Sexism in the Military
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For a long time, sexism has taken root in the military culture. Military life has always required that military personnel show obedience to their superiors who are mostly men. This reinforces the inferiority of women in the military over time. Male soldiers get exposure to a way of life, in the military, which helps them become accustomed to it. A life that favors male soldiers sexualizes and devalues women in the military constantly. This kind of sexism depicts an underlying capital society. Women pass through a rough time when they work in the military as opposed to their male counterparts. How does the treatment of women (target) in the military differ from the treatment of the male sex (non-target) in the military?
The life and experience that women experience serving in the military differs from the life men experience. Often, women become the target of all forms of harassment judging by the fact that their numbers does not tally, in the same manner with the population of male soldiers in the military. Many people feel that women do not have a place in the military. This feeling might be true for the fact that women suffer because of harassment in the military. Women who try to sign up for submarine duty find this true. They discover that they do not qualify to serve in the submarine military because of their sex. They can qualify in all areas, for instance, education and physical fitness. However, they cannot get into the submarine military because of their female gender (Bellafaire, 2010).
Most male soldiers feel that women have no place in the military. Most superiors in the military who come from the male sex display this openly. In most cases, the problems that female soldiers pass through come because of abuse of power by their male superiors. Most positions created for women in the military take place as an affirmative action rather than absolute qualification. For example, women cannot participate in the nuclear submarine program, in the United States navy. To counteract the complains that come from activists who rally for the right of women, the American navy has released a pamphlet recently, which states that they have expanded opportunities for women to work in aboard combat ships. The military did this to ensure that they create an equal career path for women. Therefore, from the above scenario, one can clearly see that women got those positions as an act of affirmative action, but not because they have qualified (Caforio & Kümmel, 2005).
The navy created a separate working facility for women to work on their own this represents resentment for both men and women. If not handled properly, the project could create a home for hostilities between male and female soldiers. In this situation, male soldiers and female soldiers have been forced to work separately. In such a situation, they cannot work together because they cannot meet to work on one project because the two groups work in different situations. The military superiors created a different ship for women so that they could not mix with their male counterparts. A reason given for the separation involves the fact that the military claims that women have a lesser capacity to take part in the type of work that the nuclear submarine program involves. They stated that women could not handle the horror that comes with the combat.
In fact, the creation of those opportunities did not take into effect the numbers of women who could get in that military program. It had to ensure that women got in to that program but not in the same number as their male counterparts. In another perspective, the creation of positions in aboard combat ships did not make equal opportunities for women in that program. This happened because in the same way, women did not get the opportunity to work in the core of the nuclear program. It created a separate institution for women to undertake their duties in the program. This happened to counteract accusations of bias against women. The military, in that case, cannot create an equal opportunity for women and men by creating separate institutions where women work on their own and men work on their own, where the female gender get to work on subordinate roles. The program clearly showed that men had an involving role requiring them to use skill and expertise while women could only work as security guards and take roles that do not need a lot of skill and expertise. The segregation of minority groups especially women in the military cannot achieve equality. However, if it does then they should have equal population in terms of numbers. However, this would not happen because it would cost the government much (Brown, 2006).
Women who serve under the military undergo a lot of harassment in their duty. Female soldiers who have served in Iraq have reported cases of sexual assault and rape from fellow soldiers and more so their superiors. Their superiors and men counterparts assault them sexually. They have no ways of reporting such incidences when they occur. However, when some of them report incidences of rape and assault, the issue does not get anywhere. Instead, they get punished. This makes many of the female soldiers decide to keep quit even when they have injuries from such assaults. The military does not provide any form of protection for women soldiers because of their minority status. This has made women soldiers resort to the buddy system as a way of protecting themselves from such assaults. They stay in pairs and armed at all times even when going to the toilet or the bathroom. Even though, cases of assault have been underreported, estimates show that thirty percent of women in the military experience attempted or actual rape and assault. The victims of rape and assault do not get adequate treatment and counseling. As a result, they suffer with the trauma, which affects them in a devastating way that leads to suicide. The cases of rape and assault by their counterparts make them prone to sexually transmitted diseases and low self-esteem.
