Militarized Femininity and the Nation: Mediating the Jessica Lynch Story

Date: January 1, 1970
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American national media coverage of women and war must be situated within an investigation of the gendered politics of American military manpower, its relation to patriotism, patriarchy, Western progress and the gendered discourses adopted by the U.S. media to frame war as a (white) male endeavor. This project explores the way that the story of Jessica Lynch provides for a powerful space on which to map cultural and political narratives about gender and war. In tracing the symbolic and ideological use of the figure of the female soldier embodied by Jessica Lynch by national media discourses I propose that the female soldier becomes a sight for the constitution of a series of normative paradoxes, but also a point of entry for the debates about women and war. The story of Jessica Lynch is about contradictions to the core of normative narratives of war and gender. Indeed, the nation’s investment in Jessica Lynch is about the celebration of a potentially disruptive kind of femininity; it is about the celebration of an American female soldier. At the same time, the media interpreted the events surrounding Lynch’s capture and rescue in such a way that would uphold masculinity’s centrality to the war system by explicitly containing her militarized femininity.

Publisher: Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Sheraton New York, New York City, NY
Year of Publication: 2008

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