ART BY MEGAN LIEN
By VINCENT CORTES
As the chains of discrimination remain deep-rooted in our society’s institutions, progress for the marginalized is restricted. Unfortunately, this discrimination—namely misogyny—is still lingering in the military and has been preventing women from receiving opportunities that their male counterparts enjoy.
Throughout history, women have been forced to endure inequality for thousands of years. However, in the last century, movements, such as feminism and egalitarianism, have been pushing forth the idea of equality. While most of this uphill battle has been won, discrimination still exists inside society and the military—despite their progression throughout the years.
Before 2013, a major debate between the general public and the Department of Defense (DoD) was over whether women should serve in combat. Of course—because it was the right option—the ban was lifted on Jan. 24 2013, and women were able to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. This was a catalyst for change in December 2015, when the law was further changed so women could choose previously restricted occupations—including fighting in the frontlines.
This controversial act raised uneasiness among traditionalists who believe that women are not as physically capable as men. Consequently, women in combat are constantly underestimated, as seen when concerns are raised when they are on their menstrual cycle or the belief that they will not be as effective in combat.
A sexist mindset will always exist, and while that opinion can be reduced, it is still widely prevalent and is affecting many aspects of military life.
With such a disproportionate number of women in the military, it sets a consistent in-group and out-group complex.
To illustrate, those who oppose women in combat roles often argue that that women will disrupt the dynamic between “the guys.” This same argument has also been brought up when it was taboo to have gay people and African Americans serve in the armed forces. This shallow argument is not only demonstrably false, but, dangerous in setting a precedence that allows for sexism; this assertion is the pinnacle of bigotry and discrimination.
Furthermore, in 2016, the number of sexual assaults for the fiscal year show that around 14,900 service members were sexually assaulted. Indeed, while sexual assault can plague both men and women, it most commonly affects the latter. Consequently, the suicide rates for veteran women are an outstanding 250% compared to their civilian counterparts.
The indecency is not only limited to physical bounds, but also extends onto the internet. For example, in 2014, the private Facebook group, Marines United, a page for active, reserved and veteran marines, posted over 1,000 explicit photos of female service members nonconsensually. This constant harassment and prejudice against women violates their privacy, undermining all of the progress made in the last century. This can—and should—be prevented, but, this is not enough. Society is barely scratching the surface of this deep-rooted issue.
Ultimately, discriminatory tendencies should not be tolerated. This can only be achieved when women aren’t deterred from their occupations based on their sex. People need to realize that their sexist tendencies affect half of the population. This needs to change, and it starts with speaking up.