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News M edia Representations of Women in the U.S. Military P ost September 11, 2001 b y Colleen Krepstekies A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Mass Communications College o f Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Kim Golombisky, Ph.D. Randy Miller Ph.D. Roxanne Watson Ph.D. Date of Approval: October 19 2010 Keywords: Women in the Press, Women in Mass Media, United States Armed Forces Women Copyright 2010, Colleen Krepstekies
i Table of Contents Abstract ii Ch apter One: Introdu ction 1 Chapter Two: Background 5 Arguments a gai nst Women in the Military 1 2 The Proper Role of Wom en and Keepin g Women Safe 1 3 1 4 W omen and Military Mas culinity 1 8 Sex and the Milita ry 1 9 Chapter Three: Literature Review 2 7 Monsters Freaks, and Amazons 30 The Whore Archetype 32 Case Studies of Modern Wome n in the U.S. Military 3 3 Chapter Four: M ethod 3 9 Chapter Five: Results and Discussion Results 43 Discussion 4 5 Tip of the spear 45 The c ombat debate 52 Sex and the military 54 Chapter Six: Conclusion 5 9 Chapter Seven: References Cited 63 Appendice s 84 Appendix 1: Qualitative Cont ent Analy sis Protocol Template 8 5
ii Abstract This paper examines newspaper portrayals produced by the Washington Post the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times of women in the military from Sept. 11, 2001, to Sept. 11, 2009. The purpose was to identify how the three nationally recogn ized that lack definitive front lines. Because the news media are the primary vehicle to update the general public on military matters, how the news media portray military w omen can play a role in shaping audience perceptions of military women. In turn, this relationship can influence the public debate on issues pertaining to women in the military. For my research method, I employed a longitudinal, qualitative content analysi s of news articles that revealed three distinctively themed portrayals of U.S. servicewomen. The thematic ommon (particularly direct s of sexual assault across the applying a new formula to represent military women. Rather than portraying military women in stereotypical support roles or castigating them for transgressing gender norms the stories from these papers cast the servicewomen performing traditional
iii masculine military activities in a positive light. However, followin g objective reporting patriarchal concerns to include protecting women from harm, particularly military mothers. Overall, these two categories comprised the greater part of the coverage of military women among the reports in this study, with only a handful of reports covering women as victims. I propose that the many positive portrayals that describe women fulfilling nontraditional masculine roles and activities demonstrate a re vised blueprint in how the news media report on military women. Furthermore, while these research results lefields increase public acceptance of women in the military and their expanding military assignments.
1 Chapter One : Introduction Since Sept. 11, 2001, 125 women have sacrificed their lives while serving in the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan ( Women in 2009). During World War I and World War II, a combined total of 943 women serving in the U.S. military died while serving ( n.d.). In addition to giving their lives to country, women in the past century have progressively increased the degree and nature of their roles a cross all military services. They have been held as prisoners of war and participated in operations from Panama to Rwanda to Haiti. In 1998, a woman fighter pilot broke barriers by being the first woman pilot to drop missiles in combat, and in 2005 S erge ant Leigh Ann Hester from the Kentucky Army National G uard became the first woman to earn the Silver Star for combat action ( ). Despite advancements, la rgely unrecognized (Fiala, 2008) A recent study of women in military films made in Hollywood gives some clues as to why this might be the case. The findings revealed that the military films in the post Cold War era showed a struggle to reconcile the parad ox of women professional soldiers (Furia & Bielby,
2 ideologically inconsistent roles (i.e., female soldier) as consistent in th (Howard & Prividera, 2008, p. 294). military continues to fa ce challenges in completely integrating servicewomen with servicemen. S ervicewomen are confronted w ith ideological and attitudinal barriers compelling them to walk a gender tightrope. When women take on masculine traits or behavior, they are perceived to be deviating from gender norms. Conversely, women are criticized for exhibiting femininity because f emininity is perceived as the antithesis of military masculinity. When women began their venture into military service and later all male services, military men overtly demonstrated their dislike for women in the military readwell, 1954). This type of condemnation against women began in earnest in 1943 and the War Department referred to it as the Slander Campaign. Armed Auxiliary Corp and spread among military members, the media, and the public (Treadwell, 1954). Spurred by the steady rise of disparaging remarks tarnish ing the WAAC image, Army Military Intelligence launched an intensive investigation into the matter. The investigators determined that t he rumors resulted from resentment by Army Today, women are serving in unprecedented numbers in U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanis tan. Due to these dynamic post 9/11 battlefields, for the first time women are
3 in the military; however, scholarly case studies on news media coverage of women in the military post 9/11 depict a narrow focus. The studies found that the preponderance of news media coverage largely focused on two sensationalized incidents involving a few women soldiers shortly after the 2003 Iraq invasion. W hile there is considerable research on portrayals of women in the media across a broad spectrum of academic fields, there is little academic research on news media coverage of military women, and none exists within the field of mass communications. Therefo re, the purpose of this study is to examine how national level U.S. newspapers have portrayed women in the military between Sept. 11, 2001 and Sept. 11, 2009. I write as a wh ite, Anglo, able bodied, mid 30 s, heterosexual woman and mass c ommunications grad uate student who served in the U.S Army for 11 years. Below, I s to and involvement in historical and contemporary militaries including the U.S military. Herein, I trace the evolution of women and their relationship with the military dating back to times when women supported ancient militaries as unofficial contributors filling supporting roles. In addition, I outline the changes that led to contemporary servicewomen serving in a formal capacity wi th an increasing range of roles in the military. To provide deeper insight into military proximity wi th weapons that fire within sight of the target. Second, I outline the
4 note that while some arguments against women serving in the armed forces persist, they are less p revalent today than decades past. Third, I cover the literature on media representations of women and scholarly case studies of women in the military in contemporary times. These suggest that the news media contribute to the perpetuation of traditional not ions of proper gender role s Fourth, I detail my method consisting of a longitudinal study of newspapers using qualitative content analysis. I chose this method as it was best suited for an initial exploratory study on this topic. My study included 59 repo rts produced by recognized nationwide newspapers ranked in the top five in the U.S. The criteria by which I selected these newspaper s included identifying institutions with the widest possible readership and correspondingly, the highest level of audience r ecognition. Fifth, I describe and discuss my results gleaned from the analysis of Here I show that the three studied newspapers, the Washington Post the New York Times an d the Los Angeles Times are slowly beginning to reconcile the paradox of women warriors. This was revealed by the recurring theme that showed women breaking new ground in combat without the traditional difficulties of representing women performing Although the reports portray ed servicewomen positively, coverage of the serious social issue of sexual assault demonstrated a lack of vigorous reporting. While the reporting was fair and impartial, the news reports were intermitte nt and few. Moreover, they lacked a persuasive narrative that could effectively galvanize the public to rally for more effective military and government responses.
