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Gender Stereotypes in Military Essay

In the non traditional occupations, also called non domestic jobs, women in the work place including its attitude about women’s roles are being studied by some professionals. Gender stereotypes are prone into this kind of scenarios. In the military communities for example, there is still a widely held gender stereotypes. Men and women in the military are being approached and treated differently. Military communities in the past were often integrated with men. Women’s participation in the military and in war throughout history has been limited due to those common gender stereotypes.

Women can not be good soldiers allegedly because they are innately weak physically and emotionally. Generally men were believed to possess a higher level of motivation, initiative and leadership qualities necessary for effective military performance. Whereas women, primarily considering their physiological aspects, possess more feminine attributes that hinders them to achieve an excellent military performance. But given that the “physical barriers to military participation have been gradually eroded due to the advent of highly technological weaponry and the improve fitness of women but the emotional barriers remain strong” (DeGroot 24).

It is believed that women are genetically programmed for the softer and caring roles and therefore can not apply aggressive impulses necessary for effective soldiering to defend military interests in future conflicts. To recruit women therefore considering this belief means giving into the risks to lose future wars. This perceived reality hinders the military setting to recruit more women for an aggressive physical war. Many points of arguments have put forward by those against the idea of putting women into hand to hand combat.

One of the obvious concerns regarding women in combat is the given fact that women do not possess as much physical strength as their male counterparts. The female body structure is not as adept and enduring at handling high g-forces activities needed for actual combats. “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” (Willens 1996). Psychologically, mixed gender accommodations in a small space can be very intimidating and can provoke sexual anxieties towards men which might affect their focus in combats.

Moreover there is a greater possibility for acts of rape, sexual harassment and molestation. Romantic relationships between men and women is somehow inevitable especially that war is a depressing situation. This can disrupt a unit’s fighting capability. Many women might be forced to get pregnant as well in order to escape combat duties. Moreover pregnancy may intimidate military readiness that will greatly affect the military combats. Placing women in combat may also mean putting the fighting unit into risks. Female are truly exposed to the risk of capture, psychological and sexual abuses.

The opposing parties may use women to intimidate their enemies through using them as prisoners. Meanwhile another interesting argument to keep women out of combat is the fact that female might disrupt the military cohesive unit and might undermine the soldiers’ sense of esprit de corps. The effectiveness of the military hinges on a cohesion — every member must completely trust and respect one another. Many argue men would not be able to trust women to be capable of accomplishing the physical demands of combat, which could lead to serious problems..

A standard must be maintained to make every member feel as if he/she is part of one single unit, not separated by gender (Willens 1996). These gender differences and given the reality of war, the opposing parties who want to keep women out of combat believe that it is safe to put men in actual combats because they guarantee a greater percentage of military effectiveness. In the military, each party needs to have the most capable military power. In United States during World War 1 “with the creation of U. S.

Army Nurse Corps in 1901 and the U. S. Army Nurse Corps in 1908, women were relied on primarily to provide nursing care” Worell 772). Nursing the wounded soldiers was the most visible role played by women during early wars until World War 1. Marriage, pregnancy and motherhood however could be main legitimate basis for voluntary discharge. The “Army Nurse Corps in 1901 expressly prohibited nurses from marrying and being mothers” because these will hinder their social and governmental service and responsibilities (Worell 774).

In World War II however “historians documented the more informal participation of women in active combat, in artillery units, as disguised enlisted men, in militia units, and in frontier warfare during the early years of U. S. history and as spies and scouts during Civil War” (Worell 776). The start of World War II apparently expanded non nursing roles of women provided their identity will not be boldly exposed so not to create public misinterpretations. War setting has been redefined however in the beginning of 1950s. Women were openly admit for military service.

There is an apparent changing nature and role in the modern military. Military now not only participates in physical combats. Their role has changed “with peacemaking and disaster relief becoming the most common reason for deployment” (DeGroot 25). In this reason, military integrated a wider women’s participation these past years. Women’s gentle nature, their ability to control aggression and their conciliatory attitude are now perceived positively in the military setting. Women’s nature can make a significant contribution for peacemaking.

Women are often integrated into combat support roles and services depending on their capabilities. The discrepancy between the stereotypic attributes of female apparently has variety of emotional effects on the experiences of women in the military. In terms of performance evaluation, people readily give a lower standards and expectations to women. They readily recognize and accept the fact that women has weaker physical and emotional attributes. Therefore as a result, they integrate women’s role into the domestic and traditional jobs inside the military.

Work Cited Page: DeGroot, Gerard J. A Few Good Women: Gender Stereotypes, the Military and Peacemaking. Olsson, Louise. Tryggestad, Torunn. Women and International peacemaking. Great Britain: Routledge 2001 Willens, Jake. “Women in the Military”. CDI Center for Defense Information (1972). August 1996. Retrieved on 25, June 2009 from http://www. cdi. org/issues/women/combat. html Worell, Judith. Encyclopedia of women and gender: sex similarities and differences and the impact of society on gender. Elsevier, 2001


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