Major Mom

The rights of women have been changing for decades, but their roles in a family have not. As time has gone on, women have gained rates in government ,the work force, and daily life. But the responsibilities one has at home has not changed. One huge change in rights for women was the choice to join the armed forces. So is there a choice to be made? Is it black and white? If you want to serve in the armed forces as a woman, having a family is not an option? But what if your pregnancy is a surprise? Or you’ve been off duty for two years and all of the sudden get a deployment notice with a 1 year-old at home. It’s a sticky situation that I was able to get some answers on.
Women have been involved in some way with every war in history, but their occupations have taken a turn. Currently, I’m reading, “Testament of Youth” an autobiography by Vera Brittain. Taking place in World War I, Vera becomes involved in the nursing side of the war. Having a loved one, and family member in a war can encourage someone, man or woman to get as involved as they can. Making them feel supportive, and in a way, closer to that loved one. Vera states in a response to a letter from her parents,

Nothing – beyond sheer necessity – would induce me to stop doing what I am doing now, and I should never respect myself again if I allowed a few slight physical hardships to make me give up what is the finest work any girl can do now. I honestly did not take it up because I thought you did not want me or could not afford to give me a comfortable home, but because I wanted to prove I could more or less keep myself working, and partly because, not being a man and able to go to the front, I wanted to do the next best thing.

Although Vera is not a mother at this time, it shows the clear difference in the rights and expectations brought onto a women during that era vs. today. But now, this day in age, women are able to “go to the front” and fight in our wars. Something that didn’t need to be compromised during WWI for women was the care of their children. It was always the father who was off fighting and mom was at home with the kids, raising the family. In the present, mothers could be forced to leave their children at home to fight for our country, but the debate being, Are they obliged to do this even if they have children and disagree with the task at hand. In the episode ‘For Family, For Country’ Military Moms Do It All on NPR, three military moms were interviewed on how they balanced work and family, and also their thoughts on military mom, Lisa Pegan, who got out of returning to fight after fighting the fact that she now had two children and couldn’t return to the forces. Petty officer Pilar Arteaga stated that she thought “Lisa Pegan’s decision brought women in the armed forces down a peg. And that being a woman in the armed forces, you find yourself proving yourself a lot more.” Arteaga is a single mom who has had to leave her son with friends and family on numerous occasions because of deployments. All of the mothers in the interview continued to work in the armed forces until they were able to retire, while raising children. And all believe that it can and needs to be done by all women across the board.
But the debate still runs, should women be obliged to fight or not? Especially if the government isn’t going to provide caregivers for the children if the woman doesn’t have any. Is it really that simple?

NPR 2009

Tell Me More

“For Family, For Country’ Military Moms Do It All


2 Responses to “Major Mom”

  1. niemanr Says:

    Chelsea, I found that your post grabbed my attention right from the title. It was an interesting parallel to draw between Vera’s work as a nurse and contemporary woman in the military. It is astonishing that the United States government can offer the incentive of tuition payment and not offer childcare. Women, it seems, get the short end of the stick, yes? I believe a recruit should be genderless, in theory. But of course, as is the state of everything, that is not the case. For instance, women cannot hold roles that require them to be engaged in direct combat. So, if roles of gender are a factor, then, why can this not work in the benefit of women? It is most certainly working against them in more than one area. It would be interesting to hear the counter argument, warranting why women, who are also mothers are not provided with benefits to support their family. It is obviously feasible to have a family and be in the armed services, but it is unfair that gender, again, is the factor examined for certain treatment. I have never heard personal testaments of women in the military, but I can imagine it would be frustrating to be in any situation where service to your country is a trade off to providing proper care for your children or family.

  2. smbae Says:

    Women’s rights concurred problems in every sector of world. Granted I thank god that I have been raised and am living in our generation and our country as a woman but it all still is not right. There are double standards implicated on us all the time. And we definitely see that when it comes to women in the forces. In that sense, a woman with a family, is forced to chose between her country and the well-being of her family. Being a part of a child’s life is important for both parents, but maybe even more so for the mother. And there again, I suppose that is a double standard.

    The issue begs to ask if there is any means of changing that? And if that was taken away from women, would it not make the gender retract from initial responsibilities as mothers? It seems to be a cycle of society, people and life. There may never be a completely acceptable way around it. Even if the government could provide caregivers, then would the mothers not feel insufficient? It is an never-ending question, with no definite answer.

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