Gender Roles In The Military

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Do women belong in the military? This question has been an ongoing debate within politics and media since more military functions opened up for women. It has been said that women are not physically able to defend their country the way men can. Others argue that with new technical advancements the military do not have to relay solely on physical strength and that therefore women are just as qualified as men. While most western cultures strive for gender equality within society, the military is lagging behind. In order to understand why this is the case it is key to understand why people refer to someone as male or female, instead of a person. Gender cannot be ignored because it is one of the structuring elements within our daily life. Membership in one of the sex categories has social consequences; it allocates resources and power in everyday domains. Not only in political, economic or domestic domains but also within interpersonal relations. Or as West & Zimmerman state (1987, p. 147): ‘Gender is a powerful ideological device, which produces, reproduces, and legitimates the choices and limits that are predicated on sex category.’ According to West & Zimmerman (1987) the current use of the concept of gender is too superficial. One of the most common definitions of Gender is created by Goffman (1976, as described by West & Zimmerman, 1987) and he refers to gender as playing a dramatized, scripted ‘role’ in the theater with the behavioral aspects of being male or female.

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