WEST POINT, N.Y. — Army cadets Kiana Stewart and DeAdre Harvey squared off in a boxing ring at the U.S. Military Academy this month, circling each other with their gloves up. Watching classmates already had suffered bloody noses, but the women stayed aggressive, bouncing on the balls of their feet while delivering the occasional jab.Why don't the women have to box men? I had to go up against people I considered behemoths!
The female cadets are part of a first at West Point: women who must box. Beginning this fall, West Point officials shifted from allowing female cadets to take the course as an elective to requiring it for all approximately 1,000 students in the Class of 2020. The move follows the Pentagon’s historic decision last year to fully integrate women into all combat roles for the first time, and allowing women to box marked the fall of one of the last barriers to women being allowed to do anything they are qualified to in the U.S. military.
Brig. Gen. Diana M. Holland, who took over as West Point’s first female commandant of cadets in January, said that when she was a cadet in the late 1980s, she had a hard time understanding why she wasn’t boxing and her male classmates were. The course this year incorporates graded two-minute bouts in which women face women, and controlled sparring in which men and women can be matched up against each other.Female privilege, I guess. Or perhaps a nod, if not a total recognition, that men and women are different. Legally and socially equal, of course, but physically, fundamentally, different.