Is the exclusion of women from frontline combat sexism?

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Excluding women from frontline combat is essentially sexist. Regardless of the many substantial contributions women have made to the United States military from the American Revolutionary war to the contemporary Iraq and Afghanistan wars, it has long been a sanctuary of masculinity, which consequently, has resulted in the organization’s steadfast resistance against women’s direct martial participation. The opponents of women frontline combat argue that females are unable to execute the required responsibilities of battle based on gender and gender role stereotypes. Such opinions are comprised of the assumption that women are physically and psychologically weaker than men are, require supplementary accommodations, and are more vulnerable to sexual abuse. Thus, much of the resistance to women joining the military in combat roles is derived from the traditional, discriminatory belief that men should protect women from harm.

The concept that women are physically and emotionally weaker than men, and therefore should not serve in combat, ignores the often-grueling physical training involved in military training. For both male and female enlistees, training, fitness and psychological exams are part of is part of army life. Both sexes are required to pass physical fitness exams, and discipline is an expectation for all who consider serving in the military. Furthermore, frequently aligned with strength is the allegation of psychological weakness, bringing with it the masculine tagged word, bravery. This argument suggests that women, because of their supposed lack of masculine bravery, are unable to perform the basic function of infantry—to kill the enemy—and are disinclined to serve voluntarily in combat roles.

However, a...

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... much like it has in civilian culture. However, as women continue to prove themselves on or near the battlefield, the established military chauvinistic traditions will fade, as it has with the recent Army and Marine Corps policy change that opened several near-frontline occupations previously denied to women. Though the timetable on this significant modification of the established military framework is difficult to gauge, and it is doubtful it will change soon.

Works Cited

BBC News, "US military to ease curbs on women in combat roles.” Last modified February 9, 2012. Accessed March 28, 2012.

Hillman, Elizabeth. “The Female Shape of the All-Volunteer Force.” Women's America: Refocusing the Past. Edited by Linda K. Kerber, Jane Sherron De Hart, and Cornelia Hughes. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011
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