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Mar 20, 2007

Your Turn: Demobilized

Women's-War
(click for full size)

I was interested in your take on the cover, as well as the inside and multimedia images, of this latest NYT Mag feature.

On this fourth anniversary of the Iraq campaign, my sense is that public tolerance -- as conveyed through the tone and stance of widely-circulated and current political visuals -- has reached a tipping point.  An image like this is an example of the blowback, framing the war/occupation -- both figuratively as well as literally -- as an assault on women.

I leave it to you to put words to image, including the way trust and service is narrated through stage, act and form of dress.
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Update (3/21/07)

Suzanne-Waw
Amorita-Waw

Majikthise has an interesting analysis of the NYT visuals.

Check out her take concerning the sexualized nature of the photographs, especially the "inside lead" image of Suzanne Swift posing on the beach.  The discussion thread is also interesting, especially the observation that these women -- particularly in the multimedia offering -- are framed in exceedingly domestic, as opposed to "soldiering" situations.

Looking further, my question is, were these soldiers taken advantage of (once again) given the decision to employ an art photographer with a reputation for erotic portraits?

Multimedia piece.

(caption 1: Keri Christensen, a former Wisconsin Army National Guardswoman who has post-traumatic stress disorder. "This was my career," she says, "and they stole it from me."  caption 2: Suzanne Swift. Just before she was to leave for her second tour in Iraq, she told her mother: "I can't do this. I can't go back there." caption 3: Amorita Randall. “Saying something was looked down upon,” says the naval construction worker who served in Iraq in 2004 and says she was raped.image: Katy Grannan for The New York Times.  March 18, 2006.  NYT Magazine. nytimes.com)

Comments

...not only an assault on women, but the personification of being "backed into a corner" without your boots and with your "best clothes" bagged for storage and draped over your arm. The metaphor carries a long way. -mg

I was appalled by the picture that was used at the top of the online version of the story, of Suzanne Swift lying on the beach.

Lindsey Beyerstein says it more articulately than I would, particularly this thought:

Would the New York Times run a picture of conscientious objector Ehren Watada awaiting his court martial like a faun in repose? I'm guessing they wouldn't, even if Lt. Watada was willing to indulge the photographer.

Indulging the photographer is exactly what appears to have happened here, on the part of both the women in the story and the editors. Shameful on the part of the editors.

shes... getting the dry cleaning... housework... she herself is camouflaged... the house is empty... the domestic message of the dry cleaning is strong. as is being barefooted.

I think the photo above is appropriate. She doesn't trust whoever is supposed to "have her back", so she's covering her back herself. And she's covering the rest of herself - even her hands - to try to protect herself.

I also thought the photo of Suzanne Swift was a poor choice. If I was her PR person, I'd want something that showed her professional looking, hard-working, not wanting to be a sex object... something just the opposite of this picture. I had heard of her before, but hadn't seen her picture. Actually, the article itself didn't really help her case much.

I read an article in Salon about sexual harassment and assault of women in the U.S. military, and I saw a film this week on Al-Jazeera's "Everywoman" show ('Sexual Harassment is Endemic in the US Military Today') featuring some of these women, as well as Janis Karpinski. They showed Congressional testimony from a women who had attended the Air Force Academy and been raped more than once; she said that in orientation meetings, senior women there had informed them that they probably would be raped, and that they would ruin their careers if they tried to do anything about it!

This is a topic that's kind of dear to my heart, because I was in the military 30 years ago, and it's so sad to see that nothing has changed. I was never in combat, and I was never actually raped, but the sexual harassment was pretty much constant and at all levels except the very top. I knew women who tried to commit suicide, women who got pregnant to get out (while you still could do that), women who got pregnant to at least get off the ship (and pregnancy rates are still very high among women on ships), etc.

I filed sexual harassment complaints, and that just made the situation more hellish. I can't even imagine how life was for these women who were in a war zone in addition to being harassed and assaulted by their own colleagues.

