Discrimination Against Women in the Military

I have always been interested in women studies. Studying the struggles women have faced throughout generations has been a major focus of my college career. Although I explored other options for topics, such as the influence corporations have on the government, it just seemed natural for me to find a subject pertaining to women. Military issues are also a major concern of mine. I come from a military family. Both of my grandfathers were in the military along with uncles, cousins, and most recently my older brother.

After my brother’s graduation from boot camp in June, I happened to stumble upon a Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists by Courtney E. Martin in Barnes and Noble. With the recent Occupy Wall Street movement, which I was very intrigued by, I bought the book thinking I would be reading about radical activists, like the people in Zuccotti Park. Although, I ended up being wrong and the majority of the stories were about people who took a bad situation they faced and tried to turn it into something good for other people (i.e. starting organizations, speaking out for a cause, helping troubled youth, etc.), I enjoyed reading the book and I ended up with my inspiration for this paper.

The third chapter of Martin’s book is about a woman named Maricela Guzman who is now a veterans’ activist. The story of her experience in the military became my indirect inspiration. Growing up in Los Angeles, Guzman came from a lower class family and saw the struggles her parents went through to provide for their children. Not wanting the same fate, Guzman enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Guzman was ready for a military life, she was ready to escape her financial troubles and poor neighborhood. What she was not ready for was to be raped while in boot camp. Naturally, her spirit was destroyed by this. Guzman went from being excited to see the world and leave her old life behind to being terrified and feeling completely alone. Later on, after her time in the Navy was done, Guzman connected with a group of women who had faced similar experiences and went on to be an activist speaking out against sexual abuse in the military.

Although the main focus of my paper is not about sexual abuse within the military, reading about Maricela Guzman made me think about what other problems women have faced throughout the years. Obviously women are not as discriminated against as they were years ago. But has the change been progressive enough? Why is Congress still so reluctant to allow women to serve on the front line? Is their reasoning outdated? I hope to answer these questions and many more in my paper and I am ecstatic to have the opportunity to explore these questions.

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6 Responses to Discrimination Against Women in the Military

  1. PolSciwoman says:

    Actually, the reason for fewer women on the front lines is that there are potentially more dire consequences should they be seized by the enemy.

  2. ecs2153 says:

    I have a feeling the answer to her question is more complicated than the consequences of being seized by the enemy.

    I think your paper should be really interesting to read, can’t wait!

    • vturecamo says:

      I believe you are right about the answer to my questions being more complicated than the consequences of being seized by the enemy. Although it might play a factor, there are other reasons I am exploring, such as male soldiers feeling a need to protect the women serving with them.

  3. sbmmoxie says:

    Hi! I am female and served in the military- this is a great topic idea and I can’t wait to read it! I think the other posters have a good idea that the way women are deployed is in relation to the men, but I think there is more to it than even that. Most of the men who I have served with who were in combat with women did not have those issues. If you are interested, I am sure I could ask a few of them to chat with you, over email or something. It would be anecdotal, but it might make for some interesting quotes. You could also read “Love My Rifle More Than You” which is not a serious research book but is a quick, interesting read and gives a great perspective on how the ladies feel sometimes. I know I identified with the book when I read it before I went to Iraq. Good luck!

    • vturecamo says:

      Thank you so much for your suggestions. I have both men and women lined up who served in the military lined up to speak to, but I will definitely check that book out. Even if it can not be used in my paper, I am sure it will be a very good read! Also the focus of my paper will be more about the congressional aspect of the subject and the policies in place that may discriminate against women. Thanks again for the suggestions and your support. It is much appreciated.

  4. I go to the Coast Guard Academy and I am really interested to see what your findings are. Last year our school became the first military academy to have a female Superintendent and the Coast Guard was also the first Academy to accept women. I have loved my time here at the Academy and have never felt singled out or discriminated against because I am a woman but I know that unfortunately not all women have the same experience. I wish you all the luck with your research and I look forward to meeting you in November.

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