PTSD Combat is no longer being updated.

Find Ilona blogging at Magyar Etimológia and Etymartist.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Female Faces of War - Part 2: Military's Leading Ladies Have Come a Long Way, Baby

"It's either her or me in this engine room!"

One of my favorite films of all time (a close second to Some Like it Hot) is Operation Petticoat released in 1959 by MGM, featuring Cary Grant and Tony Curtis and a gaggle of Army nurses who have had to hitch a ride on their WWII submarine, the USS Sea Tiger.

This weekend, a phenomenal group of gals (along with hundreds of boy scouts on their own excursion) gathered on the Battleship Massachusetts as the Female Faces of War Conference and Overnight Adventure set sail. One can only wonder what the men who served on that ship would have to say about all of this; but, we sure did have a great time.

I'm catching up with research paper writing at the moment, so some photos of the event will have to do until I can write more. An all-around success and a great honor to be among women of all generation who have worn the uniform.

Another short clip (this one has Spanish subtitles) has Curtis' character making his moves on one of the nurses:

The film was so popular that it was resurrected as a 1977 television series. The opening, with all of the ship's men ogling the women, was considered funny in its own day to most (just as the film was). The problem, of course, is that this type of humor is filled with stereotypes that can be disrespectful to women sensitive to the issue of sexual harassment and/or violence.

A culture of hyped-up masculinity that considers women first and foremost sexual objects can lead to serious problems like women in uniform face today involving military sexual trauma (MST). While this kind of mindset still exists in our world, I think it's becoming a bit less blatant -- a bit less openly embraced -- in America.

When I was a flight attendant, in my early years (1987 to about 1991 or so) our flight decks were littered with explicit photos of women -- hidden in discrete ways and locations so that only by knowing which small cover on the instrument panel to lift or which page of a log book to turn to would they be revealed.

As more women moved up the ranks, and into the cockpit's left seat especially, our company began a campaign to stop the practice. But, legal challenges in this arena are still taking place; United Airlines, for example, earlier this month settled a lawsuit brought by a former female pilot on just this charge. Continental and Alaska Airlines both had similar suits in the '90s.

Women in the military are also forcing cultural change.

It is a slow process, however, especially since the organization they work for is a government entity and not a private business that is highly averse to such publicity. Change is likely to take longer than any would like to imagine, but it is taking place.

The "leading ladies" serving in Afghanistan and Iraq will ensure that progress for women in the military continues to move in the right direction....just as those ladies serving in past generations paved the way for them today.

Again, what a pleasure to be with them this weekend.

[UPDATE Nov 13, 2009]: My presentation PowerPoint:

Related Posts

Blog Widget by LinkWithin
Want to stay connected? You can subscribe to PTSD Combat via Feedburner or follow Ilona on Twitter.
Later/Newer Posts Previous/Older Posts Return Home

2011: Jan Feb
2010: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
2009: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
2008: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
2007: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
2006: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
2005: Sept Oct Nov Dec

Legal Notice

The information presented on this web site is based on news reports, medical and government documents, and personal analysis. It does NOT represent therapeutic prescription or recommendation. For specific advice and information, consult your health care provider.

Comments at PTSD Combat do not necessarily represent the editor's views. Illegal or inappropriate material will be removed when brought to our attention. The existence of such does not reflect an endorsement.

This site contains at times large portions of copyrighted material not specifically authorized by the copyright owner. This material is used for educational purposes, to forward understanding of issues that concern veterans and military families. In accordance with U.S. Copyright Law Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit. More information.