Fan dancers entertain soldiers, spouses and civilians at Camp Hovey's Borderline Cafe Wednesday.

Fan dancers entertain soldiers, spouses and civilians at Camp Hovey's Borderline Cafe Wednesday. (Seth Robson / S&S)

CAMP HOVEY, South Korea — Women in the military can handle careers as soldiers while raising children, according to female soldiers attending a lunch Wednesday at Camp Hovey marking the United Service Organizations’ celebration of International Women’s Day.

But as keynote speaker Marilyn Higgins, wife of 2nd Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. George A. Higgins, pointed out to the female soldiers, civilians and spouses gathered at Camp Hovey’s Borderline Café, freedoms gained by women over the past 120 years can leave them with difficult choices.

Up to the late 19th century, most U.S. women worked at home raising children. The road toward equal rights began with changes to divorce and child custody laws and social norms that expanded the roles women played in society, she said.

When women began to enter the workplace, they got jobs as nurses, teachers, clerks and other positions shunned by men, she said.

“It was not until the late 1960s and early 1970s that women began to seek careers in law, medicine and engineering. Those women attended well-known universities and applied for the same jobs that men traditionally sought,” Higgins said.

She recalled a television commercial from the 1970s advertising cigarettes for women that suggested they could bring home the bacon and fry it in a pan.

“That meant women can have anything, and there were many women trying to do just that. Some women believed they didn’t have to make a choice. They could have it all. These women became known as ‘Super Moms,’” she said.

However, by the 1990s, Higgins said, women started to admit there really was no such thing as a “Super Mom.”

“To be truly balanced in their lives, no one could have it all unless they had live-in help. … With the flood of new options comes the requirement to make some difficult choices to achieve balance in our lives,” she said.

Whatever a woman’s choice, she should respect the path another chooses, Higgins said.

“It breaks my heart when I hear someone say: ‘All she does is stay at home and take care of her children.’ It is not true that a woman who stays home rearing children does not work. Of course she works, and pretty hard, too,” she said.

Staff Sgt. Drusilla Floyd of the Camp Casey U.S. Army Garrison, a native of Baxley, Ga., said she was able to have a family while pursuing an 11½ year Army career.

“I just feel like I do what I have to do. I wanted a family and the military. It is a challenge, but one that I enjoy,” she said.

Hardest to deal with is being away from her family for long periods of time, said Floyd, who is eight months into a second tour to South Korea.

“I have missed some very important events and occasions with my kids,” she said.

“Things you can never get back, like not being there when they start school.”

Another female soldier attending the lunch, Pfc. Benteal Bosworth, 19, of Monroe, La., who serves with the 509th Personnel Services Battalion, said she plans to marry, have children, have a military career and study for a doctorate in philosophy at the same time.

“Anything good involves some difficult choices,” she said.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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