Growing up as a female in a military household, the topic of women in combat is not new to me. The recent news regarding the lifting of the ban on women in combat was exciting. This excitement led me to an MDJ column written by Dr. Melvin Fein titled, “Women in combat a sign of national death wish?” It provided interesting rhetoric surrounding the issue and his stance.
As I read the column, I was startled by the overgeneralizations and stereotypes that were made. First, the idea that the public had resigned itself to the idea that the ban would be lifted is an overgeneralization. As proof of our differing stances and the divide in the recent polls, the public as a whole has not resigned themselves to anything.
Further in Fein’s argument, he references the sentiments of the left, libertarians and feminists towards this issue. That is an error in stereotyping individuals and oversimplification of the issue. There are many differing opinions regarding this issue, and not all members of these parties are giving a sigh or relief, overjoyed or feeling pleasure. Additionally, this issue is much more complex than just gender equality for individuals of all parties. In fact, there are numerous quotes and articles before and after the policy shift that explains the various issues that policymakers considered prior to lifting the ban.
Fein pointed to the removal of the ban as an issue of individual rights, but the military is a team activity. He continued by suggesting the military relies on individuals coordinating their actions and group cohesion and the absence of fighting is necessary. To support this argument, he references Vietnam and individuals rotating without their unit. This resulted in loss of cohesion. Unfortunately, there are errors in this argument. Although he poses the question of whether women will cause men to loose their sense of comradeship, there is no direct connection between removing the ban, gender rights and loss of cohesion. For this statement to have merit in the argument he will need to connect evidence or personal accounts that women in combat situations cause conflict.
In reading this article, I had hoped to be convinced that removing the ban on women in combat was a determent to our military, soldiers, and country. However, I am faced with the same old arguments that are both anecdotal and unsubstantiated. Although the argument is compelling, I am still searching for well-documented evidence and substantiated claims that support the ban on women in the military.