When I learn about war in history class, I am taught about the brave men who serve their country and risk their lives for the freedom of others. When I read stories about military activity in the news, I see pictures of men in head-to-toe uniform with stone-cold faces that embody the courage of a soldier. What I do not learn about are women serving in battle, nor do I see photos of women in an upright salute position.
Women have been essential members of the U.S. military ever since they started serving as nurses at the end of World War I. In 1948, the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act granted women permanent status in the military.
Since then, it has been a slow fight for equality with men in terms of rank and status, but another milestone was reached Dec. 3 when Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter announced that the Pentagon would open all combat jobs to women.
The military barely made the deadline set by the Obama administration three years ago to integrate women into all combat jobs by January of this year.
Now women who continually risk their lives for the safety of the people of the United States can receive the recognition they deserve, and women all across the country can rejoice in this monumental step towards gender equality.
It is a women’s right to serve her country if that is what she wishes, the same way that it is with men. This decision was made because the leaders of our country strive to create the strongest military possible, and it is now acknowledged that the recruitment of women for combat jobs is essential because bravery is not limited to one gender.
As a young woman in today’s society, I am constantly reminded that physical strength is a masculine trait that cannot be expected from women. When a woman does show signs of muscularity, she is often made to feel out of the ordinary.
With this stigma that is so prevalent in everyday life, it is no coincidence that I often feel discouraged in my individual pursuits because I automatically assume that I will never be able to reach the same level of success as my male peers.
What this revolutionary opportunity for women all across the nation has proved to me is that my resilience will not go unnoticed. It is because of women who have decided not to give up on their goals, no matter how often they were said to be irrational and unrealistic, that I can now look forward to success rather than view it as some obscure and unattainable fantasy.
While this decision is being celebrated by men and women alike all around the country, there are still those who argue that integration is unrealistic considering the serious physical discipline that serving in combat requires.
However, it is clear that women are not receiving special privileges, nor are they exempt from any of the qualifications pertaining to men applying for these positions.
The same standards will be held for women as they are for men, and no woman will be hired simply for her gender.
The true significance of this decision is that women are now allowed to practice their civil right as people to hold positions based on ability—not gender, race, sexuality or any other facet that is part of who they are.
I will continue to join the fight for gender equality, especially knowing that advances like this will only increase in number.