Deploying Sexist Stereotypes

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Deploying Sexist Stereotypes

There are so many things wrong with this story that I can't even begin to count.
Mother, daughter headed to Kuwait with National Guard

Associated Press
August 11, 2005

SALEM, Ore. — Sgt. 1st Class Brenda Berrios and Sgt. Karissa Smith never leave home without their beauty products, not even when the mother and daughter are bound for Kuwait, as part of their deployment with a Salem-based Oregon National Guard unit.
“We’re girls’ girls,” said daughter Smith, 24.

“We always put makeup on and do our hair,” her mother, 43, added.

Oregon National Guard officials are unaware of another mother-daughter team that has deployed together.

“You hear stories about husbands and wives or brothers going together, but I personally have never heard of mother and daughter going,” said Capt. Mike Braibish, a spokesman for the Guard.

Steve Berrios, Brenda’s husband and Karissa’s stepfather, who spent 20 years in the Army, shook his head when he heard the women talk about the brightly colored bedsheets they are taking with them to the combat zone.

“When I was in the service, I was thinking, ‘get a blanket and go,”’ he said.

But his wife has packed a snazzy set of pink and purple sheets, to remind her of home.

The two are headed to a U.S. military base in Kuwait, where U.S. soldiers are processed to and from the theater of war.

Neither imagined they would be deploying together. Brenda originally didn’t think she was eligible, and Karissa was in another unit. But soon after Karissa volunteered for deployment, Brenda received news that she had been cleared to go.

They will be gone for at least a year, a long time given that most military families deal with the departure of only a single loved one.

“It’s a little more comforting that they are not going to Iraq or Afghanistan,” said Doug Beddor, Brenda’s father and Karissa’s grandfather. “But you never know.”
“It’ll be great years from now,” Karissa said. “She’ll talk to her grandkids and say, ‘Your mom and I were deployed.’ And we’ll brag about who saw the first camel spider.”
This morning these women were making the early morning talk show rounds. My wife pointed out this smells like a publicity stunt as the military doesn't generally allow people from the same family to serve together for a lot of obvious, logical reasons.

What truly bugs me about this story is that it totally lacks the inherent seriousness of being deployed abroad, combat zone or not. I don't blame the women at all, I blame the media for making it sound like it's a freaking Girl Scout retreat. Instead of finding out anything substantive about why these women are proud to go, they instead focus on inane, girlifying details like their hair and make-up routines. The inherent message is that they're still real women even if they are soldiers-- they may be at war but they won't have a hair out of place!

No wonder there are people who still think that women aren't prepared for combat or military service. Would anyone runing a story about a father-son being deployed together make it all about such trivial things as their haircare products? Sheesh.

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