Women at war in Iraq.

There are many misperceptions about the role of women in the Iraq war. We have written about the role and rate of sexual violence in the military and this is an interesting radio interview with a several women that have served in the Iraq war. It goes into the role of women in the military and in combat, specifically debunking the assumption that women don’t engage in combat or security. It also includes a call from a listener who asks if we as Americans want “our” women having the potential threat of being POWs and what that means to which Kristen Holmstedt replies that she doesn’t feel women’s bodies are any more valuable as POW’s as men’s. I think this is really really interesting.
While we talk about women and war, one listener asks, “why are we glorifying war?” So while we can on one-hand fight for the rights of women in war, it is always important to step back and think about what we are actually supporting. I know most of us anti-war folks do, but it is a slippery slope from full inclusion and equitable treatment for all constituents in the military to working for an end to the war in Iraq.
Finally I was waiting patiently for them to bring up sexual trauma in the military and towards the end they get into it and one woman speaks frankly about her experience with sexual harassment in the military and how the military dealt with it. Really upsetting.
Check it out here and let me know what you think.

Join the Conversation

  • Sehnsucht

    USA Today did an article about women in the Iraq war a while back, featuring my own mother while she was in the VA hospital. Google Lucinda (or Cindy) Rathbun if you get a chance. She says they took her completely out of context. What was worse was when she read the comments on the article on the USA Today website. A lot of them were saying that “this is why we shouldn’t have women in the military,” and other ignorant shit like that.
    She’s kind of strange. She supports the military on one level and completely abhors it on another. Being rabidly anti-war myself, we end up having some pretty interesting conversations.

  • JessicaatEPIC

    Violence against women over the course of the Iraq War has also impacted Iraqi women, a distinction and topic that needs to be addressed and discussed. Rape is widely used a tool of terror, most commonly inside Iraq where armed militias and peshmergas are pillaging homes and using violence against families to get them to leave their homes. We are seeing this used most often against Shi’a women, who are frequently group raped in their homes while militia members hold back their family members and look on. It is extremely violent and the root of great suffering and psychological trauma. For information about this and daily updates about developments on the ground in Iraq, check out The Ground Truth at: http://thegroundtruth.blogspot.com
    Forthcoming is a blog that talks about the emerging “Economy of Violence” in Iraq, which includes horrific violence against women.

  • SodiumSkies

    Thanks for posting this, Samhita. That call at the end left me with a few conclusions:
    -The Military must discipline its soldiers against the harassment of women soldiers;
    -and the Military must make its staff and commanders more sensitive to incidences of abuse and receptive to reports of abuse.
    It is tragic that a soldier would hesitate to report abuse against them. These women are your sister soldiers — they are not objects for your advances.

  • FrumiousB

    Since when does the American public give a shit about women being raped? Or is it just that we want to rape our women ourselves, not have some foreigner do it? Next person who tells you women are too precious to be put in combat positions, ask them what they are doing to reduce domestic violence. We already live in a combat zone. At least on the front lines we get a gun.

  • ArmyVetJen

    This movie is SOOO good. I recommend everyone go see it. It is important though to put it into a context because while the movie does not take a side on the war the toll of the war takes lives. It IS important we contextualize our empowerment as women in an increasingky militarized world.
    Samhita, check out the Women of Color Resource Center. They will be at the conference this weekend.
    They just put together an excellant workshop for female vets called “Do Tell”. It gave those female vets the opportunity to tell their stories through digital storytelling. They will be up on the website soon.

  • Samhita

    Ah, yes, I used to work upstairs from WOCRC, def will look them up, thanks!

  • ArmyVetJen

    Oh in the building with the amazing soul food cafe downstairs??
    Def check out “Do Tell” when it goes live, its an ongoing project!

  • Brianna G

    Guns are less useful when the other side has them too.
    I support women in combat roles, but that doesn’t make me worry about the sexual abuse a female POW might endure in the Middle East.

  • http://bookcrossing.com/referral/ahimsa ahimsa

    Thanks for posting on this topic. I heard about the documentary (Lioness) while listening to the radio today. I missed today’s showing but plan to record one of the repeats.
    Going slightly off topic, but still about war and violence against women, another radio show (The World by PRI – my favorite) had an update about the situation in the Congo. Just listening to it I couldn’t help crying. Here’s a link to the web site – http://www.theworld.org/taxonomy_by_date/1/20081113 . The section that discusses sexual violence against women is in the segment labeled “Call for more peacekeepers in Congo.”

  • Sehnsucht

    Rape in the military is rarely committed by foreigners (or ‘the enemy’ or whatever you will call them). Most often it’s by their own fellow service members. In fact, there is what they call ‘rape by rank’ which involves higher ranking officers using their position to sexually violate lower ranking women.

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