5 Chapter Two : Background to thei r male counterparts to date in terms of military duty positions and military benefits. The current integrated status of women is due to political lobbying and support by military generals, Women Army Corps (WAC) and politicians (Morden, 2000). E fforts to accommodate women included adjusting promotion, medical, legal, and social policies some of which applied strictly to women including a variety of discharge circumstances s domestic obligations O ne such policy that exclusively applied to women in the Auxiliary Corps era dictated that all unmarried pregnant women receive d a dishonorable discharge However, in 1942 Director Oveta Culp Hobby discerned this partic ular policy as legally flawed and therefore pushed a reversal in regulations t o classif y all women discharged for pregnancy as honorable ( Treadwell, 1954 ). While the mid 1900s saw the most drastic transformation for women in the military, s teps to further incorporate women and expand their opportunities continue The contemporary U.S. military demonstrate s this evolution that began with women serving separately and culminating in integrated services. The numbers of women serving in the U.S. a rmed forces as of Sept. 30, 2008, totaled 205,396 comprising an average of 14.2% of all the
6 forces Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard ( 2008). However, women remain exempt from certain combat positions and they c ontinue to face various forms of resistance to their integration into what is historically a profession by and for men (Enloe, 2000; Howard & Prividera, 2008; Nantais & Lee, 1999; Woodward, 2000). have a long history. Though there is some debate among archaeologists and historian s archaeological digs dating back to the 1 st and 2 nd centuries A.D. document garrisons (Allison, 2006). Analysis of the artifacts to determi ne their purpose and husband soldiers and worked inside the walls conducting activities such as clothing making along with the possibility that they worked as barmaids and innkeepers (Allison, 2006; Spei del, 1996). At one excavation dating to two separate periods dur in g the 1 st c d on artifact location suggests that women may have participated in significant fort activities including providing supplies to other militaries (All ison, 2006). This suggests that women may have filled large r roles beyond those that were essentially categorized as domestic In the W est, w including nursing sick and injured U.S. colonial sol diers, and doing laundry for their husbands and soldiers throughout the American Revolution (Rees, 1996). During the Crimean War in the mid 1800s, Florence Nightingale was the driving force for dical operations (Enloe, 2000). Nightingale was the chief nurse from 1854 to 1856 at a British military hospital
7 located on the coast of the Black Sea; after her success in drastically reducing deaths by improving sanitation, she took her lessons home. It is because of Nightingale that the British government erected facilities such as military barracks and hospitals to maintain sanitation and established a military medical school (Cohen, 1984). Later, during the American Civil War in the 1860s, the U.S. mi 2000). The beginnings of a U.S. gender integrated military began in 1901 (Treadwell, 1954) At this time, Congress establi shed a contractual army nurse corps with limited benefits and privileges among whi ch included a lack of military rank, lower pay and without retirement and veteran benefits (Treadwell 19 54 ). Similar contractual relationships ensued until 1942 wit Corps (WAAC) as a se full militar y status. Full military status entails military benefits such as government insurance and financial allotments for dependents ( Treadwell, 1954). In 1943, the WAAC converted to but it remained a separate entity and continued to lack many of the privileges provided to the all male regular A rmy (Morden, 1990). By this time, wome n had demonstrated their value filling administrative and medical support roles In response generals and key WAC leaders pushed a bill through C ongress to integrate women fully into the all male regular a rmy (Morden, 1990). In 1948, President Truman sign ed the bill to enact the Services Integration Act of 1948 permitting women to serve as permanent members of the
8 regular and reserve armed forces in all military branches Despite this progress, this official admittance set restriction s confin in each military branch, placed a c ap on promotions, and prohibit ed women in the Navy and Air Force from filling combat assignments ( The cap on the percentages of women permitted in the services was removed in 1967 ( Pub. L. No. 90 130, 81 Stat. 374, Nov. 8, 1967) military began to grow from 1.4% in 1970 to 4.6 % in 1975 to 8.3 % comprising an average of 15% for all military services ; 2008 ). Ultimately, this formal admission of women to the 1995). Women participating in a support capacity to the military permit military fighting men the necessary freedom to perform offensively (DeCew, 1995; Enloe, 2000; Herbert, 1991). This division of labor is supported by societal understandings of traditional gender roles as they are enacted, written, r ecorded, and replayed in historical documents and literature, and as they are represented by the news media (Herbert, 1991; Prividera & Howard, 2006). Case studies of contemporary journalistic portrayals of military women show them as stereotypically femin ine, weak, and fragile (Holland, 2006; Just, 2006; Prividera & Howard, 2006; Howard & Prividera, 2004; Howard & Prividera, 2008). By framing women in such a manner, the media separate women and femininity from their male counterparts and from the masculine task of soldiering in the military (Howard & contrast masculine men from feminine women (Howard & Prividera, 2008). A mediated
9 demonstrat ion of patriarchal militarism c onstitute s stories of men as protectors of women and all things feminine such as the journalistic narrative of soldiers protecting the Howard & Prividera, 2008; Prividera & Howard, 2006). Some scholars gender, that is, the definin g of the boundaries of behavior fighting for and protecting thei r country (Howard & Prividera, 2004) and women are the justification for which men fight (Nantais & Lee, 1999). While the military institution might be a locus for defining gender vis vis patriarchal militarism, studies show that the news media also pro mote patriarchal militarism especially during wartime (Enloe, 2000; Howard & Prividera, 2008; Kellner, 2004; Kumar, 2006; Lemish, 2005; Taylor & Hardman, 2004). t riarchal environment. First are the reduced opportunities stemming from the ban on women serving in combat (Enloe, 1988). The second is that servicewomen may be victims of sexual assault and sexual hostility in the workplace (Enloe, 2000; Hillman, 2007). S exually contentious situations and problems, discussed in detail later, are further exacerbated and prevalent in combat conditions (Herdy & Moffeit, 2004). Both becomes p articularly controversial during times of war (Enloe, 1988). When the U.S. invaded Iraq, news media coverage that focused on two key servicewomen Private First Class Jessica Lynch and Private First Class Ly nndie England reinvigorated opposition
10 against women serving in combat (Holland, 2006; Howard & Prividera, 2008; Just, struct ure with particular impact on women. In 1991, Congress passed a law that permitted women to fly in combat (Gordon, 1992). S hortly thereafter, the Clinton a dministration opened a quarter million combat positions to women (Women in Military Service, 2008). D espite these changes and increased opportunities for women, mandates set by congressional leaders in 1993 and 1994 continue to impose restrictions on military Defense Les Aspin charged the military services to open more assignments to servicewomen while simultaneously establishing a committee to review the process. ( ; however, a rule exempting servicewomen from certain combat conditions was approv ed and set for adoption on Oct. 1, 1994 ( ). This directive established the rule restricting women from select military units defined the t circumstances under which military women may not serve. The definition of direct ground combat is: Engaging an enemy on the ground with individual or crew served weapons, while being exposed to hostile fire and to a high personnel. Direct ground combat takes place well forward on the
11 battlefield while locating and closing with the enemy to defeat them by fire, maneuver, or shock effect ( 1994 p. 2 ) This definition excludes organizations that perform supporting combat operations such as air combat and the use of indirect fire. These types of units use weaponry where missiles can travel great distances and fire at an en emy that is such a distance away that he or she is unseen (Indirect Fire, 2010). Unlike these units and based on previous Army definitions, ground combat units participate in direct combat missions that have a 2003). Essential differences exist between direct combat ground combat units and the remaining units in which women may serve. Personnel serving in direct ground combat units fight and operate in circumstances dissimilar to the remaining military forces. Typically, these circumstances are characterized by tight quarters such as those of armored tanks or submarines. Some argue that r edesigning military combat carriers to accommo date dual sexes would reduce operational capabilities and increase cost expenditures by several millions for new equipment construction and design ( wants to spend 2000). Considerations such as these were the basis for Secretary of Defense Les Aspin to outline the circumstances under which women were restricted from serving. Limitations against compl ete gender integration include when costs to accommodate women are prohibitive restrictions from any unit that engages in direct
12 ground combat or non tra ditional units of the Special Operations Forces, and those ments would necessarily exclude the vast 1994). This policy continues to restrict women from participating in direct ground combat units and bars 39 % of the total positions in the Army and Marine Corps from women (Women in the Military, 1996). While women now have options for advancement, combat remains the way for men to prove themselves, their masculinity and their capabilities (Beck, 1991; Enloe, 1983; Enloe, 1988). Today, chances to serve in combat continue to be sought after by servicemembers because of the potential for greater job opportunities (Karpinski, 2006) and restricti ng women from participating in direct ground combat act s as a barrier to promotion (Decew, 1995; Hackworth, 1991; Miller, 1998; Sagawa & Campbell, 1992; Schmitt, 1992; Segal, 1982). The Supreme Court in the 1981 ruling of Rostker v. Goldberg (1981) held this policy as constitutional. Arguments against Women in the Military such as the 2003 ambush of the 507 th Ordnance Maintenance Company in Iraq arguments against women serving in the militar y resurfaced with a particular focus on how close women should be permitted to ground combat (Just, 2006). Keeping women combat roles (Holland, 2006) These arguments exi st as part of a greater picture of (DeCew,
13 1995) O ther objections to women in combat include: perceived physical inferiority (Enloe, 1988; Holland, 2006; Just, 2006); feminizi ng threats to assault and sexual harassment (Enloe, 1988; Holland, 2006; Jeffreys, 2007). The Proper Role of Women and Keeping Women Safe When legislative leaders were addressing the bill that preceded the Armed Services Act was in the home and that soldiering in war was a argued that the people of the U nited States were not prepared to see women killed in war, the effect of which would be demoralizing and reduce support for the war effort (Milko, 1992). T not a decision based on logic serving practical military purposes (DeCew, 1995). B eyond what women are or are not equipped to do socia l and cultural attitudes prescribe that women also must be kept safe. As such, women were legislatively banned from serving on ships and in aircraft in the Navy and Air Force respectively (DeCew, 1995). The Army and Marine Corps followed by instituting the ir own regulatory bans against women in combat (Milko, 1992). now considerably different from when women first began integrating into the regular
14 services. No longer are there d efinitive front lines distinct from rear areas in which women can more safely soldier (Hackworth, 1991). Modern weapon systems easily can reach into the rear area as exemplified by Iraqi deployment of scud missiles during the first Gulf War (Milko, 1992 ). Furthermore, women who serve in combat support units by driving in logistical convoys a re vuln erable targets as they resupply troops throughout the entire area of operations (Milko, 1992). While women in convoys do not generally engage in direct ground com bat, they still face risks to their safety For that reason, the arguments to keep women safe via the combat exclusion become dubious. Four components comprise the discussion of women as the weaker sex. The most obvious includes the physical differences between men and women particularly with regard to upper body strength. The second point some opponents raise against women the stressors of war. The thi rd deals with issues of pregnancy and the fourth argument is that lifting tasks. While all military occupation specialties (MOS ) require various degrees of physical exertion, the combat arms fields require soldiers to carry heavy personal gear while marching considerable distances. Urban warfare also demand s significant strength and stamina. In trinsic to some of these tasks is the need for upper body strength, a physical disparity in capabilities between men and women. Proponents of combat exclusion for
