• The Lance

Women in War

By Annabelle Reynolds

While women are treated better than before, sexism has not become a thing of the past. Not yet.

Whether or not women should be able to be drafted or enter the military has been a question for quite a while. When historically women have not been allowed to enlist in the military, some entered pretending to be men, such as Deborah Sampson. In 1778 she disguised herself as a man and fought alongside other male soldiers in the Continental Army. She was discovered as a woman when she had fallen ill during a battle and discharged. In 1837, four years after she died, Sampson was recognized as a Revolutionary Soldier and her husband was given a widow’s pension. It wasn’t for a long time after this that women were allowed to be in the army as themselves.

The first woman to join the military without a disguise or in a non-nursing manner was Loretta Walsh. She enlisted in the Navy in 1917 and became the first woman to reach the rank of Chief Petty Officer.

While it has been proven that women are able to be successful in the military, the question of women being included in the national draft has been very controversial for quite some time. The draft is something that all able men are required to sign up for when they turn 18. It will be used if there comes a time when those who voluntarily signed up for the military cannot protect the country due to low numbers or a war requiring a large number of soldiers.

One of the main reasons why women were not allowed to fight in the military before is because society believed women needed to stay home to take care of families and things in the community while the men were off fighting for the country. This was true, women did tons of work to keep towns running while men were on the front lines. While taking care of the communities is important, the fact that women were not seen as strong or able to fight alongside men surfaces as a problem. As much as I hate to say it, women are built differently than men and some may not be quite as physically “strong”, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t able to fight alongside them. While they’re built differently, they are still capable of fighting, working, and being committed to the military just as much as men are.

“Women are strong, mentally and physically. They can do anything that a man can do and even more,” Taije’lah Jackson (12) said. Jackson plans on enlisting in the Army National Guard after high school. No matter what they do, women everywhere are being treated differently because of their gender, and all we can do is try to make everyone feel like equals. “I can’t say for sure that we will ever get rid of blatant sexism against women, but I feel like there is a change [to be made]. I pray that there will be a future where men and women actually coexist on equal terms,” Jackson added.

So what role should women play in war? The same role as men. Women do not deserve to be coddled and protected, they deserve to be whatever they want to be. They deserve to fight for their country if they so choose, and they deserve to be treated like everyone else that chooses to fight. Women are strong and capable of doing anything they put their minds to. We just have to let them.

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