And it makes me really mad that for all these years, no one has cared about how women are treated. It's certainly no secret to any woman in the military, or to any man, I assume. (As one of the women said, though, you're classified as either a bitch, a whore or a dyke. And even though most women had no idea it was going to be like this, many of the men act like the women knew it and chose this lifestyle on purpose.)

I guess they need bodies, and they don't want to hinder the recruitment drives by punishing men or letting potential female recruits know what's going to happen to them. I also wonder if they don't think that having these women around is a release for the men, since they don't have areas full of brothels, like some other places.

And it's ironic that we hear how wonderful every service member over there is, and how the Arab Muslims hate women and treat them horribly - when the fact is that these women would be a thousand times safer walking the streets of Kuwait City at night than they are walking to the bathroom on their own base in Kuwait (with the loud generators).

It used to be the conventional wisdom that Americans wouldn't stand for having women die in combat, but women are dying, and being injured, being raped by their own side, coming back traumatized, and no one seems to be upset. I think it's a sick society that sends mothers - especially when the father is away, too - to Iraq when there's absolutely no overwhelimng need to do so.

If anyone's still reading, sorry this is so long...

I still remember the TailGate scandal. And yet nothing has changed.

It really seems denigrating in a way. Would they treat men in a similar fashion? The images are entirely appropriate, in a very narrow sense, perhaps communicating the internal hell that is PTSD but in a larger sense, the way I think the vast majority of viewers will look at these images, I think it portrays these women as weak. That's clearly not true.

If this were an article about male and female victims of PTSD in the war I think the context provided would then make the images appropriate. As a story about women, it's degrading.

snipervics...howmany,howmanyiwonder(?)

no, they would not depict a man in this way. but, only in America would it be politically correct to deny her not only her dignity, but also her gender...

...by depicting a woman as a man, or worse ~ depicting both men and women as genderless.

which would be especially bizzare here, since gender is the whole issue, n'est-ce pas? "Is it?" she said, "How do you know that there is not some deeper, darker there, there ~ that young men are being abused, too?"


SOLD américaine :

The word soldier is derived from an Old French word, itself a derivation of Solidarius, Latin for someone who served for pay, as opposed to warriors in tribal society where every grown man is automatically a member of his clan's fighting force :

Solidare in Latin means "to pay". The common origin for the words soldier and payment survives not only in French (soldat and solde) but also in other languages, like German (Soldat and Sold), Spanish (soldado and soldada) and Dutch (soldaat and soldij).


the whole "startling revelation" here (of sexual abuse in the U.S. military) reminds me of how shocked! Americans were to SEE images of their occupation troops sexually abusing men, boys, and women at Abu Ghraib...

...while in reality sexual perversion within the U.S. prison system is an open joke on your late-night talk shows ~ indeed, well-known even among your polite society :-/

after all, if "she" is not her, then she is one of them.


What's not mentioned here is that this is supposed to be a soldier. She's totally out of uniform, barefoot, hair down. The article mentions AWOL? This is about as unprofessional as it gets. Oh, she has to now earn her pay, by deploying. Am I supposed to feel sorry for a female soldier who voluntarily took this position and signed up?
That women are harrassed in the military is horrid. I've been in the military for 12 years, and I assure you that in the workplace (not off duty) that any innuendo is delt with swiftly.

She's barefoot, backed into a corner, hair down, the look on her face, a bag of laundry over her arm in a torn bag....yup, it's pretty clear. Still and all she looks beautiful and strong. Nobody has focused on that.

Ummabdullah, it may be a topic dear to your heart, but please face it that no one cares how women are treated in any culture. The gender apartheid of the Arab world does not protect women but only isolates them, and for God's sake don't even hint that Muslim cultures are "better" or "more respectful" of women.

ed's post differs from yours. You lectured me earlier not to trust the sensationalistic bad old media when it reports atrocities against women by Muslims...but now we are supposed to believe them when they demonize all U.S. soldiers as slavering rapists? THEN it suddenly becomes okay to take the media at its word?

