Just over a week ago the House Armed Committee approved legislation that will ban women from jobs related to direct combat situations. Perhaps the legislation was an effort by congressional members to be chivalrous or to improve the image of the war in Iraq by minimizing the number of women killed, but the only real result of this law reeks of chauvinism.
In Iraq and Afghanistan the battle can be carried out anywhere at anytime, from a specified and organized mission to a random car bomb in the middle a city. War is not what it once was; the battle lines are skewed now. According to the BBC, 35 women have already been killed in the Iraq war. Women soldiers risk their lives on a daily basis, so why are we restricting them from combat zones, when combat zones can’t even be distinguished. By contributing in Iraq at all, they are in a combat zone.
"Even as they urged that the amendment be rejected, Army officers acknowledge that current combat missions — and those likely in the future — are defined by a new wartime environment in which there are no guaranteed, secure rear areas because the combat zone that has no distinct front lines. That issue was crystallized by the firefight in which a rear-area maintenance company, which included Pfc. Jessica Lynch, became lost and out-gunned by Iraqi irregulars during the major combat phase of the war to topple Saddam Hussein," the New York Times reported.
This hurts the argument that Rep. John McHugh, R-N.Y., a sponsor of the amendment that bans women, made: "Many Americans feel that women in combat or combat support positions is not a bridge we want to cross at this point." The bridge has already been crossed.
The amendment also unjustly constricts the careers of women who are serving, because there are 20,000 vital support jobs that they are unable to pursue under the current rules.
Beyond this, the real issue the House needs to address is one of hypocrisy. American rhetoric about equality abounds, but it is situations like these that show where our convictions truly lie. If men and women are really fundamentally equal then no woman in the military should be denied the responsibilities and the opportunities that combat positions entail. Insofar as any individual, regardless of sex, is physically cable of fulfilling the required duties, they should not be denied the opportunity to exercise their abilities. Any attempt to keep women out of combat positions, however chivalrous-sounding, is really nothing more than an example of one of the the most backward, misogynist and condescending ideologies still on the market.
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Title: Staff Editorials | Author: Staff Editorial | Section: Opinions | Published Date: 2005-05-25 | Internal ID: 4554