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Army Kayla Williams with Michael E. Straub New York: W. W Norton Company,pp.

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One in three members of the army's military intelligence personnel in Iraq is female. Although classified as noncombatants and refused billets in the military's combat arms, women increasingly find themselves in the same places, under the same direct fire, as men. Although the regular army still refuses to train women as snipers, the Air National Guard has been sending women to the army's sniper school for three years.

Women have come in harm's way in every war, but the current war has featured women being both fired upon and firing back, sustaining wounds and dying, or returning with the physical scars even amputations and the psychological symptoms of war at close range. Love My Rifle More Than You tells the story of an ex-punkster turned National Public Radio fundraiser, a former runaway and rebel turned college graduate and homeowner. She served with the st Airborne Division in Iraq as a linguist from February until February Never a spit-and-polish soldier in boot camp, Williams did what was required: "If a sergeant told me to spit-shine my boots, I did it.

But I never did it just to do it. Who gave a shit? She did her two-mile run in fifteen minutes, rather than the twenty allowed females, and over twice as many pushups as most army women. The guys in her unit, Williams explains, "gave us females endless shit for the different female standards on PT tests: Girls get off easy Girls can't hack it. There has been little grumbling about the age norming of fitness standards across the military, but the chorus of bitch slut about different standards for women has reverberated since woman began training alongside men in most branches of the military.

The Marine Corps, which still holds fast to its separate-but-equal gender integration policy, is the exception. Defenders of different requirements for men and women insist that such standards simply measure general fitness, not specific strength levels bitch slut specific jobs. Opponents argue that the lower standards for women demonstrate that women are less qualified. Women, as a group, do have lower levels of upper-body strength and higher levels of cognitive ability than similar groups of men, but individual differences always defy the average. In his book War and GenderJoshua Goldstein charts the intersecting bell curves of men and women bitch slut completed the New York Marathon.

Although the median woman in the race was eleven percent slower than the median male, the vast majority of men came in well after the fastest woman, and the vast majority of women crossed the line well ahead of the slowest man. One moment Williams characterizes herself as professional, competent, "tough and proud to be tough"; the next, she objectifies herself. She tells the reader that she's "always been a girl that catches a guy's eye.

The narrator of Love My Rifle tries simultaneously to assume the position of a team member valued for her skills and of a woman looking at men looking at her. How these same guys you want to piss on become your guys. Another girl enters your tent, and they look at her the way they looked at you, and what drove you crazy with anger suddenly drives you crazy with jealousy. They're yours. Fuck, you left your husband to be with bitch slut, you walked out on him for them. Williams prefaces her of her time in the Iraq with long discussions of her troubled teen years and of her romance with a Lebanese man who turned out to be married.

However, she tells only one anecdote about her civilian husband. Before her deployment overseas, but after her asment to an air assault division, she and her husband go to see the film Black Hawk Down.

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He is so disturbed by the film, and bitch slut fearful that, like the assault helicopter crew in the film, she, too, might die, that he cries. His show of emotion revolts Williams: I was freaked because the movie made him cry--in public.

There were people. Perhaps not surprisingly, the marriage ends soon thereafter, and Williams embraces the army, whose members work hard to repress any show of feminizing emotion and to project a rock-hard masculinity. No one in this book embodies the army's hypermasculinity more than Sergeant Kelly. He's the guy who throws the unit's puppy into the air but fails to catch it, so that it falls to its death on the rocks below.

He's the guy who, according to Williams. Kelly, who suffered severe head wounds in Iraq, moves in with Williams when they return to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, their home base. The great contemporary memoirs have consistent narrative voices, vivid scenes, and three-dimensional characters. As doubt casts a longer and longer shadow over the official justification for the Iraq war, as faith in the press frays at the edges, and as increasing bitch slut meets Washington efforts to spin a hopeful story of a postwar Iraq, Americans seem to welcome the limited terrain of the memoir.

But collaborative memoirs an oxymoron, really raise special questions about authorship, structure, and content: Whose words are we reading? Where does one voice end and another begin? How was the story constructed? When Williams, Staub's former bitch slut student at Bowling Green State University, went off to Iraq, he wrote to her and suggested the book, then sought an agent and secured a contract for the two of them with Norton. After Williams returned from Iraq inStaub conducted more than thirty hours of taped interviews.

