Inequality Still an Issue in Today’s Military
When Secretary Ashton Carter issued a decree that all positions in the military, specifically combat MOS’s (Military Occupational Specialty), be opened to women, he forced the military to take a very large and difficult step towards gender equality in its ranks. That being said the military is still far from equal when it comes to gender. The most prevalent and wide-reaching policy of inequality in today’s military is the unequal standard for men and women when it comes to the physical fitness test.
Here are the Army Physical Fitness Test standards as an example: http://www.apft-standards.com
The greatest disparity in standards can be found in the push-ups*, with the minimum number of push-ups for males being 40 ; however the number required for a female to receive the maximum points is 46, with the minimum being 17. (For soldiers 22–26) This not only highlights the issue of lower expectations for female physical performance but more importantly an extremely dangerous policy particularly now that women will actively be going into combat situations. If females are not held to the same physical standards as males how can we expect them to perform the same physical tasks, this is the root of sexism in the military. Department of Defense researchers and officials have long cited the physiological differences between men and women as the reasoning behind these vast differences in PT standards. Though it is certainly true from a physiological standpoint that a female will have more difficulty than a male attaining the type of fitness required to perform 40–80 push-ups it is certainly possible and I personally have seen it done.
As I have served in an Army Infantry unit I can say first-hand that physical fitness is a necessity for each and every soldier considering both the amount of weight that comprises the battle kit that they must carry when going outside the wire; as well as the dead weight of a casualty that sometimes has to be moved hundreds of meters to the Medevac landing zone. The men I worked with know what is expected of them and so work keep themselves up to standard and the military women that I know also work to keep themselves to their standard. These women do not expect to be coddled and would be offended if they felt they were, the PFT standards represent one of the last holdouts of gender bias that females in the military must face. Now that females will be joining my comrades, they will expect them to perform the same tasks that any other soldier can perform; my hope is that the DoD and Chiefs of Staff will see this glaring example of sexism in their ranks and work to right this wrong.
*To save space/time I didn’t bother discussing run times or PT standards of the other branches though there are significant imbalances present in these areas as well
Please excuse any spelling or grammatical errors