Good to see they’ve got their priorities straight

Yesterday, I came across this article about how the rates of sexual violence against women in the military are out of control and victims often do not report because of fears that they will not be taken seriously or even be the ones punished rather than their male assailants. Now, regular readers will know that this is not anything new. At all — though of course, the continued media attention is a good thing. But I just want you to keep that in mind.

Because today I came across this article:

In its recruiting efforts, the military “may try to reassure potential recruits and their families that women in the military don’t lose their femininity, even though they are joining an institution known for conferring masculinity and making men out of boys,” writes Melissa Brown in her paper, “A Woman in the Army is Still a Woman,” which evaluates the gender messages of decades of recruiting materials. Brown, a professor at City University of New York, took the title of her paper from an Army advertisement directed at potential female soldiers.

Brown found that females in military advertisements are often not pictured in uniform. Indeed, that’s the case in a video ad currently posted on – the Website for the U.S. Army Recruiting Command. The video pictures dozens of soldiers – only three of whom were identifiably female. Two of the women pictured were in non-combat uniforms – one in a white lab coat and another in a firefighter’s uniform – and none were shown carrying weapons, as many of the men were.

The ad reflects realities Sgt. Marietta Sparacino sees every day in her job as an Army recruiter in Salt Lake and Davis counties.

“The males are much more into the range – shooting weapons and everything. The females, not so much,” Sparacino said.

Sparacino, an Army truck driver by training, said some women do express interest in army weapons, vehicles “and jumping out of planes,” but she said she doesn’t make that assumption from the onset as frequently as she would with a male recruit. “We have to get to know them to find out what their passions are.”

Right, because what the army should be most concerned with when it comes to their female recruits, and what those recruits themselves are most concerned with, is whether or not they’ll still want to wear the lipstick they obviously must have liked wearing before joining the military. (Every one of us women love our lipstick.) Not, you know, the threat of being killed for the purposes of upholding a pointless foreign occupation or being raped by a fellow soldier because doing anything about the high rates of sexual violence would embarrass the military too much, and anyway they’re busy directing their resources towards getting more women to sign up for the significantly higher likelihood of being raped or killed.

The article also notes that despite these efforts, female military recruitment are still down and have continued falling every year since 2003 — the year of the Iraq invasion. While we’re busy pretending like that’s some sort of phenomenon exclusive to female recruits, let us wonder why oh why this may be. My guess is that there just isn’t enough pink on the Army’s website.

0 thoughts on “Good to see they’ve got their priorities straight

  1. Anna

    I know the only thing keeping me from joining the military is the lack of pink. Can I have a pink camo uniform, too?


    Why would I want to work for any organisation that so obviously loathes me and my “kind”? I might start taking photos of women in the shower, after all.

  2. Kristen

    Yes, because my three female friends that are in the air force and navy are most concerned with the color of their uniform and whether they are still “feminine.” They are not concerned at all with the culture that requires them to be complete assholes (their description not mine) just so that they don’t look “soft” on their subordinates. Or that they feel they have to dress even more carefully and severely than their male counterparts to avoid gender discrimination and unwanted attention.

    Nope…it’s all about the lipstick.

    [Actually, one complaint I have heard recently re: purses is that they changed the navy uniform regs recently to restrict the type of purse you can carry, so that there is basically only one purse you can use (and must use) and its incredibly expensive.]

  3. Cara Post author

    Exactly, Anna. You know, when I was a senior in high school and the recruiters kept calling me, a lot of thoughts went through my head: I don’t know, I hate nationalism, don’t believe in war or really any violence, can’t stand being around guns let alone shooting one, am not a fan of physical activity, don’t feel like dying, don’t feel safe in such a male dominated environment, and don’t do well with that type of extreme authority.

    But in the end, what it really came down to is ew, I don’t want to wear those hideous combat boots!

  4. Lemur

    Yes, I know the only thing keeping me from dying for a country run by a total idiot was the possibility of breaking a nail. Otherwise, hey, I’d get to shower with a bunch of butch women (who’d then beat me up for being gay and throw me outside to be raped and mutilated)! Good times!
    …If only they’d let me wear stilettos.

  5. morganp

    Wow. Pretty enfuriating. Just as my parents’ failure to reinforce my femininity didn’t make the army seem any more hospitable to me, this gracious offer guaranteeing tolerance of my propensity to wear teh purty dresses doesn’t really sway me. Maybe it’s, uh…the prospect of getting blown away while killing people for no reason?

  6. Jessica

    CNN actually put up a similar story (to the Chicago Tribune one) today:

    The more coverage, the better. If more people know, then more people can demand better from the department of defense.

    And incidentally, it gives me more ammo so that I don’t have to spend as much time convincing idiots on the comment section for the local paper that “yes, military women get raped, and no, they weren’t asking for it.” For some reason these guys never take up my offer go to the university campus computer lab and look up X,Y & Z peer-reviewed journal studies, but a press release or story from a major media source? Much more instantaneous response on the “read this” list of links.

  7. GallingGalla

    Dear Army: It has come to my attention that when women join the army, they wear fatigues, just like everybody else who joins the army. Please make a note of it.

  8. SunlessNick

    Sparacino, an Army truck driver by training, said some women do express interest in army weapons, vehicles “and jumping out of planes,” but she said she doesn’t make that assumption from the onset as frequently as she would with a male recruit.

    I find it hard to imagine that people drawn to the army have no interest in such things, even if it might not be the sort of interest they’re used to confessing (or if they’re sort of people, ie women, in whom expressing such an interest is deemed a confession).

  9. Pingback: Support our troops. All of them. « Majorityminority

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