Somewhere in my heart I would like to believe that I am a strong and disciplined woman. Sometimes, that is true, more often, it is half-true and then there are the days when it is a lie. But people are dimensional and complex which often makes it fun to watch them. The truth is, in humanity, there are many stories to be caught but the ones that got away – they make the best stories of all.
The story of “GI Jane” begins in the male dominated world of the Navy Lieutenant Jordan O’Neil played by Demi Moore. The opportunity comes to be the first woman to train to be a SEAL she decides it is her only option to advance. The carrot comes in the person of Senator Lillian DeHaven played by Anne Bancroft, who has an agenda of her own. DeHaven, chairperson of the Armed Services Committee, has been bashing heads with the male-dominated and liking-it-that-way top brass over the appointment of Secretary of Defense and she decides it is a good time to get what she wants – an integrated fighting force. Blackmailed and certain that no woman would ever succeed, the brass agrees to a test case and Lieutenant O’Neil is sent on her way. Unaware that she is the political pawn of a “feminist” Senator, Jordan O’Neill agrees to become the first woman to train with the elite fighting force. If Jordan succeeds, then she will strike a blow for the idea of women in combat, but no one expects or even really wants her to succeed. Jordan, appearing as masculine as possible, bravely endures humiliation, ridicule, sabotage, and physical torture to prove she can do it. ONeil suffers each of these indignities, and even shaves her hair to escape its encumbrance.
O’Neil finds herself fighting for respect and survival among the officers, the fellow trainees, and the world it seems. To make matters worse, she ticks off C.O. Salem by insisting on one standard of training. If it is to be done, O’Neil will do it as all the men have to do it or not at all. The toughest battle for her lies in the person of Master Chief John Urgayle whose job it is to destroy and if they stay, then to build them back up. Urgayle doesn’t believe women should be in combat, not because they are not capable but because it distracts the men, forcing them to be protective and therefore vulnerable to assault. And Jordan finds herself embroiled against even her allies as DeHaven shows her character to be more suspect than the rest.
Even if statistically more men than women could make it as a SEAL, this would say nothing about individuals. It seems so stupid to pontificate in advance, in a vacuum, about whether, being a woman, Jordan O’Neil could or should make it. Given the credentials that the film hypothesizes that she has, ONeil ends up making it after all.
Equality feminism is having the right to be equal as a woman. Fighting for your right to have a right and to take on roles as men do. In the movie, Jordan ONeil was given differential treatment because she was a woman. She did not want this treatment and refused to be singled out. She wanted to be treated the way the men were treated.
Looking back to the times when women were nothing more than homemakers, our book talks about the women being the ones to take on a mans role when they left for war. This proved that women were capable of holding jobs and were able to get along and provide for their families without the man. Womens liberation was revived after the baby-boom generation. The key concept about this time was to open up the job market for women so they too could become doctors and lawyers and whatever else they chose to do.
Classical feminism says that men and women should first be looked at as people. Culture is what has shaped us.
Simone de Beauvoir a feminist icon of the 1920s accuses the philosophical tradition as women being viewed as atypical human beings and men as typical. She says it is a cultural fact that women do what they do because theyre normal. Until women begin to think of themselves as a group, they will believe they are abnormal human beings, she says. Men and women both need to receive the same treatment equal education and same treatment from society.
Jordan ONeil wanted the same treatment as the men, and that is why she fought against what the Master chief had to say and won. Although, once the news was out and the media was involved that there was a women going through such training, they felt it was wrong. Society was not used to something like this nor prepared. This kind of training was always assumed that only men could accomplish and no women could ever make it through. As the Senator said, American families are just not prepared to have their daughters and young mothers in harm way. This basically saying that a womans death is more hurtful than that of a mans and that they are worth more. Unless, of course, you do have that one woman to stand up and speak out for her rights and say this is something she wants to do and push hard to achieve it, society and men especially will regard them differently. The truth is that when a women is engaged in an enterprise worthy of a human being, she is quite able to show herself as active, effective, taciturn- and as ascetic- as a man, says Beauvoir. If we change this nature of women we will create responsible human beings and they will be able to respect one another for that reason.
Androgynism is male and female nature in the same individual either in terms of sex or in gender. There are two versions of androgynism. One is being monoandrogynism saying that the duties of a man and women must be shared. The other version, polyandrogynism suggests that gender roles be left as open as possible and there being no demand that the roles have to be shared. GI Jane suggests more of polyandrogynism. Jordan leaves behind her boyfriend who is also in the service, but had never went into SEAL training. The roles are changed while Jordan takes on that of a mans job and her boyfriend goes about his usual job and taking care of the house while she is gone. She is free to do what she wants and he is free to do what he wants. Naturally, he was hoping she wouldnt make it through because he did not want her to get hurt and also wanted her at home with him. This role allows for the possibility that people may be biologically different from one another.
By the 1980s, women were now in the workforce long enough to have people evaluate the situation. They had to give up some of their female values in order to survive in the male dominant workforce. How could women have a full time job and provide for a family? This is something not easily done. I know women who have taken years off or just work part time in order to take care of a family. I think women are equipped to work and manage a family at the same time. What men dont realize is that women who choose to be housewives actually do have a full time job- working at home. They just dont get paid for it. Women have been thought of as being deviant. Typical female values are perceived at as being generous and caring and being all about peace and harmony while men are competitive and independent.
The Soviet Revolution promised: women raised and trained exactly like men were to work under the same conditions and for the same amount of pay. Men were the ones who made the decisions that could effect a marriage, such as when they wanted their wives to bear children. Hormones should not determine women but rather by the way they relate themselves to the world.
If, as a child a little girl is brought up by her father, she is most definitely going to take on a lot of the male roles such as being into sports and competing with other boys. This can still happen if she has a mother, it is just what she learned or liked about her had that she picked up from him. It is only obvious for instance, if you take a little boy who has been taught everything he knows and was raised by only his mother alone that he will have more of a womanly side to him. I have seen it for myself. Men who grew up knowing only their mother are more prone to being sensitive and maybe were never involved in football or were around any other dangerous activity because their mothers never wanted them to get hurt. Because of this, a lot of them had been babied by their mother and made fun of in school by many other kids. These boys tend to stay more to themselves because they never had a chance to fully adapt into the way a typical young boy grows up. The male role model was never there. Granted, they do still have masculine qualities about them but overall just have a womans auspice about them.
Lieutenant ONeil was a strong and will hearted women. At fist she said she was doing this for the Senator so she could get more experience for herself. I think this is really what it was all about at first until she would have people badgering her for being a women and putting her down and making her feel as though she was different from everyone else. She was different, but she had enough strength and will to complete the training as every man there did. It just proved in the end that she was able to withstand a lot of men. No, not all women could do this sort of thing, and not all women or men can even go into the service alone just because they may have on defect about them. Until someone gives women a chance to prove that they can withstand the same things that men can, no one will ever find out. The Senator gave Jordan a chance, she acted upon it and had everyone in an uproar of amazement because it was never believed a women could do such a thing. If you are physically fit enough and are just as tough as a man, do it and fight for the right to. Just because you have a bigger chest and not a penis doesnt mean youre incapable of a mans job.
In my opinion, I believe women are capable of being who they want to be, capable of making their own decisions and have the will to be stern enough to stand up for whatever they believe in. Yes, men and women are fundamentally different by appearance and from what lies inside them but that does not give society the right to restrict women from specific things. Because of such feminists like Simone de Beauvoir, more women are taking a stand on what they believe is right and they also understand the true differences between men and women.