Monday, November 9, 2009

What do you see? THIS PHOTOGRAPH speaks a thousand words

[image goes with the article which appears later in this post. Both image and article are here]

What's in a picture that makes it big in mainstream media? Usually a lot. Such is the case with the image above. It's chock full of political messages, all designed to tug at the hearts of those U.S. Americans who want to believe that the U.S. military is "good" and does "good things" around the world.

Is this a sweet and sad mass media photo of a little white girl who doesn't want her daddy to go off to war abroad?

Is this a mass media photo of U.S. military personnel who are about to go murder and rape women in another land?

Is this a dominant media photo of the militarisation of heterosexism, racism, classism, ecocide, and misogyny?

Is it a dominant media photo of the glorification of these oppressive systems?

Is it a classist image of non-rich men who are economically coerced into giving their lives for a country that, if they are poor and/or of color, doesn't give a shit about them and never has?

Is it a photo, with the story and accompanying photos, that is designed to make the viewer feel for that little girl, the white U.S. one, whose father, with the help of his military mates, will likely murder four year old girls of color, who may well be holding their mothers' or fathers' hands at the moment of their death?

Is it a photo of men who will rape and murder women in front of those women's four year old daughters, sons, husbands, and other relatives?

Christina brought this image to my attention and wrote:
As far as I am concerned this is WHM exploitation at its worst. The WHM controlled media are using an innocent little four year old girl to make us throw our support behind WHM imperialism. History is repeating its self. White British and [U.S.] American males in uniform are yet again going into foreign countries, oppressing their people and raping their women.

The innocent little girl in this article does not know the first thing about the evils of white heterosexual male supremacy. How many of those discussing WHM in the photo are rapists or oppressors. Even her father could be one.

It makes me so angry when I see WHM exploiting such young and innocent girls like this.

I always used to think that British WHM were the most sexist and racist in the world, but on seen what the American WHM gets up to I am not sure if there is much of a difference.

I responded to her:
About the image and article: I completely agree with you, and may I post some or all of what you say about that image to my blog as a post? I may add some commentary of my own, totally supportive of what you wrote. I think there's another dimension of evil to this photo, beyond the precise evils you name. And that is that it makes the viewer the empathiser with the girl and both "daddy" and soldier" into heroic ideas. Both are rapists. He is also likely to rape her. Maybe not "that one white man" but we know father-daughter incest is the most common form of child sexual abuse, and we also know that militarising men does nothing to make them more humane to anyone.

This is the kind of image that burns into the minds of white viewers an idea that WHM supremacy is both good and right. It is admirable and heartbreaking, but for all the wrong reasons. It is terribly sad for children, especially young children, to be separated from parents they love. But I know in this country, especially, girls and boys of color have been separated from their parents for so many reasons--due to slavery, due to putting children of color to work, due to the mother having to work outside the home, sometimes two and three jobs to make ends meet, due to the father having two work outside the home all the time, due to their being a father who steals his children from his wife if she accuses him of incesting the children or battering her.

And the global "picture" is atrocious. Abominable. It glorifies imperialism/rapism/militarism/white male supremacy/capitalism/the invisibilisation of four year old Iraqi girls whose daddies are going to be murdered by that man whose hand she is holding, and more.Yes, one of those men is likely to rape a woman overseas. And they are likely to kill mothers and fathers of four year old girls in Iraq, and they are also likely to murder the four year old girl as well. (I don't even want to think about what else they might do to such a child.)

So everything you say, yes. YES.

Little Soldier Girl "Didn't Want to Let Go"
Four-year old Paige didn't want to say goodbye to her daddy before he was shipped off to Iraq
Updated 5:42 PM EST, Fri, Oct 9, 2009

Abby Bennethum

A family photo that shows a little girl beside her father and his fellow soldiers in uniform as they prepare to go to war has resonated well beyond the tight knit Bennethum clan.

Four-year-old Paige Bennethum really, really didn't want her daddy to go to Iraq.

So much so, that when Army Reservist Staff Sgt. Brett Bennethum lined up in formation at his deployment this July, she couldn't let go.

No one had the heart to pull her away.

The commanding officer allowed Paige to say goodbye as her dad prepared to ship off from Fort Dix.

Paige's mom Abby captured the moment with her camera and her aunt passed the image along to a Berks County, Pa. newspaper.

"I’ve had strangers looking me up online, sending me messages that they are touched by it ... offering a lot of support," Abby Bennethum told NBCPhiladelphia.

The picture took on a life of its own online this week. Abby says that suddenly, people were knocking on her door. "Literally overnight, there's all these people that just want to do anything they can," she says. Though she says her husband hasn't seen any stories about his family yet, he expects to.

For her part, Paige still remembers how she felt that day in July. Looking at the picture of herself -- her dad now overseas -- Paige remembers, "I didn't want to let go of him."

She calls the work he does transporting supplies across the Iraqi border, "just nice."

But that doesn't change her feelings.

"I just miss my dad right now," she says.

Sgt. Bennethum, 30, is expected home next July. Until then, Paige plans to help her mom take care of her little sister and a new baby that's on the way.
First Published: Oct 6, 2009 4:30 PM EST

Here's more analysis, not the type to be printed in any dominant U.S. media:
The U.S. military, and it's more covert operations, are known well for doing a few things, none of them "good":

--They invade countries where "other" people live. Usually people of color. Often illegally. And they go there to bomb and kill the citizens of those countries in ruthless and reckless ways. They destroy water cleaning systems, sources of electricity, major roadways, government buildings, and destroy the homes of thousands, tens of thousands, of innocent people who happened to live in a country the U.S. has decided, often for financial/corporate/military industrial complex reasons to invade and take over, all the while pretending it is "for their own good".

