The news that the U.S. military plans to officially allow women to serve in many combat positions, pending some more review, is infuriating, but not unexpected. When “don’t ask, don’t tell” was suspended so that LGBT people were to be tolerated in the military, and not driven out, I felt it was only a matter of time before women would face a similar situation.
Just because the government will no longer legally bar women from combat level pay-grades, why would women – or anyone — want to be in the frontlines of illegitimate, immoral, unjust occupations which by definition involve abuse, killing and indefinite detention of the indigenous population? Why should anyone be fighting in such a force?
We know women have been in combat roles, even back to the Gulf War. Women, throughout history, have proven to be brave and skillful fighters and leaders. Just look at the Arab spring and revolutionary movements around the world.
Being in an imperialist army is different. Sexual abuse within the U.S. military is well-known to the brass, tolerated, and even encouraged. Veterans for Peace reports that rape within the military is twice that in the U.S. population. Some say one out of three women in the military are raped, while sexual trauma and abuse is rampant and everywhere.
For a case study in what happened to Robynn Murray, a young woman put into combat in Iraq, see the award-winning film Poster Girl by Sarah Neeson. It’s showing now on HBO on Demand:
Robynn Murray was an all-American high-school cheerleader who became the poster girl for women in combat. But since returning from Iraq, she has fought an insidious foe: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This Oscar Nominated documentary short follows Robynn over the course of two years as she embarks on a journey of self-discovery and redemption through art and poetry.