Currently, a woman Marine Corps candidate can choose either pull-ups or the less physically taxing flexed-arm hang to demonstrate her upper body strength. The physiology of the female body makes pull-ups more difficult for the average woman than the average man.
But is that reason enough for women to be exempt from the same expectations as their male counterparts? After all, both men and women candidates have the same end goal: to qualify as a Marine.
Around this time last year, then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta made a revolutionary announcement: Women in the U.S. military will no longer be banned from holding combat positions.
Many U.S. government and military officials believe that since the civilian world promotes gender equality, the military also should.
Last year when the Marines suggested a requirement of at least three pull-ups for women, they were heavily criticized.
In the eyes of male Marines, three pull-ups would be a laughable requirement for them.
The “perfect” score for them is 20 pull-ups, while for women, it is only eight. The discrepancy calls for a change.
As of January, the requirement has been placed on hold. According to marinecorpstimes.com, June 30 is the earliest a requirement can be implemented.
Instead of the three pull-up requirement, the Marines should implement a different physical requirement altogether. The test needs to be more practical and truth-telling of not just physical ability but endurance that may be required during combat.
Male or female, a Marine is a Marine. A perfect score should resonate across the board.
The pull-up test should be replaced by a weight-carrying test that both men and women must execute.
After determining the average weight of the current Marines, each Marine-in-training should be made to carry that amount of weight both in the arms and over the shoulder for a few minutes.
This new test would weed out those who would be unable to carry a fallen soldier to safety in combat.
The New York Times said more than a quarter of a million women have deployed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In reality, many of them ended up on the frontlines of battle even though that was not technically allowed. These brave women took bullets for men and for their country.
If women willingly fight and die just as men do, they deserve respect from their country and also from their male soldier teammates.
Enforcing the same physical ability requirements for men and women protects the Marines’ reputation and will make it easier for male Marines to respect female Marines.
The Marines have a name to maintain. From the beginning of try-outs, they are expected to act with an incredible amount of physical and mental strength.
The U.S. Department of Defense calls on them to carry out some of the most perilous and tactically challenging missions during war.
Consider Fallujah during the Iraq War in 2004. Forty-eight Marines died in action and more than 400 were seriously injured in one of the bloodiest battles of the war.
The wounded soldiers depended on the other combat soldiers to bring them to safety and medical attention as quickly as possible. The death toll of Marines could have been much higher.
If women Marines are not held to the same physical standard as men, they will weaken the overall strength of the Marines. In dangerous situations in war zones, physical strength can make or break a mission.
In the event of a soldier receiving debilitating or life-threatening wounds, a soldier must be able to carry the wounded soldier to safety.
Women may be officially allowed to engage in combat soon. What a groundbreaking feat for women’s equality.
They will be given the opportunity to defy the stereotype of women soldiers as incapable of handling the emotional stress of combat.
Maybe men’s perception of women’s physical capability also will change.
Before this change occurs, women Marines must be able to prove their physical prowess.
History shows us that women have to earn their respect from men when given the same tasks as men.
Unfortunately, it does not come without confirmation that the woman can perform just as well or better than the man.
Undoubtedly, women would struggle more with my proposed weight-carrying requirement. But that does not make it impossible —just more demanding. With strenuous physical training, women can build strength enough to carry a man.
And while higher expectations may scare some women away from trying out for the Marine Corps, others may be more inclined to join because they would earn respect from their male Marine teammates.
So I say to the Marine women: show your guns — in combat and by flaunting your muscles. Your hard work in the gym will pay off in combat.
Emily Ballard is a senior journalism major from Kingwood. She is a reporter for The Lariat.