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.
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 GoArmy.com – 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.