Women in United States Marines
The United States Marine Corps has a long history of and reputation for being the most courageous of all the armed services. It is generally considered to be an elite regiment of men who are trained in combat. In recent years, however, the Marine Corps has changed in response to many of the changes regarding the role of women in America. The majority of Americans believe that women should have the same opportunities as men, including roles in the military. All branches of the American military have included women for several decades. But typically, these roles have involved nursing or secretarial roles in conforming to gender stereotypes. Consequently, this narrow view of what roles women are capable of in the military has changed to include women in such areas of combat, as members of the infantry and bomber pilots. These inclusions have created controversy among many non-military citizens. Some individuals believe that women are at more risk in areas of combat, while others believe their participation is long overdue. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the controversial role of women in the U.S. Marine Corps in today’s military.
Women’s participation in the Marine Corps began in 1943, sixty years ago . At that time, women were recruited to become a Marine with the slogan, “Free a Marine to fight.” Thus, the role of the female Marine was never to be in combat but to simply do work that male Marines were performing in offices and other non-combat activities. Schultz notes that during her enlistment in the Marine Corps during World War II, they washing the male Marines clothing, cleaned toilets and garbage cans, make deliveries, typing reports, and providing payroll . Women were not seen capable of being involved in combat or out in the field. They were viewed as being incapable of carrying out the physical duties of being “real” soldiers.
Even though, females have been a part of the Marine Corps for several decades, it is the branch of the military that has the fewest numbers of women. In 2000, only five percent of the Marines consisted of women in active duty . In comparison, approximately fifteen percent of the Army and Navy are composed of women. The Air Force leads all branches with almost twenty percent of their force being women on active duty.