FEMALE PERSPECTIVE: MYRRHIAH PERKINS
If someone asked me if men and women are treated equally in the military, I would say no. Certainly, advances have been made and women are, for the most part, treated well. No one grabs my butt or cat whistles at me. I can show up to my unit and feel safe, despite being a female in a predominantly male environment. I’m allowed on ships, submarines and can be a naval officer or someday maybe even an admiral. As a gender, females have made substantial headway in the realm of equality. However, I often find that the inclusion of women comes with reservation, doubt and restrictions. Though this often gives me and my fellow women a great opportunity to prove people wrong, it opens the door to great opposition. Women aren’t allowed into most branches of special forces.
At the starting line for making an impression, women naturally begin with a handicap. Men are seen as more capable and more equipped. If I enter any setting where I will be evaluated, I automatically have ground to make up compared to a male. Most women I talked to about this tell me that I better get used to it. Doesn’t sound like equality to me. That sounds more like settling. It is unfortunate that most women think the battle has been won for our equality. I am no zealot feminist, but I believe that women have much ground to gain if we are still barred from even trying to be a SEAL or Marine on the premise that we can’t handle the baggage of war because of our feminine, motherly nature. That really makes my blood boil.
The other day, one of my friends told me that he doesn’t think women should be in positions of leadership in the military. I found it funny that he said this because we had just come from a Navy physical training session where I ran my hills faster, did more pushups and more sit-ups than him. Yet, he stated, without reservation, that women were not designed to be leaders.
“It isn’t what God planned,” he said.
When I asked him what his reasoning was or if any evidence supports a women being less efficient or not as capable as a man, he said he had no proof. In fact, he thinks that women can do all the things men can and sometimes better, but that simply isn’t our role. It is not my hope to badger my friend about his belief, but to draw attention to beliefs about women in general, especially in the service. Despite overwhelming evidence in favor of women making excellent candidates for leaders, people are still disposed to be biased toward women.
One female participating in the trials for women to be allowed into Marine combat infantry said, “They should see for themselves what we can do.” Amen. Give the woman the 100 pound rucksack and see if she can hike before saying she can’t. The ability of a woman to do something can’t be determined in a discussion. Surely, not many women will make it as a SEAL or combat Marine. But do many men? The question therefore isn’t really if women can hack it. The question is if we, as a society, want women to be allowed to try. Are we ready to be shocked by what women can do, outside of the lines we draw for them?
People, men and women included, debate because of the existence of stereotypical prejudices toward women. If a woman can do it, who are we to say that she can’t? It’s like looking at a green apple and saying it isn’t an apple because it isn’t red. It has all the properties of an apple and by all means should be classified as an apple, but the mental tendency to cling to what we know and are comfortable with pulls us back from accepting reality. It isn’t red; therefore it can’t be an apple. A woman that can make it through Marine combat training shouldn’t be denied to be in the force because she is a woman. Yet, she isn’t a man.
Equality for women is in the works. As women make their way through Marine combat training and every other aspect of the military, facing adversity and opposition, the evidence of what women are capable of will overwhelm the stereotypes.
Myrrhiah Perkins is a freshman at PLNU, currently studying Mathematics. She has a full-ride Navy ROTC scholarship. She is from Woodland Park, Colorado. She is a strong, independent woman – smarter than your average bear.