This morning I participated in a very interesting discussion about women in the military as part of a class I'm taking called "Managing the Needs of Returning Veterans." I was surprised to learn that although women serve in all branches of the armed forces, they cannot serve in "direct combat" roles. My professor believes that, in large part, this regulation is in place to prevent the bad publicity of having mothers die in combat.
Others in class (including some female classmates) brought up a common talking point: the biological and physiological differences between men and women. One student wondered aloud if a female soldier would be capable of dragging a wounded soldier out of the line of fire. To me, this argument doesn't hold much water. The brief documentary we watched in class noted that women in the military undergo the same physical training as their male counterparts. The footage of this training was impressive; without a doubt, these women would be able to drag a wounded peer to safety.
I couldn't help but remember an incident I witnessed a few years ago. While driving around Philadelphia, I saw a policewoman apprehend a much larger, aggressive suspect. He resisted arrest and shoved her, and within less than ten seconds, she pushed him up against a wall and was putting him in handcuffs. It's hard for me to imagine that anyone, male or female, would be able to apprehend a suspect more efficiency.
Another argument against allowing women to serve in combat roles is the notion that a co-ed group of soldiers would be distracted from their combat duties by sexual desires. I suppose this is possible, but again, I am skeptical. When someone is in danger, sex is probably the last thing on his/her mind (at least, that's been my experience).
Those are my thoughts on the subject - what are yours? As usual, I welcome comments.