15 women claim that women cannot meet these physical demands and permitting them to enter combat reduces military standards, readines s, and efficiency (DeCew, 1995; Tuten 1982). To ascertain and maintain soldier readiness, the services administer physical fitness tests that adjust for age and gender (Hackworth, 1991). The fitness test typically includes running, push ups and sit ups an d is an overall measure of general fitness, but it does not measure fitness for a particular military occupational specialty (Field & Nagl, 2001). Counterarguments to objections to women serving in combat roles include the introduction of a fitness test th at mirrors job related tasks and sets one standard for both genders (Milko, 1992). Demanding both men and women to qualify physically for one standard counteracts the argument that permitting women into combat fields would lower military stan dards (DeCew, 1995; Miller, 1997 ). Another factor that offsets the argument that women are the weaker sex mak ing them unsuited for war relates to the ongoing technological improvement of modern we aponry. Mechanical and computer automated systems reduce or altogether eli minate brute strength previously required (Tuten, 1982). Hackworth (1991) writes that women are equally capable as men of pushing buttons on military equipment. Segal (1982) pr capabilities as combatant s by sta ting average physical strength between men and women with a situation in which all men are Today, better training and condition ing for women can further countera ct the argument against women as the weaker sex. With ed participation in athletics, from which they have been historically excluded, improved physical abilities to meet military physical performance standards
16 can reasonably be expected (Seg al, 1982). Continuing with athletics and its linkage to strength measurements, the traditional perception of sports are defined by masculine concepts ( Clasen, 2001). The argument can therefore be made that training can narrow any so called physical gap and be applied to military physical measurements Furthermore, it is possible that some women and as such, women should not suffer from blanket policies barring them from opportunities based on their gender alone. Some also poi nt to a perception that men are more mentally able to withstand the hardships of war and have the requisite psychological aggressiveness to wage war (Howard & Prividera, 2004; Tuten, 1982). These beliefs are based on dominant soldier archetypes of a warrio r who is physically and mentally resilient (Dawson, 1994; Howard & Prividera, 2004; Newsinger, 1997; Parker, 1985; Prividera & Howard, 2006). The passive, non violent, nurturin g and fragile (Holland, 2006; Howard & Prividera, 2004; Ruddick, 1980; Stiehm, 1982). According to feminist researchers in international and perceived through a gendere d lens (Sjoberg & Gentry, 2007) In their argument, t hey that asserts that men are instinctively violent and women are biologically non violent. However, the same authors say this perspective has largely been dis cred ited (Sjoberg & Gentry, 2007) Some scholars have referred to Russian women who capably served in combat roles in both world wars to refute the argument claiming
17 historical data, there is evidenc e of a Russian successfully performed in combat (Degroot, 2001; Griesse & Stites, 1982). Russian women soldiers to include those in the death battalion, were said to have filled combat roles such as sniper, execution er, avi ator and in reportedly formidable anti aircraft units (Griesse & Stites, 1982). Yet, t he traditional have been used to justify the argument that women are unable to withstand combat stress and are too mild manner ed to take aggressive action against a predominantly male enemy (DeCew, 1995; Fiala, 2008; Maninger, 2008; Milko, 1992). Contemporary examples given by others point to the first Gulf War and Panama where women deployed serving as military police and pilot s to exemplify women successfully managing the demands of combat (DeCew, 1995; Milko, 1992). Women serving as civilian firefighters and law (DeCew, 1995). The overarching concern a bout including w omen in combat duty positions is that their physical and mental differences from men will reduce military readiness. The third integration is that pregnant servicewomen also reduce military readiness. Any time a unit deploys, commanders must either deploy short handed or find a replacement because pregnant soldiers are non deployable (Milko, 1992). The Gulf War in 1991 lent some support to these concerns as 1,200 servicewomen of the approximate 40,000 deployed women got pregnan t during the campaign and had to be repatriated to their home stations (Milko, 1992). While pregnancy does affect military readiness, 13.9 % of the Army at any given time is non deployable for varying reasons not all due to pregnant soldiers (Field & Nagl, 2001). Others point out that relative to
18 women, more male soldiers become non deployable due to disciplinary actions and non work related injuries (Enloe, 1988; Milko, 1992). Last, the practical implications of how women manage their monthly menstruation cycles in combat are cited as justification for why women should not be in combat. The reasoning is that when in combat situations, soldiers risk a greater likelihood of getting captured by the enemy. This situation can be detrimental physically and emotio nally if women who are captives, or are in impractical circumstances intrinsic to combat, are unable to execute required hygiene activities (Just, 2007). Women and Military Masculinity Reputedly, male bonding and esprit de corps is the necessary ingredien t for success in combat (Milko, 1992; Hackworth, 1991). Those opposed to women in combat if women were to enter the all male combat domain (DeCew, 1995; Milko, 1992). Male military generals expressing doubts about admitting women into close combat fields worry about the psychological turmoil male soldiers would face having to fight alongside w omen. Men on the fight ing front may feel it is their duty to defend the nation and to protect military women in their units (DeCew, 1995; Enloe, 1988 ; Treadwell, 1954 ). Scholars contend that in order for masculine institutions to function, male masculinity must be clearly defined in relief Morgan 1989; Snyder, 1999). Military training juxtaposes male masculinity against
19 frequently 1999), and some scholars call attention to the Enloe, 2000; Jeffreys, 2007). One imosity toward women in the military exhibited itself as rumors and gossip, which they attribute Contemporary studies of modern mixed gender units undermine this argument. For example, a meta analysis of five longitudinal studies of Army soldier attitudes showed (Rosen, Bliese, Wright & Gifford, 1999). Sex and the Military Three issues ari to sex and the military. First women distracting. Seco nd the re is the actual sexual assault and sexual harassment that takes place as a form of violence against women in the military (Nelson, 2002). Third some fear that exposing women to combat situations would increase their risks o f enemy capture and the potenti al to be raped. Opponents of integrating women in the military rely on arguments that women will be distracting and that their presence will lower unit effectiveness and cohesion (Sagaw & Campbell, 1991). Others have listed concerns that women who want to join the
20 masculine military are morally loose and will decrease military readiness by becoming pregnant and /or spread ing venereal disease (Herbert, 1991). These arguments were posed ary Army Corps to the regular Army. Moreover, introduced the problem of sexual harassment and sexual assault, which remains a relevant issue today (Beck, 1991). History shows that during the 1970s and 1980s, sexual harassme nt reached 1988). The military, by this time an all volunteer force, was required to fill its ranks to meet mandated quotas. In response to women leaving in high numb ers, the U.S. Departmen t of Defense formally looked in to the matter with the aim of instituting policy and punishment against sexual harassment (Enloe, 1988). In the 1990s, an Army panel investigating the matter admitted sexual harassment remains a problem and that the Army to correct the practice In 2005, the Department of Defense (DOD) began taking measures to report on and reduce incidents of sexual assault across all military services. The program is called the Sexual Assault and Prevention Response (SAPR) Program and it formed in support of DOD p olicy to address sexual assault in the military. While the program focuses on sexual assault, it also addresses sexual harassment but to a lesser d egree. A March 2009 report from the DOD Office of the Secretary of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) provided statistics on sexual assault in the military for 2008. The DOD defines sexual assault accordingly:
21 contact, characterized by use of force, physical threat or abuse of authority or when the victim does not or cannot consent. It includes rape, nonconsensual sodomy (oral or anal sex), indecent assault (unwanted, in appropriate sexual contact or fondling), or attempts to commit these acts. Sexual assault can occur without regard to gender or spousal relationship or age of victim. by the victim to offer phy sical resistance. Consent is not given when a person uses force, threat of force, coercion, or when the victim is asleep, incapacitated, or unconscious (Office of the Secretary of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, 2009). The DOD repor t states that sexual assault is the most underreported of crimes by sexual victims in the military The Bureau of Justice further substantiates this stating that rape and domestic violence are the most underreported of all violent crimes ( National crime v ictimization survey ). A 1996 DOD survey shows that both sexes are victims of sexual assault but women experienced it at higher percentages. The survey showed that 64 % of women and 17 % of men reported experiences of sexually harassing behavior (Bast ian, Lancaster & Reyst, 1996). Regardless of gender, victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault are less likely to come forward to report sexual assault or harassment pport
22 within the chain of command and fear of persecution toward the victim after reporting the crime (Nelson, 2002). To counteract some of these problems, the DOD has taken steps to encourage victims of sexual assault to come forward. It has created two a venues of into the crimes within the chain of command. Restricted reporting permits victims t o report the crime, but they remain anonymous with no investigation into the incident unless the victim changes his or her status to unrestricted. Victims reporting under either status receive medical care and other related support. The formation of the D OD SAPR Prog ram and re ports compiling and monitoring sexual assault o n the military since 2005 indicate that it remains an issue. According to the Department of Defense FY08 Report on Sexual Assault in the Military reports of sexual assault incidents incr eased by 8% over the previous reporting period (Office of the Secretary of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, March 2009). The increased number of reports does not necessarily indicate an overall rise in sexual assaults but instead may be a result of a greater number of victims filing reports. The March 2009 report on sexual assault in the military for 2008 reveals that there were 1 047 unrestricted reports of male servicemembers sexually assaulting women and 657 restricted reports of se xual assault were made by women against their male counterparts. For that same year, male servicemembers filed eight unrestricted and 83 restricted reports against women servicemembers. In combat zones, only women filed reports of sexual
23 assault against ma le servicemembers (Office of the Secretary of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, 2009). It is here that the argument that women negatively affect military male bonding is also applicable. Women, perceived as outsiders to a previously al l male military unit, are likely to endure forms o f slander and sexual harassment (Beck, 1991). Moreover, military training that reinforces the devaluation of women by using feminine epithets complicates gender integration and is seen as a factor in mainta ining an attitude of sexual violence against women (Nelson, 2002). While it is difficult to compare sexual assault cases between military and civilian women due to differences in reporting procedures (Office of the Secretary of Defense Sexual Assault Prev ention and Response Office, 2009), there is some evidence that women in the military suffer sexual assault or harassment at greater rates than their non military counterparts. Research from surveys administered at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical C enter indicates that women in the military reported sexual assault incidents at rates 20 times greater than other government workers (Murdoch & Nichol, program acknowledg es and affirms that sexual violence against either sex breaks military bonds and negatively affects military readiness (Office of the Secretary of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, 2009). Regarding news media coverage of sexual harass ment and assault in the military, scandal plays a role.
