“Boobs on the Ground”?

Image by al3in_boy,  borrowed from the interwebs.

Image by al3in_boy, borrowed from the interwebs.

Many of us are immensely proud of Maj. Mariam Al Mansouri of the United Arab Emirates Air Force who was the first female pilot from her country to fly combat missions over Syria this week. Prior to becoming a pilot, Maj. Mansouri was a soldier in the UAE Army.

The UAE has long been an important ally of the United States, and I have fond memories of Emirati soldiers welcoming me in for meals once or twice a week at Bagram Airfield back in 2006, when I’d go there with my Egyptian and Korean colleagues to eat the best food to be found on a military installation in Afghanistan–plus they welcomed us to play pool and ping pong in their nicer-than-American-standards recreational building. They were profoundly hospitable, and never once did they make me feel any less valued or welcome because I am a woman. And never once did I value the UAE’s contributions to the military effort in Afghanistan any less because they had a different culture, language, or religion from me. Rather, they expanded my world. And they introduced me to coconut chocolate milk, which is amazing in itself. But that’s just my own personal appreciation of Emirati troops in a combat zone.

The efforts of the UAE’s military against the Islamic State are absolutely crucial, and I proudly voice my thanks and support for the participation of our Arab allies. And to see the story of a highly motivated pioneer like Maj. Mansouri is nothing short of inspiring. She has struggled and sacrificed, and her willingness to be in the public eye is subjecting her to a great deal of criticism and further hardship. I can only admire her for such bravery in what she does and how she chooses to live. She is more than deserving of our steadfast support. Yet–some Fox News commentators said a bunch of stupid crap about how “she can’t park” her fighter jet, and that her bold combat service constitutes “boobs on the ground.”

This isn’t about finding something offensive. This is about American public figures being assholes about critical allies in our military effort against a common enemy who is threatening our safety and national security. The more Americans are assholes about our allies across the world–and in this I mean being assholes about differences in culture, religion, food, beliefs, or whathaveyou, which have nothing to do with a military coalition, by the way–the more we alienate those who would otherwise be glad to work with us, and the more isolated and alone our nation will be as we face challenges to our national security, economic prosperity, and standing in the world. This isn’t about “political correctness.” It’s about not being a dick.

For all of these reasons I was more than happy to sign on to an open letter by the Truman National Security Project’s Executive Director Mike Breen calling these commentators out on what they said. Read it HERE.

10 thoughts on ““Boobs on the Ground”?

  1. As a career soldier in the British Army (now retired) I am immensely proud of women achievers in all walks of life actually, but especially in the military. They do have a tough time because of the attitude of so many idiotic and repugnant males who think their actions and remarks are funny when, in fact, they are deeply insulting. I like your story Kristen, you give honour, quite rightly, to Major Mariam Al Mansouri. From what I have read about her she is strong and courageous and a true asset to her country. I am sure she will shrug off these nasty, ignorant comments and get on with her life.
    I also read the Truman National Security Project open letter. I am very pleased that some action has been taken to express a general feeling of displeasure and disgust against the immature behaviour of the Fox News commentators, who, quite frankly, should not remain in their current positions.

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  2. Well said, Kristen. It seems the assholes at Fox News haven’t caught on to the contributions that female service-members have made to both our military as well as to services abroad.

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  3. I don’t know what to say. I could call these people idiots but that would demean the term idiocy. Not only do these people show their complete disrespect for this woman but also their disrespect for women in the military who are laying their lives on the line for their country. It is also a complete disrespect for women. These people go under the guise of “conservative” but they are not conservatives. It is this kind of commentary, and not just these people but commentators like Rush Limbaugh, which continues to denigrate women everywhere, and make many women fear for their lives in our society. Comments about rape and contraceptives and violence against women on the part of these commentators continue to amaze me. How can they be so popular and receive huge salaries or remain in public office shows just how far our society has fallen, and how far we have to go.

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