For me, the ban on women in combat in personal. During her senior year of high school, Stephanie surprised us all — and I mean really surprised us, considering she and I published a ‘zine and started our high school’s feminism club together — by joining the Reserve Officer’s Training Corps. Through ROTC, Steph was able to graduate without any student loan debt, as well as travel throughout the country and, eventually, the world. She graduated her college Phi Beta Kappa, spent about two years stationed in South Korea, and presently, Steph is a military police officer (an MP), at a military prison somewhere in Iraq.
So it surprised me a few years ago, another friend of mine in the Navy said he supported the women in combat ban. William, echoing others’ views, said he believes women generally don’t have body strength that men do, especially upper arm strength, and he would not want any person to die because a woman in combat could not lift or carry him. It surprised me that even a 26-year-old, well-educated Manhattanite would hold a point of view that I see as outdated. Why would William assume that a woman like Stephanie couldn’t, hypothetically speaking, pull him out of a foxhole? I say that not from a place of baseless “rah-rah feminism,” but from knowing Stephanie and her fiercely-guarded physical fitness — weight-lifting, marathon-running — my entire life.
I suppose I could view the ban on women in combat in a positive light: if she is not engaging directly in combat, it seems reasonable that Stephanie’s chances of dying in Iraq are decreased. But as the CNN spot has pointed out, women are finding themselves in combat positions anyway and .