A Hero in Her Own Words

A portrait of Margaret Witt in her air force uniform.
A hero for the LGBTQIA+ community is coming to the UI campus this week.

By Rachel (Rosemary) Anderson

America has seen firsthand the creation of discriminatory policies in its history, but it has also seen these policies be overturned in favor of equality. To this day, people are working hard to have their voice heard and represented in American society. But it takes a special person to destroy a prejudiced institution, armed with nothing but their own bravery.

Luckily for UI students, we have the opportunity to meet and hear from one of these special people: Major Margaret Witt – an activist, an author, a wife, and a woman who made way for LGBTQIA+ people to serve openly in the military.

Maj.  Witt had an exemplary career with the U.S. Air Force and Air Force Reserves until she was discharged in 2007 under the policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The policy prohibited known gays and lesbians from serving in the U.S. military and expulsed more than 13,000 gay servicemen and women already enlisted.

Continue reading “A Hero in Her Own Words”

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Becoming a Sun Goddess

Cadet Berreth smiling in Service Dress
Cadet Berreth in Service Dress
Cadet Berreth looking fierce as a Cadet Training Assistant
Cadet Berreth as a Cadet Training Assistant

By Lindsey Heflin

Out of all the career paths in the United States Air Force, there is no occupation more coveted than that of an Air Force Pilot. For many, the ‘road to wings’ is one of hardship and individuals face more defeat than success, because becoming a “Sun God” is no small undertaking.

In order to become a pilot in the Air Force, one must first be offered a pilot slot. In order to be given a slot, a candidate must complete the following six categories: Commander’s Ranking, GPA, Physical Fitness Test, Field Training, the Pilot Candidate Selection Method and the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test. All the scores are then combined to form an “order of merit” numeric score and then the candidates are chosen by ranking.

Continue reading “Becoming a Sun Goddess”

Never Feel Obligated to Prove Your Worth

rangers

I am sure most of us heard about the two women who recently became the first females in history to complete Army Ranger training. Captain Kristen Griest and 1st Lieutenant Shaye Haver graduated in August of this year with their ranger tabs alongside many strong and courageous men. While they are not the first two women to ever attempt the training, they are the first to have successfully completed. While the US Army has different standards for physical assessments and height/weight based on age and gender, Ranger School requirements are for the most part straight across the board. The two officers walked across the graduation stage on August 21, 2015, both donning shaved heads and a fierce sense of pride at their accomplishment. Continue reading “Never Feel Obligated to Prove Your Worth”

Why I Chose a Feminist Blog

I’ve never been one to speak up or defend myself when it comes to issues of women’s equality, mainly because my personality is a bit more reserved in public settings. My mind spins through educated rebuttals and facts while my outward appearance is flat or pretending to ignore sexist comments. At the ripe young age of twenty-four, however, I finally feel ready to open myself to the world of feminism and let the world hear my thoughts.

I come from a complex background which has afforded me a rich opportunity for education and growth in various areas. I was raised in a very traditional Mexican household where we went to church every Sunday and prayed at meals and before bedtime. I quickly discovered what it meant to be “ethnic” and liberal in the state of Idaho, where a high majority of our population is white and conservative (I might throw Mormon in there as well, though I haven’t checked local statistics recently enough to feel comfortable in doing so). In retrospect, I’ve toyed with the idea that my differences and inadequacies growing up have a lot to do with my personality as an introvert today, but I suppose that might depend on your stance of nature versus nurture. In any event, I was an outlier which helped me prepare myself as an intellect and focus more of my time on my studies and in music (violin, trumpet, rudimentary snare and other various percussion instruments), where I experienced high levels of success.   Continue reading “Why I Chose a Feminist Blog”

Fighting For the United States

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By Cassie Greenwald

Women in combat are not a new phenomenon. Historically, there have been a few women in combat roles. During World War II, there were an estimated half-million women serving on anti-aircraft batteries in Britain. In Germany, women served as partisans in German-occupied Ukraine, and directly on the front lines. Soviet women were also deployed as snipers against the Nazi Wehrmacht, but most of their names have been forgotten. There are some countries that have already had women in combat, such as Israel, Germany and Canada. “They’ve done very, very well in Afghanistan, which is really Canada’s first time having women in the infantry” (Neuman, 2013).

Women today make up about 15 percent of the military (about 203,000 troops). Since 2001, more than 280,000 women have served in Iraq or Afghanistan. This has helped to alleviate some of the concern surrounding women in combat roles. Women soldiers are held to the same standards as men. “For example, to be a pilot, your femur has to be a certain length, you have to have a certain sitting height. Those are the occupational standards, and any woman going into any job has got to meet those in the exact same way as a male does” (Neuman, 2013). West Point requires cadets to pass an indoor obstacle course that tests agility, stamina and strength. The obstacle course is designed to determine whether future soldiers will be able to meet the demands of combat. Freshman Cadet Madaline Kenyon completed this course in 2 minutes and 26 seconds. This score is equivalent to an A-plus of the men’s scale. Continue reading “Fighting For the United States”

Do Enlist!!! NOW Accepting Women!!!