At times like this I get a glimpse of what conservatives are seeing when they talk about wooly hate-America-first liberals. SHEESH.

Is it possible that you are overstating this issue because of some private reasons of your own?

On the same week as the Salon issue you mentioned, Broadsheet reported for about the third time on the epidemic of self immolation of Muslim women in Afghanistan, may I point out it is common in Pakistan and India also. They also reported very shortly before on the young Arab woman who was raped by seven men, who received a sentence for more lashes than all but three of her rapists! I wish you could be bothered to also be outraged about that.

Bottom line, please don't conflate these issues to make a point about your adopted religion. Ten thousand media articles can be dredged up to prove that women are *not* safer in Muslim countries.

And that is a topic near to MY heart.

M.Gonzo, great point. We haven't begun to touch on the sexual abuse or harrassment of just-out-of-high-school boys in the military, and that is something I am sure never gets reported. We are not yet at that stage. Yet do we seriously doubt that it exists?

She is a metaphore for the war itself. The contrast of the beautiful woman with her hair down and shoes off with the combat ready fatigues symbolizes the way would like things to be – warm, inviting, sexual – with the way things are - wrapped up in the ugliness of war. She has backed herself in a white, non-descript corner, but has a posture not of alarm or concern but of irreverence: she doesn’t care. The “dress blues” in a torn cleaning bag is just what you would think it to be: the military dress symbolizing honor and respect is methophorically off to the cleaners. Another conflicting and methophorical image is that of the woman soldier: one who takes life while being a giver of life. The war was supposidly meant to liberate the Iraqis (to give life to) but all we see is the tragety of loss (death and destruction). Sorry for the bad spelling.

I wonder if the military and football are the two bastions of male dominance left. Places where men who cannot cope with the challenge of sharing the planet with women, where they go to prove they are men, even if they have to prove it over the bodies of women. Part of me wants to scream at the women, FGS, you have a gun, use it. Part of me wants to use violence to protect the women. It's a tough article to read. Like every woman knows it goes on but we don't have to think about it, even if we could find the thoughts TO think about it. The article seemed to be effective in putting the women's stories out there in their own anguished words.
One of the most devastating things in the article was that most of the women with PTSD had been abused before entering the military. The fact that most of the charges, when actually reported, were dismissed for "lack of evidence." Yeah, like they are going to rape a woman with an audience. It won't stop until the command takes it seriously. And I just don't see that happening in Rummy's military.

I remember hearing reports a couple of years ago that women were dying of dehydration in the desert because they refused to drink water because they didn't want to have to use the latrines after dark for fear of getting raped. By their colleagues, not the enemy. And add to this horrendous scenario the fact that Bush (the CIC) is now accepting felons and gang members and white supremacists into the service. How many of those felons are rapists? How many of those white supremacists think any woman of color is fair game?

I hate to say this, but I'm going to. I remember hearing that in some South American countries that were having insurrections/revolutions/whatever, the incidence of rape in these insurgent armies was negligible. The fact being that a man is reluctant to rape a woman with a rifle pointed at his vitals. I'm wondering if we had a draft-based military where men and women from all corners of society would be in the military, if the stronger women would be of support to the others, in addition to there being more of them. When you have all-volunteer military, perhaps it is skewed toward men who have to prove something and women who have already been damaged. I'm just thinking out loud.............

And this brings me to why men don't want gays to serve in the military: They don't want men doing to them, what they do to women. And sorry to come off as anti-male, but rape tends to have that effect.

Personally, I dunno....I only know my best friend from childhood entered the Navy, very late, in her 30's, in fact just before the age cutoff. I didn't agree with her joining the military and she understood that. Nevertheless, she loves her job (landing airplanes on the big carriers) and has not experienced any of the problems cited. Her younger sister followed her in and has not been troubled either. They are well balanced, confident women...maybe that helps?

