Women Aren't Strangers to Combat

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Pentagon announcement that they will open up combat postings to women may seem like a dramatic departure today, but in the context of world history, it's not such a giant leap.

Demi Moore can produce goosebumps going toe to toe in the part war movie part workout video G.I. Jane. We can laugh at the goofy Private Benjamin back in the 80s when gender equality in the military was just an American novelty.

But the world is far ahead of America's notion of what is normal and what is appropriate in combat and elsewhere.

When Joan of Arc led the French to victory over the English army, she did not need a secretary of defense to give her a weapon and send her to the front lines.

Down through history many women, many victories. In some battles the women hold both the passion of fighting for sons and daughters and the element of surprise as their male counterparts often can't fathom defeat at the hands of a woman.

There are many legendary female heroes. Boudicca was a take-no-prisoners battlefield commander who confronted and defeated the Roman army in the 1st century.

But how about the Vietnamese Trang sisters who for three years repelled the entire Chinese army that had occupied Vietnam for 1,000 years with just an army of Vietnamese women. They drowned themselves rather than be taken prisoner.

Those Chinese could have used, Fu Hao, who 1,000 years earlier led 13,000 troops into battle and was the military might of the Shang Dynasty.

In the 1300's Tamar of Georgia ruled her country, and defeated Turkey in battle and every other empire on her borders. She annexxed Armenia and founded an empire on the Black Sea which today remains as a Turkish city, Trabzon. 

It's interesting to think about the history of gender roles in the military and America's particular history. Perhaps the greatest irony: Women who enter combat will experience an equality and parity in responsibility, while fighting for a country where they will only rarely find it in the civilian world. Quite something to die for, wouldn't you say?

Hosted by:

John Hockenberry

Comments [3]

Kay Merkel Boruff from Dallas

Equal Opportunity & Equal Standards: Women in Battle means women have the path to leadership denied if they are not allowed in all areas of the military. Some men can't do all jobs; neither can all women. [Teacher for 38 years at a girls' school in Dallas = 3000 young women leaders with more choices to lead.]

Jan. 25 2013 12:27 PM
Jonah from Ny

Terrorists are not destroying the earth and the economy and poor peoples lives. The corporations are. If you really want to defend humanity take out the oil companies instead of taking orders from tHem.

Jan. 24 2013 03:29 PM
Jonah from The future

Great! Now women get to mass murder poor and innocent families in foreign countries to defend war profiteers and oil companies so they can destroy us all that much quicker. Maybe they will have a concience and blow the lid off thee biggest scam in human history.

Jan. 24 2013 03:09 PM

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