24 Tailhook scandal where navy pilots were accused of sexually harassing 83 servicewomen at an annual convention (Linville, 2000). This scand attitude toward women as sex objects rather than peers (Enloe, 2000). The allegations of sexual harassment were investigated with some of the accused attending court martial hearings, although none resulted in convictions ( Donnelly, 2002). Another aspect to the problem of sexual harassment and assault within the military is that the incidents are downplayed with dismissive accusatory behavior from the chain of command and women, the predominant victim s are not given the s upport they need (Nelson, 2002). A case that exemplifies this is when Sergeant Major (SGM) Brenda Hoster accused the Sergeant Major of the Army, Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Gene McKinney of sexual harassment in 1998. When Hoster filed her complaints, she encountered an unsympathetic and dismissive environment and her credibility and professionalism were attacked despite her previously untarnished record (Nelson, 2002). Ultimately, McKinney was acquitted on all but one charge of obstruction of justice (Ne lson, 2002). The final argument raised by opponents of women in the military, specifically women in combat, is that women risk a higher likelihood of becoming victims of sexual assault when captured by the enemy (Jeffreys, 2007). C ircumstances of opposing forces holding American w omen soldiers captive are rare but the media create a news spectacle Woodward, 2000). A modern day example is the abduction of Private First Class J essica Lynch in 2003 after the convoy she was riding in was ambushed. Studies of news media reports of the ambush and her capture raised concerns that she had been sexually
25 sub (Holland, 2006 p. 42 ). In sum, arguments raised against women in combat reveal concerns that integrating women reduces military readiness and c ombat effectiveness. Those who ar gue women are too weak physically or emotionally assert that permitting women into combat O thers counter that job acceptance should be based on both sexes meeting the same qualifications rather than ba r r ing en trance on the basis of gender alone (DeCew, 1995). Strength of unit cohesion and the instrumental role it plays in a powerful military also raise integration. Opponents undermines our military force s and gives the enemy a tactical advantage (Tuten, 1982). Some discredit the claim that women damage male bonding and morale by arguing that shared common experience is what contributes to bonding and good morale (Segal, 1982). In addition to the need for a strong military is the need for military preparedness. Within military circles, this criterion is referred to as military readiness whereby its units are fully staffed and trained. Military units failing to meet either criterion are operating at reduced readiness levels and may be unable to meet mission requirements. If readiness is eroded. Yet, military human resource req uirements make women essential for meeting military rec ruiting goals, which in turn fulfill personnel needs to meet
26 mission requirements. The small fraction of women pregnant at any given time does not offset the greater number of women who are not pregnant. Further, women are pregnant for a temporary period o f time and many, such as women from the Gulf War, quickly rejoin their units (Hackworth, 1991; Milko, 1992). These arguments for and against fully been put to rest. Nevertheless, women have proven themselves and it is unlikely that Congress will legislate to reverse the status quo. Continued technological advancements and dynamic battlefields coupled with evolving social norms may change the character of the entire debate.
27 Chapter Three : Literature Review In narr ating the news, the news media rely on a vernacular that includes enduring myths, archetypes, and stereotypes (Berkowitz, 2005; Sjoberg & Gentry, 2007). Journalists use these forms because they act as cognitive tools that help them relay complex informati on in a simplified story to audiences. Over time, this creates a dominant public narrative that provides context to audiences (Byerly & Ross, 2007; Entman, 1989; Norris, 1997a; Sjoberg & Gentry, 2007). Cultural myths, archetypes, and stereotypes also cont roles. One can, therefore, argue that the news media through their narratives, r einforce commonly held beliefs about gender norms. These gender norms prescribe normative or socially accept s the definitions of gender norms while simultaneously creating a shared understanding of social relations that preserve traditional patriarchy (Byerly & Ross, 2006; Dines & Humez, 1995; Eldridge, 1995; Fiske, 1994; Ross, 1996).
