Rescuing Patriarchy or Saving ‘Jessica Lynch’: The Rhetorical Construction of the American Woman Soldier


Howard III, John W., and Laura C. Prividera. 2004. “Rescuing Patriarchy or Saving ‘Jessica Lynch’: The Rhetorical Construction of the American Woman Soldier.” Women and Language 27 (2): 89–97.

Authors: John W. Howard III, Laura C. Prividera


Female soldiers are consistently challenged for their involvement in the military. They are excluded from combat roles and find it difficult to advance through the ranks (Carter, 1998). This challenge is perpetuated by media representations of female soldiers. Our research examines how media representations of female soldiers separate their feminine identity from their military identity. Specifically, we perform a feminist and critical rhetorical analysis of news stories on Private Jessica Lynch. First, we argue that the media reproduces traditional patriarchal roles for female and male soldiers. Next, we argue that Private Jessica Lynch was singled out for extensive media coverage because she could easily fit a submissive female archetype. Finally, we argue that Private Lynch's rescue is a rhetorical act to demonstrate U.S. Military prowess that encourages masculine constructions of warrior heroes. This demonstration aggravates the rift between the roles of "women" and "soldiers" in the U.S. Military and perpetuates the "female soldier" paradox.

Topics: Combatants, Female Combatants, Feminisms, Gender, Femininity/ies, Media, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2004

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