Many people believe that differences do take place, but how? Both men and women have hopes, dreams, strengths, weaknesses, and goals. Even though these similarities exist, women are still sometimes thought to be lower than their male peers. There have been many cases in which women felt they were being treated differently than the males around them. But, did you ever think there would be the problem of inequality between men and women in America’s defense system?
Both men and women have the right to serve in the military; but, many times women face discrimination nd the problem of being unaccepted, possibly affecting women’s ability to serve their country. The military was fully integrated in the mid-1970s (Moskos 107). Yet, twenty-some years later, women are still trying to gain full equality. In those past twenty years, there have been many courageous women who have been fighting their way into record-breaking positions so their male peers would accept them. Two of these women are Shannon Faulkner and Shannon Workman.
Faulkner was the first woman to become a cadet at the Citadel as she walked through the gates on August 12, 1995. Faulkner entered the 152-year-old military school located in South Carolina as a “knob,” or a first year cadet. Upon her arrival, the military made exceptions to certain rules for her, one being that older male cadets could not go through her drawers looking for underwear that was not folded properly. A private bathroom with surveillance cameras was also constructed for Faulkner to prevent any foul play (Sack 6). The second of these two women was Shannon Workman.
In 1994, she became the first woman to qualify as a female pilot who was combat ready in the Navy (Schmitt 15). Although the military and the public recognize women like Faulkner and Workman, many women who work to reach their goals go unrecognized. Women have been a part of the Marine Corps since 1943; but today (after over fifty years) women make up a mere five- percent of the Corps population. In the Navy, women were invited onto hospital ships in 1977. Today they too make up a small portion of the system with only ten- percent. The Air Force and the Army have the greatest percentage of women.
The Army has eleven- percent and the Air Force has fourteen- percent (Moskos 108). Although women have been artially accepted in America’s defense system, inequality is still found in combat areas. Legally, women are not permitted to serve in any units that have missions in ground or front-line combat. In the army, women are not allowed to serve in infantry, armor-force and cannon artillery force units as well as combat engineers units (Moskos 107). Considering the fact that most army positions are combat-related, what jobs would that leave to women?
Well, women are generally left with positions such as truck drivers, medics, helicopter pilots, and cafeteria staff. Do you think that women enroll in the army to drive trucks? Or do they want to defend their country in combat? Although women have more possibilities in the Air Force, they are also prohibited from being flyer fighters and bomber plane pilots (Moskos 108). Last, in the Navy women are still prohibited from being stationed on submarines and minesweepers. They also cannot hold the position of a Navy SEAL.
A Navy SEAL is the most elite military force known to man, and they specialize in SEa, Air and Land, which is where they receive their name. The fact that women are not allowed to be Navy SEALS was the basis of a movie entitled “G. I. Jane. ” In this movie you can ee that because a women would like to be a Navy SEAL she must pose as a man. This means that in order for a woman to be something that she would truly like to be she must in a way mask her true identity. Women do not only face a struggle in combat; they are also striving to be seen among military ranking officers as well.
Statistics show that only twenty percent of jobs in the Marine Corps are open to women. The Army follows with fifty-one percent. The Navy has a total of fifty-nine percent of jobs open to women; and, the Air Force has an astonishing ninety-seven percent (Sagawa 1). Despite inequality among ranks in the military, women attain similar achievements in academics, athletics, and military achievement,” (Barringer 7). If it is true that women are attaining, “similar achievements” with men, why is it that women hold very few positions as higher-ranking officers?
In the Army, only five percent of its executives are women and the Marine Corps has only one woman that holds an executive position (McGonigle and Timms 1). The reason as to why women might not hold as many executive positions was stated in a book, “Sound Off! American Military Women Speak Out. ” This statement said that,” omen must waste the energy that men can save for their jobs or their pleasures in proving herself in smashing stereotypes and overcoming prejudice,” (Moskos 107). What this statement means is that because women are discriminated against, most of their time and effort goes into trying to prove these stereotypes wrong.
Maybe if the stereotypes didn’t exist women would have a greater chance of gaining their equality in combat and among ranks. In another report from the Naval Academy it was stated that, “The negative attitudes are rooted in the fact that because women aren’t allowed to hold combatant assignments, their contributions are limited. This fuels persistent belief that women do not belong in the Academy,” (Barringer 7). One major problem is that being unaccepted is not an isolated case; women feel unaccepted throughout all the areas of the military.
In a survey, forty-five percent of men in their first year at the Naval Academy said that women did not belong there. The poll was taken again when those men were in their senior year and thirty-eight percent still said they felt that women did not belong at the Academy (Francake 174). Another survey given in the military showed that only eleven to thirty-seven percent of omen felt accepted compared to the forty-eight to seventy-one percent of men who felt they were accepted. Part of the reason that these women might feel like they do not belong is verbal abuse.
The Citadel’s spokesman described basic training as, “Hell with a purpose, knob year is a physically and psychologically grueling continuum of five-mile runs, push-ups and subordination to upperclassmen,” (Sack 7). During these so-called “five-mile runs,” training leaders will tell their men that they, “run like a bunch of women. ” Or, how about when drill sergeants refer to tired men as “women” and “pussies” (Francake 162)? This is supposed to be a motivational tool towards men, but at the same time it is also a put down for the women that are present.
Since acceptance of women has gotten worse every year, twice as many women resigned from the Naval Academy in 1987 then in 1976 (Barringer 7). One of the biggest problems that is currently growing in the military is sexual harassment. Like the problem of being unaccepted sexual harassment is not an isolated case, because it too is found in all branches of the military. Captain Hartman stated, “If sexual harassment goes the way racism in the Navy and Marine Corps, you can expect to have it around for a long time.
