By Jerry A. Boggs 2,720
Until recent years, journalists seldom recognized the military women who risked — and often sacrificed — their lives in war. They almost always reported on “the men.” Since military women represented at least a small percentage of those ensnarled in fighting a war, journalists were hardly fair when minimizing or ignoring servicewomen’s risk and sacrifice altogether.
Now, however, journalists are over-correcting in overdrive. Instead of “the men” as in the past, they often inappropriately insert in their reports on war “the men and women,” giving the impression, likely intentional in many cases, that women have risked and sacrificed in wars just as much as men have.
Take the front-page story about the Vietnam War in the Detroit News on April 30, 2000. Staff writer Kim Kozlowski wrote, “Everyone has their own personal Vietnam. It wasn’t just the men and women who traipsed through the Vietnamese jungles, rifles strapped on their shoulders, fear racing through their minds.”
The men and women who traipsed? In that war, over 58,000 American men were slain. The number of women sacrificed? Eight. Despite a male-only draft and the male soldiers’ astronomically higher risk and sacrifice, Kozlowski suggests women showed up in Vietnam in equal number and faced equal risk. Her explanation for the women’s minuscule loss of lives has to be, I’m sure, that the enemy, beset with chivalry, kept females out of its cross-hairs and somehow set its mines and mortars to vaporize only males.
But Kozlowski’s reality-warp pales next to that uttered by ABC News’ late Peter Jennings. On May 22, 1998, during a pre-Memorial Day story on the Civil War, Jennings delivered this shocking news: “More than 600,000 men and women died before the war was over.”
Correction: The Civil War murdered over 600,000 males, a lot of them boys young as 14. Historical records show that about 60 women were either wounded or killed. Yet Jennings, instead of taking an extra micro-second to state truthfully how many females died, chose to ignore journalism’s principles of accuracy and fairness, and implied that the Civil War leveled 300,000 men and 300,000 women.
“I don’t want American boys and young women to get killed.” – Joe Scarborough on MSNBC TV’s “Morning Joe,” September 13, 2010, discussing the Afghanistan pull-out of U.S. troops. (To Scarborough, women are women, but men are boys. Woe be to him if he had said, “American girls and young men”!)
“The men and women” is misemployed also on the Web. At Computingcorner.com, a link informs, “Many U.S. Military men and women encountered some of the most gruesome battles, triumphing over some of the biggest nations to maintain the very freedoms we have today.” At D-Day.org is this: “D-Day. It was the largest air, land, and sea invasion ever undertaken, including over 5,000 ships, 10,000 airplanes, and 250,000 service men and women.” Again, were the benighted left picturing in their mind 125,000 men and 125,000 women? Watch the film documentaries about war, as well as such fact-based combat movies as “Saving Private Ryan.” See any women taking part in an invasion? See any female soldiers floating face down in the water as their blood pools around their bodies? See any of their torsos, arms, legs, or intestines littering the beaches?
On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” May 10, 2011, was this bit of news from Rolling Stone magazine: Deaths so far in Iraq and Afghanistan: 6,022 servicemen and women. Once more, unenlightened viewers, especially the young and impressionable, were no doubt led to think half of those killed in war were women.
Increasingly, the journalists’ rule appears to be this: Even if only one female troop — or just one nurse — falls in a war that slaughters thousands of men, report “thousands of men and women killed.”
One truly sad upshot of this false reporting on the sexes’ risk and sacrifice in war is its indoctrination of the very young. “World War I began in 1914 and continued for four years until 1918. 600,000 men and women fought in World War I and of those, 60,000 Canadians died and 170,000 were wounded. Men and women fought in trenches filled with water, mud, and rats.” This in a paper by student Brittany Oulton in 2000 — when she was in the 7th grade. (If young women grow up thinking females equally share such horrific risk and sacrifice in war, little wonder they resent not equally sharing the imaginary power and privilege that feminists and the media, in an extension of their anti-male indoctrination, tell them only men possess.)
