by Anna Kalkbrenner
I recently read an article on gender segregation in the Marine Corps, posted here in Havok Journal. Having been a female Marine for 5 years, I’ve spent quite some time contemplating and discussing this topic myself, so I was curious to see what the author had to say. Imagine my surprise when I discovered it was written by woman who had been in the Army. Now, anybody can have an opinion, and serving in a different branch of the military doesn’t automatically disqualify a person from having a well thought out and educated opinion on gender segregation in the Marine Corps.
Unfortunately, this author appears to have very little knowledge of Marine Corps training and the citations she provides are vaguely related at best but are mostly completely irrelevant. Given that she has a very strong opinion on the evils of gender-segregation and requests every type of authority figure turn young women away from the Few and the Proud, I feel obligated to correct some misconceptions and allow those young women to make a more informed decision. The Marine Corps isn’t for everybody, but a person deserves to have all the information before making that decision.
The author begins by explaining that she had been interested in the Marine Corps before the Army because she wanted a challenge and thought she would be well tested with the Marines; but some friends of hers, already active-duty Marines and soldiers, explained that she would only be training with women in boot camp. This is where she decided that Marine Corps boot camp wouldn’t push or test her because she would be competing with and being trained by women only.
So, one paragraph in and I was already pissed off. What kind of anti-woman message is that? Women can’t push you to be your best? Women can’t test or challenge you? Women can’t train you? So who can? It sounds as though men are the only option. Post-feminism just got the shit kicked out of it.
The author then goes on to say that the Marines is a “place of shocking gender inequality” because its leaders have chosen to keep boot camp segregated even while opening all MOSs to women. She flatly denies claims that training separately from men will make females better Marines and that it keeps them more focused because they’re not distracted by men. She even claims that, “On average female Marines leave Parris Island weaker than their Army and even Air Force counterparts.”
Holy shit, that’s quite a claim! It hurt me in the feels to think Army or Air Force girls could kick my ass in a fitness competition. I don’t know about her, but I came out of boot camp slimmer and stronger than I’d ever been, and I lettered in track! The author backs this bold claim by linking to an article in the Christian Science Monitor (CSM) that totally proves her right. No wait, that’s a mistake. It actually says nothing at all about how female Marines compare fitness-wise to their sisters in other branches upon boot camp graduation.
The problem is, that article is a response to the Marine Corps 2015 stance that they didn’t want women in combat. The article talks about the importance of maintaining the same standards for men and women with a slight nod toward blaming boot camp segregation. The only line I found that was even a little bit close to her claim was that the study “painted a bleak picture of the effectiveness of women in combat, suggesting they are weaker, more prone to injury, less adept at shooting weapons accurately…”
The sentence above is comparing female Marines to male Marines, not other females in the military, and not right out of initial training. Additionally, I wonder how female Marines could possibly come out weaker than their Army counterparts when Marine boot camp is a month longer than the Army’s, and the standards for Army females are lower than those for female Marines. For a perfect score Army women need to run just over 7 ½ minute-miles for two miles compared to the Marines’ 7-minute miles for 3 miles. Female Marines need 100 crunches in 2 minutes compared to the Army’s +/-80 (depending on age up to 31) sit-ups.
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