To understand exactly how some of this works, please read the work of John Perkins. He knows how U.S. corporations and the military work because he was part of it. Read also the work of Stan Goff, who was part of a very elite U.S. military group.

--They seek dominance in those areas, either by supporting the overthrow of leaders the U.S. government "doesn't like" (because, for example, the leader is against corporate capitalism, or because it doesn't want to share its oil with the U.S.). Or they set up puppet governments in those countries, after bombing them into a state of generations-long post-traumatic stress and infrastructure rebuilding.

--They rape the women and girls of those countries. They do this with various intentions. They do it because they want to, the desire to, and they can. They do it because force and dominance is sexual for them. They do it because no one will ever hold them accountable, especially when they kill those they have raped and murdered everyone else who witnessed it, including men and children. They do it as part not only of a global gynocidal war, but as a practice of genocide, of gross violent dominance over other regions of the world and the people who live there.




Totally agree with your post Julian and also christine's analysis of this deliberately cynical and sentimental portrayal of 'the military machine.'

I think there is also another aspect of this picture and that is 'all these brave soldiers going off to war in order to protect white little female children.'

The military males pictured cannot possibly have any connection to the inumerable US male soldiers who rape and/or commit other forms of sexual violence against female soldiers within their ranks.

Julian - your sentence

'He is also likely to rape her. Maybe not "that one white man" but we know father-daughter incest is the most common form of child sexual abuse, and we also know that militarising men does nothing to make them more humane to anyone.'

Absolutely correct militarising men does not make them more humane in fact it does the opposite which is to dehumanise them, as well as indoctrinating military men to view 'the enemy' as dehumanised objects - to be raped, subjected to sexual violence, mutilation and finally horrific sadistic murder. Who are these 'dehumanised others' why women in particular since whilst 'enemy males' are murdered it is always 'enemy females' who are subjected to the worst forms of male sexual sadistic lethal violence.

Iraq and of course Afghanistan comes immediately to mind and I am not forgetting UK male soldiers are indoctrinated in similar ways. Of course male soldiers engaging in sadistic acts of sexual violence are always 'isolated cases' and have no connection whatsoever with the way our white male supremacist society dehumanises women and men of colour and in fact women and men whose ethnicity is not white western.

Here in the UK we are experiencing another revival of patriotic fervor wherein criticism of US and UK forces invading and colonising Afghanistan is viewed as unpatriotic. Militarism is another important aspect of patriarchy and the upholding of white male supremacist beliefs.

Anonymous said...

Trying to get the hang in of this new sign in thing...
Military = men, today's military = loser men. Miliatry = rape and murder training for men already programmed to be rapists and woman killers. So you have a little girl near all these guys? You've got to be kidding me.

No doubt Daddy will return home after raping and killing dozens of Afghan or Iraqi women and get a medal of honor for it. No doubt Daddy will contract VD or HIV buying prostitutes in Kabul, coming home, and infecting his wife. No doubt the bullies from high school, who are losers to the corp are getting into the military as we speak, or maybe they are too dumb to graduate, and thus we'll be saved from yet another dumbo man even getting into the military!

Christina said...

It is unfortunately a reality in both the UK and US that these WHM in uniform are seen as heroes. I guess only in a WHM dominated world will we glorify rapists.
We are frequently made by the WHM dominated media to see them as heroes and saviors.

We are told that these WHM in uniform are liberating these foreign countries. I would like someone to explain to me how you are liberating a country if you are there to rape and kill their women and girls. It is not enough for the WHM to oppress women, girls and minorities here in the UK and US; they have to do it all over the world. Clearly colonisation and slavery has never ended.

I am grateful that Jennifer Drew brought up the UK male soldiers who are just as guilty as their US counterparts. Often in the international arena we feminists seem to concentrate very much on the US WHM and forget about the evils committed by the UK WHM

And yes Julian, father-daughter incest is the most common type of child abuse. If these male soldiers are already raping their own daughters imagine how easy it would be for them to rape young girls in foreign countries.
How much of this foreign rape, abuse and murder goes un reported by the WHM dominated media.

And how many of these men actually become rapists in foreign lands. After experiencing the joy of raping a young innocent foreign girl (sarcasm) they come back to the US or UK and rape their own daughters.


No 'military = loser men' is not correct what I said in my previous comment is that the military indoctrinates men to view 'the enemy' as dehumanised objects. My comments concerned the photograph alone but critiquing how militarism reinforces male power and male domination is another issue.

I know many women and men too join the military because global capitalism ensures far too many women and men are not able to find employment which will lift them out of poverty view the military as a way of learning a skill and also earning above poverty salaries. There is is also the issue of healthcare which is prohibitive in the US.

So who are the ones being exploited - those who join the military believing it will give them a better life or the white male politicians who create wars and then send these soldiers to their deaths or to suffer horrific injuries.

Teaching soldiers to be war machines is not something which can be 'switched off' once a male soldier returns to his home country because militarism is all about male power and male domination over other people who are deemed not to be human.

A culture of male sexual entitlement continues within all militaries including male soldiers' presumed right of buying women and girls for the purpose of releasing their supposedly innate and uncontrollable sex drives.

See Sheila Jeffreys' book The Industrial Vagina for an analysis of how the military condoned and supported setting up brothels specifically for male military personnel serving (or should it be colonising stationed at bases located in countries outside the US. Who are the women used by these prostitutors? Why it is the women living in countries which have US bases.

So the US military played a very important role in naturalising the so-called sex industry. But this does not mean the US military is solely responsible because other countries too have played their part in promoting prostitution which not only brings in immense profits but also supposedly benefits women living in these countries, whilst ensuring an unlimited supply of women for men to sexually exploit.