Quick Hit: Army Policies Don’t Keep Women Off Front Lines

From NPR:

Sixty-one women in the U.S. military have been killed by hostile fire in Iraq — more than twice as many female casualties suffered since women were allowed to join the military after World War II. The number indicates that women are playing new roles in combat zones.

Listen to the segment here.

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7 Comments

  1. Posted August 27, 2007 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry, but I have a hard time seeing the inclusion of women in the military as a good thing. It seems self-defeating at best to celebrate our ability to go overseas and kill other women under the pretense of defending an imperialist system of governance where equality means that we’re 77% as valuable as men.

  2. Shadowen
    Posted August 27, 2007 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    If anyone thinks female troops in Iraq are being posted closer to the front lines–or possibly even on the front lines, I dunno–for any reason other than the fact that they’re having trouble finding enough men (in the literal sense, not the “You’re all men in the army!” sense) to do it, they’re deluded.

  3. Abbey
    Posted August 27, 2007 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    Rightly or wrongly, military service has always been considered either a responsiblity of citizenship or a way for a person to gain the kind of credibility which leads them to public office. The idea of a standing military is here to stay, and as an institution it will always have significant power.
    As an Army woman (and feminist), I am continually frustrated by attitudes like the above which do nothing to practically improve the lives of servicewomen and only lead the military hierarchy further from feminist goals.
    Every day, I see and hear of military women doing amazing things here and abroad while at the same time slowly advancing a culture that is more tolerant, humane, and less based on purposeless violence. The military is a different and better place than it was 20 years ago–a good deal of this is due to women.
    The military is incredibly frustrated in Iraq right now–stretched impossibly thin for too long with no clear mission. To label all of us as malevolent blockheads who don’t have consciences, kill indiscriminately, and uphold patriarchy is to do a serious disservice to feminism.

  4. JenLovesPonies
    Posted August 28, 2007 at 12:30 am | Permalink

    And… should they? Why shouldn’t women be on the front lines? Am I missing something here?

  5. Posted August 28, 2007 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    I myself am both in the Army and a feminist, and I see it this way: you don’t beat the patriarchy by joining it. There is absolutely no value whatsoever in trying to defeat the patriarchy by joining the military and being in the front lines (for women, anyway).
    In all, no matter how high-ranking a person gets, the civilian world doesn’t give a shit about it. If we are to brush our feminist touches on the world, it’s done through through the economy, politics and policies.
    Abbey – on your statement about women and the military and the great things they’ve done – I just experienced one of the most frustrating things in the world. As a person put in charge of various ethnic observances and celebration, I’ve been told to forego Women’s History Month because we have no budget for it.
    It’s incredible.
    “We work in a place mainly consisted of women, why do we need to tell them about their own history?” I was asked. That floored me.

  6. shiningstar
    Posted August 29, 2007 at 12:07 am | Permalink

    I guess I’m a little late to the discussion but this topic gave me the impetus to finally create an account so I could post. It’s been on my mind a lot lately.
    I will agree with Abbey above that there are incredible, groundbreaking woman leaders in the military that have done much to create acceptance for women and perhaps help shift the culture in a more tolerant direction.
    However, the idea that women have influenced the military culture to be “less based on purposeless violence” seems to be stretching it. Since the time that rational thought became important to Western society, every righteous venge-seeking or empire-building nation has justified their violence as purposeful and moral. That hasn’t changed one iota – look at the war we’re in now. We justify our violence as purposeful every single time we commit it. I have hope that things will change, but right now they haven’t.
    The bigger question is whether you think violence as a means to solve problems in general is purposeful and moral. That debate isn’t exactly gender-neutral nor does it pit women’s and men’s values against each other completely. But it’s my opinion that women and children suffer most from war, and… we historically never start the g-damn wars. So it definitely is ironic and disturbing that we’re so willing to die in them. (As a current military woman I face the irony every day.) But women do have that choice, just as it is her choice to decide to shun the notion of considering herself a feminist.

  7. Posted August 29, 2007 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Oh, but wait, there’s more!!
    Ever heard of Leigh Ann Hester, who recieved the Silver Star for valor on March 20, 2005? She’s the first female soldier ever to be awarded the Silver Star for valor in close-quarters combat.
    An excerpt from her wiki:

    “Hester’s squad of two women and eight men in three Humvees was shadowing a 30-truck supply convoy when approximately 50 insurgent fighters ambushed the convoy with AK-47 assault weapon and RPK machine gun fire, and rocket propelled grenades (RPGs). The squad moved to the side of the road, flanking the insurgents and cutting off their escape route. Hester maneuvered her team through the “kill zone” and into a flanking position, where she and her squad leader, Staff Sergeant Timothy F. Nein, assaulted a trench line with hand grenades and M203 grenade launcher rounds. Hester and Nein assaulted and cleared two trenches. During the 25-minute firefight, Hester killed at least three enemy combatants with her M-4 assault rifle.[3]
    When the battle was over, 27 insurgents were dead, six were wounded, and one captured. Sergeants Hester and Nein were both awarded the Silver Star.”

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