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Opinion | Women earning right to fight, equality not handed to them

By Editorial Board
On February 1, 2013

Last week, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta lifted the ban keeping women from entering specific combat roles.

The Miami Student editorial board supports Panetta's actions and believes that this change is long overdue. Women have been part of our nation's military since the country was founded and we believe they deserve equal opportunity within the organization.

Though some are not comfortable with drastic change, especially when it comes to women, we need to erase the old and outdated ideologies that permeate society.

This change can discontinue the age-old idea that men and women are simply not capable of fulfilling the same roles. It may be hard to imagine a mother, a sister, a wife or a granddaughter in combat alongside her male counterparts, but this is not about what we are comfortable seeing; it's about what thousands of women have earned. Even before the ban was lifted, women were not sheltered from the realities of war. Women die every day for our country.

Objections have been raised over the perceived physical limitations of women, but we do not believe this is a reason to keep women from combat roles. Both men and women must pass physical requirements to fulfill some roles; this will disqualify some men and women from specific positions, but it will not discriminate based on sex.

Further, those who disagree with the change and believe men and woman cannot perform the same tasks need to realize the armed forces deal with more than just physical tasks. This is one of the most strategically-oriented groups in the world that relies on mental acuity as much as physical strength.

Some may feel this is an extreme jump for women, but in reality women have been doing the same thing men do for quite some time. This change finally gives credit to those who have stepped up, and in some cases died trying to protect our freedom. By letting everyone's talents shine and prosper in the military, it actually strengthens, not weakens the organization. We have to remember that these men and women are on the same team and have the same goal for our country: to keep it safe.

Women do not want to be "given" anything, or have things handed to them on a silver platter. But, they do want and have a right to compete for anything that men can do and rightfully earn their place in combat just as they have throughout history. We applaud those who serve in the armed forces and hope that this change brings a safer America and ultimately a better world.

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