How Women in Combat Pee, by the New York Times

02-11_Peeing.jpg

This past Monday readers of the NYTimes were treated to an article on women in the military titled: Living and Fighting Alongside Men and Fitting In.
Sounds good right? And the item starts out nicely:

There is no mistaking that this dusty, gravel-strewn camp northeast of Baghdad is anything other than a combat outpost in a still-hostile land. And there is no mistaking that women in uniform have had a transformative effect on it.

But then immediately readers get this:

There are women’s bathrooms
The base’s clinic treats gynecological problems and has, alongside the equipment needed to treat the trauma of modern warfare, an ultrasound machine.

And…

....birth control is available — the PX at Warhorse even sold out of condoms one day recently — reflecting a widely accepted reality that soldiers have sex at outposts across Iraq.

So the lede is about women’s female needs and screwing. You want to guess what the kicker is? (Kicker is journo term for finale of a story.)
Oh get set!!!!!!:

She produced from her bunk in her CHU a device sold by REI called a “feminine urinary director.” “It’s even pink,” Specialist Hoeppner interjected.
Warhorse’s supply officer — a woman — acquired dozens of them.
“The first time one of them came around a truck and saw me peeing on a tire,” she said of one of her male colleagues, “I thought he was going to have a heart attack.”

The story is bookened with gyno exams at the front end, and female pissing at the back end. Nice, wow baby you’ve come a long way!

Oh there is that cheery title: women actually “fit in,”--a believe-it-or-not, heavily implied. As though it is up to women to fit in and not up to the military to end practices that make “fitting in” a requirement to be, as Staff Sgt. Patricia F. Bradford says: “…a bitch, a slut or a dyke — or you’re married, but even if you’re married, you’re still probably one of the three,” said Bradford.

Of course “fitting in” requires a gal to: carry “a folding knife and a heavy, ridged flashlight when {they are } out at night on the base.”

Get that last part, on the base. Female soldiers are told to travel in pairs to the toilet and showers, because the rate of sexual attack towards them by their own comrades is so very great.

But those high levels of sexual assault and harassment women in uniform endure are never mentioned in this NYTimes story. How any reporter worth his (and it was a he—Steven Lee Myers) paycheck could not include these numbers (upcoming) is beyond comprehension. But hey, why get women so riled up that they might forget to vote male in the next presidential election, or decide not to go to Afghanistan to be raped by a their confreres —after all troops are running low and women are needed to keep the Times writers safe in their oil consumptions.

Also, an article supposedly telling us how great and progressive it is to be a female in combat might want to give us some idea of how many women are given more than desk-duty jobs. What are the gain numbers and promotion rates? What about the number of top dog positions that go female? Not a mention. What DO we get? :

Many of the women at Warhorse serve in jobs that have traditionally accommodated women: the base hospital, food service, supply and administration.

Then it’s back to peeing and screwing:

I’ve kicked my guys out of the truck to pee in a bottle like that,” Sgt. Joelene M. Lachance, a soldier with the 172nd Military Intelligence Battalion, said at Warhorse, pointing to one of the liter water bottles that are ubiquitous at bases in Iraq. “Cut the bottle off and pee in the bottle and then dispose of it. Sometimes it’s an issue, but most of the time, I just make do.

And:

At the outset of the war, the introduction of women into outposts like Warhorse raised fears not just of abuse or harassment, but also of sex and pregnancy. The worst of those fears, officers say, have not materialized.
In fact, sex in America’s war zones is fairly common, soldiers say, and has not generally proved disruptive.

Hmmm, not materialized? Yes women are not getting knocked up by the boatload and having consensual sex doesn’t turn our fighting men into placid whippd pups, but why the gloss over of the sexual abuse issue.
Uh-oh. That would be female inciting. Can't have that!

Now lets leave the NYTimes and go to Professor Helen Benedict’s book on women in combat—“The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq.”
Here are excepts and some stats on women in war zones:

“According to several recent surveys conducted by researchers at veterans centers, nearly a third of female troops are raped by their comrades, while some three-quarters are sexually assaulted, and 90 percent are sexually harassed.”
More:
“The Department of Defense acknowledges that despite its reform, some 80 percent of military sexual assaults are still never reported.”

Benedict's book explains the tactical, psychological and logistical reasons for non-reporting. She also reports that women returning from war have much higher rates of PTSD, most likely because of the severe stress of never being able to let down your guard, even when trying to use the latrine or shower on a "secure" base. Men can bundle their stress into combat times vs. non-combat times, but females but be hyper-vigilant even as they tuck in for the night or floss their teeth.

But leave it to the Times do story on women in combat and reference no less than six times our pee-pee problems and not report out the high levels of sexual abuse women are subjected to as they try to fight enemies from within and without and never mention the hurdles to promotions that women in miliarty face compared to their male counterparts. Geezzalou, can't a reporter earn an honest buck these days?

Our prior reporting on this issue:
http://www.femisex.com/content/obama-wants-mandatory-registration-women-...

From USA Today:
“About one out of seven female veterans of Afghanistan or Iraq who visit a Veterans Affairs center for medical care report being a victim of sexual assault or harassment during military duty, a study reports today.”

From Cnn: WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A congresswoman said Thursday that her "jaw dropped" when military doctors told her that four in 10 women at a veterans hospital reported being sexually assaulted while in the military.”

From AP:
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A review by the Department of Veterans Affairs
finds that women veterans aren't receiving the same quality of
outpatient care as men at about one-third of its facilities.

From FemiSex:
Where can women sign up for Obama’s mandatory service—service that shows that a women in the military is more likely to be raped by a comrade than killed by an enemy.

Comments

Professor Helen Benedict and

Professor Helen Benedict and Femisex are both correct that sexual abuse is not fully explored in this article. Femisex is also correct that a story on women in the military must be about more than how women manage their daily urinary functions. It must examine how women are faring in terms of promotions in comparison to men, and how the ability to die for your country as a female is belittled by the inability to move up in rank because of gendered restrictions.

It is a fact that restricting women's ability to be in combat also restricts their ability to make a well-paid career out of the military. I women are expected to die in battle they should not be hindered in their ability to gain promotions as the same rate as men.

Hi folks-- Here is link to a

Hi folks-- Here is link to a collection of letters to the Editor on the Women in Combat story:
Women in Combat: An American Story:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/19/opinion/l19combat.html?scp=1&sq=Women%...

Here is Benedict's reply:
I read your article with interest, having spent two years interviewing more than 40 military women who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Although women have indeed excelled at their duties, the article glosses over the seriousness of the threat military women face from hostile comrades who harass, sexually assault or rape them.

Women make up only 1 in 10 troops in Iraq and cannot always find a female “battle buddy” to walk with them to the showers or latrines. They are outnumbered and often resented. Many female soldiers told me they feared the men on their own side more than the enemy.

American female soldiers, already sacrificing life and limb, should not have to fear their comrades. And articles like this should not gloss over this injustice.

Helen Benedict
Medusa, N.Y., Aug. 17, 2009

The writer is the author of “The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq” and a professor of journalism at Columbia University.

Sorry--I'm always about a day late reading the hard copy of the Times or I'd have put this in the main bar of story.

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