They insist there is a procedure for reporting harrassment. Like I said, I can't personally vouch for its effectiveness. But I will say for these two women, they are thrilled to have a job that has a better future than the local casino or convenience store...and given what that convenience store can be like in the late hours, the Navy is almost certainly safer.

That said let's hope the negative publicity leads to positive changes.

Tina, you have no idea how pervasive sexual harassment - and assault - is in the military. I don't know about your friends or Ed, but what I observed was that women who were officers didn't have the same degree of sexual harassment. And women who worked in offices, like at the district HQ or maybe the Pentagon, didn't have the same level, because they worked with senior people and civilians, and they all went home to their own apartments at night. But women who are out in the field, and who aren't at senior levels, are treated in ways that... really, it's hard to describe. From the minute you report to a duty station, you're subjected to comments about every part of your anatomy, what you might be good at (in sexual terms), etc. And that's just the beginning... If you and the men are away from home for a while - e.g. on a ship or sent to Iraq - things gets much worse.

And it's sad to see that even men who seem to be friendly and respectful can be very different when they get around the other guys.

If your friends haven't run into this, then they should be very grateful, but actually, I find it hard to believe, unless they're in some unusual situation. And please don't blame the women - i.e., they were unbalanced or had no confidence to begin with. Even if this were true, so what?

Cactus, it's not just that there are no witnesses to the rapes. The military has a whole culture of its own, and it begins in boot camp, where they have a very short period of time to change you completely - so they choose negative methods to tear you down and then build you back up the way they want you to be.

When you have a problem or want to try to report something to senior officers, you have to go through the chain of command. That means that you have to fill out a request and get permission from your supervisor, and hs supervisor, etc. all the way up the chain. None of them wants you to go over their heads, so they insist you tell them what you want to talk about, and they try to keep you from taking it further. If you do, they make sure that when they pass the request up, they explain to the next higher officer that you're a troublemaker, liar, slut, and whatever else might help. So by the time you get to the guy to try to talk to him, he's already decided that you're lying and just trying to make trouble. And imagine if the person who is giving you problems is someone in your chain of command...

(The military will say that they have procedures to report problems without going through the chain of command, but many women don't even know how to do that, and you still are going to be found out and harassed by the people around you.)

Then there's the fact that you are with these people 24/7; you don't go home at night or on the weekends. I can't even imagine being sent to Iraq, where you can't even get off base for a little break from them.

And I wouldn't be surprised if the military didn't see these women soldiers as a release for the men, since they're not in a place where the bases are surrounded by brothels.

And sorry, Tina, but we're not discussing Pakistan, and don't try to accuse me of condoning the things you're talking about. There's no doubt that a woman is safer outside the base in Kuwait than they are inside the base. Thirty years ago, I wasn't Muslim. Do you think I made up those situations and filed complaints so that I could later use them to "conflate these issues to make a point about my adopted religion"? Give me a break.

And check the crime rates. I've been to many cities in the Middle East, and I could walk around by myself at night and feel safe.

Wow, good comments. This is a very serious issue and I don't want to offend anyone with my comment, but here goes ... on image, from a design perspective.

1. The title of the story (the woman's war)

2. The subject (woman, barefoot, in a corner)

3. The electrical outlet (female)

There's a triangulation going on here between the contents of this cover. The electrical outlet disturbs me. In no way do I intend to say an outlet is comparable to a woman. But in hardware stores items such as this outlet are often refered to as 'male' or 'female' depending on if they probe or receive. In this design, the outlet has greater meaning other than just a portal to energy. A designer at that level had to take this into consideration.

It's a powerful design ... as unsettling as the article itself.

The three photos above are perfect for the article, because the article is largely about assaulting female soldiers and mis-treatment of these soldiers.

So the NYTimes makes sure to do the same. Part of the culture, after all.

