Survey Finds Women Vets Less Supportive of Wars than Men

What Women Really Think
Dec. 23 2011 1:27 PM

Survey Finds Women Vets Less Supportive of Wars than Men

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Female veterns view the post-9/11 wars differently than their male counterparts.

Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

A new study by the Pew Research Center has found that female veterans view the United States’ military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as being less worthwhile as compared to their male counterparts. When asked if they thought the war in Iraq was “worth fighting,” 63 percent of women vets said “no,” compared to 47 percent of men. Afghanistan elicited similar numbers, with 54 percent of women condemning the war compared to 39 percent of men.

For a response to the report, the Huffington Post spoke to Kayla Williams, an Army linguist and former intelligence specialist for the Army, who remembered her female colleagues’ negative reactions to former President Bush’s reelection in 2004:

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All the females in the locker room who were showering said, 'Well, guess we're going to stay at war. Guess we're going to invade Iran next.' That was the sentiment. It was universally like, 'Oh, Bush got reelected. Now I'll have to tell my kids I'm going back to war.'

The Pew report offers no explanation for this difference in opinion, though it notes that the distinction does not reflect trends in the larger American population, where “there are no significant differences by gender in the share who say the post-9/11 wars were not worth fighting.”

According to the survey, there are currently 167,000 active duty female service members, only 15 percent of whom participate in combat situations due mainly to gender-based restrictions on the kinds of units in which they are allowed to serve. However, like men, female troops report experiencing difficulty readjusting to civilian life—about 42 percent feel they suffer from post-traumatic stress. Still, 97 percent say they are proud of their work.

J. Bryan Lowder is a Slate assistant editor. He writes and edits for Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section, and for the culture section.

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