I’m a woman.  I’m not a soldier.

I come from a military family. But the military wouldn’t let me continue that tradition.  The lineage of military members stopped with me. 

Some would say, I was ‘discriminated’ against, because I have asthma, and was told it wasn’t safe for them to allow me into the ranks of any military branch because of my medical condition.  Trust me, when I was in high school, I tried EVERY branch. I wasn’t even given an opportunity to prove myself.

Did it break my heart that I couldn’t be part of something that would connect me on a deeper level to my ancestors? You bet it did. 

Did I go out and bad mouth the military, because they wouldn’t accept me? Not for a single second! 

If anything, it gave me a deeper desire to help those that could serve, and to do more for those that had served in years past. 

Sadly though, not everyone has the same opinions when they feel they’ve been slighted. They don’t take those opportunities to do something different to still connect them in a way so they can be part of the greater good rather than being part of the problem. I see that we’re in a world where there is more noise being made than actions being taken.

Let’s look at the media for instance. Sunday is the 244th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. A day that should be honored, and of course, newsworthy.  Today, media outlets are trying to tarnish that celebration, by making an issue of women not having a larger role in a video produced by the Corps.

machine gun

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Abrey D. Liggins)

 

Everything I know about Marines; they are a special breed.  I’ve been around enough veterans and active duty service members to know they harass one another on who has the best branch of the military. In most cases it’s all in healthy jest.

The Marines, however, have done something that most other branches, that I can tell, haven’t yet capitalized on.  When they celebrate the Marine birthday, they make sure EVERYBODY knows! As is tradition, the Marine Corps create a birthday video message honoring the men and women that are part of the Corps. Yes, I wrote that right, men and women.

Women have fought for their rightful place to stand beside men in the Corps.  According to the officer candidate school website, “With the founding of the Marine Corps in 1776 it wasn’t until 1918 that women became a part of that history. Since then the role of women in the Marine Corps has evolved and expanded as our women Marines continue to push through barriers and pave the way for all women Marines to follow.”

 

During WWI, 300 women joined the U.S. Marine Corps. reserve and became part of a clerical unit. A lot has happened in the 100 years since those first females became part of the Corps. It’s been a process for sure during that timeline, but one thing has stuck out.  

During this time frame, the women that fought for their right to be part of the Marine Corps., never wanted to be looked at as “women Marines”- they wanted to be Marines. Period.

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There was an entire advertising campaign for the Corps. that even said, “There are no female Marines; Only Marines.”  Women have made it clear that they are part of the Corps. and they are not going anywhere.  

From what I can tell, they plan to continue to power through and rise to greatness.

So, why must the media try to make issue on a day there shouldn’t be?   In an article, written by a man mind you, titled, “MARINE CORPS’ ANNUAL BIRTHDAY VIDEO BLASTED FOR INCLUDING ONLY 6 SECONDS OF WOMEN IN 8-MINUTE TRIBUTE,” is trying to draw criticism on a day where the Marines should be celebrating.

Newsweek posted the article on November 4 apparently in hopes that it would take off like wildfire and create a mass hysteria that the Marines are discriminating against women. If you watch the video that was created, the majority of Marines shown in the video are in such heavy gear or actively moving that it’s hard to tell who is male and who is female in most shots. 

 

Do they have all males talking at the camera?  Yes, they do. Could they have perhaps done better by adding a female speaking to the camera?  Sure, they could. But is it really worth slamming them over it? No.

Newsweek reported, “to celebrate the upcoming birthday of the U.S. Marines, the service’s top brass sent around a special video message—and drew a barrage of criticism. Women service members are visible in roughly six seconds of the eight-minute video.”

I’ve struggled to find the barrage of criticism that is noted, although I may have missed it while searching the Internet for it.

I did read in the Newsweek article that one who was outspoken was former Marine Sergeant Erin Kirk-Cuomo, who is the fonder of ‘Not In My Marine Corps’, which is a group that fights against sexual harassment in the Corps.

She stated, “if the Commandant can’t even bother to bring up the strides women have made in a birthday message or have a female voice in it even for a 20-second clip, what does that say to Marines? That leadership doesn’t care and doesn’t feel the need to be inclusive to women, so why should anyone else?” 

It should be known, however, that I was not able to find a Marine birthday message or video specifically geared toward female Marines from her organization at the time of this writing.

Sources say that some are blaming James Mattis and his desire to keep women off the front lines as the reasoning for the Marine Corps.’ ‘terrible messaging’.

Although, in the last few years, the Marine Corps seems to have started to see the shift of positions that is happening among women across the country.

“In May 2017, they released the first-ever recruiting ad centered on female Marines in combat. This year, they’ve produced more video profiles highlighting the contributions of female Marines such as women serving as drill instructors or introducing the first female pilot of the F-35B Lightning II.”

MSN is reporting that, “some current and former Marines speaking out online said the lack of women in the video is a non-issue and is being overblown, with many praising the video for its depiction of combat forces.” 

Others have stated it is an attempt to overshadow a grand tradition, and something that all Marines should be proud of.

 

I encourage everyone to watch the video.  I encourage every one to thank a Marine today, male and female.   I encourage female Marines to shout it out that they are in fact Marines, and they are damn proud of it, if that is what they wish.

I will say it again. I am not a soldier. I am a woman.  I am, and have been part of paramilitary organizations.  I wear the same uniform my male counterparts wear.

I have been discriminated against because of my sex.  I’ve been thought to be lesser than my male counterparts. Did it piss me off?  Sure it did.  Did I just talk about how it pissed me off? Nope. I’ve taken action and shown that I am an equal to any one else that wears the uniform.

Women have come a long way in this “man’s world”.  Do we have a long way to go? We sure do.  But in this writer’s opinion, which is just one woman’s thoughts, I’d rather that we as women not diminish the successes of others to gain our own.

I hope that the media does not overshadow what a special day this is for the Marine Corps. I also hope that the Marine Corps will continue to further promote the females that are among their ranks, and highlight them to encourage future women to become part of these honored positions.

Happy 244thBirthday Marine Corps!

 


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