I am an Air Force Veteran. I am a woman. These two things should not be opposite sides of the time-in-voluntary-service, but unfortunately they are.
There are so many variants that shaped my personal military adventure. No two experiences are alike, but if I were standing next to my also Veteran, retired, husband— he is the one attention would shift to in interest.
I know this, because I have experienced this 99% of the time. We both can mention our enlistments, and mine is treated like it’s no biggie, but my husband— “Really! Thank you for your service!” with maybe a nod in my direction.
It’s like people don’t know how to process my being a woman in the military.
The military began “shaping” me to live in a man-shaped perspective, from day one.
I was 15 pounds under the expected weight-lifting limit to apply for a job I really wanted to do. You and I know it wouldn’t have been difficult for me to build up to that limit— I was determined and in shape to do that— but that was not an option. I believe this was an across-the-board decision, but I also believe that could, and maybe should, be changed.
The mindset of the military is always “military needs”, and volunteers are “property”.
The process for making me a military-minded person began by breaking me down, separating me into a group of 49 other women, limiting things like time to shower, privacy, time to eat, getting mail or calls from home, and dictating every moment of everyday.
Don’t get me wrong, it was an amazing experience, and I am proud of myself for success in making it through that.
But, for me— coming from an abusive past, it was also an emotionally difficult experience.
Additionally, it was a lonely experience— but that wasn’t a new thing for me. I have almost never had someone to talk to, or go through things with me.
That brings me to my point in writing this.
The military comes at everything from a man’s perspective. It just does. Sure there are videos, and training once a year to learn about being professional and demonstrating polite courtesy to not offend women, or make them feel threatened.
I think that is kind of a good thing, but it’s also kind of condescending.
It also does not work. I mean, just look at scandals way at the top concerning sexual harassment towards women.
Here is another perspective:
My personal experiences of working in a man’s career field as a plumber (my 10th flowery-worded choice— Utilities System Specialist), in a man’s-perspective-d world are unique and don’t necessarily reflect or match another woman’s.
I get that.
But, men, and even some high-ranking women, certainly have a long way to go towards mutual respect and fair, rational, understanding and compassionate treatment of women— as individuals that are completely unique and separate from the way men are built.
With all the money poured into “research”, you’d think by now things would have naturally “evolved” from arrogant, chauvinistic, neanderthal-like behavior.
Recently, women have finally been provided with something many have needed all along! It took decades for that to happen! Why?
Because it’s a world based on men’s perspective that women are “allowed” to become part of.
Things are getting better, and yet, the latest response/reaction by civilian men to the mere mention of the newly available maternity flight suit just proves— men have a long way to go.
In the famous words of our current President— “Come on, man!”
You can, and should, do better.