28 Starting in the 1970s, scholars have studied me dia portrayals of women. One women in stereotypical roles (Bradley, 1998; Tuchman, Da niels, & Benet, 1978). Since that time, scholars and organizations such as the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) have studied news media representations of women in the U.S. and worldwide (Bradley, 1998; Cirkensa, 1996; Rhode, 1995). These studies ind icate that women are Gallagher, 2000). The GMMP (Gallagher, 2004) studied 70 countries news media reporting in 1995 and again in 2000. Results showed only a one percent in crease in news media coverage of women over the course of five years from 17% in 1995 to 18% in 2000. These same studies revealed that when th e news media report on women, journalists typically use stereotypes of women in traditional roles of mother, wife, and common in news coverage (Carter, 1998; Cuklanz, 1996; Kitzinger, 1992; Kitzinger, 2004; Lees, 1995; Pritchard & Hughes, 1997; Soothill & Walby, 1991). Moreover, whe n news media cover women as victims, the stories are often sensationalized (Byerly & Ross, 2006; Carter, 1998; Spears, et al., 2000). Ostensibly, to maintain audience interest, the news media are quick to cover rape by a stranger, but they avoid covering t he much more prevalent yet less sensational news of domestic violence against women (Cameron & Frazer, 1987; Cuklanz, 1996; Cuklanz, 2000; Soothill & Walby, 1991; Weaver, Carter & Stanko, 2000). When the news media repeatedly use dominant stereotypes and
29 g endered frames of women as victim and housewife, a narrow perception of women and Lazier & Kendrick, 1993; Macdonald, 199 5 ). Where stereotypes reinforce norms, myths often explain deviance from the norm. that of woman as the fairer sex further divides women from their male counterparts and creates a double bind (Howard & Prividera, 2004). The military expects its s ervicewomen to adhere to gender norms and to be feminine, yet military personnel view femininity as a weakness and to be weak in the military is failure (Boldry, Wood & Kashy, 2001; Ebbert & Hall, 1993 ; Enloe, 1988; Francke, 1997). Good soldiers are mascul ine soldiers. Thus a good woman cannot be a good soldier, and a good soldier cannot be a normal woman. Such persistent notions of proper gender roles construct an environment where men maintain ambivalent or negative feelings toward their women colleagues. In addition, some pundits attribute to destabilize the patriarchal status quo (Edwards 1984). soldiers view and evaluate women soldiers in a negative fashion often manifested via use of derogatory language (Boldry, et al., 2001; Eagly, Makhijani & Klonsky, 1992; Hei lman, 1983). The most frequently cited discriminatory language used by male soldiers against women soldiers labels them as
30 Karpinski & Strasser, 2005; Sjoberg & Gentry, 2007; Stiehm, 1988). Both labels imply a w oman who has failed to follow the prescribed gender norms. Similarly, the news media tend to apply myths and stereotypes to women acting outside acceptable gender norm new s with the concept of warrior or soldier creates a paradox as the latter concept imp lies the likelihood, and expectation, of violent acts. The imagery evoked by words such as warrior, soldier, and hero is powerfully masculine. Yet women are viewed as the antithesis of masculinity. In these ways, women performing masculine acts are perceiv ed not only as contradictory, but also out of the ordinary. Some scholars suggest that media summon different uses of mythical narratives for women to explain nonstandard feminine behavior (Berkowitz, 2005; Sjoberg & Gentry, 2007). What follows is a discu ssion of notable mediated mythical figures and archetypes used to reconcile women acting out of prescribed gender boundaries. Monsters, Freaks, and Amazons Monsters, freaks and Amazons have been applied to women performing outside prescribed gender boun daries in the news media, military, and in the general media. For example, at a 1976 press conference, General Westmoreland said one woman in ten thousand who could lead in combat, but she would be a freak, and
31 the properly feminine by virtue of a masculine appearance and/or a suspicion that she is a lesbian (Rowe, 1995; that women who are violent, kill or may kill are considered deviant and horrible (Sjoberg & Gentry, 2007). The Greek mythical Amazon woman is one of the most all encompassing characterizatio ns of women who break gender rules. Amazons are women who upset Leduc, 1988; Johnston, 1973; W ittig, 1973). While physiologically still women, the Amazons are said to have been willing to cut off a breast i n order to fight the Athenians (Staley, 2009). According to Amazonian lore, the act of removing one or both breasts increased the abilities to fight more effectively in warfare (Oldfather, 1935) These warrior women Amazons refusing to take on subordinate roles, shunned men and traditional pathw ays of marriage and domesticity As Amazons ran a purely matriarchal society, some schol ars s uggest it was a lesbian society (Grimard Leduc, 1988; Johnston, 1973; Witting, 1973). In other accounts of Amazonian myth, Amazons were sexually random male entirely opp osite of proper Athenian women (Tyrrell, 1984). For these reasons, Amazons were co nsidered a threat because they opposed Greek patriarchal society (Grimard Leduc, 1988; Johnston, 1973; Tyrrell, 1984; Witting, 1973). Today, the essence of the Amazon myth l ike labels of monster and freak, is to denote women who
32 transgress gender norms (Johnston, 1973) A ll three labels hav e been used The Whore Archetype r useful archetype to analyze perceptions of women in the military. Single women who mingle among men are perceived as loose and immoral (Enloe, 2000). In contrast, proper women marry and bear children for their husbands (Jones, 1997). Yet history reveals circumstances where women filled non traditional roles camp followers supported armies by helping men with domestic duties. While some washed laundry and cooked, others turned to prostitution. Rega rdless of which role they filled, the military them ( Degroot & Bird Peniston, 2000; Enloe, 2000). Women continued to perform unofficial duties as camp followers to the U.S military during the Korean and Vietnam War s where women operated massage parlors, bars, and brothels to succor and support providing soldiers morale, camp followers lived on the fringes of society and social acceptability. Consequently, the military cautioned its troops about the dangers of camp followers and marg inalized them by equating them with whores (Enloe, 1988). If women as followers were considered whores, then it is a short leap to label women in the military as whores (Enloe, 1988; Stiehm, 1988). have further di fferentiate women from their male soldier counte rparts (Stiehm, 1988; Treadwell, 1954). Whether
33 women are internally labeled by myths, the references subordinate servicewomen and undermine their military and professional careers. Contemporary stud ies of news media coverage of U.S. women at war expose monsters and whores and domestic and feminine stereotypes (Holland, 2006; Howard & Prividera, 2004; Howard & Prividera, 2008; Jeffreys, 2006; Just, 2006; McKelve y, 2006; Prividera & Howard, 2006; Sjoberg & Gentry, 2007). Most of the research focuses on the two most highly visible incidents during the recent war in Iraq that began with the 2003 invasion. What follows is a review of specific case studies of how the news media incorporated the myths and stereotypes into their narratives. Case Studies of Modern Women in the U.S. Military Scholar ly studies of media portrayals of women in the military over the past two decades primarily focus ed on specific case studie s. Many originate from the field of which applie d critical and feminist rhetorical analysis to critique media coverage. Several of these studies analyze d language and discourse regarding servicewomen during the second Gulf War also known as Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Howard and Prividera (2006) explain that meanings with respect to common understandings of femininity.
34 Stud ies of the two highly publicized contemporary stories about women in the military that of Private First Class Jessica Lynch and Private First Class Lynndie England troubles be 2003 invasion of Iraq when she and her convoy of the 507 th Ordnance Maintenance Company were ambushed after taking a wrong turn in Iraq. Eleven of the 33 U.S. soldiers were killed in the attack and seven were captured (Howard & Prividera, 2006). The other notable icon of the Iraq war is that of Lynndie England who served as a reservist with the military police at the Abu Ghraib prison throughout 2003. During her time as a clerk at the prison, England participated in the abuse o f Iraqi prisoners (Just, 2006). In the case of Lynch, scholars agree that the media portrayed her as a stereotypical fragile, domestic, feminine woman and victim (Gruner, 1994; Holland, 2006; Howard & Prividera, 2004; Howard & Prividera, 2006; Howard & Pr ividera, 2008; Just, 2006; Nantais & Lee, 1999; Sjoberg & Gentry, 2007). Analysis of this event exclusion of all other servicemembers of the 507 th Ord nance Maintenance C ompany. hostage situation and subsequent rescue. Repeatedly, news media representations covered estioned whether she had been sexually assaulted by Iraqi insurgents (Holland, 2006). The news media also tended to represent her as a civilian by frequently omitting her rank and detailing her childhood experiences and love for children instead (Howard & Prividera,
35 pivotal moment in the ongoing debate of whether women are fit for combat. From the civilianization and feminization of Lynch to her victimization, the media repos itioned her to where she is best understood as a civilian girl and not as a military soldier (Holland, framing of Lynch as the weaker sex wa servicewomen (Holland, 2006). O pponents to women in the military claim that these types of incidents substantiate that women are physically inferior and unable to perform masculine military duties (Holland, 2006; Pin Fat & Stern, 2005; T ong, 1998). In addition, Ly wom become sexual victims when serving in combat (Holland, 2006). In the case of Private First Class England, scholars concluded that the news media demonized her as an immoral and deviant whore (Howard & Prividera, 2008; Jeffreys, 2007; Just, 2006; Sjoberg & Gentry, 2007). While two other servicewomen participated in the Iraqi prisoner abuses, England was represented as the primary perpetrator. England o prison and its torture scandal. Scholars identified how the news media questioned her femininity by labeling Osborn, 2007) and others likened her to an Am azon woman (Sjoberg & Gentry, 2007). One study looked at (Just, 2006) The researcher noted that the descrip tions contrasted Lynch, who is a synecdoche for all military servicewomen, against England who is separated from
