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Don’t let women on the front line! They might bleed and stuff!

Before I start my rage induced spillage of opinions, injustices and general hatred of everything ever, I’d like to remind everyone that it’s 2012. Let’s proceed.

The Australian Defence Department released an extensive list of reasons why they’re concerned about letting women on the front line. I thought this would be a good read, and I was open to some serious concerns they may have. However, I was met with ideas and ‘risks’ reminiscent of a relic from the 1950’s. I’d like to go through a few of these seriously stated reasons why women should not be able to join the defence forces and serve on the front line. As aforementioned, please be aware that it’s 2012.

  • ‘May be an increase in sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour within combat units’ – Can anyone say ‘Victim blaming’? My jaw dropped when I saw this was included in a serious list of why women shouldn’t be on the front line. Basically, women should be banned from serving their country, because the men who are already in the defence forces may sexually harass them. I think the concerns here shouldn’t be with whether women should join the forces, but rather what kind of men are being accepted. Does the defence force admit men with sexual harassment tendencies? Why isn’t this major breaking news? Of course this isn’t a rare case of women being blamed for some men’s bad behaviour and ideas. Victim blaming is rife in rape and sexual harassment cases. The woman was wearing a short skirt, the woman was flirting, etc, all seem to be good enough excuses for some men to get away with inappropriate behaviour. It’s worrying to know that the defence force is employing this reasoning as a deterrent for perfectly capable women to join.
  • ‘Physical testing will increase incidents of injury among females’ – Well we are fragile little creatures with brittle bones and no tolerance for pain. Also, women who are applying for the defence forces are in a fantasy world where they think they’ll be serving alongside rabbits and kittens with nothing potentially dangerous. Seriously, that’s like saying ‘going swimming might increase incidents of drowning’. Of course physical testing may result in an injury, but why does that increase if the participant has a vagina? If a woman believes she is fit enough to participate and pass physical testing, who is to tell her no? I felt like they were clutching at straws with this flimsy excuse.
  • ‘Allowing women to join would lead to the perception that the army is lowering its standards’ – Yes because as soon as women are involved in an establishment, it turns to ruins and means only blubbering idiots are allowed to join. This is just a blatant sexist remark. You can’t even make excuses about women’s strength or looks like you could regarding the previous excuses. This is explicitly saying that involving women makes something worse. Imagine if someone dared to makes these claims against potential defence force applicants of different skin colours? There would be an UPROAR. Hey defence force, keep your standards and physical testing and only let women in who meet these standards. We’re not asking for you to treat us differently, we’re asking for you to treat us the same.

I’d like to briefly discuss some other popular reasons why women shouldn’t be on the front line that were (thankfully) not mentioned in this release:

‘What if they get their periods?!’ – Yes, because being on the front line, none of the soldiers will have ever learnt how to deal with blood before. Furthermore, when has having her period ever stopped a woman from any job? Do policewomen take the day off when they menstruate? Does Hilary Clinton cease her duties and have a lie down once a month? I don’t think so.

‘Men will get too distracted’ – Once again, another case of victim blaming. Also, I’m assuming that women will not be parading around in bikinis on the front line.

‘Women are too emotional’ – Firstly, that’s a giant stereotype. Secondly, I highly doubt that those women intent on serving on the front line are necessarily the type of women who cry over a broken nail. Soldiers undergo extensive psychological testing before being put in the field, if she is ‘too emotional’ it will be picked up before she can even pick up a weapon.

So please big bad defence force, don’t give us shit about how there are ‘concerns about letting women on the front line’. They’re sexist, sensationalist, stereotypical and largely inaccurate.

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