In 1989 a study at the Pentagon showed that sixty-four percent of women said they were sexually harassed, that percent was only at forty-two two years earlier in 1987 (McGonigle and Timms 1). Then in 1990, it was labeled that sexual harassment was an “epidemic” because in a survey given to twenty thousand women, two out of three said they at one time or another had unwanted advances made at them (Francake 157). Forty-seven percent of investigated women said they had experienced this “unwanted sexual attention. Fifteen percent said they experienced sexual coercion, and seven- percent had experienced sexual ssault (Shenon 7).
These statistics are backed up when Cadet Adelle Belisle stated, “We came her nave and trusting, thinking that we’d be protected by the people around us. It was shocking. We all know cases of sexual harassment here,” (Schmitt 13). In the Navy, it was found that fifty percent of its women midshipmen experienced harassment at least twice a month at the Naval Academy (Francake 173). Two examples of talked about sexual harassment cases are founded in the Navy.
One of which in 1989, Gwen Dreyer was physically removed from her room, and brought to the men’s bathroom. There she was handcuffed to a urinal and taunted by male peers who at the same time proceeded to take photographs of her (Sagawa 1). A more recent case was the Tailhook Scandal in 1992. The Tailhook was the name given to the case where twenty-six women were “mistreated” at a party in male dorms. The Naval Academy admitted that, “Despite official policy to the contrary a climate free of sexual harassment does not exist at the Naval Academy.
Sexual harassment has been in the military for a long time; and finally by 1981, all branches of the military issued their own definition of sexual harassment ranging from “unwanted exual advances” to “requests for sexual favors,” (Francake 157). Although many areas of the military have different ways of controlling sexual harassment, there are one or two things that are the same throughout the military. In order to try to cut down on sexual harassment, no dating or sexual relationships are permitted (Schmitt 8).
Men are also required to be accompanied by female escorts when they enter women’s sleeping quarter’s after hours (as with women in men’s quarters). Once they have entered the sleeping quarter men must knock, announce themselves and then wait five seconds before entering the room (Schmitt 15). The last thing is that the military would like to separate men and women into separate housing buildings and during basic training. But, as of now, men and women are still functioning together in co-educational units. The Navy has been trying to recover from the recent Tailhook scandal by changing the conditions that men and women are in together.
The Navy has spent one point three million dollars on constructing private sleeping quarters for women. Also constructed was an examination room on the sick bay, which contains stocks of feminine products and cosmetics (Schmitt 15). Captain Gemmill of the Navy explains that,” We probably can’t stop sexual harassment, but we can decrease the most obvious and obnoxious kind, the foul language, leering, or touching,” (Schmitt 13). To fight against this harassment, the Navy has started what they are calling the “bumper sticker” approach.
This approach contains a green zone (go), and yellow zone (slow down) and a red zone (stop). The “bumper sticker” approach works as follows: your offense is classified into a zone and from there your punishment will depend on the degree of your offense (Dowd 11). Although the Navy believes this to be a great idea, the Army is skeptical and an army official expresses his feelings by saying, “Oh gosh. I didn’t know saying ‘Good Morning,’ to someone is a green zone, and I am really glad to know that rape is a red zone,” (Dowd 11).
After the Army conducted the largest investigation of sexual harassment, they stated in a report that, “sexual harassment exists, throughout the Armyand the leadership is responsible. ” After this investigation, drill sergeants who came in contact with women recruits were required to have more difficult screening. Also, three-star generals would serve as “watch-dogs” over basic training leaders at the training centers. The Air Force, as well, has been making a conscious effort to prevent sexual harassment. General Bradey C.
Hosmer gathered five hundred and eighteen women in an auditorium and had all of the men removed except himself. He then proceeded to tell the women he wanted to “ground-truth on sexual harassment. ” For four hours women poured out with their concerns on sexual harassment and over fifty percent of the women said they had known of cases of sexual harassment (Schmitt 15). Despite all of the changes in the different areas of the military, Secretary West still admittes, “Sexual harassment however continues to be a problem,” (Shenon 7).
The military has been trying to get women to come forth and report any cases of sexual harassment. Some women do, but many women do not. They do not come forward for a few reasons, one being that they are scared. Investigators reported that women do not report sexual harassment out of fear that they would be punished instead of their tormentors. “The Army’s actions make it clear that there is no room for sexual abuse, harassment, or iscrimination in today’s military,” (Shenon 7).
If this is so, why do percents show that in the Army alone forty-one percent of its discharges were women (Francake 181)? Most of these discharges were found to be after the reporting of sexual harassment. This also happened in the Air Force, when Pat Gavin lost her eight- year career by reporting sexual misbehavior. Women were also investigated for being homosexuals after reporting sexual harassment. When one hundred women complained they were mistreated they went through psychiatric exams, nd they too were investigated about possibly being homosexuals.
Investigation of homosexuality was also found in the Navy. In one instance one woman reported being harassed by one of her male peers. As a result her and six other women were discharged for being homosexuals (McGonigle and Timms 1). When the military did this, it confused women. They tell women to come forward with sexual harassment charges, but when women do they are the ones who suffer by being investigated for homosexuality, having to undergo psychiatric testing, or even worse, being discharged. Overall, women have been a part of the military for a long time.
And, for a long time they have been unaccepted, harassed, and thought to be unequal. Inside women are the same as men, and if they want to be in the military they should be able to. They should also be able to have equal rights, and be permitted to hold the same jobs and ranks. There have been and there still are people that are fighting for equal rights for women. But, as of now it still remains a problem. One must realize that there is not a difference between men and women besides what the human eye can see.