A year ago I would not be able to give you a clear answer as to why I joined the Army.
One of my sergeants once said to my class at training that, if we couldn’t tell already, the Army is an uncomfortable career. It is fun rarely and demands much of you always.
Sometimes — not always, but often — it demands more of women.
A woman in the military is often perceived as a woman in politics tends to be: She is weak if she shows emotion, a witch if she’s too tough.
From an outsider’s perspective and once having a slightly smaller mind than now, I definitely thought this growing up. I don’t think this is the case anymore.
From what I’ve seen first-hand, women in the military are both tough and emotional. We are constantly measured according to the male standard, and it can get tiresome trying to keep up.
As much as I wish all females could be G.I. Jane, it’s not possible. But our minds can be as strong as we will them to be.
Military is for the strong-minded. It is for the physically strong, as well, but I think that gets muddled up a bit, and that is all the public sees. Historically, the military is not a female field. It is a work in progress to integrate women into military culture. Even now, women are just being let into field artillery units in the Army, and last year three female marines, out of a handful of the most elite and fit, passed a grueling infantry course that was opened to females for the first time as something of an experiment.
These women are just that — women. They don’t have super powers. They are sometimes nice, sometimes stern and I would bet my life on the fact that they sometimes cry.
I went to basic training with a woman who is a mother of three in the later half of her 20s. She is arguably one of the nicest people I met in training. She ran long distance faster than most males in our company, and her physical fitness test score was always the highest out of males and females alike.
This is how I now see the everyday military woman. Being of strong body and mind with a will to be the best she can, yet onlookers still see that her primary identifier is she is a woman.
Maybe that is her best identifier. Maybe that’s just the tip of the iceberg of prime examples of why female soldiers deserve the same respect as males, from both males and females.
I’ve seen a male soldier who was supposed to lead his peers belittle a female soldier in front of them. Another male soldier once stood in front of me and told his male friend to “stop acting like a woman,” then turned to me and said, “No offense.” I told him it was actually quite offensive.
That being said, I have also heard a drill sergeant tell a group of new soldiers that some of the best soldiers he knew were women. I have been told by first sergeants that strong minds are often more valuable than anything else you can own.
I now tell people who ask that I joined the Army to be proud of what I can do. I did it to prove that respect is to be given to everyone, from everyone.
Even though I did not realize it until after I joined, I work for every woman and man who ever has been or ever will join the military.