President Donald Trump and his administration do not have the best track record with women’s rights or gender equality.
From nearly a dozen sexual misconduct lawsuits against the commander-in-chief to his team’s constant efforts to take away the rights of women to make decisions about their bodies, the government has repeatedly come under fire for waging a war against women — and women in the military are the latest plaintiffs.
“The Department of Defense appeared to be moving in the right direction when it cleared the way two years ago for women to start fully participating in combat units,” stated ACLU’s Senior Staff Attorney Gillian Thomas. “But the Army and Marine Corps then adopted policies that brand female soldiers as unequal, and put responsibility for integrating women into formerly male-only units solely on other women.”
One of the most problematic aspects discussed in the lawsuit, filed in a federal court in San Francisco, was the discriminatory policy of "Leaders First" in the Army and Marines.
According to the filing, the particular policy prohibits women from joining combat battalions until two or more "women leaders" have joined those units, which is not just bigoted but also unreasonable.
“The ‘Leaders First’ policy rests on the notion that women cannot become successful soldiers without having women coaches or members at their side,” the filing stated. “It is, moreover, absurd to assume that male ‘leaders’ need women by their sides to coach them and advise them on how to lead women soldiers and Marines.”
The amended lawsuit also cited an old tweet from Trump, in which he had suggested military officials only allowed women in combat roles to be politically correct.
The Generals and top military brass never wanted a mixer but were forced to do it by very dumb politicians who wanted to be politically C!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2013
It is important to note more than 280,000 servicewomen have so far served in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are among the most unstable locations.
The complaint also mentioned the "sex-segregated basic training.”
“The DOD claims that ‘Leaders First’ helps women, but in fact the policy is preventing women from entering combat arms and hindering the progress of integration,” said SWAN CEO Lydia Watts. “That policy, along with training female recruits separately from men at Marine boot camp, is the same old sex segregation by a different name.”
The plaintiffs have not only accused Trump of corroding the progress women in military made during the tenure of former President Barack Obama, the lawsuit also cited sexist statements from top Trump officials.
“Military service is a touchstone for any patriot — male or female. But that said, there is a level of atavistic behavior, there is a reward for the most crude kind of commitment and it is a level of primitive living that is difficult to explain. And I’m not just talking about the lack of privacy for the most basic bodily functions,” Mattis said in 2015 speech at the Marines Memorial Club in San Francisco. “If you go anywhere in history, you will not find where this has worked. King David sent one of his officers to fight so that he could go to bed with his wife, its right in the Bible.”
Unfortunately, White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly seems to share similar sentiments.
“I think it will be the pressure for not probably the generals that are here now, but for the generals to come, and admirals, to lower standards because that's the only way it'll work,” Kelly told a Pentagon press briefing in 2016.
Earlier this year, the president announced he would not permit transgender people to serve in the U.S. military, citing "tremendous medical costs and disruption," an action condemned by critics as "raw prejudice" and a political stunt.
His action appeared to halt years of efforts to eliminate barriers to military service based on sexual orientation. But a judge ruled against Trump and transgender troops will be accepted into the military beginning Jan. 1.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters, Larry Downing