36 military servicewomen by her deviance (Just, 2006). Coverage of England also described her as sexually loose and deviant (Cornwell, 2004; Howard & Prividera, 2008; Just, 2006; Sjoberg & Gentry, 2 007) She had sex outside of marriage and admits to having conceived a child with a fellow male soldier ( Phillips, 2005) and she participated in physically and sexually abusing male Iraqi prisoners ( Coalition Forces Land Component Command, 2004; Karpinksi 2007). One of the most famous photographic images of England poses her as a 2004; Jagodzinski, 2006). The demonization of England by the news performs three functions. By rendering her a mo nster, England is isolated from the rest of her fellow servicewomen, which further helps people to perceive her actions as an unusual incident performed by a seemingly evil and aggressive woman (Just, 2006). Although England was only one of a handful of ab users at the prison, she became a convenient scapegoat for (Howard & Prividera, 2008, p. 287). The events of Abu Ghraib also have been cited by news media and political commentators as proof into the military suggesting that women were the cause for the scandals (Rajiva, 2007). Ultimately, Engla nd beca me emblematic of how wome n c ause chaos in and are unsuited for the military, particularly combat service (Howard & Prividera, 2008; Karpinski & Strasser, 2005). Both representations of Lynch and England further separate women in the military as the subo rdinate sex from their male counterparts (Bragg, 2003; Feinman,
37 roles and exclusio n from combat perpetuates this distinction and continue s to obstruct Gentry, 2007). These case studies suggest that news media continue to use stereotypes, myths, and archetypes in their narratives a bout women in the military. S tereotypes of and expectations f or femininity within society and the military provide fodder for arguments against women in the military, particularly against women in combat. Either they are co nsidered too weak to serve or are thought of as too disruptive to military discipline and morale (Burnham, 2004; Enloe, 2000; Jeffreys, 2007; Marquez, 2004). Because of these d endurance to bear hardships on the battlefield (Wheeler, 2004). Another challenge of gendered expectations includes the struggles sexual harassment, combat exclusions, military standards/measurements of body strength women must overcome in order to b e marginalized and, in cases such as Abu Ghraib, make servicewomen a convenient target s, 2007; Karpinski & Strasser, 2005). Enloe (2000, p. xi) writes that how male soldiers and civilians and women as voters and activists and wives and
38 schoolgirls think about women as soldiers does Enloe, 2000, p. xi). News media may soldiers automatically fail as women. News media also may facilitate notions that good women are too feminine to serve as effective soldiers. T his study examines contemporary ne wspaper representations of women in the military
39 Chapter Four : Method This study examined newspaper stories covering women in the U.S. military published from Sept. 11, 2001 to Sept. 11, 2009. The purpose of my study was to asce rtain how nationwide newspapers represent ed expanding roles which ha ve increasingly taken the m out of administrative support positions and placed them in to more combat intensive roles The selected timeframe covers the U.S. both are combat zones consisting of battlefields without definitive front lines that the military continues to occupy and from which the question of women in combat resurfaced. The me thod employed for this study is a longitudinal qualitative content analysis of news reports on women in the military I chose to study newspapers frequently ranked in the top five based on their circulation numbers USA Today and the Wall Street Journal w ere initially considered due to their rank in the top five; however, I excluded them because they had no substantive coverage of U.S. servicewomen for the period under review. Therefore, my study is based on 59 news articles from T he Washington Post the N ew York Times and the L os A ngeles Times My process outlined below provided a system to discover and track recurring key words, terms and phrases that later comprised my overall thematic categories. T he resulting themes, defined as
40 m es that run through a lot of the reports are the categories that account for the community (Altheide, 1996 p. 31 ). At the conclusion of my process, my emergent themes became the r epresentation on how the three newspapers in this study portrayed women in the military throughout the designated timeframe. In an effort to be as comprehensive as possible, I accessed stories using three different databases: Access World News, Lexis Nexi s, and ProQuest. I began by conducting multiple key word searches: women, female, U.S. military, military, the military in a generic manner were excluded along with articles that were in order to avoid their bias or opinion heavy qualities The i nitial search of the three newspapers resulted in 75 articles. After conducting an initial reading of the articles, I omitted duplicate articles and those with low relevance on the topic In the end, I studied 59 articles from three of the top five nationw ide newspapers. The n umber of relevant articles provided by each paper is broken down as follows: 1. Washington Post, 36 articles. 2. New York Times 16 articles. 3. Los Angeles Times 7 articles.
41 Because my method is qualitative and followed an emergent process I appl ied inductive reasoning. Inductive where specific observations are later compiled into broader and more complex thematic categories. M y first step involve d reading the articles thoroughly (Creswel l, 2007). Next, using ive content analysis guidance, I transcrib ed key information onto a protocol to aid in organizing my initial observations See A ppendix A for protocol template I looked for regularities of key words, terms phrases, quotes, and concepts that comprise d the subject of my study and thoroughly learn ed about the topic and discussions surrounding it within my designated timeframe ( Berg, 2001; Creswell, 2007). From this, I derived my initial thematic categories. Next, to better identify and define conceptual trends, I placed side by side in chronological order on a spreadsheet Thereafter, I populated the headers with each and included the most relevant con cepts from the initial protocols Following that, s well as a theme s particular focus otherwise referred to as (Altheide, 1996 p. 30 ). The completion of this process supplied the distinguishing perspectives of the overarching thematic categories. The third round involved Berg, 2001 p. 253 ) Here, I saturated my initial thematic categories with relevant ideas, terms and concepts. Fourth, I compared within and between categories to provide greater clarity of the themes, frames and angles This process continued u ntil no new meanings presented
42 themselves. Throughout this exploration, there was considerable back and forth between the news reports and the categories. However, this circular process aided t he effort to nto themes that represented the identified patterns (Creswell, 2007 p. 51 ).
43 Chapter Five : Results and Discussion Results My analysis revealed that the stories in the Washington P ost, New York Times and Los Angeles Times could be grouped into three fluid and sometimes overlapping themes: (a) tip of the spear, (b) combat debate, and (c ) women as victims of sexual assault. Story types included p ersonal profiles; interviews with politicians, academics, non profit organizational spokespeople military personnel and their family and friends; updates on court and congressional rulings, and panel investigations. Images of women filling non traditional feminine roles were pervasive in the reports in this study on women in the military focused heavily emerging non traditional combat roles which news reports attributed to contemporary battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a general cesses was positive, but also unprecedented. Moreo ver, the affirmative exposure of servicewomen was offset by arguments, which peaked in 2005, on whether women belong in combat Closer examination of assertions at demands to fill personnel objectives and to meet military mission requirements were behind the
44 loosen assignment policy restrictions on women. Covering the same y servicewomen quite possibly as a testament to the potential for military women on the whole to measure world data on the performance of women in the field ich later to assess their collective abilities (Alvarez, 2006 p. 4.2 ) many stories in which reporters shadowed women in c ombat jobs situating them close to battle. Other angles the reports took that were akin to portraying women measuring up to men with their battlefield feats showed women with a gritty like character excelling in arduous physical activities and getting dirt T ups of exceptional military women are enco uraging to a certain degree. They demonstrate revealing a new reporting succeed in a male dominated profession. on military women. Although news reports on this topic from these three papers were fewer than other topics, the reports showed that wom en may be still perceived as sex objects instead of as peers and remain at risk for victimization. I begin by discussing the representations of the new generation of women titled In this discussion, I include the subcategories that co mprised this overarching theme and how they support the portrayals showing military women as an emerging generation of combat women warriors. Thereafter, I discuss how the portrayals
45 of contemporary military women who were unconventionally placed closest t o danger reportedly spurred the debate on women in combat. Last, I conclude by discussing the reports that explain the circumstances and nature of military women as victims of sexual assault. Discussion Tip of the spear. most commonly related to military Special Operations forces that conduct unconventional warfare to include reconnaissance missions (United States Special Operations Command, n.d.). Inherent in these military operations is the need for these troops to be f irst on the ground. As a general rule, these soldiers face challenging settings and situations that are often women are not facing identical circumstances, the newspapers in this study covered women by using a similar theme. A common storyline covered in the three newspapers depicted servicewomen performing military activities that are historically uncommon. The stories consistently contemporary battlefields lacking definitive front lines. The nature of this type of battlefield is such that regardless whether women fill support or authorized combat roles, women potentially face the sam e dangers as men serving in direct combat roles. The reasons for this were attributed to advanced war fighting technology style character istics of modern warfare. By and large, contemporary military women
