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The Man Who Was Almost A Man Essay, Research Paper

Vernon D. Wright, #3

After reading “Between The Sexes, A Great Divide” written be Anna Quindlen, it brought the subject of differences between the sexes into an issue that I can relate with in today’s military. When comparing men’s ability to women’s ability, is there really a big difference? Many people believe that differences do take place, but how? Both men and women have hopes, dreams, strengths, weaknesses, and goals. Even though these similarities exist, women are still sometimes thought to be inferior to their male peers. There have been many cases in which women felt they were being treated differently than the males around them. But, did you ever think there would be the problem of inequality between men and women in America’s defense system?

Both men and women have the right to serve in the

military; but, many times women face discrimination and the problem of being unaccepted, possibly affecting

women’s ability to serve their country. The military was fully integrated in the mid-1970s. Yet, twenty-some years later, women are still trying to gain full equality. In those past twenty years, there have been many courageous women who have been fighting their way into record-breaking positions so their male peers would

accept them.

Two of these women are Shannon Faulkner and Shannon Workman. Faulkner was the first woman to become a cadet at the Citadel as she walked through the gates on August 12, 1995. Faulkner entered the 152-year-old military school located in South Carolina as a “knob,” or a first year cadet. Upon her arrival, the military made exceptions to certain rules for her, one being that older male cadets could not go through her drawers looking for

underwear that was not folded properly. A private bathroom with surveillance cameras was also constructed

for Faulkner to prevent any foul play. The second of these two women was Shannon Workman. In 1994, she became the first woman to qualify as a female pilot who was combat ready in the Navy. Although the military and the public recognize women like Faulkner and Workman, many women who work to reach their goals go unrecognized.

Women have been a part of the Marine Corps since 1943; but today (after over fifty years) women make up a mere five-percent of the Corps population. In the Navy, women were invited onto hospital ships in 1977. Today they too make up a small portion of the system with only ten-percent. The Air Force and the Army have the greatest percentage of women. The Army has eleven-percent and the Air Force has fourteen-percent. Although women have been partially accepted in America’s defense system, inequality is still found in combat areas.

Legally, women are not permitted to serve in any units that have missions in ground or front-line combat. In the army, women are not allowed to serve in infantry, armor-force and cannon artillery force units as well as combat engineers units. Considering the fact that most army positions are combat-related, what jobs would that leave to women? Well, women are generally left with positions such as truck drivers, medics, helicopter pilots, and cafeteria staff. Do you think that women enroll in the army to drive trucks? Or do they want to defend their country in combat?

Although women have more possibilities in the Air Force, they are also prohibited from being flyer fighters and bomber plane pilots. Last, in the Navy women

are still prohibited from being stationed on submarines and minesweepers. They also cannot hold the position of a

Navy SEAL. A Navy SEAL is the most elite military force known to man, and they specialize in Sea, Air and

Land, which is where they receive their name. The fact that women are not allowed to be Navy SEALS was the basis

of a movie entitled “G.I. Jane.” In this movie you can see that because a women would like to be a Navy SEAL she

must pose as a man. This means that in order for a woman to be something that she would truly like to be she must in a way mask her true identity. Women do not only face a struggle in combat; they are also striving to be seen among military ranking officers as well.

Statistics show that only twenty percent of jobs in the Marine Corps are open to women. The Army follows with fifty-one percent. The Navy has a total of fifty-nine percent of jobs open to women; and, the Air Force has an astonishing ninety-seven percent.

If it is true that women are attaining, “similar achievements” with men, why is it that women hold very few positions as higher-ranking officers? In the Army, only five percent of its executives are women and the Marine Corps has only one woman that holds an executive position. The reason as to why women might not hold as many executive positions was stated in a book, “Sound Off! American Military Women Speak Out.” This statement said that,”…women must waste the energy that men can save for their jobs or their pleasures in proving herself in smashing stereotypes and overcoming prejudice,”. What

this statement means is that because women are discriminated against, most of their time and effort goes

into trying to prove these stereotypes wrong. Maybe if the stereotypes didn’t exist women would have a greater chance of gaining their equality in combat and among ranks.

Inside women are the same as men, and if they want to be in the military they should be able to. They should also be able to have equal rights, and be permitted to hold the same jobs and ranks. There have been and there still are people that are fighting for equal rights for women. But, as of now it still remains a problem. One must realize that there is not a difference between men and women besides what the human eye can see.





6 JULY 2000

English 111


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