) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by Elaine Donnelly, an anti-feminist and conservative activist. The CMR was founded in 1993 following the implementation of the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. CMR opposes allowing gay people to serve in the military and seeks to limit the participation of women in the military.

An FAQ by the CMR dated to 2004 claims, "Modern body armor alone weighs 25 pounds. This weight is proportionately more difficult to carry by female soldiers who are, on average, shorter and smaller than men, with 45-50% less upper body strength and 25-30% less aerobic capacity, which is essential for endurance. Even in current non-combat training, women suffer debilitating bone stress fractures and other injuries at rates double those of men. To summarize an enormous body of well-documented evidence produced by physiologists in the U.S. and Britain, in close combat women do not have an “equal opportunity” to survive, or to help fellow soldiers survive."[2]

First of all, this statement is a generalization. The claim that all women have 45-50% less upper body strength and 25-30% less aerobic capacity is not backed by a scientific study. The second claim is that there are "well-documented evidence produced by physiologists in the U.S. and Britain". But it failed to bring a single scientific study done physiologists. Unless we know in what condition the studies were done and what exactly was the result, we can't accept their statement as a valid argument.

Moreover, according to 2012 reports, the US military is developing a new body armour addressing the physical differences between sexes that will fit the female body perfectly and will have shorter torso.[3]

A June 2013 article in Marine Corps Gazette titled "Let Us Fight for You" authored by Bible-citing infantry officers B.L. Brewster and R.K. Wallace, claims, "Since the inception of the U.S. military, service in combat arms has been the rightful duty and sole responsibility of the men of our society, as well it should be. From an evolutionary perspective, it means pitting a generally smaller/gentler/more compassionate demographic against a generally larger/stronger/more violent demographic in a ‘survival of the fittest’ contest that ultimately determines the fates of societies. God made the genders specifically and intentionally different for many purposes. Men are to shoulder the responsibility of fighting to preserve the life and dignity of women, as well as to protect the next generation." [4][5]

The authors make a logical fallacy called appeal to tradition by making the claim that historically only men were the backbone of the military, so they should be so in the present and in future too. The argument regarding evolutionary perspective is a naturalistic fallacy. And the last argument from a Biblical point of view is unscientific, as well as shamelessly sectarian.

Statistical averages do not make a women[edit]

The biggest argument against women in the military tends to be that *on average* women tend to have less physical strength or endurance then men, and there may be some truth to that fact. However, this completely ignores the fact that militaries across the world have hiring standards which include physical fitness. The only people allowed to enter the military are the ones who meet those fitness requirements, regardless of their sex or gender. It might be true that, on average, a randomly chosen women off the street would be less likely to meet those requirements then a man, but that doesn't really matter because our military is not made up of people randomly pulled off the street. All that matters is how fit a women actually serving in the military is, and if those women had to pass the same fitness requirements as men then they should be expected to be just as fit as the males they serve with.

By contrast there are, without a doubt, women who not only meet but surpass the fitness standards of most militaries. So why should such a women, who is physically more fit then men actively serving in the military right now, be told she is unfit just because there exist other women who are not as fit? Should we not judge the fitness of a soldier based off of their own, personal and demonstrable, physical fitness rather then based off of some statistical average that includes a bunch of folks who will never try, or succeed, to enter the military?

Arguments for allowing women in combat roles[edit]

A.J. Burn, a Vietnam veteran and the president of the Oceanside-based 1st Marine Division Association, claims "I also know some women Marines that I would rather be in combat with than some, ha, male Marines I know. Some female Marines are mentally tougher."[6]

According to Nancy Duff Campbell, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, D.C., "Obviously there are men who can’t pass muster for the infantry, and yet they don’t close the infantry to men because some men can’t do it".[7]

According to retired Army Col. Ellen Haring, a senior fellow at the Washington D.C.-based Women in International Security, "The really crucial point is setting the standards appropriately and then letting all citizens apply. Then you’ll have a force that is not just strong, it’s more diverse. It brings different skill sets." According to Haring, after allowing women into U.S. military academies, academic standards increased after female cadets were admitted in 1976 and the culture became more professional.[8]