Back on Land

He deploys, and I make a life back on land.

Girls on Submarines (Or Rather MY Girl on Submarines)

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Last week a friend posted a link to Facebook entitled Enlisted Women to Join Sub Crews Starting in 2016 along with the comment “A recipe for disaster.” Before I gave it a second thought, I quickly commented back … in writing … on Facebook.

I disagree. I think they have already done a great job integrating female officers and have nicely paved the way for enlisted women.

Let me just tell you that this one little comment goes against all my own Facebook rules because I have a strict do-not-argue-on-Facebook-because-Facebook-arguers-look-stupid policy. I was very quickly (but surprisingly nicely) disagreed with, and I quickly bowed out of the conversation. I even hid it from my News Feed the same way I used to hide under my blankets in the dark. Only this time I wasn’t afraid. I was annoyed.

Annoyed at what I feel is sexism. Annoyed at women of the opinion to keep other women down. Annoyed at what I see to be petty excuses for keeping at bay a change that is inevitable.

The topic came up again later in the week, and I was asked for my opinion. So hear it is.

I’m for it. Simple as that. I want women on submarines, more of them every single day. I am beyond proud that my husband serves on a submarine with female officers on board, and to be completely honest, in the few instances that I have had the opportunity to speak to those incredible women, I have been quite star struck. I am a strong woman. I am drawn to strong women, and I am, dare I say, awed by the trails these women are blazing. They will be drawn into history as pioneers. Little girls will look up to them.

I happen to have three such little girls.

On a recent Family Day, when all the families of our boat were invited to visit the submarine, Josh and I took our three daughters past the checkpoint, across the brow, and down the ladder into his world. He was a wonderful tour guide, and over the next few hours we visited the Control Room and tried out of the periscope, listened to the water through giant headphones in Sonar,  and even visited dad’s work space in DPER. We climbed ladders, crouched through water tight doors, and even ate chicken nuggets and drank Bug Juice on the mess decks. While we tried out the couches in the Goatlocker, Sydney, age 13 and averse to all things educational, said, “I want to be on a submarine when I grow up.” Sydney, who normally wants nothing more than to watch her shows on TV or another turn on the computer to play games, wants to be a Submariner. She wants to follow in her father’s footsteps and serve her country.

And to me, to this momma, that trumps all the excuses you could have against it. I want my children, my daughters, to have every opportunity available to them. Succeed or fail, I want them to be able to try, and I felt a little guilty explaining to her that at present there are only a handful of women serving on submarines, that this is not something that is openly available to her.

This momma believes in a woman’s right to serve on a submarine.

Of course I’m not so naive as to believe this change won’t have problems. Big changes often require … well … BIG CHANGES. I don’t think it’s impossible though, and apparently neither does the United States Navy.

And then there are the “buts” …

But why would a woman even want to be stuck in a tin can under the water for three months with 150 men? I often wonder why any MAN would want to be stuck in a tin can under the water for three months with 150 men.

But what if they get pregnant? Because clearly no woman ever was able to control her hormones around men who reek of boat smell. Seriously though I suppose she would be relieved from that duty and replaced or not, the same as when a man has a medical requirement to leave the boat and is replaced or not. Manning on a submarine is never perfect. You’re a man or woman down? Okay, that’s great. Get back to work. (And that’s not just my opinion; that’s just reality.)

But what if a woman was assaulted on a submarine?  That would be awful. It would be terrible, but sadly it wouldn’t be anything that doesn’t happen on any other Navy vessel that women are already serving on. Just as on those other vessels, it would be dealt with by the command. I don’t think that because it might happen on a submarine it would be dismissed any more or less than anywhere else in the military. It is a sad fact that these assaults happen, but they happen because of bad service members, not because of where a female happens to be serving.

But are women even physically capable of doing the same job? This is one of my personal favorite buts to which I answer…  some of them yes … and some of them no. I have known women who built houses, fixed cars, lifted heavy things, and did also sorts of so-called manly jobs. I have also known men that I outworked every day of the week. Women, like men, come in all different shapes and sizes with a variety of different abilities. I absolutely hate the idea of painting all women, or men for that matter, with the same brush. Just as not all men are pigs; not all women are 90-pound weaklings.

I guess my point is this. I know big changes will have to be made, but I don’t believe they are impossible or even improbable. I know problems will arise, but I believe in the Navy’s ability to solve them. I know that not every woman is suited for sub life, but I also know not every man is so suited either.

Most importantly, I know that my Sydney wants to be a Submariner, and I am thankful to live in a day and age when, succeed or fail, she will have the opportunity to try.

P.S. Thank you so very much for reading this, but please be aware:  This is not an open forum for argument. I may or may not answer comments, and I am may or may not delete any comments that are mean or rude. This piece is nothing more than one momma’s opinion, and whether you agree or not won’t change my mind.

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