Women in Combat

Civic Duty or Military Liability?

Lorry M. Fenner and Marie E. deYoung

"Women in Combat offers an impassioned and stimulating debate significant to all of us."
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Women have been actively involved the United States military for more than fifty years, but the ban on their participation in combat remains a hotly debated issue. In this provocative book Lorry M. Fenner, an active-duty Air Force intelligence officer, calls for opening all aspects of military service to women. Marie deYoung, a former Army chaplain, argues that keeping women out of combat is in the best interests of both sexes and crucial to the effectiveness of the military as a whole.

Fenner bases her argument for inclusion of women on the idea that democracies require all citizens to compete in public endeavor and share in civic obligation. She contends that, historically, reasons for banning women from combat have been culturally biased. She argues that membership in a combat force should be based on capability judged against appropriate standards. Moreover, she maintains that excluding women hampers the diversity and adaptability that by necessity will characterize the armed forces in the twenty-first century.

In contrast, deYoung declares that the different physical fitness standards for men and women would, in combat, lower morale for both sexes and put women at risk of casualty. Further, she contends that women have neither the physical or emotional strength to endure the overall brutality of the combat experience. She also asserts that calls for lifting the combat ban are politically motivated and are inconsistent with the principles of American democracy and the mission of national defense.

With each author responding to the views of the other, their exchange offers a valuable synthesis of the issues surrounding a longstanding debate among policymakers, military personnel, and scholars of both military history and women’s studies.

Table of Contents

Series Editor's Preface
Rita J. Simon

Part One
Moving Targets: Women's Roles in the U.S. Military in the 21st Century
Lorry M. Fenner
Selected Bibliography

Part Two
A Feminist Analysis in Support of the U.S. Army Ground Combat Exclusion for Women
Marie E. deYoung

Part Three
Response to deYoung
Lorry M. Fenner
Response to Fenner
Marie E. deYoung



"The book provides an exhaustive debate on both sides of this argument and asks hard questions on everything from lowering military physical fitness standards to the psychological impact of women killed or hurt in combat. . . . Read this excellent volume and draw your own conclusions."—Terrorism and Political Violence

"This is an extremely thoughtful as well as thought-provoking presentation of contrasting views on a subject of critical importance to the future of the United States defense policy. It is certain to provoke both reflection and controversy."—Gerhard L. Weinberg, emeritus, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"Women in Combat offers an impassioned and stimulating debate significant to all of us."—Gerald F. Linderman, professor emeritus of history, University of Michigan

"Informed and passionate, Lieutenant Colonel Fenner and Captain deYoung argue opposing views, forcing the attentive reader to confront the tough question: If women are vital to the American military, why exclude them from combat?"—John Shy, professor emeritus of history, University of Michigan

"Both positions are presented with a moral intensity and an intellectual force that makes Women in Combat a model for disputations on public issues."—Dennis Showalter, Colorado College


Supplemental Materials


Chosen as a 2001 Outstanding Title for Public and Secondary School Libraries by the American Association of School Librarians

About the Author

Lorry M. Fenner is a colonel (select) in the U.S. Air Force and the deputy commander of the 694th Intelligence Group.

Marie deYoung, the director of the Newman Catholic Center at Northeast Missouri State University, has served as a chaplain in the U.S. Army. The author of This Woman’s Army: The Dynamics of Sex and Violence in the Military (Hellgate Press, 2000), she is currently researching issues surrounding education and the military.

192 pp., 6 x 9

Aug 2001

192 pp., 6 x 9

ISBN: 978-0-87840-863-4
Aug 2001

192 pp.

ISBN: 978-1-58901-832-7
Aug 2001

Controversies in Public Policy series
Rita Simon, Series Editor

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