Presentation on theme: "War Languages Women Soldiers in Iraq Propanganda and reality Vesa Matteo Piludu University of Helsinki Department of Art Research."— Presentation transcript:
War Languages Women Soldiers in Iraq Propanganda and reality Vesa Matteo Piludu University of Helsinki Department of Art Research
Women soldiers as propaganda weapons Women soldiers are used as propaganda’s weapons They are even symbols of American or Western democracy But what is the reality the women soldiers must face?
160,500 American female soldiers More than 160,500 American female soldiers have served in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East since the war began in 2003, which means one in seven soldiers is a woman. Women now make up 15 percent of active duty forces, four times more than in the 1991 Gulf War. At least 450 women have been wounded in Iraq, and 71 have died -- more female casualties and deaths than in the Korean, Vietnam and first Gulf Wars combined. And women are fighting in combat. American public is no longer shocked at the idea of women soldier dying in war
Adaptations The women in the war units find way to adapt their bodies to male standards of war Use of systems to make their periods less frequents or to eliminate them altoghether Use of a portable urination device for long trips (it is called by women soldiers weenus)
Propaganda Women are supposed to be the ”gentle” version of American soldiers Women soldiers became a symbol of Western equality Strange equality: right to kill and dye in the same manner
Jessica Lynch Celebrated before as a female Rambo And later as a victim of abduction Her saving from the Iraqi’s hospital (April 2, 2003) became an absurd media show with different versions Coalition reports listed her injuries as two broken legs, a broken arm and at least one gunshot wound
Various versions Various version of the story It seems that two days before the rescue mission, Iraqi physicians at the hospital arranged to deliver Lynch to a US checkpoint but their ambulance was forced to retreat when soldiers at the checkpoint opened fire. Lynch's honesty in dissociating herself from the "official" version of events and renouncing the Pentagon's efforts to exploit her are, indeed, courageous. Lynch's memoir, I Am a Soldier Too, didn't become a bestseller But photos of her posing topless were more marketable. Hustler magazine's Larry Flynt purchased the rights to snaps of Jessica's boobs Source: article, Doug Anderson, Saving Jessica Lynch
Saving Jessica Lynch: the movie Fiction film With Saving Private Ryan (1998) still in the public psyche, it was a tailor-made adventure to reinforce support for the campaign in Iraq
15 percent of women soldiers have reported being sexually assaulted 15 percent of women soldiers who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan have reported being sexually assaulted, raped, or sexually harassed to the Veterans Association. Their attackers have been fellow US servicemen, foreign contractors and local nationals. More than 190,000 women have served so far in Iraq and Afghanistan, and as more and more women speak up about horrific assaults they're forcing the military and Department of Veterans Affairs to do something about it.
The knife wasn't for the Iraqis By Helen Benedict Many female soldiers say they are sexually assaulted by their male comrades and can't trust the military to protect them. "The knife wasn't for the Iraqis," says one woman. "It was for the guys on my own side." ´I have talked to more than 20 female veterans of the Iraq war in the past few months, interviewing them for up to 10 hours each for a book I am writing on the topic, and every one of them said the danger of rape by other soldiers is so widely recognized in Iraq that their officers routinely told them not to go to the latrines or showers without another woman for protection. "Battle buddy bullshit," said García from the Military Police. "I didn't trust anybody in my company after a few months. I saw so many girls get screwed over, the sexual harassment. I didn't trust anybody and I still don't." http://www.salon.com/news/feature /2007/03/07/women_in_military/ http://www.salon.com/news/feature /2007/03/07/women_in_military/ The private war of women soldiers By Helen Benedict
Command Rape While commanders of some units are apparently less vigilant about policing rape, others engage in it themselves, a phenomenon known in the military as "command rape." Because the military is hierarchical, and because soldiers are trained to obey and never question their superiors, men of rank can assault their juniors with impunity. In most cases, women soldiers are the juniors, 18 to 20 years old, and are new to the military and war, thus vulnerable to bullying and exploitation. The private war of women soldiers By Helen Benedict
Case: Suzanne Swift By Helen Benedict At the moment, the most shocking case of military sexual assault is that of Army Spc. Suzanne Swift, 21, who served in Iraq in 2004. Swift was coerced into sex by one commanding officer, which is legally defined as rape by the military, and harassed by two others before she finally broke rank and told. As a result, the other soldiers treated her like a traitor for months. Unable to face returning to the assailant, she went AWOL during a leave at home, and was arrested and put in jail for desertion. At first the Army offered her a deal: It would reduce her punishment if Swift would sign a statement saying that she had never been raped. She refused, saying she wouldn't let the Army force her to lie. The Army court-martialed Swift, and stripped her of her rank. She spent December in prison and was then sent to Fort Irwin in the Mojave Desert, far away from her family. She must stay in the Army for two more years, and may face redeployment. The men who assaulted her received nothing but reprimanding letters.
Mysoginistic, pro-rape atmosphere Over 15-30 percent of recent women veterans report rape or attempted rape by other military personnel. Over 80 percent of recent women veterans report being sexually harassed by other military personnel. The military routinely covers up rape/abuse cases and prevents them from being prosecuted. In one checklist used by the military to determine if rape reports are valid, a demand for medical treatment is listed as an indication that the woman is lying. In 1997, more military veterans were in jail for sexual assault than for any other offense. Military personnel are more likely to engage in domestic violence than men in any other occupation. Wife-killings on Army bases are at an all-time high, and domestic violence is escalating as soldiers return from Iraq.