Meanwhile, it seems that this kind of article would be a good way to take the message out to good Americans that War is Hell and that too often the military is no place for a woman.

By the way, note that in the article a large Dept. of Defense study found that 11% of female veterans were raped multiple times and that 4% were gang-raped. Is that a problem?

I forgot to mention that that study was done in 2003, before the Iraq quagmire, and by all accounts the situation is worse in war zones.

I can agree that there is a substantial problem--one third is a large number. My friend and sister are probably among the two-thirds who have not been sexually attacked and raped, in other words, the majority (that is to say I don't think they are big exceptions). That one third are victimized, however, means that some major things are going to have to change on a structural level.

Are there countries with a lot of women in the military serving in non-support roles who don't experience this--Israel, for example, or China? Just curious if there is any data to compare (of course given Israel's track record in the government lately--my oh my. Ball gags w/bondage gear, multiple rape charges, rape jokes with Putin? Um...we hear a lot about the equality in Israel's army but this has to make you wonder).

The two new pictures surprised me--from previous discussion on the thread, I pictured the SI swimsuit issue or something. I don't find either of these pictures seductive or erotic. Those expressions are not exactly come-hither, are they? They are closed and a little angry. People who think the beach photo is incredibly sexually charged are probably doing exactly what the dumb guys in the military are doing...staring at Swift's substantial, um, bosom. Something to think about? She doesn't look sexed up to me, especially if the photographer specializes in erotic photos....well he might have told her to smile or something, doncha think? All right, she's laying on a beach...is that the default mode for a sexual situation?

I concur that they are taken out of the context of soldiering and not shown "professionally", but we do also see portraits of male soldiers--in something less than full uniform, with their families, etc. We discussed the Esquire cover photo of the legless vet in somewhat similar terms we are using now, no?

Not disagreeing with Majikthise or anything necessarily, just throwing some thoughts out there.

Ummabdulla, I was not disparaging your personal experience per se, but you have brought up the Salon article not once but repeatedly, and then finally got to your point--that life is better under the veil in the Middle East! Sorry, not buying.

Crime rates are lower in Middle Eastern cities because if you know your family will turn against you, nobody will marry you or your husband will divorce you for being defiled, and in extreme cases, you will even get a harsher punishment than your attacker.....well then you don't report rape, do you? Hence a lower crime rate for misguided nationalists to brag about. Works beautifully.

As for feeling safe at night in Kuwait, it's perfectly safe at night on the subway in Munich, or Calgary or Vancouver....there are good and bad law and order situations in many places around the globe. Wealth and civil peace help a great deal (Canada and Europe), but may I point out that crime rates are ridiculously low under authoritarian and fascist governments? Under the iron fist people are "safe" too. And crime was supposedly virtually nonexistent under the Taliban, one man said you could carry a bag of gold from Kabul to Peshawer and meet no problems with dacoits until you hit Pakistan...I have no doubt that was true. If the Taliban caught you stealing it was chop chop no trial no appeal. And women were "safe"--except we know they weren't, really.

You can a have a low crime rate and "safety on the streets" from prosperity or you can have it due to brutal repression, really doesn't say much about respect for women, especially when nobody knows what is going on inside the home. In some places where they brag about their low crime rates against women nobody has even ever gathered statistics. So how do they know?

Are there safe houses for women in Kuwait? Rape hot lines? Trained female police officers and emergency room personnel to process claims? Domestic abuse awareness programs? Aggressive prosecution of domestic abuse cases? Are restraining orders even available? Are all these things available in a country where women can't even vote (well, I've heard that now to a limited extent they can)? I don't know about Kuwait, you may even say yes to all these things but I would then posit that Kuwait is extremely atypical.

The worst country in the world for rape is South Africa, with its seismic cultural and community shifts still underway all these years after the end of apartheid. I would suggest that extremely high rates of violence against women are symptomatic of deeper and more widespread social conflicts and disruptions, something that would explain what is happening in our military also. It is a social unit that is stressed and stretched to the breaking point. The war is not popular with the troops and morale is nil.

