April 03, 2003

Sugar 'n' Spice

I haven't talked about the rescued POW Pfc. Jessica Lynch because everyone else has, and I had nothing more to contribute than "Yay!" But I do now -- not about the rather ghoulish "Was she tortured, even... you know--?" about Private Lynch. I'll just address the attitude towards her apparent cuteness, that seems to have at least one blogger rather dismissive of other bloggers' ire at the treatment of her by media figures (which apparently extend to calling her by her first name, not her rank, calling attention to her looks, etc. -- I haven't seen it, but it sounds like an accurate assessment of how our Cute-ified media treats every subject under the sun -- if torture were part of our culture we'd have cutesy segments about it on the Today show, with Katie (see the diminutive) Couric saying pert things about the latest designs in nail-rippers and testicle pinchers). I'm not going to get into the argument about women in combat, pro and con, because my attitude is basically spelled out in this bit of dialogue from The Return of the King, where Eowyn says:

"All your words are but to say: you are a woman, and your part is in the house. But when the men have died in battle and honour, you have leave to be burned in the house, for the men will need it no more."

But enough of that. Anyway, Private First Class Lynch is handicapped, apparently, by her cute girlieness. Well, this doesn't sound like the actions of a cute, delicate little girlie:

Pfc. Jessica Lynch, rescued Tuesday from an Iraqi hospital, fought fiercely and shot several enemy soldiers after Iraqi forces ambushed the Army's 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company, firing her weapon until she ran out of ammunition, U.S. officials said yesterday.

Lynch, a 19-year-old supply clerk, continued firing at the Iraqis even after she sustained multiple gunshot wounds and watched several other soldiers in her unit die around her in fighting March 23, one official said. The ambush took place after a 507th convoy, supporting the advancing 3rd Infantry Division, took a wrong turn near the southern city of Nasiriyah.

I guess someone forgot to tell her that cute girlies don't fight to kill. But people are free to go on thinking that.

(Personal note: I was considered terribly cute as a child. People were sure that I was friendly, sociable, a "people" person, just because I was a curly-headed, big-blue-eyed moppet. They couldn't have been further from the truth, and people were constantly backing away from me -- or rather, what I allowed them to see over the top of whatever book I was reading -- in confusion. There's nothing worse than being a cute misanthrope.)

(Via Transterrestrial Musings.)

Posted by Andrea Harris at April 3, 2003 04:57 AM

I noticed yesterday that the Fox News headline thingy at the bottom of the screen (not the ticker but the thing above the ticker) called her Jessica rather than by her last name or rank as they would for her male counterparts. It kind of bothered me.

I agree with your sentiments exactly. Women fought long and hard to be treated equally in the military only to have the media belittle that effort. Her youth probably doesn't help either.

Sounds to me like she did what she was trained to do, which is fight back and do whatever is necessary to defend her position. Good for her.

Posted by: jen at April 3, 2003 at 10:03 AM

She seems to have already been transformed by the media into Purple Heart Barbie, which isn't just insulting, it's really quite sickening.

Posted by: David Jaroslav at April 3, 2003 at 11:16 AM

I think PFC Lynch kicks ass, and I don't care if she's cute or ugly. She gets a Purple Heart, Southwest Asia Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and a Bronze Star, as far as I'm concerned. What a credit to her upbringing and training. Makes me wonder what I would have done in her situation, and really makes me wonder at the poise and maturity and strength that she showed, even at the ripe old age of 19. Wow.

Posted by: Sharkman at April 3, 2003 at 11:56 AM

Actually, on Fox, one of the anchors did apologize for calling Private First Class Lynch by her first name only.

She is definitely a credit to herself and her country.

(And, I too suffer from the 'cute as a button' syndrome. People just can't believe that I'm anything but a cute, social butterfly. One of my favorite pins to wear says: Cute... Sweet... Deadly)

Posted by: Ninjababe at April 3, 2003 at 02:04 PM

If Centcom is smart, as soon as PFC Lynch is ready, they'll have a press conference where she will display all the professionalism of a U.S. soldier and all that "Barbie" talk will fade away.

Posted by: Eric Lindholm at April 3, 2003 at 02:06 PM

Jeez, imagine being an Arab male. Not only are American women independent, strong, tough, and super hot babes that these jackasses will never, ever, EVER get to be with, but our hot women can also kick their misogynistic asses! Ha! Chalk one up for America!

