The memo refered to the photo above, advising avoiding photos that 'glamorize' women in combat. |
By KATE BRANNEN | 11/19/13
The Army should use photos of “average-looking women” when it needs to illustrate stories about female soldiers, a specialist recommends — images of women who are too pretty undermine the communications strategy about introducing them into combat roles.
“In general, ugly women are perceived as competent while pretty women are perceived as having used their looks to get ahead,” wrote Col. Lynette Arnhart, who is leading a team of analysts studying how best to integrate women into combat roles that have previously been closed off to them. ...
“There is a general tendency to select nice looking women when we select a photo to go with an article (where the article does not reference a specific person). It might behoove us to select more average looking women for our comms strategy. For example, the attached article shows a pretty woman, wearing make-up while on deployed duty. Such photos undermine the rest of the message (and may even make people ask if breaking a nail is considered hazardous duty),” Arnhart said.
She wrote that a photo of a female soldier with mud on her face that news agencies used last spring “sends a much different message—one of women willing to do the dirty work necessary in order to get the job done.” ...
After POLITICO first reported on the e-mail in Tuesday’s Morning Defense, critics seized upon Arnhart’s guidance as proof that today’s Army culture has a long way to go before women will be treated as equals.
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) tweeted that it was “another example that @USArmy just doesn’t get it as it debates if pretty girls should be used in pamphlets.”
Since political discourse is now conducted in 140 character bites, I don't exactly know what the Congresswoman meant. But, clearly, "just doesn't get it" is an effective rhetorical device these days.
We are told that "society's" obsession with how women look is what prevents women from, say, performing Audie Murphy-like heroics on the battlefield, but it sure seems like women want to talk about how women look, even if, as in the case of the Congresswoman, they don't have anything to say.