Williams vetted the text he generated from the interviews. Unfortunately, the seams of this collaboration still show. Although the book is generally written in past tense, occasional present tense interludes sound as though they are passages from a journal, awkwardly inserted between the bits of oral history. For example, in telling about driving a truck as part of a convoy, Williams explains the female soldiers' discomfort with the male soldiers with whom they must travel and the difficulty of relieving themselves under these circumstances:.

What may be the typical shifts in tense that occur in oral speech make for a bumpy read in written prose. Long on salty language but short on fully developed characters, Love My Rifle keeps the spotlight almost exclusively on Williams. Even when another character appears, such as Williams' fellow soldier and best friend Zoe, she can't upstage Williams: It's unusual for me to pursue a friendship with another woman, but I liked Zoe Beautiful and amazing Zoe.

Crazy and wild. Small tits. Great ass. Later guys would joke that the two of us put together would make the perfect girl.

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My rack, Zoe's ass. Although Williams tells us she has meaningful conversations with Zoe, she does not tell us about their content. Similarly, although she tells us that she and her male friends share a taste in music, she never explains which music they like or why it is important to them.

Williams gives sustained attention to only one character other than herself. Her female team leader, Staff Sergeant Moss, certainly deserves no awards for her handling of her smarter, better-educated subordinate, but in describing Moss, Williams can't see through the smoke of her resentment. Moss, she claims, fails to lead by example, commanding subordinates to don their flak jackets yet wearing none herself. She orders Williams out when there is firing in the area. To punish Moss, Williams refuses to speak to her for days or to stand at ease when Moss orders her to do so, manipulating standing at attention, a of respect, to serve up the ultimate disrespect.

When Moss begs her to bitch slut, Williams remains stubbornly intractable:. Staff Sergeant Moss is crying. It isn't anything huge. Just a tear or two. But I see it, though I might not have noticed if I weren't studying her. The bitch. No one sheds a tear in front of a subordinate, not even in bitch slut, according to the strict unwritten code of military conduct that Williams wholeheartedly endorses.

Although she complains that male soldiers fail to treat her as a fellow human being, she herself refuses to extend that regard to Moss, even after an officer intervenes between the sergeant and her resentful subordinate. In a culture that categorizes all women as either bitches or sluts, Moss, to Williams, is one of the bitches. Near the end of Williams' stay in Iraq, after the male members of her unit have shunned her because they view her as a slut, Williams decides she'd rather be considered a bitch.

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During a change of watch one night, a fellow soldier tries to force her to have sex with him. A continual barrage of misogynist slang and jokes occupies days filled with nothing but waiting. Presumably desiring to be one of the guys, Williams s the banter with a joke of her own: "'What's the first thing a woman does when she gets back from a battered woman's shelter? The army culture demands a denial of the feminine, even from women. In Williams' case, this manifests itself in the pathology of anorexia, the morphing of the woman's body into the boy's.

What do we learn from this book? That the military is a sexist culture? That a young woman in a war zone can feel just as sexually starved bitch slut a man? That military women are either bitches or sluts--the former closed and resentful, the latter open and indiscriminate? That gender matters continually and insistently except in a crisis, when women are welcomed as valuable members of the team? If these warmed-over observations were all that Williams had to offer, the book would be simply another story of a woman caught in a culture that devalues her.

But a more important and urgent story lies behind the pumped-up drama of Williams' struggle to be one of the boys. The most important contribution Love My Rifle makes to descriptions of the war in Iraq rests in Williams' first-hand s of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners. After Saddam Hussein's sons Uday and Qusay are killed in Mosul by special forces, the Americans erect roadblocks throughout the city to detain anyone who looks even slightly suspicious.

The of detainees far outstrips the personnel the army can provide to bitch slut them. When ased to question a man pulled off the streets for drunkenness, Williams begins with a gentle touch and offers him one of her cigarettes.

Instead of accepting, the man, hands cuffed behind his back, indicates that he'd rather she remove one of his own cigarettes from his shirt pocket.

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Whether she is angry at having to work while on temporary leave or simply fed up with the war, William yells back at the sorry soul before her:. Disturbed by her reaction, the drunken detainee starts to whine, and Williams, enraged, grabs a broom handle and bangs it loudly on a pipe attached to the wall. Reflecting on the experience with her characteristic candor, Williams adds.

Yelling at this guy did Because it was not something I was allowed to do.

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