I don’t think there is a woman in uniform who isn’t following the women on submarines issue closely. Regardless of service branch this development is interesting because it removes one of the last remaining walls holding up the glass ceiling for women in the military. And I would offer that the next wall to fall will be the women in combat issue.
For those of you just catching up, Secretary Gates has said women will begin training for submarine service as early as July and the time for Congress to oppose the policy came and went with nary an argument (at least not publically).
And the Navy is being smart by choosing the right women to be the trailblazers. Everyone remembers Shannon Faulkner, the girl who didn’t make it through one week at the Citadel but no one remembers Nancy Mace who was the first women to graduate from the Citadel in 1999. The first women on subs will be Academy grads who have proven their metal through four years of intensive schooling and who have a lot of practice living in close quarters with men who are their peers.
Now, some of the wives of today’s submariners may not be so excited for the change to take place. And frankly as a wife myself, I get that. However, let me point out one huge fact: submarines are SMALL. To be blunt, there is very little room for hanky panky unless your guy is into putting on a show. While surface ships provide oodles of nooks and crannies to hide away in, having sex on a submarine would be like trying to get it on in a port-a-potty during halftime at a football game with free beer. So to the wives and to the new female submariners, FEMCOM offers this piece of advice: make friends and fast. The best way to defeat suspicions and insecurities is too get to know one another and find out about their families. I promise you it will lead to a lot less tension in the years to come.
FEMCOM trusts in these women to understand what is at stake here. We know they feel the pressure to get this right and we will put our faith in them not to make stupid mistakes and mess around with a fellow shipmate. They will be like the majority of women in uniform today: focused on doing our jobs, and finding ways to excel and advance in the ranks.
Inevitably this experiment will have its ups and downs, its supporters and detractors. But what makes FEMCOM happy is the increased ability these women now have to perform, achieve and compete with their male peers. While the women in combat issue is not on the table at this time, it will be. It has to be. Mostly because women are in combat everyday in Afghanistan and in Iraq. And they deserve to be recognized for their contributions in the same manner as their male counter parts.
So to the women about to become bubbleheads, FEMCOM wishes you well and we’re rooting for you. Don’t screw it up.