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There's an interesting and oddly infuriating op-ed in the Washington Post this morning from Kathleen Parker (Wikipedia) -- it's the "Mother of all Blunders", she writes, that Britain allowed a woman with a 3-year-old child to work in the military. "Children in their tender years are," after all, "dependent on their mothers in unique ways" (even if Parker does not substantiate that claim and hand-waves it away to rest on the intuitions of a "good" parent -- as well as refuses to address the needs that children have for their fathers as well. And why do I get the feeling that she would be just as disapproving of a child having two mothers, which, after all, should double the unique goodness?).

She charges the West with the belief that "women can pretend to be men" -- somehow overlooking the fact that no one was "pretending" to be anything (it's not as if she cut her hair and bound her breasts, after all!) The woman in question was simply doing an unwanted job, and now she's getting slack for it from both sides of the aisle.

It seems that Kathleen Parker, the white-collar columnist that she is, would rather have her unwilling and un-psychologically-prepared brothers, husband, and sons go to war than any woman at all (assuming, of course, that she has any). And apparently she thinks that if men go into homosocial combat, they will be more likely to protect women from assault. My reaction? Utter disbelief. Men socializing only with men, not having sustained interaction with women for months at a time -- this is supposed to lead them to a deeper respect? *cough*

Her best point, indeed, is that Iran will get some fantastic propaganda out of this incident. What I don't understand, however, is why Parker, who comes off as a strong American, would want to spread that Iranian propaganda into the United States.

Let us perhaps rather agree that war is bad no matter who is in combat, and leave it at that. Unfortunately, I'm not sure Parker would agree.


Henry said...

While I don't agree with her seemingly unwarranted moral chastisement of a soldier serving her country to which Parker would most likely not confer on a male soldier, I do think there is cause for debate on this issue. Though not deliberate, we essentially slapped the more traditional Iranian culture in the face with our modern liberality by allowing a mother with a three year old daughter to fight and be captured. This simply highlights the value differences between the West and Islamic nations for the Iranian people.
While it may have been a defeat for Ahmadinejad's hardline faction, it only provided the Iranian public with reason to believe there are simply irreconcilable differences in value orientations and given credence to the "wipe them all out" style of Ahmadinejad.

I'd also like to mention the fact that though it may have been a mistake for Parker to not cite a source regarding her psychoanalytical claim, certainly there is plenty of literature to this effect. Jessica Benjamin's book, The Bonds of Love: Psychoanalysis, Feminism, and the Problem of Power is one such source.

A child of three years may be less effected by this early parental love, though it is certainly a substantial loss in a child's development. There may be more to Parker's claim than a radical appeal to traditional anti-feminist values.

Pam said...

Ah, very true -- I don't disagree with the fact that children need parents and strong, loving, and caring adults in their lives (both male and female). I do disagree, however, with Parker's implications and intentions in writing such. It was that that I was reacting to far more than her ideas. Presented by someone with a different axe to grind, some of her sentiments would be acceptable and even appealing to me.

That said, her article as a whole was misguided in my eyes -- why complain about Iranian propaganda simply in order to propagate that same propaganda in the States?