Diasporic Postcards: SOLDIERETTES
In the fight for gender equality, there have been some developments that I have found disappointing and consider regressive. One has been the adoption by some women of the credence that they can only advance in the workplace (including in politics) by acting and even dressing like men, and leading with inauthentically strong masculine energy to progress into leadership roles. But the most destructive misstep, in my opinion, has been the advent of women in combat.
In Ukraine, women comprise 15% of its army and pictures of many women soldiers, with features that fall into the ‘conventional standards of beauty’ in Western culture, have been plastered in the media to garner sympathy for the country’s plight. The pinup-like shots often show women with guns slung over their shoulders or swinging their long, dark, locks. Prior to the invasion, there was even a proliferation of photos of battalions of Ukrainian women marching in heels.
But, for the same reason that has made Ukrainian women covetted mail order brides, namely their ‘adorable appearance, refined elegance, and cheerfulness’ is precisely what puts Ukrainian female soldiers at great risk for sexual assault, not only upon capture by an enemy, but from their own comrades-in-arms. Assault against female soldiers is a common phenomenon in the US army, and in an even more misogynistic culture, such as that of Ukraine, I guarantee you the instances of assault are even higher for these recruits.
Feminism has never been JUST about equality. It has always also been about rejecting patriarchal values that foster disparities, violence, and war. As Meryl Streep once said, if women were running the world, there would be more investment in peace because, as women, we do not want to see our children killed. And I would add that it is contrary to feminine energy to kill ‘the children of men.’
Women hold up half the sky. Let it be a brighter, bluer, clearer sky. And may the earth be free of spilled blood.