PFC Lynch is a hero in this old soldier's eyes. I am sure her story will get embellished a bit by an overeager hero-making PR machine that cannot help itself, but I think she's a hero simply because it was her who got shot and stabbed and spent those horrible days (taking god-knows-what kind of awful abuse from those swine) in captivity and not me. That is what soldiering is all about--to do what others cannot (or will not) do for our country. That sounds heroic to me, folks. I don't need to know anything else to know that.

Posted by: mat at April 3, 2003 at 03:26 PM

LOL..Andrea, you should change the heading here to "Sugar 'n' Spice, Locked and Loaded."

Posted by: mat at April 3, 2003 at 03:28 PM

I just can’t get over the fact that her goal is to be a kindergarten teacher. She’s pretty, tough and professional – and yet she’s also somewhat ordinary, which is, at least to most ordinary people, the most inspiring part of her story.

Posted by: mary at April 3, 2003 at 04:03 PM

You would think that any country that thinks about tussling with us would notice that our kids go to Lazer Zone for birthday parties. We start 'em young.

Another commentor someplace said Pfc. Lynch is far better suited for middle school.

Posted by: Jack at April 3, 2003 at 04:59 PM

LOL- there would be no running in the hallway and no gum stuck under the desks in Pfc. Lynch's school..

Posted by: mary at April 3, 2003 at 05:09 PM

As a Gulf War I & Army vet I'm proud of how well PFC Lynch performed. Hell, even our 19 year old female supply clerks kick ass... how can we not win? She did really well under very tough circumstances.

It doesn't exactly settle the women in combat issue though, in spite of what some TV commentators seem to be saying. It settles the "if things go to hell can women fight" issue - the answer is a clear "yup". Whether or not any particular soldier does fight well is a matter of individual inquiry.

On the other hand, improvised defense and tooth-and-nail gun fights are a lot different from standing there slinging 125 pound artillery rounds into a gun tube for several hours at a time, carrying 240 pound track sections to repair your M-1 tank, or humping a 80 pound pack and an additional 60 pound mortar baseplate up and down mountains.

I think we'd do better to just take her performance on its own terms: the heroism we expect from ordinary citizens whether they are on a hijacked plane, running up the stairs with a fire hose, or performing the duties of a soldier caught up in unexpected circumstances. Co-opting PFC Lynch's heroism for any other purposes demeans what she just did on our behalf.

Posted by: Omnibus Bill at April 3, 2003 at 05:29 PM

You fell in love with Florence King from the first words of the first book, didn't you? :-)

Posted by: Dean Esmay at April 3, 2003 at 06:15 PM

She reminds me of another woman who deserves to be better known--Violette Szabo, of mixed French/British ancestry, who volunteered for a "mixed" antiaircraft battery in WWII (yes, there really were such units), then volunteered to become an agent of Special Operations Executive. Went into occupied France by Lysander aircraft on her first mission and returned in one piece. Went in again by parachute, right after D-day and, while on a courier mission, encountered a unit of 2nd SS Panzer division. Unable to run because of an injured ankle, she held off the enemy with her submachine gun while her partner made his escape. Taken to Ravensbruck concentration camp and was shot just before the end of the war. Her George Cross and Croix de Guerre were awarded to her daughter, then 3 years old.

Posted by: David Foster at April 3, 2003 at 09:31 PM

If I were looking to go to war and needed some women I'd pick Andrea, Rachel Lucas, Connie du Toit and Jessica Lynch.

Posted by: Denny Wilson at April 3, 2003 at 10:31 PM

From the AP:

POW Reportedly Fought Captors With Gun


The media are Morons First Class.

Posted by: feste at April 4, 2003 at 01:03 AM

Violette Szabo is the nads--she wasn't even enlisted. But Pfc Lynch is great--I think she and all other women in combat should be the only females allowed to play golf at Ausuta. The NOW webstie has 2 stories about that but nothing on Pfc. Lynch.

Posted by: Rachel Cohen at April 4, 2003 at 07:45 PM

Violette Szabo is the nads--she wasn't even enlisted. But Pfc Lynch is great--I think she and all other women in combat should be the only females allowed to play golf at Ausuta. The NOW webstie has 2 stories about that but nothing on Pfc. Lynch.

Posted by: Rachel Cohen at April 4, 2003 at 07:46 PM