Make Your Own Damn Sammich: I’m busy cleaning my rifle

There’s been a lot of publicity lately when it comes to females in the military. Times are changing and there’s talk of placing us in positions never reserved for the female form in the past. News articles rave about us getting Ranger slots, putting us in the infantry, combat positions, in essence putting us directly in harm’s way, the frontlines, as opposed to in the kitchen, which has been our duty station in the past.

But wait, is that a fact? Nope.

In 2010, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command created Cultural Support Teams. Here, they placed female Soldiers with Army Rangers and Green Berets in order to interact with female Afghans in combat zones. They played a vital role in gaining intelligence and searching compounds during missions.

These missions were not blasted in the news, most of the member’s families didn’t even know what they were doing.

1st Lt. Ashley White Stumpf, was the first female as part of the team, that was killed in action by an IED. Do most of us know her name…no, but hopefully little girls everywhere, one day will. Oh, and she could to 20 legit pullups. Her story is chronicled in a new book out, called Ashley’s War, written by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon.

1st Lt. Ashley White/Females conducting training for Cultural Support Team
1st Lt. Ashley White/Females conducting training for Cultural Support Team

Despite this accomplishment, there are people out there not happy with women in combat zones.

For some reason, I thought it was a good idea to browse the comments section of various online articles relating to women in combat roles. As a veteran, it greatly saddened me. Just a quick peek at headlines titled, “Women to compete in Best Ranger Competition next year,” or “All female jump takes place,” lets me know, women aren’t exactly welcome even on the playing field, let alone the battlefield.

Repeatedly, I saw comments telling me I should just go back to the kitchen, women should be women, men should be men. Why do we have to pretend we’re men, and what about our periods.

In response to an article about an all female group conducting a parachute jump as part of a bonding exercise, the following was said:

This politically correct bullshit needs to stop. Women don’t belong in the infantry with men as they are a safety hazard. Either create an all women platoon or nothing at all.”

female parachute jum

 

“But did they make any sandwiches?”

Really, that’s all you got guy? “Did they make sandwiches,” do you kiss your mother with that mouth?

So many were angry that the military dared conduct training excluding men, but in the same breath, when talking about women possibly competing in the Best Ranger Competition, the following was said.

“This is ridiculous. Rangers have been MEN forever, and there’s a reason for that. There are certain jobs that women are not physically or mentally capable of, and this is one of them. I’m airborne and that’s about as high speed as you’ll see me ever get.” This was written by a female.

There’s really no winning with this crowd. One second, the critics think if we want our own combat missions, we should have our own all female units, but yet, the second there is an only female scenario, people bitch about the segregation. Seriously public, what do you want?

This week, women were allowed for the first time, to attend Ranger school. As of now, out of 19 female applicants, 16 are still in the process.

I don’t necessarily agree with the military holding slots in the school solely for women. This is a distinguished leadership course that many wait a long time to get into. The females should have had to wait just the same. But attend eventually, hell yeah.

A few commenters stated they thought it was a waste to send the females because they wouldn’t be assigned to a Ranger unit anyways. Again, guys, this is a leadership course. I know I’d feel safer and honored to know that someone in my unit had that sought after tab, whether they were male or female. It’s invaluable training.

One argument against females filling traditional male roles in the military, is the issue of the female menstrual cycle.

I am not by all means saying that we all belong in a kitchen (although I personally enjoy baking and cleaning ) but there are boundaries, think about the health hazards of being outside the wire, they aren’t going to stop in the middle of a convoy for one or two females to change a tampon.”

This statement was given by a female veteran.

My issue with this statement is, it’s a copout. I’m not sure if this person has visited this thing called the present, but it exists. There’s now this thing called birth control. It has many wonderous powers besides preventing pregnancy. Did you know, if you took it the right way, you can totally stop the menstrual cycle.

Yep, if you skip the sugar pills, you can make it so you never have your period. Also, there are alternatives to the pill. These days, we have the diva cup at our disposal, which we only have to empty of blood every 12 hours.

Cheryl Strayed, author of the book Wild, used a sea sponge as a tampon, during a hike through the Pacific Crest Trail…she traveled over a thousand miles by herself.

Cheryl Strayed
Cheryl Strayed

 

There are also devices for females to urinate without having to squat.

