Several hundred female Army troops are testing a new combat uniform that could replace the current "unisex" uniform, which is designed primarily for a man's body. The new model has shorter sleeves and knee pads in the right place for women's (generally shorter) legs; in general, the updated design is expected to help women perform more effectively.
But do the women even want them?
According to the AP, "Some military women are reluctant to embrace changes that would set them apart from their male colleagues ..." That's an understandable concern, especially given that women serving in war zones in the first place is already such a contentious issue. Some detractors might try to argue that upgraded uniforms for female soldiers would mean that women were getting preferential treatment over men.
But, the new uniforms wouldn't look different from the current ones; they'd just fit better. You can't really argue with that, especially because the current ones are so dangerous for some women.
When uniforms don't fit correctly, as many women report is the case -- it's more difficult for soldiers to engage in battle and defend themselves. Moreover, ill-fitting gear can cause long-term issues: One soldier reported that her current body armor "was so large it still chafed her hips when she had to sit for hours in a Humvee, and its unevenly distributed weight aggravated a knee injury." Another concerning issue? Because current one-piece flight suits make it nearly impossible to urinate in a plane, some women report dehydration or urinary issues because they aren't drinking water before a flight.
The bottom line: There shouldn't be separate uniforms for men and women. Rather, all soldiers should have uniforms that fit the contours of their bodies and protect them from harm as well as they can. If it helps soldiers to more effectively perform their job and save lives, how could anyone -- regardless of gender -- argue with that?
Image via The U.S. Army/Flickr