In Iraq and Afghanistan, more than one hundred female soldiers have reported rape and sexual assault perpetrated by their male counterparts. Many of the victims did not receive medical attention from their experiences. In fact, they did not get such services as emergency contraception, sexually transmitted disease test, rape evidence kits or rape crisis, counseling services. Prosecution of the male soldiers that raped or sexually assaulted their female counterparts took a lot of time while they still worked in the same troops with them. In such a case, the military could not get any evidence that could incriminate the male soldiers who had sexually assaulted women soldiers. Therefore, this shows that the military has not invested in ensuring that women soldiers work under safe environments because it has not ensured that women soldiers have adequate protection from sexual harassment. The issue of women soldiers suffering in the forces academies, and while working has been hid for a long time. Many people support women becoming part of the military but what happen in the field does not support their argument (Barner, 2008).
The military provides an exception for abortion for rape victims. However, this does not help women soldiers who have passed through rape and sexual defilement. The military requires pay for expensive procedure. The military should take responsibility especially when woman soldiers suffer rape and sexual defilement in line of duty. Women soldiers pass through such forms of sexism in the military. Many of the women soldiers complain of unfair criminal investigations that favor their male counterparts. The military questions the validity of their accusations. The military forces them to work alongside their male counterparts who sexually assault them.
Women soldiers face retaliation from their superiors when they report cases of sexual assault. Their superiors view them as troublemakers who should not be part of the military. Some of the women get discharges and falsified medical leaves instead of fair trials that would help them out of such situations. Instead of the military looking for ways that will help to prevent cases of rape and sexual assault from happening, it suggests that segregation of jobs by gender would help solve such problems. In a way, the military looks for ways of ensuring that women soldiers remain in a minority group that does not have an impact in the running of the military. Women who aspire to rise in ranks, in the military must make personal sacrifices.
The military bosses require them to remain single and cannot get pregnant. Because of this, women soldiers who have high ranks in the military have no children and husbands. Those who have children have adopted them. The male soldiers, on the other hand, have advantages that women soldiers do not have. Male soldiers can marry as they wish and can get children anytime they want. The military has given lesser restrictions for male soldiers as compared to female soldiers. Male soldiers can have as large families as they like because the military does not restrict them. However, female soldiers cannot have families like their male counterparts because the military restricts them from getting pregnant. The military cannot give them maternity leave. Therefore, they cannot afford to get pregnant. If they get pregnant, they have to abort or risk their job (Hohn & Moon, 2010).
Sexism also occurs in the numbers and ranks that women hold in the military. The military has more men than women. In the United States of America, women make up fifteen percent of the military. This leaves eighty-five percent for the male sex to occupy positions in the military. This shows the fact that the military favors men, as opposed to women. Whenever women get a chance to join the military, they work in areas that do not require a lot of skill and expertise. Areas that the military consider as secure and risky are given to male soldiers. This happens because the military considers women as less suitable and energetic like their male counterparts, to take part in the military. An example of this happens in the nuclear submarine program of the navy. Military superiors consider women as weak and cannot perform the same way male soldiers perform. This makes military superiors accord male soldiers more responsibility than women soldiers do. Women get subordinate roles in the military after male soldiers have taken the most essential roles. Whenever women take essential roles, the military gives them male counterparts who help them and give them guidance. At no time can the military have two women soldiers working in a project together. It must make sure those women soldiers work with men. However, male soldiers work in male groups, in many projects. This shows that the military favors male soldiers than it does on women soldiers. It has put its trust more on the male sex than the female sex. Therefore, the male sex dominates in the military more than the female sex does (Carreiras & Kümmel, 2008).
