April 5, 2006
Feminists versus the Band of SistersBy Sharon Tosi Moore
With the release of the report that sexual assaults in the Army are up, the usual feminist suspects have showed up to condemn the military and bewail the plight of the women forced to work with such barbarians.� No matter what the incident, feminists are there to gnash their teeth and demand indictments even before the investigations are complete.�
Why bother with facts, when feminists 'know' that the chain of command is just going to cover up the truth and probably secretly condones such behavior against women?� In the feminist mind, the Armed Services are fueled by testosterone and testosterone is bad. Besides, all military men are misogynistic philistines who secretly wish all women were back in the kitchen where they belong.
Feminists leaders insist on portraying military women as helpless victims, when they should embrace them as the exact type of women that feminists claim to be — fearless, independent, and armed to boot, and working right in the midst of the ultimate boy's club for....brace yourself....the exact same pay.
Given their prejudices against the military, it is hardly surprising that when Ms. Magazine named the 'Women of Afghanistan' among their Top 10 Women of the Year in 2001, they omitted any mention of the women who fought to free them from Taliban oppression. However, they did include Representative Barbara Lee, the only member of Congress to vote against using military force to free these same Afghani women.
Nor is it surprising that Ms dedicated much of its Winter 2006 issue to Afghani women voters (apparently Iraqi women voters did not rate, despite 3 elections) and without any sense of irony, in the same issue also lauded Jane Fonda, Cindy Sheehan and others who oppose the war — truly a piece of breathtaking hypocrisy. Again, not a word about the female soldiers who daily risk their lives to keep these women free.
Feminist publications only write about military women when there is something negative to reinforce their preconceived notions that the military, and anything associated with it, is bad.� A casual review of major feminist websites and magazines shows that the vast majority of the stories about military women are about rape and sexism in the services, with a few mentions of Lynndie England's misdeeds thrown in for good measure. Not one item found in the search has anything that might show the military in a positive light.
However, the reality for women is that the military is a pretty good deal.
The pay is based on rank and years of service and promotions come regularly.� Moreover, when Reservists come on active duty after being part—time for years, they are paid as if they were on active duty the entire time.� What other profession allows women to shift between full—time and part—time without a loss in seniority, pay or benefits?� This major item on the feminist agenda has been accomplished in the military — and greeted with silence.
Additionally, active duty members get housing or a tax—free housing allowance commensurate with the duty location costs. The military offers free or very cheap health and dental care and every military post has a child care center with low, income—based rates. To top it off, the military also encourages and pays for education for all of its members.� All of these are hot button topics for feminists and should place the military at the top of any list of best places for women to work.
Most importantly, more than most civilian jobs, the military offers women the opportunity to succeed based on merit. Both a study conducted by the Government Accountability Office and the Military Equal Opportunity assessment show that women are promoted at roughly the same rate as men. In fact, in most instances where there was a statistical difference, it was in favor of women.� Yet in total disregard of the evidence, the military is continually castigated by militant feminists as the last bastion of male superiority.
While the military is often stereotyped as being mired in tradition and unable to adapt, when it comes to equality of the sexes, it has actually been at the forefront of promoting social change, both internally and in troubled areas throughout the world.� Feminists love to talk about empowerment, but fail to recognize it when it is right in their midst.
The reason is simple. Feminism has been hijacked by a liberal fringe whose hatred of the military colors everything else.� Today's professional feminists are great at outrage, lawsuits and fundraising, but are totally mute when it comes to honoring the women who actually put themselves in harm's way.� Feminists worship their patron saint Jane Fonda, even as she condemns the work of thousands of women who daily risk their lives helping free truly oppressed women and safeguarding the freedom of those who so plainly despise them and their career choice.
After facing down terrorists, a sexist boss or grabby co—worker is child's play to such women.� These strong, successful military women should merit high praise as role models for their 'downtrodden' sisters.� Yet the only time a military woman is feted by feminist leaders is when she is accusing male military members of victimizing her.� Those with successful careers are ignored because flourishing in the nexus of evil does not count as proper feminist activity.
A perfect of example of this is Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy. Her rise to the pinnacle of military success went unnoticed by feminist leaders until she claimed that she was sexually harassed by a fellow general. Only after she declared herself a victim did the feminists elevate her to icon status and hold her up as a role model for young women to emulate. The silence accompanying the promotions of� Frances Wilson and Ann Dunwoody to that same rank has been deafening.�
It is true that sexism still exists among some men. No matter how long women serve or how superbly they perform, a few troglodytes will always believe that women just don't belong in the military. Happily, they are a miniscule minority.� Besides, the chain of command has made voicing such an opinion career suicide, so most sexists learn to keep their opinions to themselves and focus on the mission.
It is likewise true that some military women do experience real sexual harassment and assault, and I would never minimize or belittle their trauma.� No one should have to work in a hostile environment. The United States military should, and does, take every case seriously and punish offenders severely. Of course, feminists made myriad excuses for Bill Clinton's far worse behavior. He got a giggle and the 'boys will be boys' pass. Military leaders do not take such actions quite so lightly.
For every military woman who is harassed, there are hundreds who do their jobs and work with men without any problems.� The reason events such as Tailhook, Aberdeen, Annapolis and the Air Force Academy get such scrutiny and make headlines is because they are so rare. The same military which feminists endlessly accuse of cover—ups is one institution that takes seriously the need to police itself and enforce a higher standard. Often, by the time a scandal hits the media, the military has already started a disciplinary investigation.� Few organizations willingly open themselves to public scrutiny and take such swift and fierce action against offenders. Unfortunately, the victim—worshipping media finds it more profitable to blame the entire military culture for a scandal rather then the small number of individuals involved.
It is valid to point out that military service requires long hours, time away from families, and hazardous duty. So do many other professions. The price of equality is to shoulder an equal share of the hardships and dangers, and military women do so with pride.� While the Armed Services are not perfect they continually strive to get better, even without prompting from feminist organizations. That is because American service members believe in something that these feminists may never experience — duty to a cause greater then themselves.�
Feminists wonder why they are losing support among young women. Perhaps it is because they have lost sight of what constitutes real bravery. The suffragettes who gambled with their lives and freedom for the right to vote were truly courageous. These days feminists are free to unleash their hysterical rantings without any danger of arrest or even censure, no matter how outrageous or egregious their claims. Any pampered Hollywood diva badmouthing the President is hailed as fearless, when in truth she is gutless and only pandering to others like herself. Feminist leaders spend so much time congratulating each other that they miss the true heroes in our midst. If today's feminists want to earn the respect of the next generation, they should actually put themselves at some risk, or at least champion those who do.
I do not want my daughter looking to Susan Sarandon, Gloria Steinem, or even LTG Kennedy as role models. I much prefer she emulate Lieutenant Holly Harris, the first woman in the Coast Guard to ever win the Bronze Star. I would rather she listen to the opinions of First Lieutenant Siobhan Couturier,� pilot of the first all—female C—130 crew. I wish that Specialist Teresa Lynn Flannery and Captain Kellie McCoy who won Bronze Stars for valor�would receive lucrative book deals, so that my daughter could read about their heroic actions.
Most of all, I wish the first name associated with U.S. women in Iraq were Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester, the first woman since World War II to win the Silver Star, and not Lynndie England .
Come to think of it, these women are wonderful role models for my sons also. And isn't that what true equality is really about?
Sharon Tosi Moore is a major in the U.S. Army Reserves. She is co—author of the forthcoming book Fresh from the Fight,�and is a doctoral candidate at Leeds University in the U.K. The views expressed are her own.