Monday, February 07, 2005

One for the "Perpetuating the Stereotype" files

Yes, I am familiar with Pvt. Jessica Lynch. I have great respect for women
like Specialist Shoshanna Johnson, one of the 1st female Iraq POW's. They are a tribute to the kind of women we want fighting alongside (if not on the frontlines) the men of our Armed Forces. It must be said, however, the I have always had a great deal of reservations about women in combat.

It's not the idea that we are the "weaker sex". It's not that we aren't capable of heroism and sacrifice. It's just that we can make such asses of our selves, with little or no help from "the guys". After all, it's not unusual outside of wartime to read newspaper accounts of drill sergeants who sleep with their recruits. It is also not unusual to have several enlisted female Navy personnel return from extended tours-of-duty pregnant by one of their shipmates. In the case of the drill sergeant, the enlisted women said that they slept with him not out of romantic interest, but as a means of obtaining favors and being able to opt out of some of the more rigorous requirements of basic training.

All too often it seems that women act less like Shoshanna Johnson, and more like lazy, juvenile opportunists.

Case in point: The Sun's headliner. US girls' muddy shame.

American girl soldiers have been shamed in a mud-wrestling scandal.

Photographs taken by colleagues showed them grappling and exposing their boobs at a party in an Iraqi PRISON.

Some of the 30 pictures reveal male soldiers cheering on two women in bras and panties in a mud-filled paddling pool.

In others, military policewomen bared their breasts or flashed thongs for male comrades with cameras.

Investigators probing a breakdown of discipline at the US Army’s Camp Bucca jail were told sergeants also lent their rooms to squaddies for sex.

Ironically, the soldiers had been assigned to guard Iraqi inmates being transferred there from scandal-hit Abu Ghraib jail.

Blonde prison guard Specialist Deanna Allen, 19, was demoted to private after being pictured grinning as she flashed her boobs.

Most of the soldiers pictured in the audience wear T-shirts emblazoned with Army logos, but at least one appears on snaps in full uniform.

The morning news shows were -- of course! -- practically twitching over the story this morning, showing a slew of pictures (including a blurred shot of the aforementioned Pvt. Allen doing her best 'Girls Gone Wild' impersonation).

To Pvt. Allen: I "get" that blowing off steam is a necessary part of the process of coping in a war-time environment. But do you have to make yourself the star of a burlesque revue? How is this appropriate behavior for a soldier ... any soldier? And when are you going to realize that that you represent all women in the military, who must now work far harder than the requisite "110 %" in order to earn our respect?

Pvt. Allen's demotion is sure to be decried by so-called feminist groups, but isn't equal rights concurrent with equal responsibility, and thus equal consequence?

If not, it certainly should be, so as to not sully the reputations of enlisted women, who follow the code and conduct themselves with courage, self-awareness and battle-tested skill.