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Why Lynndie England?

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After this scandal, eleven of these soldiers faced court trials. Three of those soldiers involved were female. However, it seemed to be Lynndie England who got most of the media attention. She became the “poster-girl of Abu ghraib”.

Lynndie England was a 19 year old, who claimed to have joined the army to be able to save up some money for university. She came form a working-class family from West Virginia. She was short and had a “tom-boy appearance”. Karpinski described her as “a really quiet girl” and a “”impoverished, undereducated young woman”. Her schoolteacher said she was “invisible” in class.

When her involvement with Charles Graner came out, 15 years her senior, some things started to make sense.  They also had a child together, who she gave birth to in prison.He was accused of being the ringleader of the abuse and she was in many of the pictures that were mostly taken with his camera.

It is interesting that when the story first came out there weren’t that many photos circulating around in the media, but Lynndie England was in all the most ‘iconic’ pictures of Abu Ghraib. The one were she was holding the leash or when she is ponting towards the men that are stood in a line and being forced to masturbate are examples of the most used photographs and therefore the ones that everyone remembers when this topic comes up.

Exactly why media chose to continuously link England to the Abu Ghraib scandal is unclear but it “formed a strong articulation between the two”.

The function of the media is to as follows:

“According to Stuart Hall (1980), the media encode messages with meanings that are then decoded by audiences consuming those messages. For Hall, the circuit of communication is complex and is constructed through practices of production, circulation, distribution, and reproduction. Producers of media messages are able to create meanings by establishing connections between people, ideas, and events. The media, in an effort to “explain” the world and “reality,” rely on these connections to make their messages easier to understand.”

So, the reason why the media focused on England may be because she was out of the ‘norm’. Mostly the media goes for extremes on each end of the scale; either good, happy stories or for ‘scandalous’ stories. She didn’t fit into the role that society set for women. Usually a women is portrayed according to society’s ideologies and set stereotypes such as family orientated, passive or even as extreme as her husbands servant. Anything outside of these norms are perceived as being scandalous.

The Military is largely seen as one of the most masculine jobs around. It includes violence, aggression, weapons and death, all for the greater good of course, which goes against everything ‘femininity’ stands for.

“Just as important to the maintenance of military life as has been the ideology of manliness, just as important as parades, alliances, and weaponry have been certain feminized ideas: ‘the fallen woman,’ ‘patriotic motherhood,’ ‘marital fidelity,’ ‘racial purity,’ ‘national sacrifices,’ and sexualized ‘respectability.” (Enloe, 2000, pp. 13,14)

This quote seems to describe England perfectly. She was later described as the ‘fallen woman’, had patriotic ideals as she joined the military, fell in love, was white and commited amoral ‘sacrifices’ for her nation. When it comes to sexualized ‘respectability’, she used sexual humiliation to gain respect.

So we have established that she was outside of the ‘social norms’ and that the military was a “masculine thing”.

So the reason why she was outside of the norm was because she had committed a manly crime whilst being in the military. Her apperance is also a factor that is outside of those norms.
The norms are pretty blonde girls with blue eyes, whereas Lynndie’s tom-boy appearance works against her as people don’t relate or sympathize with her.
But surely her manly stance and appearance, also seen in my original picture for this blog, should work for her, completes the circle (the military). But this is likely to be part of the reason why she got so much attention in the first place: A manly woman, doing a manly job. Acting outside of the social norms.

[ accessed 23/10/2010]


Written by coskufertingercmp

November 25, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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