The faces of the women in the photos show that too. And this bodes very ill for our ongoing efforts in Iraq.

I have to agree with one of the commenters on the Majikthise blog, who said that these photos, more than anything, say "Women don't belong in the army." That's pretty much what the article says, too, IMHO.

ummabdulla, you have obviously lived a very interesting life. I always read your comments with interest because of your unusual perspective. If you ever start a blog (and I hope you do), please mention it here.

14all, Feminism aside, I really don't see how we can do without them at this juncture, given the shortages and all, so rather a strange message to send, don't you think?

Actually I think that argument (women don't belong here) has been the whole thrust of the "breaking scandal" of sexual harrassment, like Ummabdullah says none of this is exactly new.

I'm conflicted as to this interpretation. Maybe the message is that the military needs to change?

Of course if we go all soft on the dainty ladies maybe we won't be so rough 'n tough 'n ready to kill brown people and all. Now there's a thought.

If you view the military as killing machine first and defense second, then impressionable young men who can dehumanize others are your first choice of soldier.

An Ummabdullah blog would be a great idea.

I too would be interested in knowing how one gets from NOW activist to conservative Muslim. This is not the usual profile of a Muslim convert, except in that I assume she is married to a Muslim, and in the huge majority of cases a Muslim partner factors into the equation.

I have my own ideas on the subject but don't propose to speak for others.

I don't know how photographer, model, and circumstances combined to create these photos. Many commenters seem to be condemning or banishing the recognition that some of these women are attractive, or posed in a way that could be seen as suggestive. I think attractiveness and sexuality, and our recognition of it, are part of what we have to accept about these women. They could easily have been photographed in full uniform, posed stiffly and without gender. But they are women. That's what this story is about. What happened to them happened because they are women.

We can decry supposedly suggestive poses, but we cannot divorce sexuality from humanity. And yet it is possible, isn't it, to see an attractive woman without allowing oneself to imagine demeaning or raping her, let alone giving oneself permission to do so? Is the military capable of protecting women from men who can't control themselves? Or do women who join the military have to become sexless drones--driving trucks, carrying weapons, but no longer seeing or carrying themselves as women?

Clearly women are capable of successfully performing necessary military functions. But the military is not yet capable of respecting women as fellow human beings. This is both despicable and inexcusable. The military needs women who will serve. Until it can protect them, it cannot protect the country.

'The Current' is a meeting place of perspectives, ideas and voices, with a fresh take on issues that affect Canadians today

This mornings radio program opened with the following satirical advice.

'New research at the Harvard Medical School suggests a drug called Propranolol might be able to alter people's memories of traumatic events -- or even erase them altogether.
The hope is that it might help traumatized U.S. soldiers forget the emotional damage they experienced in Iraq.
Currently, the Republican Party is trying to recruit every single person living in the United States for an extraordinarily large human trial ... with no placebos.'
http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/2007/200703/20070321.html

It is not my intent to down play the seriousness of this thread or topic, but sometimes laughter is...

Tina, I'm sorry that you had a bad relationship with a man who called himself a Muslim. But I'm not that man, and neither are the other billion Muslims in the world, so please find some other way to work through it, instead of blaming all of us.

Not that it's relevant, but I became Muslim long before I ever met my husband. That's a common misperception - that all Muslim women converts did it because of a man. I don't think this is the place for a long discussion on this topic, but if anyone's interested, there's a good book called "From her Sisters' Lips" where Muslim women themselves speak out about being Muslims and what it's meant to them. (Most of the writing on the subject is done by others who presume to speak for us, and who don't represent us at all.) I've probably written this before, but I became interested in Islam after I came to work as a computer consultant in Kuwait. I came with all the false stereotypes that you list here often, and I was surprised to find that they were so completely the opposite of reality, so I got curious as to what the truth actually was. And I'm not that unusual. I have plenty to say about all this, including the idea that Kuwaiti women are somehow oppressed because they do or don't vote (and they do vote)... but I don't think this is the place for this discussion; if anyone wants to discuss it further, put your e-mail here or something.

