10 September 2009

Women on the front line a nonsense

The Department of Defence has done it again: producing that old PR angle of pushing of women to serve on the front line.

The PR blitz hit the media yesterday, with the story even reaching the 7.30 Report. Neil James from the Defence Association was interviewed, and so was some obscure Liberal who served as a grunt for 10 years. They even had some grey-hair libertarian-type woman who said it didn't worry her if women wanted to be killed in battle.

The only reason Defence takes this position is because they can't get enough blokes to fill the ranks. Air Force TV ads currently focus on female mechanics, technicians and heavy-lift loadmasters.

The Army was even saying women could serve as commandos and in the SAS. Imagine the guffaws from the Regiment at the prospect.

The Brigadier in charge of 1 Brigade supports the move. Sure he does. Yes, he said the ladies can share the same risks in Afghanistan. Hmm. I wonder what would happen to GI Jane when she is captured by the Taliban?

Whatever you think about having women serving in direct combat roles, the actual clumsy approach in promoting it in in dire need of a rethink. They're still using the same PR methods employed in 2001, when I was serving in East Timor (and A Current Affair pursued it, without success).

The female reporter, who had a brother in the Army, wanted to go the the "front line" (the border with West Timor). The deal was if she could carry a standard pack up some stairs to the helicopter pad we'd take her. She never got it off the ground.

Hello. Men fight wars. Always have, always will. Perhaps Defence should focus on how to attract and retain them. Oh that's right, they have, and failed. So out comes PR plan B.


iNewmanator said...

There is also that well researched information about women serving in unisex front line teams. I recall something about women putting the men at risk because they felt obliged to protect the women over themselves.

The PR Lab said...

Thanks for the comment. Yes, I also recall that research.

Anonymous said...

You're ignoring the fact that women already play a part on the frontline. As victims of its male participants. Men have used rape as an act or war for centuries. From marauding barbarians to invading and thieving colonialists to militants in the Congo. In Iraq several American soldiers raped and murdered an Iraqi girl. In contrast, in Nepal, a female-only para-military group will not hesitate to shoot to kill men abducting young girls for prostitution. Do these women lack what it takes? If men can rape and murder girls and women in times of conflict then they can learn to take a bullet from their sisters. Your inane misogynist drivel might be shared and welcomed by your mates at the pub but it conveniently omits mention of militant women throughout history. It's easy to assert the illusion that you're some kind of tough guy -over the internet-. Let's see you engage in combat with a modern-day para-militant female.

The PR Lab said...

I thought about deleting your idiotic comments, but will leave it here as an example of emotional, half-baked rubbish that people with too much time on their hands do. At least have the "courage" to sign your name. At any rate, in case you hadn't noticed, this is a PR-related blog and deal with things from a communications perspective. So next time I'd suggest you read things in context and not jump to conclusions at shrill level. Also, for your information, I don't go to the pub. I prefer a wine with my wife, who has been know to bash up her brothers. Gosh, I've just wasted three minutes of my life on this.

Anonymous said...

For an example of idiotic half-baked emotive rhetoric we need to look no further than your invocation of the name of the Taliban implying that they will rape, torture or butcher captured servicewomen.

Insurgents loyal to the Taliban could also capture women fulfilling non-combat roles deployed in Afghanistan. Are you suggesting that women cannot serve at all or are you simply erecting another strawman?

Our American allies in Iraq are guilty of raping at least one of its female citizens. A minor, no less. The Taliban remark is daft at best, ignorant of the dynamics of sex and war, and in the context of your argument insensitive toward victims of sexual violence.

I read the thread and its PR context doesn't change the fact that your view ignores a wealth of traditions of female combatants. Always have. Always will. And the same can be said for women. I suggest you read a book or two about female warriors throughout history particularly in the East but Europe boasts its share as well not least of all Spanish conquistadora. Also New Zealand, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Israel, Sweden and Switzerland allow servicewomen to serve on the frontline. So why not Australia? We must be weaker. Or maybe it's that people like you simply cannot cope with the idea that some men may be upstaged by women in the field.

Lastly, about that "idiotic comments" remark, you're a journalist and a journalist who had little to offer to counter anything I had to say. I'm a researcher and spent a considerable amount of time employed at the AWM. Military history may not have been my occupation but I do know that my peers would have found your accusation of "idiotic comments" ironic at best. Your inane comments with regard to gender and combat germinate in ignorance.

Chris Bilson said...

I've read some loopy stuff, but the comments from Anon really scare me. I can't see why this person is pushing the cause for women on the front line. Ok, so women have a history in battle. I'm not sure if I'd want to be a member of a society which allows that. x I just don't think it's suitable for women to be placed in the situation of war, as it demeans their position as carers, mothers, nurturers. And that will probably draw a reaction. ANyway, I guess if anon wants to glorify women doing the killing, good luck to him/her. And what does a researcher at the War Memorial do, if not research War?

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The PR Lab is a consultancy, specialising on research, reputation management, social media, media relations and the development of measurable strategies that produce results. It is run by Dr Greg Smith, a former journalist and PR professional. Greg worked on daily newspapers in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. He held senior PR positions in the Australian Defence Force, Sydney Olympics and national not-for-profits. He has also lectured in PR at Edith Cowan University and the University of Notre Dame Australia.