Women in Combat: "What's the Big Deal?"

iVoice Liz Henry says women have been unofficially in combat for years

Women in the military can now fight in combat. A 1994 Pentagon ban was lifted this week, stating that women can officially participate in frontline roles that include armor, artillery and infantry. The thing is: women, by in large, have already been serving in combat especially during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But some on the right are losing their minds over this decision, which is one part non-decision and another part historic.

Take The Wall Street Journal’s Ryan Smith, who cites the supposed humiliation of men defecating in front of women as proof positive that women should not be in combat. “Everyone poops” is completely lost on him.

My colleague here at iVillage believes the “contained sex drive [of men] during combat through strict discipline” will certainly go out the window if women officially join the front lines. Sexual assault is a very real problem in the military and it has nothing to do with sex drive or discipline. It is, in fact, an epidemic that should be treated as one, rather an infuriating blame game on women soldiers.

I should also note that men are sexually assaulted in the military too.

On one hand I understand that a gun-toting “warrior” who protects our country strikes at the heart of masculinity itself, but the truth is that women have been under-recognized gun-toting protectors for far too long. What is the big deal now? That it’s official?

Allowing women in combat means they can now apply for leadership roles and become career military personnel. Without official combat experience, women were, by in large, prohibited from landing the big jobs in the military.

I think there is a lot of fear that women in combat somehow translates into regular women joining the front lines and, well, that’s ridiculous. I can barely bend over let alone do a sit up. No one wants me in combat and I certainly do not want to be there. And unless you want to be a solider, no one wants you in the military either. The United States military is a voluntary endeavor; where the people who risk their lives and bravely protect do so because they want to.

If I was given the choice between a man or a woman saving my life? I would be thrilled that anyone came. Bravery does not know gender and neither does gratitude. I feel just as safe today as I did two days ago when women were unofficially protecting me.

Liz Henry is an award winning blogger and freelance writer. She lives with her family in Philadelphia. Follow her on Twitter @sixyearitch.

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