The Feminization of Bowe Bergdahl
By Betty Fokker on June 12, 2014
Bergdahl was not a run-of-the-mill “deserter”. It turns out that Bowe Bergdahl was discharged from the Coast Guard because of questions about his mental fitness for military service, but was accepted into the Army in 2008 anyway. Moreover, when he was captured he might have been trying to “go Gault” via Ayn Rand’s inane philosophy.
Since the Right Wing praises and supports people “going Gault”, you would think this would make Bergdahl their new Hero. Glenn Beck should especially be praising Bergdahl, inasmuch as Glenn Beck has drawn up plans for his own utopian town dedicated to escaping the rest of the liberal-filthy USA, a large scale “going Gault”. Moreover, “PayPal co-founder and venture capitalist Peter Thiel has pledged $1.25 million to the Seasteading Institute, which plans to build offshore islands beyond the tax jurisdiction of the U.S. government.”
Abandoning the US is “going Gault”, yet these asshats claim to be “patriots”. Pardon me while I barf.
What evidence do we have the Bergdahl might have been “going Gault”? Weeks after he walked away from his camp, “a box containing his blue spiral-bound journal, his laptop computer, a copy of the novel “Atlas Shrugged,” military records and other items arrived at the home of his close friend Kim Harrison”. He had also emailed Harrison in regards to his “unspecified plans and dreams of walking away — to China, into the mountains, or, as he says at one point, into “the artist’s painted world, hiding from the fields of blood and screams, hidden from the monster within himself.”
Is the Far Right acclaiming Bergdahl for following their advice and deciding to “strike out on his own”? Nope. Instead they have begun a smear campaign that could fairly be called the feminization and victim blaming of Bowe Bergdahl.
Feminization, at least from a sociological and anthropological standpoint, is when something becomes equaled with a “feminine” activity and is thus devalued or further devalued. For example, elementary school teachers and child care providers are low pain in part because that as seen as a typically “a job women do”. Even certain conditions, like poverty, can be equated with the lack of patriarchal masculinity (i.e.: sensitive, weak, passive, submissive, etc. …) if it is feminized. Poverty has been “feminized” both because it reflects “the social process in which the incidence of poverty among women becomes much higher than among men” AND it is not something hegemonic males are allowed to do and still be alphas.
Bergdahl is being “feminized” by the Right Wing Media in that he is being held at fault for his own victimization. It is the exact same coded language used to explain why women and girls – the ultimate non-men – are at fault for their own rapes and assaults. In this way the Right Wing constructs Bergdahl as something other-than a man and thus less “worthy” of being saved because he has less value to the patriarchy.
The entire conversation about the fact Bergdahl was captured after leaving his post is the “what was she wearing?” phase of blame. How, in other words, did the victim practically force the assailants to commit an atrocity? Just as women are told that if they didn’t drink, they wouldn’t get raped, Bergdahl is being told he wouldn’t have been captured if he had stayed on post. Forget any extenuating circumstances, like mental condition and/or trust; Bergdahl put himself in harms way and thus got what he had coming to him. The thing is that, like rape, no one has capture and torture “coming to them”. The penalty for mental illness and poor judgment should not be rape or torture. The culpability for evils such as rape and torture lies solely on the shoulders of rapists and tortures.
The Far Right even trotted out the “this poor boys life is ruined” trope for Bergdahl’s victimization. Echoing the way “these boys lives are ruined” whenever a boy or man is found guilty of rape, they are claiming that in seeking justice (rescue) Bergdahl cost good men their lives. The Far Right insists that US soldiers died looking for Bergdahl when the reality is that even though “Americans died while on operations that directly and indirectly supported the military’s prolonged efforts to find Bergdahl … that doesn’t mean soldiers would not have died if Bergdahl had not wandered off.”
In short, because the Far Right wants to blame the victim (Bergdahl) in order to make his rescue less praiseworthy, they have feminized him and aimed the victim-blaming rape culture bullshit at him as they do rape victims. The intent is the same -- they wish to render him unworthy of patriarchal protection and privilege.