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.