Not the right kind of dead girls

hrh has a diary up at Daily Kos* that reminds us that while the media loves beautiful dead girls, they only love those who are victims. But there’s another kind of dead girl the media prefers not to talk about.

We hear a lot about beautiful dead girls in the US media. Here are some that we haven’t heard about much. Their smiles haven’t been plastered over the supermarket tabloid press, and they’re not likely to be. One of the reasons is that they don’t fit the popular stereotype of beautiful-woman-as-helpless-victim. Another reason is that many people still haven’t focused on the reality of women in the military. Even here on DKos, I see comments about “sons and fathers” who have been killed and maimed. Almost NO MENTION of women in the military.

hrh then includes the photos and brief bios of a number of young women serving in the military who were killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. To a woman, they loved their jobs. Most of them were described as having a sense of adventure, as working hard, as striving, as being strong. In other words, not the kind of dead girl who makes a convenient vessel for all of our cultural baggage and blame and shame. When a woman is killed by a roadside IED while doing her job, it’s hard to heap the kind of cultural opprobation on her that we would have found so easy to do had she been killed after a night out at a club.

Now, granted, the media doesn’t talk much about the men in the military who are getting killed or maimed, and the administration has done its best to throw a curtain over the whole process by which caskets are brought back for burial. But women disappear from the equation entirely, even when live soldiers and Marines are under discussion, unless they can somehow be cast as victims again — such as in the case of Jessica Lynch, or when it turns out that many of the bottom-of-the-barrel recruiters pressed into service have been treating the recruiting office as a casting couch.

There are many more. If you want to see their names and how and where they died, go to Coalition Casualties and search on “Female”.

I’d like everyone who has some kind of problem with feminism to look long and hard at the faces of these women and consider the fact that they died for YOU and they were doing a man’s job.

You don’t have to be for the war, or even particularly pro-military to recognize that these women are doing a traditionally male job and are doing so under the most dangerous of conditions. It’s simply unacceptable that they should be swept under the rug just because they don’t fit the narrative.
__________

* I know, I know.


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13 comments for “Not the right kind of dead girls

  1. Ron O.
    August 22, 2006 at 10:47 am

    Oh no, now I’m crying at work.

  2. Steve
    August 22, 2006 at 10:54 am

    These women should be universally supported by all Feminists of all stripes. It is shameful that politics have allowed ANYONE to ignore these fine women. Your statement about war views being irrelevant is piercingly honest. Enough women have become pawns to political fashion. Do we also need to add these.

    Thankyou for reminding us that we have been remiss on a most important issue.

  3. August 22, 2006 at 11:20 am

    Ugh. I’m speechless, again.

  4. Q Grrl
    August 22, 2006 at 11:44 am

    I’d like everyone who has some kind of problem with feminism to look long and hard at the faces of these women and consider the fact that they died for YOU and they were doing a man’s job.

    But even here their death is qualified. :(

    I don’t understand how their sacrifice is contigent upon “doing a man’s job” — which in fact, they weren’t. Not at all.

  5. DAS
    August 22, 2006 at 12:16 pm

    I actually knew one of these young women. She is the daughter of a friend of my brother, and I was a teaching assistant one year for her older sister’s religious school class.

  6. piny
    August 22, 2006 at 12:55 pm

    I don’t understand how their sacrifice is contigent upon “doing a man’s job” — which in fact, they weren’t. Not at all.

    This is a very good point.

    I know that there was a lot of hypothetical negative coverage of women in the military ala Phyllis Schafly–maybe the reality has made the idea that we “aren’t ready” to see women coming home in bodybags indefensible.

  7. August 22, 2006 at 1:30 pm

    I still can’t get over the fact that female soldiers terrify, TERRIFY the sexist weasels among us. It’s both touching and sad.

  8. piny
    August 22, 2006 at 1:44 pm

    The really fucked-up thing is that it’s only a problem to turn women into casualties if they get to carry weapons. No one cares about dead female civilians.

  9. Rob-ot
    August 22, 2006 at 2:28 pm

    I do sort of wonder why there are no loud pushes for women as front-line troops anymore.

  10. zuzu
    August 22, 2006 at 2:30 pm

    Because there are no front lines in Iraq, perhaps.

  11. piny
    August 22, 2006 at 2:34 pm

    Because there are no front lines in Iraq, perhaps.

    Right. That has been one of the driving factors in getting women into combat. There’s no straightforward risk analysis that allows the military to protect women by placing them in certain areas or giving them certain jobs.

  12. Thomas
    August 22, 2006 at 2:59 pm

    the fact that female soldiers terrify, TERRIFY the sexist weasels among us.

    I’ll relate a story that I heard about fifteen years ago from an African-American guy who was a teen in the fifties in the Jim Crow South. He said that in a lot of small towns, in the fifties, there were one of a few black soldiers, vets of either WWII or Korea. Every now and again, when the rowdy crackers were harassing some black person, one of these guys would show up with a rifle. And unless the local racists were backed up by a particularly stiff local Klan organization or a particularly stubborn local police force, the white boys would all lose their nerve, retreating and saying to everyone, “that negro’s crazy.” But they weren’t crazy. They were angry. And they were not going to take it anymore.

  13. SamChevre
    August 23, 2006 at 8:40 am

    I think this is a cultural difference within the US. I live in a very military community, and I read and hear frequently about the people from here that are in Iraq–both male and female. Everyone here–I can’t think of a single exception–knows someone in Iraq.

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