For instance, as this essay will demonstrate in the following sections, women suffer more physical injuries than men, they often suffer more serious psychological ailments, they resort to substance abuse as a means for coping with the physical and psychological strains, and their presence contributes to a number of novel problems in the military. The point is not that women are incapable of serving in the military. The point most certainly is not that women cannot be good leaders and good soldiers. The thesis of this essay is that women should not be placed in direct combat roles because (1) their presence may very well result in more serious physical and psychological costs than those experienced by male soldiers, and (2) that their presence causes the military to become preoccupied with peripheral issues such as sexual harassment, dating, and disharmony to the exclusion of military readiness and missions.
As the data will demonstrate, this ought to be viewed and treated as much more than a political or a social issue. The military occupies a special place within the larger political and social framework, its combat functions result in serious injuries and mental strains, and women ought to consider the medical findings and the military realities before demanding increased combat roles. This research paper will define what is meant by combat and, as illustrated in Iraq with messy urban warfare, how traditional notions of combat versus non-combat personnel have become increasingly difficult to define. This blurring of the traditional distinction is of particular relevance in this case because women serving in traditionally non-combat roles have, in fact, been directly exposed to combat nonetheless. After examining the meaning of combat, this essay will analyze a number of recent studies which demonstrate that women suffer greater burdens than their male counterparts. Some of these burdens are biologically-rooted and cannot be remedied by simple shifts in policy.
In the final analysis, there is no good scientific or military argument for including women in combat roles. The humane result would be a wholesale exclusion of women from combat. Only a sadist would use women as martyrs to make a point of gender equality, which has been and can continue to be made in less damaging situations and contexts.
Combat Versus Non-Combat
Combat was traditionally defined as taking place in a specific place with specific people (Skaine, 26); however, Skaine also goes on to note that combat today is more spread out, warring parties often hide and fight among civilians, and that defining a woman as serving in a combat or non-combat role is somewhat disingenuous. This is because, even though most women are theoretically shielded from combat by legislation and by non-combat designations and deployments, the combat reaches and affects women. Indeed, it is an open secret that women operate in combat roles even though they are technically barred or prohibited. Recent events in Iraq illustrate this blurring of the role between combatants and non-combatants all too starkly; as reported by CNN, "The Pentagon's policy banning women in combat is being tested in Iraq, where the lack of a defined front line and insurgents' guerrilla