46 serving in Iraq and Afghanistan were framed newspapers show cased s ome of these servicewomen as they displayed courage on the battlefield while performing stere otypical masculine duties. Another technique the news media in this study used to demonstrate women with unprecedented achievements involved p rofiling exceptional women who broke (Swarns, 2008, p. A18). Typically, stories of this type d escribed women reaching ranks and filling positions previously held by men only. T he three papers portrayed women breaking barriers and performing typically male activities by incorporating the following types of narratives to demonstrate ce women are show ing women fighting and succeeding on the battlefield in line with their male colleagues; struggling in a male dominated field or opening doors for more opportunities for military women. The military profession necessary emphasis on weapons, fighting, killing, and dying is traditionally masculine (Solaro, 2007). When the three newspapers in the present study portrayed servicewomen, they often did so by describing women performing combat arms activities and expre ssing their desire to do the same combat activities as military men. Further, some articles chronicled wom en who were competitive against men in varying domains either in their youth or while in military academies. I therefore titled this recurring theme a (Wilgoren, 2003 p. 4 ). In a similar vein, the three papers frequently
47 gave detailed descriptions of servicewomen demonstrating their courage by engaging in accounts followed women as they dodged bullets, fired their individual weapons at the enemy, and flew combat helicopter missions. It is possible that given the perceived es the newspapers opted to achievements by occasionally leading with headlines of women who were breaking barriers an d earning military awards in combat. The following headline In all of these instances, instead of demonizing servicewomen for transgressing traditional gender norms, these three papers focused their message s on applauding coverage also included quotes f rom women explaining that they performed the same combat activities traditionall descriptions o f their at times reportedly unauthorized battlefield activities when she said And undernea p. A1 ). Similarly, when coverage featured servicewomen in combat support jobs open to women such as the Military Police (MP) the reports pointed out that these women MPs mission as all ma 2003 p. D2 ). to soldier, enduring day to day life on the battlefield is another. As if to offset the te daily wartime hardships, news stories described how women lived the same combat experiences as shown by the next excerpts :
48 (Sheridan, 2003, p. A2), p. A3 ). The repetition of themes portraying women functioning in the same capacity as men may combat conditions. These portrayals also may s uggest a gradual reconciliation of the paradox women warriors performing non traditional gender roles. Oftentimes, these same reports also highlighted military nd that performance and wearing the military uniform mate equalizer (Wilgoren, 2003, p. 3). Capt ain Todd Lindner of the Military Police depicted this view when he spoke about two women in his command ; he said wpieces for why there should be women in combat. They should be held up as examples why r u, 2005 p. A3 ). By frequently quoting mi litary personnel praising these types of stories painted an overall positive picture of military women in combat roles. Several articles proffered a different perspective about women meeting standards other than in combat settings. S tories that used this angle covered military training and academic environments wit h a specific focus addressing how women aspired to achieve reportedly strenuous physical standards. It was in these of gender neutral standards. The following quote given by one woman cadet embodied thi s theme: because the standards, as a minimum, is not unattainable by anybody. It is reasonable. Somebody might have to work a little bit harder, but just because you have to work
49 2004 p. B4 ). Moreover, the women quoted in this article were depicted as opposed to proposed changes to the physical fitness test to adjust for gender differences. T his article thus provided an anecdotal counter argument to cl will reduce standards and military readiness, and should therefore be reason enough to bar women altogether from serving in combat roles. Alongside the newspapers men by meeting equal fitness and training standards was a reported attitudinal resistance toward women in these training environments. At times, the newspapers showed women acknowledging a perceived need to prove their abilities as expressed by one cadet when she said 2002 p. A9 ) Despite women remarking on their efforts to achieve equal footing with military men the news integr c actions attitudinal resistance to women manifested itself. Yet some conce rns about measuring up to men. However, in the reported circumstances of women with a positive outlook for the expanding opportunities for military women and their inc reasing combat participation
50 A second way the three papers wrote about how women were breaking barriers was to profile exceptional military women. Several stories profiled notable military women exclusively and others incorporated lower ranking women fi ghting on the battlefield into a larger story. Com mon themes running through the exclusive stories of the first for military women. Typically, these were women who earned the rank of general and filled prominent military positions. The newspapers that provided this special Army Corps era in the 1970s, whose efforts led to systemic changes for women across the armed forces. Highlights showed that because of their leadership, the se exceptional women following statement from a retired general general was a typical testimonial of an exceptional woman leading during a period of significant transformation : a rmy really drove the change, and she was at the point of p. C8 ). While most coverage included women from an earlier era as they began their first official steps into the military, profiles of notable women generals past and present touched on their struggles and successes in a male dominated military. This theme also was present in the coverage of lower ranking women on the battlefield. Typically, a ry resumes, and their interest in perform ing traditionally masculine military activities.
51 Despite the positive coverage, the issue of sexual harassment emerged in a few reports, most typically when portraying women who male dominated military were less prevalent Instead, the stories focused on superior job performance reservations about women filling combat roles Overall, most of the reports covering women in modern combat circumstances emphasized servicewomen earning distin guished military award s including Yet another to approach featuring exceptional women involved descriptions of the story about the first woman r ecently to earn the rank of four star general was emblematic of this theme : t. Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody has delighted in leaping through the doors of military planes and plunging into the night with a parachute 008 p. A17 ). The se articles portrayed and emphasized that femininity or traditional gendered roles. One Army Lieutenant who spoke about sending a woman medic to support combat o perations illustrates this theme when he spoke about coverage in the papers in this study from women in the military of past eras showed a somewhat different perspective where women soldiers were reportedly perceived through a more traditional lens. about his recently
52 rps general hints at his traditional outlook on women when he was quoted saying 2009 p. C10 ). The combat debate. A dominant theme in this study centered on whether women should be permitted in combat. T he reports that covered the women in combat debate addressed each side of the argument, both for and against women in combat. Recurrent the policy barring women from combat and the reality that women were faci ng the same threats as men regardles s of job assignments. Often t he news stories identified the gap as the primary cause for the debate about women serving overseas in combat zones. Furthermore, and on repeated occasions, reports divulged that some milita ry commanders were following the 1994 policy restricting women in combat in name only and were using women against policy guidelines. Frequently, these news reports also included statements to substantiate why current policy requires revisions to accommoda One military commande reality on the ground and reportedly restrictive policies when she discussed her decision to use a woman medic Th e Army has to understand the regulation that says Cheri Provancha, commander of a Stryker Brigade support battalion in Mosul, who decided to bend Army rules and allow G uay to serve as a medic for an infantry company of the 82 nd Airborne (Tyson, 2005, p. A 2 ). Similarly, one senior male officer he said the
53 arines in the field, t he gender lines have already been erased. You Most noteworthy in the coverage of this topic was the cons istent feedback from military leaders who considered women instrumental to meeting personnel shortfalls and fulfill ing unique combat mission requirements hanistan (Tyson, 2008 p. A1). This validates the recurring trend that were again due to personnel and operational needs. Conversely, and with similar consistency regarding th e debate on women in policy restricting women in combat. Because of some of these efforts to pass a measure rguments outlining some opinions on why women do not belong in combat. These reports covering the proposed amendment to further restrict women were most concentrated in 2005, with the corresponding arguments to bolster support for the amendment reflecting traditional apprehensions. Some of these conventional concerns outlined in the news reports in this study reported that certain politicians were asking the Bush administration to take a fresh look at the role of women in the military. Coverage of some of t he points given against assumptions that servicemen may treat service women differently. However, the greatest emphasis revolved around the issue of military mothers and a request for the adm inistration to look
54 (Alonso Zaldivar, 2003 p. A23 ). One news article wrote in more detail about the debate on the role of military mothers in combat by listing the specifi cs on the complex military, administrative, and equal opportunity concerns if the administration opted to change current policy. Although the news reports showed a concentration of opinions against sending military mothers in to combat, they also wrote of aspects of women in combat. For example, some people were quoted expressing thoughts that it was harder to lose a daughter than a son. The newspapers also mentioned political orries about how the public would react to the sight of wo men returning home in body bags. Y et four articles noted that this had incited minimal public reaction. On two occasions, reports revealed changing women in combat. The earlier poll cited in 2003 p. 2 ); whereas, a later poll in 2009 showed that 53% favored permitting women to serve with ground combat troops (Alvarez, 200 9). As a general rule, the coverage reporting on arguments opposing women in combat typically involved protecting women and military mothers with only infrequent reference to questions whether servicewomen were physically and emotionally capable of meeting the demands of combat performance. In thes e few circumstances, most of the coverage involved quotes f rom two politicians, one of whom was former Navy Secretary James Webb running for Virginia Senate, who ns (Alvarez, 2006, p. 4.3).
