Women in the United States Marines
There have been Women in the United States Marines since 1918, and women continue to serve in it today. As of 2016, women make up 8% of all active enlisted Marines, and 7.5% of active Officers. These numbers give the Marine Corps the lowest ratio of women in all of the U.S military branches. Women's presence in the Marine Corps first emerged in 1918 when they were permitted to do administrative work in an attempt to fill the spots of male Marines fighting overseas. It wasn't until 1948 that women were able to become a permanent part of the Corps with the passing of the Women's Armed Services Integration Act. However, even with the Integration Act, women were still banned from certain Military Occupation Specialitys. It was not until 2016 that Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that all military occupations will be open to women without exception. As of 2018, there are currently 92 women serving in the Marine Corps combat arms.
- 1 History
- 2 Issues for Women within the Corps
- 3 See also
- 4 Notes
- 5 References
Prior to World War I
Lucy Brewer (or Eliza Bowen, or Louisa Baker) is the pen name of a writer who purported to be the first woman in the United States Marines, serving aboard the USS Constitution as a sharpshooter in the 1800s while pretending to be a man named George Baker. Brewer's adventures were probably written by Nathaniel Hill Wright (1787–1824) or Wright's publisher, Nathaniel Coverly. No one by the name of Lucy Brewer (or that of her other pseudonyms, or that of her husband) can be found in historical records; in addition, it is highly unlikely a woman could have disguised herself for three years on the Constitution, as the crew had little to no privacy. (For example, no toilet facilities or private quarters existed on the ship, and physical examinations were thorough in the Marines.) In addition, Brewer's book The Female Marine's identifying details of the Constitution's travels and battles are nearly verbatim to accounts published by the ship's commanders in contemporary newspapers.
World War I
Opha May Johnson was the first known woman to enlist in the Marines. She joined the Marine Corps Reserve on August 13, 1918 during America's involvement in World War I, officially becoming the first female Marine. From then until the end of World War I, 305 women had enlisted in the Marines. They were often nicknamed "Marinettes", and helped with the office duties at the Headquarters Marine Corps, so the men who usually worked the administrative roles could be sent to France to help fight in the war.
World War II
The Marine Corps created the Marine Corps Women's Reserve in 1943, during America's involvement in World War II. Ruth Cheney Streeter was its first director. Over 20,000 women Marines served in World War II, in over 225 different specialties, filling 85 percent of the enlisted jobs at Headquarters Marine Corps and comprising one-half to two-thirds of the permanent personnel at major Marine Corps posts. However, it was not until after World War II, in 1948, that the Women's Armed Services Integration Act of 1948 gave women permanent status in the Regular and Reserve forces of the Marines.
The Marine Corps Women's Reserve was mobilized in August 1950 for the Korean War, eventually reaching peak strength of 2,787 active-duty women Marines. Most women Marines served as part of the clerical and administrative staff.
In 1967 Master Sergeant Barbara Dulinsky became the first female Marine to serve in a combat zone in Vietnam. At the peak of the Vietnam War, there were approximately 2,700 women Marines on active duty, serving both stateside and overseas.
Middle East Conflict
Issues for Women within the Corps
Combat Exclusions and Women in Combat (1993-present)
In 1994, the Pentagon declared:
Service members are eligible to be assigned to all positions for which they are qualified, except that women shall be excluded from assignment to units below the brigade level whose primary mission is to engage in direct combat on the ground.
That policy also excluded women being assigned to certain organizations based upon proximity to direct combat or "collocation" as the policy specifically referred to it. According to the Army, collocation occurs when, "the position or unit routinely physically locates and remains with a military unit assigned a doctrinal mission to routinely engage in direct combat."
In 2013 Leon Panetta removed the military's ban on women serving in combat, overturning the 1994 rule. Panetta's decision gave the military services until January 2016 to seek special exceptions if they believed any positions must remain closed to women. The services had until May 2013 to draw up a plan for opening all units to women and until the end of 2015 to actually implement it. In 2015 Joseph Dunford, the commandant of the Marine Corps, recommended that women be excluded from competing for certain front-line combat jobs. That year a U.S. official confirmed that the Marine Corps had requested to keep some combat jobs open only to men. However, in December 2015, Defense Secretary Ash Carter stated that starting in 2016 all combat jobs would open to women. In March 2016, Ash Carter approved final plans from military service branches and the U.S. Special Operations Command to open all combat jobs to women, and authorized the military to begin integrating female combat soldiers "right away."
Also in 2016, a female lance corporal in the Marines requested a lateral move into an infantry "military occupational specialty," making her the first female Marine to sign up for the infantry.
Also in 2017, there have been many females breaking barriers in the Marine Corps. On the enlisted side, PFC Maria Daume, who was born in a Siberian prison and later adopted by Americans, became the first female Marine to join the infantry through the traditional entry-level training process. On the officer side, First Lt. Marina A. Hierl became the first woman to graduate from the infantry officer course of the Marine Corps, and Second Lt. Mariah Klenke became the first female officer to graduate from the Marines' Assault Amphibian Officer course.
Sexism and sexual harassment
Frontiero v. Richardson, 411 U.S. 677 (1973), was a landmark Supreme Court case[a] which decided that benefits given by the military to the family of service members cannot be given out differently because of sex.
In early 2017 a nude photo scandal occurred; initially it was reported that the scandal was contained to only the Marine Corps, but the scandal later involved the rest of the US military. The scandal caused the Corps to ensue multiple investigations on over 80 Marine personnel, as well as addressing the culture of sexual harassment within the Marine Corps.
In the 2017 annual report on Sexual assault in the United States military, there were 998 reported cases of sexual assault in the Marine Corps, up 14.9% from the year before. Pentagon officials said that the increased percentage was due to the greater awareness of administrative and legal options given to victims, giving them more confidence to speak out.
Sexual Orientation and Transgender
Before the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy was enacted in 1993, lesbians and bisexual women (and gay men and bisexual men) were banned from serving in the military. In 1993 the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy was enacted, which mandated that the military could not ask service members about their sexual orientation. However, until the policy was ended in 2011 service members were still expelled from the military if they engaged in sexual conduct with a member of the same sex, stated that they were lesbian, gay, or bisexual, and/or married or attempted to marry someone of the same sex.
It was announced on June 30, 2016 that, beginning on that date, otherwise qualified United States service members could not any longer be discharged, denied reenlistment, involuntarily separated, or denied continuation of service because of being transgender (including but not limited to transgender women). Beginning on January 1, 2018, openly transgender people (including but not limited to transgender women) were allowed to join the military.
- United States Marine Corps Women's Reserve
- Women in the military
- Sexual assault in the United States military
- Marine Corps Yumi, a manga and webcomic about the lives of four female Marines, based on the former Marine co-author's experiences.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Women in the United States Marine Corps.|
- Technically, the case was decided under the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause, not under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, since the latter applies not to the federal government but to the states. However, because Bolling v. Sharpe, through the doctrine of reverse incorporation, made the standards of the Equal Protection Clause applicable to the federal government, it was for practical purposes an addition not to due process, but rather to equal protection jurisprudence.
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