Not to mention; elite female athletes, which in order to serve in a combat position, that female better be elite, often don’t have periods.

A lot of people state our vaginas just can’t handle war. We tend to get urinary tract infections, from austere environments.

Give me a water bottle, and a tiny piece of land, I can splash that shit clean and carry on. Just as we carry pill packs with antibiotics and pain pills, there’s also a pill that handles yeast infections and bladder infections.

Listen, women don’t want to take the place of men, we just want to carve out a place among them.

And no, that doesn’t mean separate showers and bathroom facilities. I’d have no issue popping a squat or going in my Go Gurl cup in front of a male. But God forbid someone sees my bare ass on the side of the road. It’s society that can’t handle it, not me.

Others argue that, the government will put so much money and time into training a female for a mission, but then she goes and gets pregnant. This is one of the most ridiculous reasons I can come up with. Again, there’s this thing called birth control.

But, the government could spend time and money on a male, only to find him wreck his car or break an ankle playing football (it’s happened). We can play the what-if game all day long, but proper planning prevents poor performance.

If we were to listen to society, we females should just keep our mouths shut, our legs closed and our dreams stifled. As of now, we don’t have many other females to look up to. Yeah, there’s Lena Dunham’s naked ass all over HBO, but what if we want more.

I'm amused by Lena...but, come on
I’m amused by Lena…but, come on

 

Others argue that women who get captured in a war zone could get raped. Look guys, I could get raped walking down the wrong alley at night, or broad daylight or on a date with a friend I know and trust. Though there haven’t been many female POW’s they exist and they suffered no worse fate than most males.

Let me tell you another little story about a female Veteran, only known to me once I actually did some research. Maj. Rhonda Cornum, a flight surgeon was deployed during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

Rhonda Cornum
Rhonda Cornum

 

Cornum’s crew was tasked with rescuing a fighter pilot who had been downed, when her helicopter was shot down as well. She suffered two broken arms, a bullet wound to her shoulder and a torn knee. After the crash, she was taken captive by Iraqi’s. Though she wasn’t raped, she was fondled by an Iraqi during transportation to a prison.

“The molestation didn’t do a thing to me,” she said. “It is just as irrelevant now as it was then. If it doesn’t increase the likeliness you were going to stay there longer, and it wasn’t excruciating, and it wasn’t life-threatening, then it really didn’t matter,” Cornum said.

Cornum eventually became a brigadier general, proving the experience only strengthened her.

She said, “You’ve got to make the decision that what you’re doing is worth the risk before you do it, recognize you have a new job, and that is staying alive with honor,” in response to things that females may encounter in war.

For myself, I believe you will only accomplish what you aim for.

And up until this point, popular culture hasn’t exactly given little girls a star to shoot for. Sure, I could be like Kim Kardashian, and focus on not smiling because it causes wrinkles. But what if I’ve decided God has asked more of me.

To me, there is nothing more honorable than sacrificing all for the greater good. Through service, I have that opportunity. Yet, most want to bar me from that opportunity simply based on my genitalia.

Internet trolls swear standards will be lowered if females are allowed to participate.

Here’s the thing about that. It is a fact that male athletes have longer and larger bones, which provide a mechanical advantage over female athletes. Males also have a higher ratio of muscle mass to body weight, which allows for greater speed and acceleration. On average, female marathoner’s have about 8% body fat, while their male counterparts have only 4%. Basically, women have to work harder to accomplish the same physical feats men can.

Factor in cultural obligations for women, it’s kind of hard to get a leg up.

Before I could even sit down to write this article, I had to come home from work, clean up the kitchen, fold laundry, feed the dogs and make my boyfriend’s lunch for the next day. I also had to cook dinner earlier in the day and iron uniforms for him earlier in the week. Could I avoid this, yes, but then I’d most likely be single. I do these things to show love to my partner, I don’t resent them.

Did I mention, I just came back from military training? In the past few months, I’ve been away from home longer than I’ve been home. I have to plan my grocery trips, toilet scrubbings, leg shaving, and run my household around my military obligations.

But the accommodations are so nice...me sleeping in Afghanistan a few years ago.
But the accommodations are so nice…me sleeping in Afghanistan a few years ago.

