Strong female characters have been pervasive in American popular culture for decades. They star in movies, feature in comic books, are TV heroes, and are protagonists in thrilling novels. In some cases, their strength is supernatural in nature, but more commonly, they’re just portrayed as women imbued with male talents, spirit, and other qualities wrapped up in the package of a beautiful woman. Americans and other Westerners love these particular entertainments, and aren’t especially allowed to notice that they’re not plausible. The implausibility and falsity to life is often something that pop-culture fans love about it.
Because actual experience in the military has transitioned from something that marked the lives of entire generations of men at once into something that only a professional minority experiences, modern democratic societies have profoundly changed the relationship of their cultures to their military organizations. What used to distinguish democracies from the alternative was the concept of universal conscription on behalf of a popular government which obeyed the votes of all those men dying in the trenches for their nation.
Given this change, it’s easier for academics and journalists who primarily live in the land of language and imagination to then use their authority to conflate the imaginary world in which they live with the real social world that supports all that abstract thinking. The same people who live mostly in the world of popular culture become upset when they see segments of the real world that deviate from the idealized stories that they immerse themselves in.
The military, being mostly concerned with killing people and breaking things, still deviates from these popular stories in that the combat arms aren’t womanned by millions of grizzled she-lions who are eager to fertilize the grass with the blood of America’s enemies.
The people in the military tend to be more than willing to acquiesce (in stages) because they need to ask the people who shape the culture to support their requests for more money. And the military is quite expensive, with most of the costs going to pay for salaries and retirement benefits. In return for funding, the military needs to reform itself to appear to be more like the stories that our cultural leaders love so much. While it may be easier to pretend that men and women are the same in an office environment, it’s much easier to falsify gender equality in more physical pursuits.