With women not only engaging in combat but awesomely taking down people who try to con some veteran's benefits, it seems like things are pretty OK for ladies who want to put their lives on the line in defense of 'Merica. But we spoke to Donna Noble (not her real name), a 20-year Navy veteran who traveled the world and raised a child while in the service, and learned that not only do things kind of suck for ladies in uniform, these problems show no sign of changing anytime soon.
Now, right about this point there is a certain type of person who thinks, "Well, duh, the military isn't supposed to be a baby shower! This is what we've been saying -- women shouldn't be in combat because they don't have the iron toughness that we all know flows from the penis." We can't promise to change that person's mind, but why don't we give it a shot. Because as a woman in the military ...
It's not long after a woman joins that she learns that some of her superiors see her as less of a soldier and more of a potential date -- and by "date," we of course mean "concubine."
Kind of like a wife, but no dowry.
After an inspection of her performance as part of a maintenance program, Noble was told that the inspector could promise her a better review if she went to dinner with him. Then she found out that other women on her team were told the same thing -- about the same inspector. She and the other women ended up refusing, and not only did their review suffer, it was made clear they weren't "team players" (we're assuming he didn't put "team players" in innuendo quotes in his report, but who knows).
"They still have this mentality of being mighty, dick-swinging warriors," Noble says. "And have the right to rape and pillage." And if you find yourself about to say, "She has a job around a bunch of testosterone-filled alpha males, what does she expect?!?" just stop and listen to what you're saying. Really. Take a moment to evaluate your life.
Just don't consult your designated military evaluator. We all know what he wants to "evaluate."
Because reports say 15 percent of women in the military have been pressured for sexual favors, and the government accountability office assumes the number is a lot higher, with many women deciding not to report their harassment or assault because of how much of a joke the process is. Jamie Livingston, a six-year Navy veteran, went public with accusations that her commanding officer would hold basic paperwork necessary for her job hostage until she performed sexual favors for him. She was lucky in that she managed to get that guy prosecuted, but unlucky in that other men were happy to step in and continue the abuse. See? They're being team players.
"If there is an entry about the problems that women face in combat, the number one response that you will get is 'See? Women shouldn't be in combat.'" says Sara Ohlms, a lance corporal in the Marine Corps and a Cracked contributor. "The problem with the current status of women in the military is that it is about the last place that it is totally cool to discriminate based on gender."
Along with the fashion world, where Ted still can't get a job modeling lingerie.
Just keep in mind -- a complaint about something like equipment not fitting properly isn't about it being uncomfortable or not looking good. You kind of need everything to work as it was designed, since a war zone provides remarkably little margin for error for, say, ill-fitting body armor. In Ohlms' case, the smallest sizes for packs, flak jackets, and boots were still too big for her, and to make things worse, the people in charge refused to order new ones. And sizes aside, most of the equipment is designed for men, which not only means that it doesn't really fit (because women are shaped differently) but that it's designed for someone who can pee standing up. For a woman, urinating while wearing it is such a pain in the ass that Ohlms avoids hydrating so she won't have to (a shitty choice that a lot of women end up making).
Luckily, the military has been developing technology to allow women to pee while standing up just like their male comrades, which is a technological marvel that no one in the private sector would ever be able to- oh wait, never mind.
The U.S. Military just got out-innovated by every college girl with a water bottle and a pair of scissors.
When Ohlms pointed these problems out, she was told, "You wanted to join -- why should we change for you?" Again, as if she's complaining about comfort instead of about equipment making her less effective as a soldier. No matter what your job is, it's going to be tougher to do it if you have to use equipment designed for someone else. Would the male soldiers keep quiet if they were issued gear clearly designed for women?
Ted would, but that's a separate complex issue.
Keith Brofsky /Photos.com
Women in the military have to deal with doctors who have little to no experience treating females, like the doctor who began Noble's pelvic exam by saying, "Oh, I see you didn't shave your legs for me" -- a statement that is pretty rude in most contexts, but downright terrifying coming from someone about to insert tools into your vagina.
"'Bedside manner' means I act like I'm gonna bed you, right?"
It's even worse if you're actually injured. Tammy Duckworth, the first female double amputee in Iraq, woke up in a hospital bed to find a "comfort kit" full of men's clothes and hygiene equipment waiting for her. This is a soldier who flew 120 combat hours in Iraq and helped land a helicopter after her legs were blown off by a grenade, but she still didn't have the right comfort kit when she woke up, because it never occurred to anyone to make one for a female. Yes, it's a minor slight, and as far as we can tell, Duckworth never complained about it (the linked article describes her laughing at the mistake). The point is that the military is still acting like it's weird that a female showed up, like she stumbled into the wrong locker room.
Alex Wong/Getty Images
They'd have mocked her for not shaving her legs, but, well ...
Another example: A woman's menstrual cycle can be disrupted by stress, even stress caused by something as simple as getting your car impounded or coming short on rent or hundreds of people with AK-47s trying to kill you all day. This would (again) be an easy opportunity for somebody to say, "See! Another reason women shouldn't be in combat! All their menstruations and such!" But there are ways that women on the battlefield can basically eradicate this problem (certain types of birth control, for example) that are both easy and readily available. It's just that lots of the time women are simply not told about them. Because no one seems to remember women are even there.