 

Society has taught me, that’s just what women do; they cook and clean if they expect a man to ever marry them. Sorry if that means I’ve had to spend less time in the gym…working on my fitness.

Growing up, I was the only one out of my siblings (both brothers), who was specifically taught how to clean bathrooms. I can live with that. I will rear my children if I ever have them as many other service women have in the past.

Critics of women in combat say females are built different than men and can’t do what men can. I say this is only because it’s what we’ve been told. When I was little, my older brother did Karate and I was told I could do ballet. But once my family looked into how much ballet cost, I was told I couldn’t do it. It never occurred to me, hey, I could do Karate instead, so I never even asked.

You tell a child they can’t, and they won’t. Tell them they can, and they will.

In gym class when I was younger, when it came time for the males to wrestle, us females were made to do gymnastics. I fucking hated those balance beams.

Integrating females to all jobs in the military isn’t reinventing the wheel.

There are a dozen other nations that send women to combat. In 1985 the Israeli Defense Force began putting women into combat positions. By 2009, women were serving in artillery units, rescue forces, and in anti-aircraft forces.

A study on the integration of female combatants in the IDF between 2002 and 2005 found women often exhibit “superior skills” in discipline, motivation and shooting abilities. I mean come on, we squeeze babies out of tiny holes…obviously our pain tolerance is up to par.

IDF members
IDF members

 

I’m not a man hater. As a whole, obviously men have proven they have greater strength, that’s why females don’t play in the NFL. All I’m asking is for a chance to catch up.

I’m not saying I want to go out there and be Rambo. I know my limits, but I refuse to place those same limits on little girls reaching for that rope. No one can accomplish great things without first attempting inevitable failure.

I’ll leave you with one last story.

Kathrine Switzer, under the guidance of her running coach, decided to run in the 1967 Boston Marathon. No woman had ever officially entered and ran before.

Women were labeled too frail to finish a race of that length. Because Kathrine had used only her initials to register, she was issued a number and began the race. A number of miles into the run, Kathrine relayed the following story.

“A man with an overcoat and felt hat was then in the middle of the road shaking his finger at me; said something to me as I passed and reached out for my hand, catching my glove instead and pulling it off. I did a kind of stutter step, we all had to jostle around him. I thought he was a nutty spectator, but when I passed I caught a glimpse of a blue and gold BAA ribbon on his lapel. Moments later, I heard the scraping noise of leather shoes coming up fast behind me, an alien and alarming sound amid the muted thump thumping of rubber-soled running shoes. When a runner hears that kind of noise, it’s usually danger- like hearing a dog’s paws on the pavement. Instinctively I jerked my head around quickly and looked square into the most vicious face I’d ever seen. A big man, a huge man, with bared teeth was set to pounce, and before I could react he grabbed my shoulder and flung me back, screaming, “Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers!” Then he swiped down my front, trying to rip off my bib number, just as I leapt backward from him. He missed the numbers, but I was so surprised and frightened that I slightly wet my pants and turned to run. But now the man had the back of my shirt and was swiping at the bib number on my back.”

Kathrine Switzer
Kathrine Switzer

 

The attacker turned out to be the Boston race manager. He had no problem physically manhandling a woman, rather than see her accomplish something he felt she shouldn’t, whether he knew she could or not.

He did not stop her though. She finished the race, with some help from her coach and boyfriend, who fended off the manager.

In this day, that’s what it’s going to take for females to finish this fight. Instead of males being our opponents, we need you to be our bouncers. For every nasty comment about us, as your sisters, we need your voices along with ours, to silence the doubters. You can’t finish the race for us though, we have to carry ourselves across the line.

Iraq 2008
Iraq 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Comments

  1. Honest to God truth, I would be more concerned about my hypothetical daughter getting raped in the military than I would be her choosing a combat specific job. Key word in there is choosing.

  2. Kanda Handa

    I am so proud of u and know that you are just as strong as any man out there. If anyone can sleep on a cot like you did and are going to do when you go back to Afghanistan in just a little room in a little space under all those harsh conditions and go through all of the challenges you have went through in your life then you’re one of the strongest people in the world. And I’m proud to call you my daughter. I love u.

    • I promise, I’m not that cool, but thank you from the bottom of my heart

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