Friday, March 30, 2007

Not uniform treatment

There is nothing new about women serving in uniform; indeed, yesterday marked the passing in Maryland of 109-year-old World War I veteran Charlotte Winters. Seventy-seven servicewomen, from the United States, Britain, and Ukraine, have died in Iraq. Yet it must be admitted that women in uniform remain subject to exceptional treatment.
The fact is apparent in the way that Jessica Lynch, 1 of several persons seized in Iraq at the same time, became a POW icon in the eyes of the U.S. government and populace. And it is apparent in the focus these last days on British seaman Faye Turney. Her Iranian captors featured video of this "wife and mother," wearing an out-of-uniform headscarf, eating a meal and, ultimately, making political statements that served Iranian interests. Initially they promised that she, and she alone, would get an early release from custody. Our 24-hour media duly repeated these images and events, over and over again.
It is a disquieting relief to see this morning that the awful limelight has shifted to 1 of Turney's comrades, a male. Perhaps focus now may shift away from gender-tinged celebritization and toward a quick conclusion of the crisis.

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