May 13, 2004

"The military isn’t feminized enough and that includes the females."

Here's a piece from Debra Dickerson from Washington Monthly about the role of women in the prison abuses at Abu Ghraib. We should be seeing many meditations on this subject in the coming days (and years). Those who have liked to think that the world would be more civil if only women had a bigger role to play in public affairs will need to theorize or retheorize. One gambit, whenever women participate in anything that is other than what you were hoping women would do if given power, is to say that somehow these particular women don't really count as real women. Dickerson has personal experience behind her theory:
I spent the first few years of my 12 in the Air Force trying my damndest to be one of the boys. I started smoking, drank like an idiot, cursed like a sailor, always wore fatigues and combat boots, didn’t carry a purse. Even wore a man’s watch. Once, when they took me to a club (in 1981 South Korea) which hosted live sex shows, I refused to punk out and leave until after the first ‘act.’ Longest half hour of my life but I was too bought into my macho new environment, the environment which was oh so much more empowering than the misogynist ghetto I was fleeing from, to back off from any of it. I told myself that keeping up with the men, whatever they were doing, was feminist.

After a few years, though, I rebelled, if only in my personal comportment, and determined to be both female and a GI. ...

Still, I'm pretty skeptical of this idea that when women do the things you've associated with men, it's because those women were still in thrall to men. It's really a twist on the retro notion that the real women are the good women.

2 comments:

lindsey said...

Yes, but do we want the military to be feminized? I sure as hell don't. It's the military. Their job is to be an effective killing machine that provides for the defense of the US. The military's role is completely incompatible with feminization.

lindsey said...

"Still, I'm pretty skeptical of this idea that when women do the things you've associated with men, it's because those women were still in thrall to men. It's really a twist on the retro notion that the real women are the good women."Also, I think this view is incorrect. I think that the problem is peer pressure and the need to fit into the culture of the military are the real issues. Because of the culture of the military she felt forced to behave in ways she was uncomfortable with. This isn't an issue specific to women. It's something everyone has dealt with at one time or another.