When men do 30 percent of the housework, we criticize men for not sharing the housework; when any given woman receiving 100 percent of male combat pay takes 25 percent of the combat risks of any given man, we call her a warrior and credit her with “sharing the danger.” –Warren Farrell, The Myth of Male Power
Call it another gender gap: Equal recognition for unequal risk. But this gender gap is of the worst kind.
Giving women recognition that’s commensurate with their actual risk and sacrifice in war is necessary and just. But planting the notion that women risked and sacrificed equally with men is gravely unprincipled. Moreover, it may foster resentment in male war veterans who no doubt sense their risk and sacrifice are per force watered down. “I was in Vietnam,” grumbled Bill Geist, author of The Big Five-0h! “and didn’t see any women over there, and we have a monument for them.” And our country’s next war effort may be hampered. Male soldiers may become demoralized over politically correct distortions such as Peter Jennings’ “over 600,000 men and women killed,” because these soldiers know that they, not women, will overwhelmingly be in harm’s way.
On January 25, 2012, Jessica Buchanan and Danish co-worker Poul Hagen Thisted were rescued by Navy SEALs from Somali pirates. Buchanan’s uncle Dave Buchanan told ABC News, “The men that risked their lives — I just can’t say enough so I really, really appreciate it.” But what did Vice-President Joe Biden, too afraid of feminists not to be PC (politically courageless) have to say about this all-male rescue team? This: “It takes your breath away, their capacity and their bravery. These guys and women are amazing.” As the presidential election draws near, Biden may become more desperate for female votes. Thus, after the next Navy SEAL rescue, Biden is, in Male Matters’ view, the person most likely to proclaim, “It takes your breath away, their capacity and their bravery. These women are amazing.”
I would be far less troubled by the portrayals of women as equally burdened with protecting the nation and equally victimized by war, if journalists did not deliberately overlook men in other areas of risk and sacrifice. Take the workplace. Although you regularly hear about how women are affected by sexual harassment and the sexes’ wage gap, how often do you hear about the sexes’ occupational death gap, the approximately 6,600 men fatally hurt at work each year compared to the 420 women? Journalists are apparently more concerned about women’s pay and about women being offended by off-color jokes at work than they are about men being killed at work. Consider, too, domestic violence. Men’s risk is ignored by most journalists despite recent studies — those not influenced by feminism — that expose domestic violence as an equal-opportunity activity. One study, as described in Violence and Victims (Vol. 10, 1995), shows that 11 percent of wives and 7 percent of husbands in military couples were physically aggressive, as reported by the wives.
“Studies suggest there are almost as many male victims of domestic violence as there are female victims.” -WFUV News, March 2, 2011
If we’re going to give women recognition where it isn’t due, the least we can do for men is give them recognition where it is due.
Judging by journalists’ growing disregard of the truth about the sexes’ risk and sacrifice, I can’t help cynically thinking some journalist somewhere will one day drop “the men” altogether and intone solemnly, “The Civil War slaughtered over 600,000 women.”
On May 9, 2007, “Meet the Press” host Tim Russert, appearing on NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams, said, “How can our daughters and sons continue to spill their blood” while Iraqi officials vacation.
On September 21, 2004, on MSNBC, war analyst and retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, when referring to our soldiers in Iraq, did not say the usual “men and women.” Instead, he reversed the order, saying “the women and men.” So did Paula Zahn on CNN September 9, 2004. And on July 4, 2005, so did Cokie and Steve Roberts in “Service on the battlefield and elsewhere.” Do these pundits signal a new trend that will go beyond merely mentioning women in all references to military personnel, to mentioning female soldiers first, even though the soldiers in the military and at risk in Iraq are overwhelmingly men? What if when referring to victims of domestic violence, they had said “the men and women,” which would have been perfectly logical given that recent studies show women initiate unprovoked spousal abuse as often as men? Wouldn’t their employers have dropped them, and wouldn’t feminists have hounded them out of the country?
In a pdf file here.
For more on the media’s biased, feminist-influenced reporting on the sexes, among other things, read Bernard Golberg’s new book, Arrogance: Rescuing America from the Media Elite.