Aaron W. California

 

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It is common in nearly every culture to find positions of employment that are gender stereotyped. In the U.S., according to the American Psychological Association, “more than 90 percent of elementary school teachers are women.” For many Americans, being an elementary school teacher is seen as “feminine” or a “woman’s” position. Men, of course, are allowed to become elementary school teachers if they wish. Throughout history, women have been forced to fight for the right to hold positions of employment that were legally reserved for men only. Fortunately for some women, as Bob Dylan put it, “the times they are a-changin.”

The U.S. launched its first submarine in 1900. For more than 100 years since the commissioning of the first U.S. submarine, women were banned from serving on board. There is no clear reason for the preventing of women serving on submarines, therefore I will address what took place on April 29, 2010. On this date, the U.S. Navy lifted their ban on women serving aboard submarines. This surprised me, as until now I assumed women were still not allowed to serve on U.S. submarines. Perhaps it was a bit of my own pride keeping me from imagining women serving on submarines. I have to admit, I did see submarine service as “a man’s job.” Never did I question my own thoughts and beliefs regarding women on submarine duty.

Nevertheless, I am excited to learn that things are changing for women, however slowly it may be. As of now, 43 women have begun service on U.S. submarines; indeed this is a very small number among the ranks of thousands of male naval servicemen. The courage these few women have to serve on male dominated vessels will hopefully inspire more females to pursue service on U.S. submarines.

Women are often a far cry away from being openly welcomed into desegregated fields of employment. The history of women in the New York Fire Department is one example of society’s continued fight against integrating women into a once male-only profession. The American Civil Liberties Union reports that “only 37 of the 10,500 firefighters in New York City are women.” Currently, female firefighters in the NYC Fire Department are being harassed by their male coworkers. Female firefighters are experiencing “silent treatment from their male coworkers, finding their firefighting gear tampered with, and…complete refusal to impose accountability on the perpetrators of harassment and discrimination.” Why are women being subjected to such abuse?

One reason, among many, many others, is the natural instinct to dominate women. The natural reaction for many men to having a female leader is to feel ashamed. Men feel this shame due to the instinct they have to be over and more powerful than women. Perhaps the male firefighters molesting their female coworkers feel as if they are no longer in control, “like men should be” they may think in their minds. If men are ever going to work peacefully alongside women in any profession that was once only open to men they will be required to let go of the desire to control women and the feelings of hurt pride when women are above them in ranking.

What purpose do male-only organizations serve? Sure, it’s understandable that men want to be only with men at times, just as women have girls’ nights out. There is a problem, however, when the “male-only” sign hangs over public fields of employment and government positions. It is a problem when, after sexual segregation has ended, women experience discrimination, verbally or physically. What is it about women being in once male-only positions that elicits so much violence? I mentioned earlier the vast majority of elementary school teachers are women, 90 percent, according to the APA. Are men who become elementary school teachers discriminated against by women for choosing a female dominated position? Clearly not. In fact, many school districts around the U.S. are actively recruiting men to take on the profession of an elementary school teacher.

Brenda Berkman, the first female NYC firefighter, has said discrimination against female firefights will stop when “the department stops repeating the mistakes of the past.” Indeed, much of the discrimination against women joining such professions comes from the desire to hold on to the traditions handed down from generation to generation. The NYC Fire Department has a long history of being a male-only group, as it was not until 30 years ago that the Department allowed women to join. Like a bad habit, keeping women out of positions based solely on gender differences is a practice that needs to be broken.

Psychology teaches something called extinction. Extinction is the ending of a response or behavior in a human that is no longer wanted. To end an unwanted response or behavior, patients are either denied what triggers the unwanted response or behavior, or exposed to what upsets them until the negative feelings go away. Professions discriminating against women need a good dose of extinction. Women need to be integrated into once male-only positions until the harassment and the violence stops. The women who continue to work in once male-only professions despite discrimination will lead the way in ending male-only policies.

Men who hold chauvinistic views towards women joining their line of work need to do much in order to change. The reasons why men discriminate against women are endless. One of the most important keys to ending discrimination against women is  having men make some personal life changes, yet changing personal beliefs is no easy task. Men will need the courage to seek professional help to realize they have a problem. Men will need the bravery to question the validity of their prejudicial views against women. Men often see being proven wrong as shameful and an attack on their personal pride; men will have to find the nerve to swallow their pride in order to end discrimination and violence against women.

It is men who will need to take a step back and see the work women can do. If men would but swallow their pride by recognizing and appreciating the quality and effort women put into the profession, they can begin to see women as their professional equals. Men will need the courage to question the saying “don’t send a woman to do a man’s job.” Men will need to ask themselves some important questions, namely “what exactly is a man’s job?” and “if women can do what I do, is there than any reason to continue their exclusion?” The fall of male pride and chauvinistic ideology will be necessary before violence and discrimination against women will stop.

What does it mean to now have women on board U.S. submarines and fighting fires alongside men? It means, although often little by little and while enduring harassment and discrimination, what Bob Dylan said is true, “the times they are a-changin.”