I'm not sure which number you're referring to when you say that 2/3 of the women haven't been victimized. Are you talking about actual rape or physical assult? Or other forms of harassment that don't reach that level - in which case, I'm sure that 1/3 is not correct. Honestly, I'm surprised that you're so unwilling to accept that this is the problem.

"..you have brought up the Salon article not once but repeatedly, and then finally got to your point--that life is better under the veil in the Middle East!"

I recall mentioning that Salon article one other time, on the thread which had photos of men and women soldiers, which may or may not show how traumatized they are after tours in the war zones (Suzanne Opton's portraits of soldiers from Fort Drum). I happened to see the article right around that time and thought it was relevant for the women soldiers. I didn't mention the "veil" or life in the Middle East.

I thought the article was relevant to this thread, too. I do try to stick to the topic at least somewhat, while you use these threads to lash out at Islam and Muslims in general.

Talking about sexual harassment in the U.S. military is not a matter of me trying to push Islam. The articles I've seen specifically mention that the camp in Kuwait is especially dangerous, and that the noise of the generators will cover the woman's screams; that struck me, since I live in Kuwait.

I realize I never did comment about the actual photo above. What struck me at first glance was that she looked quaint in camouflage pajamas. Then I realized it was her uniform, but the bare feet seem to signal her vulnerability, in addition to the fact that she is leaning against the wall, not standing straight. And the dress uniform is crunched over across her arms, as if it were useless, after all. And good catch about the outlet, I doubt anyone not connected to the electrical business would have picked up on that. All-in-all, it is a photo signaling vulnerability and helplessness. Although, the door almost out of frame IS open. I wonder if it signifies sexual opportunity or the next step in her future.........only the photographer knows.

I may have erred in stating that women who enlist have already been damaged, that seemed to be what the article implied, But it may be just that the women who have been raped or have PTSD had already been damaged. Obviously more study of the problem is needed.

More about the last male bastions of military and football. I've been following, for several years, the growing war against women. Thom Hartmann, on his program today made mention of the same thing. The right-wing media is conducting (in his opinion) an organized attack on women; all women in politics, in the news, in short, any woman they can use to make their point. Their point being that whatever anger men are feeling because of loss of jobs or lost sense of manhood, should be blamed on women. The language they use for this is truly vile, the kind of language one would not have used in any mixed company just a few years ago. Please tell me if any of you think that sort of talk will be of any help in decreasing the incidence of rape both in and out of the service. The main offender that I heard was Limbaugh. He is the only one that our troops can hear in country. [They are not allowed anyone from AirAmerica.] So tell me, please, how that is going to improve the conditions for women in the military.

I just noticed The Bag has posted two more photos. Now these seem to be much more posed. Especially the sofa one. In fact she looks downright uncomfortable and off-balance. Her uniform even looks too small/tight for her, which probably is why the skirt scrunched up to show her knees. Last I heard military skirts were supposed to be mid-knee, which doesn't leave much wiggle room. The pose looks so uncomfortable it recalls my last mammo........now don't breathe (as if I could!).........she isn't breathing.

It's kinda interesting that you use one of these images on your blogad. I mean, I get that you didn't take the picture, or pay to have the picture taken. But you, like the Times, used one of the images to promote this blog.

Glad you did, in some ways, because when I read the article I was made uneasy by the images chosen. But they reflected unease about these women's situations. IAC, if you think these images are offensive or inappropriate, it seems to me you shouldn't use them to promote the blog.

Symbolism of the middle photo:

Iraq on the rocks.
Washed up on the beach.
Contradiction of a traditional swimshot pose on a sunny beach with rocks, street clothes and clouds.

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