A bit about my
Research on Newspaper Articles About Women in Combat.
I conducted a discursive content analysis of American newspaper articles from 2012-2013, which spanned the conversation about
repealing the Direct Ground Combat Exclusion Rule.
I expected to find arguments to keep the rule, instead I found that about 2/3s of the articles wrote, something to the effect of - "it's about time."
Published in Taylor & Francis Online.
Due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM and OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM, women have served where there have been "blurred front lines" for more than two decades. Even if women were not "officially assigned" to combat billets, they experienced and engaged in combat.
Pictured here is Corporal Kristine Tejada, image from an Outside the Wire Story, found here. She was on patrol in Iraq and was about to be featured in an Army publication about women's participation in the wars, but her photo was yanked because she didn't look like the "average" soldier. Why would that be if just about half of the women in the service are racial or ethnic minorities?
Key to my analysis on articles was how media framed women. The 'gendered double-bind' (Valian 1999) describes how women are discussed as either 'competent and masculine' or 'feminine and incompetent.' This imposes pressure on women to perform as "men would" in order to "fit in" and be seen as able to "hack it." Instead, media representations should depict women as they are.
Photographed by SSgt Bobby Harper, is my friend Captain Aimee Fielder, prepping for the job on the USAF F-16 Viper Team, shortly after the dress and appearance rules allowed women to wear our hair in ponytails and braids, Feb 2021.
Diversity & Inclusion
The newspaper articles from 2012-2013, which encompassed the public discussion about officially allowing women to serve in combat, did not make many mentions about military women's race or ethnicities. The media also did not write much about women's gender; when mentions were made,
they were more likely to describe women as masculine,
or behaving like the men on the job.
The majority of the text within the articles described women's jobs, how they fit in with the men, how women were signing up for combat courses, and the lawsuit brought against the DoD about the combat exclusion rule.
Since the repeal of the Direct Ground Combat Exclusion Rule, there have been a number of "firsts" for women in the US military. Also, there has been significant pushes for Diversity and Inclusion in terms of gender presentation, LGBTQ+, and race/ethnicity.
It would seem a new content analysis of media about women in combat is due.
Pictured here is my friend Master Sergeant Julie Avey while she was deployed in OEF.