55 Sex and the military. Although the military may be shown to be more progressive regarding integrating women in combat, news coverage in this study reported on a continued struggle with the military responding to and preventing sexual assault against women within its ranks. Four news articles offered varying statistics from various military organizations representing the issue of sexual assault during the ongoing military deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan One news report indi cated a 25% increase in sexual assault reports against servicemembers from the previous year or a total of 1275 across all military organizations (Tyson, 2005, p. A3). This report along with another identified an increase in sexual assault reports coming from the Centra l Area of Commands that include Iraq and Afghanistan with one story citing the 112 reports made across all the services over an 18 month period (Schmitt, 2004, p. 1). However, the reports showed some debate about the causes for the increase in reports within the Department of Defense with one Penta gon official stating his belief the increased numbers p. A3). While statistics varied depending on w hich reports the articles cited, the recurring issues in a majority of the articles were the reported systemic deficiencies in handling sexual assault and military cultural issues. In nearly every article, confi dentiality, insufficient victim support and a failure to define sexual assault uniformly across the services were cited as critical shortcomings. In addition, all the reports identified various cultural deficiencies of handling the problems such as peer retaliation and insensitive responses by victi Clemetson, 2004a; Clemetson, 2004b; Schmitt, 2004; Tyson, 2005 ). Pentagon spokesman L t. Col. Joe Richard directly acknowledged
56 2005, p. A3). Among some of the reported defense mechanisms against accusers laid bare in the articles included: rationalization, retaliation by peers, defending school conduct, criticism, and women being labeled as crazy or promiscuous. The articles also handling of sexual assault with one article mentioning the House Armed Services that the military had b p. A1 ). Overall, the tone in the articles writing on legislators was a cumulative In a related matter, a f ew articles covered the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandals, although the overall coverage of the prisoner abuse scandals was infrequent compared with other news story topics. Nearly all articles regarding the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandals included cov erage on P rivate First Class Lynndie England with two giving specific updates on her and describing her as the young servicewoman who took front covered England identified her as the central figure and predominantly represented her from th e angle of her defense team. quote by England s because she became the face The articles suggested that England faced stiffer pena lties than her male counterparts despite the fact that England
57 was a low ran king administrative clerk. Details of one report showed that Engla original charges carried a potential 30 year maximum prison sentence ; whereas two of her male military police colleagues received 10 year and 8 year prison sentences (White, 2005 ) Oth er articles reporting on the Abu Ghraib prison scandals covered, to varying degrees, the details on the sexual and violent nature of the crimes. The relationship between sex and violence was noted in one article director wh o said that sexual assault and violen ce in the military are related (Clemetson, 2004 a ). By and large, reports on sexual assault in the military showed that it remains a n issue. And while the coverage offered differing opinions by military and political le aders whether incidents of sexual assault were increasing, two essential realities were illuminated. First, t he coverage showed that women remain the pre dominant victim s of sexual assault in the military, and second, military culture vilifies women who com e forward against their attackers In many respects, a large portion of the news reports demonstrated progress towards a positive representation of women warriors succeeding battlefields. the news reports perform were minimal or altogether absent. The narratives described contemporary s efforts to achieve battlefield equality by their exce ptional performance and masculine like determination. But o the r reports showed an incongruity between
58 representations of women performing admirably in combat and those that identified service women as victims of sex ual assault. s combat accomplishments, the reported syst emic military shortcomings to halt incidents of sexual assault indicates a lingering problem that was often attributed to military culture. This suggests continue d attitudinal resistance or resentment to service women numerous laudatory articles on a handful of servicewomen in combat. Comparing the anecdotal evidence of praise with reports of system wide sexual assault leaves news med ia reports of military women somewhat grim. Sexual assault problems, particularly when women were shown perpetrating sexual abuse First Class England participation in Iraq i sh ow that news media reports demonstrate d a continued reliance of old stereotypes to represent military women.
59 Chapter Six : Conclusion The news representations of women in the military in this study of The Washington Post the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times reveal two different portrayals. Where one depiction paints imagery of military women integrating in male dominated environs, the other reveals women subjected to the challenges of a gender integrated military in the form of sexual as sault. Inasmuch as the reports portray women combating hostile forces, news reports also reveal that women face continued hostilities within the ranks from their male colleagues. The more pronounced and prevalent theme, however, rests with the former. This study uncovers rival depictions from early Iraq war 2003 icons such as Lynch to women who are iconic because they deviate from traditional feminine dictates by sharing the fighting fron t with their male counterparts. As such, I maintain that these descriptions of standing arguments against women in combat. Furthermore, where previous studies argued that the representations of Lynch and England further separated feminine women from masculine men in the military, post
60 (Carreiras, 2008). In lieu of portrayals implying that servicewomen violate their prescribed gen der rules by breaching the male only domain, the narratives in this study quoted servicemen increased acceptance of women in non traditional roles, portrayals in this stud y also attest their male counterparts. These testaments of capable women diverge from a previous literature comprised of traditional arguments against the appropriaten ess of women in combat. Notwithstanding these and other conventional arguments posed among legislators and the public to keep military women and mothers safe from harm, the most compelling theme within these narratives shows a trend of slowly disintegratin g social, ideological, and procedural barriers against women in combat. In addition, news reports deviating from the customary depictions of feminine care taking women implies a new but still emerging construct for contemporary servicewomen. In place of de pictions of as military jobs or positions that are traditionally masculine and d eemed inappropriate for women (Yoder, 1991 p. 165). Not only do the reports describe a new generation of women as necessary contributors who are meeting combat demands and military mission
61 needs, but also es of the ordinary Amazon warrior s are absent. roles, but I contend that the news media factor into this evolutionary perception of women in the combat arms profession. For that reason, I concur with one organizational constitutive relationship between mass mediated meanings and organizational identities is a general characteristic of the organization society ieve that were it not for the news media transitioning to representations of women prevailing in masculine roles without simultaneously questioning their womanhood, there would be less acceptance and louder public outcry against women serving overseas. How ever, these new representations are nascent news media images of contemporary military women and the rather modest coverage in this study provides only a limited sample. Furthermore, the results from this study can only suggest a relationship between news media representations and its role in While women in combat portrayals uncover a positive perspective, news media reports in this study also expose the persistent issues of sexual assault against milita ry women. There is fair and objective coverage of the issue; however, such reports are brief and intermi ttent compared with coverage of women in combat. As such, it is my opinion that the newspapers in this study could take a stronger stand on this importa nt social issue. Instead of digging deeper into the matter, the reports written give a rather impartial
62 and macro view of the problem as it exists across all the services. Although providing statistics on the increased reporting of sexual assault is releva nt to the topic, a nearly singular focus on numbers stirs little emotion. And unlike the individual profiles of women in combat, the thumbnail sketches of assaults against women fail to provide a persuasive and compelling narrative. Any direct quotes in ne ws reports studied here ongoing victimization in the military. The reports, however, were successful in consistently identifying that the problem is systemic and cultural ac ross all services. Yet, there was some debate on whether sexual assaults were on the rise or whether it was With regard to journalistic follow up, the study reveals only one instance of subsequent reporting on the matter within a one month timeframe. The remaining two articles were isolated publications. Taken as a whole, the newspapers in this study failed to call for social change and fell short in fulfilling their fourth estate role as government watchdog. particular focus on the topic remains relevant as demonstrated by an article published consideration to permit women to serve on submarines (Bynum & Jelinek, 2009). spanning other newspapers and newsmagazines likely would provide further insight and revelations of dominated military.
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85 Appendix 1 : (1996) Qualitative Research Analysis Protocol Template 1. Newspaper (USA Today, New York Times Los Angeles Times Washington Post) 2. Date of newspaper article 3. Location of article (page and Section/Story Number) 4. Le ngth (Word count) 5. Title or emphasis, focus or main topic 6. Source(s) 7. Themes 8. Brief summary of article
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News media representations of women in the u.s. military post september 11, 2001
h [electronic resource] /
by Colleen Krepstekies.
[Tampa, Fla] :
b University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains X pages.
Thesis (MA)--University of South Florida, 2010.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
ABSTRACT: Abstract This paper examines newspaper portrayals produced by the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times of women in the military from Sept. 11, 2001, to Sept. 11, 2009. The purpose was to identify how the three nationally recognized U.S. newspapers depict women's expanding combat roles on contemporary battlefields that lack definitive front lines. Because the news media are the primary vehicle to update the general public on military matters, how the news media portray military women can play a role in shaping audience perceptions of military women. In turn, this relationship can influence the public debate on issues pertaining to women in the military. For my research method, I employed a longitudinal, qualitative content analysis of news articles that revealed three distinctively themed portrayals of U.S. servicewomen. The thematic findings include: "Tip of the Spear," a largely laudatory category portraying the "new" or "first" generation of servicewomen filling historically uncommon (particularly direct ground combat) roles for women; the "Combat Debate," with coverage listing arguments for and against military women's expansion into "direct ground combat;" and the "Sexual Assault" category that exposed women as continued victims of sexual assault across the U.S. Armed Forces. The portrayals of women in the "Tip of the Spear," and to a lesser extent in the "Combat Debate," reveal how these three particular newspapers are applying a new formula to represent military women. Rather than portraying military women in stereotypical support roles-or castigating them for transgressing gender norms-the stories from these papers cast the servicewomen performing traditional masculine military activities in a positive light. However, following objective reporting protocol, the reports in the "Combat Debate" category also covered conventional patriarchal concerns to include protecting women from harm, particularly military mothers. Overall, these two categories comprised the greater part of the coverage of military women among the reports in this study, with only a handful of reports covering women as victims. I propose that the many positive portrayals that describe women fulfilling nontraditional masculine roles and activities demonstrate a revised blueprint in how the news media report on military women. Furthermore, while these research results cannot be applied universally outside this study's sample, I contend that these types of images representing today's servicewomen on contemporary battlefields increase public acceptance of women in the military and their expanding military assignments.
Advisor: Kim Golombisky, Ph.D.
Women in the Press
Women in Mass Media
United States - Armed Forces - Women
x Mass Communications
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.