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Commentary

Women in Combat: Women’s Lib at Last?


     
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Michael Moore has characterized the movie Zero Dark Thirty, directed by Academy-award winner Kathryn Bigelow, as a “21st century chick flick.” Oh, absolutely: a movie whose heroine is a CIA operative put in charge of the enhanced interrogation of War on Terror detainees (also known as torture to us civilians), bent on revenge for her colleagues blown up in a suicide bombing: “I’m gonna smoke everybody involved in this op [that killed her friends]. And then I’m gonna kill bin Laden.” Pass the red licorice, girls!

Women now to be fully integrated into combat opens up possibilities for an entire oeuvre of “war chick flicks” for Ms. Bigelow or some as-yet unknown up-and-comer.

Let’s just imagine:

One could start with the tale of Sonia, a young Latina with limited options in life who signs up for the military. After her vehicle hits a roadside IED she is sent home a paraplegic. The movie then follows her bravely overcoming the seemingly insurmountable challenges facing a young woman of limited education, mobility, and support system, trapped in a dysfunctional VA hospital system. One could also conceivably do a female twist on Born on the Fourth of July, but anti-war movies don’t seem to resonate much these days.

That could be followed by the experiences of Paige, captured on the front lines and taken into captivity, where she is subjected to gang-rape and torture, until she eventually escapes and makes her way back to her unit which then takes brutal revenge on her assailants. Throw in a bullet through the eyeball or two, and you’ve got a sure hit. One could alternatively do a rape-and-revenge flick based on the currently common practice of rape during basic training—but that would lack the added elements of swarthy foreigners and exotic locales that really sell.

A real tear-jerker could be created around the tale of a woman we’ll call Jessica, who finds herself deployed at the same time as her husband. With no one to care for her young children, she’s forced to place them in foster care with the military. (As characterized by Kathleen Gilberd, co-chair of the Military Law Task Force, who defends parents facing arrest and disciplinary action, the military’s attitude to soldiers’ family obligations conflicting with military orders is: “If we wanted you to have a family, there would have been one in your duffle bag.”) The ironic twist in the movie comes when Jessica is part of an operation in Afghanistan resulting in the “collateral” killing of children the same age and appearance as her own.

Yes, this brave new world of women made, finally, ludicrously, fully “equal” by virtue of having to equally blindly follow orders and engage in soul-searing combat opens up all kinds of fresh, new movie possibilities. And just in time: chick flicks have really been getting stale, recycling the same old tired plots of women seeking true love and fulfillment.

As a public service in return for access to top military brass in making the films, the director could then create a kind of ensemble piece, compiling “best of” scenes from each, to be screened for every female recruit at every military recruiting station 24 hours before she can legally enlist. After all, if a woman must view a sonogram in advance of receiving an abortion, isn’t it only fair that she be similarly fully informed before joining up to take even more innocent lives as a fully-integrated part of today’s military?


Mary L. G. Theroux is Senior Vice President at The Independent Institute and Managing Director of Lightning Ventures. She is Chairman of the Advisory Board for the Alameda County Salvation Army; former Chairman of the San Francisco Salvation Army Advisory Board, and a Member of the National Advisory Board of The Salvation Army.






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