Didn’t women in the Persian Gulf share equal combat risks without equal combat pay?
During the U. S. invasion of Panama, front-page headlines heralded the first woman leading soldiers into combat.9 Although The New York Times made it clear the woman thought she was approaching an ««guarded dog kennel,10 Congresswoman Schroeder used this incident to develop three myths – myths that were reinforced during the war in the Persian Gulf:
1. Women and men shared equal risks
2. Women were being denied combat positions in order to deny them equal opportunity as officers
3. Women were being denied combat positions in order to deny them equal pay
These myths were reinforced by the cover stories of our news weeklies. But the facts give a different picture.
1. Equal risks. If women shared equal risks. Panama would not have resulted in the deaths of 23 men and 0 women (also 0 women injured)”; and the Persian Gulf practice operations and war would not have led to the deaths of 375 men versus 15 women.1* For both wars combined, 27 men died for each woman”; but since there are only 9 men in the armed services for each woman, then any given man’s risk of dying was three times greater than any given woman’s.
If men accounted for less than 4 percent of the total deaths and any given man had only one fourth the risk of dying, would Congresswoman Schroeder have said men equally shared the risks? Equality is ncx making women vulnerable by chance when men are made vulnerable by design.
Were women being denied combat positions in order to deny them equal opportunity as officers? Or to deny them equal pay?
2. Equal opportunity as officers. Women constitute 11.7 percent of the total military, but 12 percent of the officers.14 Women receive more-tban – equal promotions in the services despite less-thanequal time in the services (the first females graduated from West Paint in 1980).
3. Equal pay. Both sexes in the Persian Gulf received $110 per month extra combat pay.,s The sexes received equal pay despite unequal risks.
In brief, men get fewer promotions and, therefore, less pay for longer periods of service and a threefold greater risk of death, yet we read about discrimination against women, not discrimination against men. When men do 30 percent of the housework, we criticize men for not sharing the housework; when any given woman receiving 100 percent of male combat pay takes 25 percent of the combat risks of any given man, we call her a warrior and credit her with sharing the danger.