Tuesday, August 18, 2009

women at war

Great article from the NY Times

They have changed the way the United States military goes to war. They have reshaped life on bases across Iraq and Afghanistan. They have cultivated a new generation of women with a warrior’s ethos — and combat experience — that for millennia was almost exclusively the preserve of men.

And they have done so without the disruption of discipline and unit cohesion that some feared would unfold at places like Warhorse.

Separate restrooms, gynecological medical equipment, access to birth control and condoms on base...things are sure changing for women in the military.

“There was a lot of debate over where women should be,” said Brig. Gen. Heidi V. Brown, one of the two highest ranking women in Iraq today, recalling the start of the war. “Here we are six years later, and you don’t hear about it. You shouldn’t hear about it.”

But as much as things are changing, risks of sexual harassment and assault have not.

Both are underreported, soldiers and officers here say, because the rigidity of the military chain of command can make accusations uncomfortable and even risky for victims living in close quarters with the men they accuse.

Nor have tendencies to degrade women who step into "male" space

“You’re a bitch, a slut or a dyke — or you’re married, but even if you’re married, you’re still probably one of the three,” Sergeant Bradford said.

I quite enjoyed the conclusion of the article

The issues that arise in having women in combat — harassment, bias, hardship, even sexual relations — are, she and others said, a matter of discipline, maturity and professionalism rather than an argument for separating the sexes.

Read the full article

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