The military has given male soldiers an advantage on the leadership positions in the military. Many male soldiers occupy high-ranking positions in the military. Women soldiers take up secondary leadership roles. Female soldiers who have occupied high ranks in the military work under the other high-ranking leaders who are mostly men. The arguments that the navy brought forth did not carry any fact. Clearly, they indicate that the male sex has dominance in the military. The female sex have the same mental capacity to perform like their male counterparts because they learn the same way, they attend the same training and work in the same conditions. In some instances, women have shown that they can perform better than men can because mental capacity does not go with the gender that a person finds himself or herself, but by individual strengths and qualities. Therefore, the navy showed a clear preference for men to work under their program.
In instances where the military go for wars and battles, male soldiers have a high likelihood to become troop leaders than women. Women become troop leaders in few occasions. The military considers that men have the quality and skill to lead troops in times of battles than women can do. In fact, when the military goes for war battles or any other services that might involve fighting, the military takes male soldiers first, and then women soldiers fill up the remaining positions. The military argues that a male can persist and persevere war conditions, and have a less likelihood to surrender. On the other hand, the military considers women as weak and can be defeated or surrender easily. The military has explored all ways of making women appear less fit to serve in the military as compared to their male counterparts. It states that women soldiers cannot make quick and difficult decisions easily, when needed. Sexism occurs almost in every department of the military because of the conservative views that transfers from an old generation of military superiors to the new generation of military seniors. If the military considers women soldiers as weak, as it has the responsibility of training them to perform with strength that the military requires. After all, the purpose of military training involves making soldiers, whether men or women adapt to conditions that can make them suitable in their military roles despite the fact that they differ in gender. Therefore, sexism exists because of the inadequacy of the military and not because of sex differences (Matsakis, 2007).
Women become direct targets of military domestic, violence. Once in the military the recruits become part of a culture of warriors. Therefore, since women have a weak physical strength as compared to men, they suffer victimization that could be verbal or physical. Victimization against women soldiers becomes more prevalent because male soldiers outnumber women in the military. Perhaps cases of sexual harassment and victimization could reduce if the numbers of men and women could be the same (Hohn & Moon, 2010).
Sometimes, women soldiers in the military who experience abuse fear to report the incidences that befall them because of lack of confidentiality and privacy in handling cases. Besides that, they face more victimization instead of help. Before their superiors can accept that women have reported a true case of abuse, they ridicule them and expose them to the other soldiers. This makes the women soldiers undergo a lot of shame and stress. Therefore, for them the best thing to do involves keeping quiet and suffering alone (Streather, 2010).
In response to allegations of sexual assault and other forms of harassment of women soldiers in the military, the department of defense carried out an investigation in February 2004. It found out that more than one thousand women soldiers had reported sexual assault, in 2003. Gaps existed in the documentation of the treatment of victims together with poor case disposition promoted by poor and inconsistent policies and procedures. The department of defense made a conclusion that the office of the secretary of defense had perpetuated cases of sexual harassment in the military because of lack of focus in policy development and implementation. The office had also failed to make performance standards consistent and failed to adhere to it.
The military do not have any undertaking that requires them to ensure that they reach adequate standards of performance by ensuring that it achieves equality for both male and female soldiers in every department. The government has not taken adequate measures that will force the military to ensure that male dominance does not continue, in the military. Because of that, the military operates in an independent manner that allows military superiors to do whatever they deem as fit for them to do. The military works in response to activists of the rights of women instead of ensuring that women have a safe and an enabling environment to work, which provides for equality in the treatment of all soldiers irrespective of their sex (Parker, 2009).
The military experiences a worth type of sexism that favors the male soldiers to the female soldiers. This fact has led to inequality in the numbers of women in the military often-taking roles that the military considers easy. Women have suffered harassment of several forms, such as sexual and physical assault because of sexism that exists in the military. Structures that can help women from such experiences do not exist. Sexism exists because of the inadequacy of the structures set to prevent sexism in the office of the secretary of defense and lack of commitment by superior military personnel.