The Politics of Gender Equality in the Military: A Comparative Legal and Cultural Analysis
Yi-Chien Chen (Graduate Institute for Gender Studies, Shih Hsin University)
This research employs multiple standpoints including comparative law, feminist jurisprudence and gender study, and conducts interviews with women soldiers to navigate and locate urgent issues on gender and the military in Taiwan. In this article, I conduct a comparative law and public policy analysis in three different jurisdictions including the US, Germany and Taiwan. This project suggests, on the one hand, a methodological inquiry into the possibility of a global feminism to understand and to contextualize each country’s unique set of issues; on the other hand, addresses gender equality within cultural and legal discourse concerning women soldiers. As prevalent today, women in the military in Taiwan were selected separately from men using a different set of criteria, and women are mostly limited to administrative work along the gender divide. The military school system currently admits only a certain quota of female students. However, this practice has been challenged both by individual women who want to cross the gender divide, and by feminists who advocate for gender equality as a national agenda. What could then be the key factors to integrate female soldiers successfully and ensure they have equal opportunities to engage in all levels and gain no less satisfaction? Firstly, we need to challenge the female quota on gaining entrance to military schools, the sex-based treatment in military education and on job assignments, and also tackle the dilemma of work and family. The pervasiveness of gender divide in all aspects of social life hinders women’s efforts to achieve their full potential in military. We must reveal the continuous, long-existing gender discrimination against women in the public sphere since the private lives of men and women are highly integrated. Thus, gender discrimination against women is most difficult to identify, sometimes too subtle to tell. To launch a legal challenge can be one of the ways to negotiate and gain more power to fight against gender discrimination, at the very least, to facilitate a change in culture and education so as to alter people’s behavior and to create a public platform for dialogues and debates.
feminist jurisprudence, sex/gender equality, gender divisions of labor, women soldiers, masculinity