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Are the Marines' New Physical Assessment Tests Discriminatory Towards Women?

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The Associated Press reports that, in an attempt to raise standards for the entire Marine Corps, the army division has created new tests to enter combat that “6 out of 7 female recruits” failed in the past five months. This news comes after all combat positions in the military were opened to women in December of last year.

It's unclear if the new physical standards required to enter combat are actually targeting female soliders in an attempt to prevent integrating the military, or if most women really aren't up to the tasks that Marines in combat have to perform. The tests have resulted in 40 out of 1,500 men failing, or about 2.7 percent—while 86 percent of women have failed. When you take into account that this test was implemented because of integration, it seems a little suspect.

When individuals fail the physical assessment test, they are placed in a number of “other, less physically demanding Marine jobs” that don't include combat, according to the AP. Maybe these individuals would be more effective in these sorts of jobs, but it seems reasonable that they should at least be able to try out more than once for combat positions if they want to.

Men have dominated combat roles for pretty much as long as they've existed, and it makes sense that societally, many women grow up believing that they're not cut out for the military—and therefore never get the preparation and training they need to pass this test, or even to enter the military in the first place. It sucks that we've ended up with so few women who are physically prepared to participate in combat, but props to the awesome ladies trying to change that tide! Soon we won’t be talking about doing physically demanding tasks “like a girl,” and we’ll have them to thank.

Gen. Robert Neller, Marine Commandant, told the AP, “if you can carry the weight and you can do the job, and you're smart and you're a good leader, and you're a person of character and quality and set a good example, people will follow you. I don't think it really matters who you are." Hopefully this is also the attitude of current members of the military toward their new colleagues!


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