When I first saw the trailer for the new Marvel film Black Panther, I was thrilled to see there was a female group of warriors called the Dora Milajie, a group of badass special forces warriors made of entirely of women, and women of color at that. My first thought, was, finally! With Wonder Woman, we got a taste of what women were capable of as Amazons, fighting for injustice and love. Now, we’re getting the same, but again, in a superhero movie. Let me just put in it numbers for you: Over 345,000 women have deployed since 9/11.
So back to my initial question: Why is it only in superhero movies that female soldiers seem to get the recognition we deserve as badass fighters equal to our male counterparts? As a veteran myself, I see this everyday. People never look at me with my military unit shirt or army veteran gear on and assume I’m a veteran. They might ask who in my family served, and in my family we do come from a long line of servicemen, but as the first female in either side of my family to have served, I face what a lot of women of my generation face: a lack of recognition for our service. People aren’t being rude when they ask who serve; it’s a relatively new thing for women to have served in combat and actually hold jobs in the military that have the word “combat” in them. For example, I was an Avionics System Repair Technician, which meant I worked on radars for helicopters. I went in in a time when there were on average 10 women in an entire unit, usually less in my job field. When I joined in 2005, even though I “qualified” for literally every job in the military based on my ASVAB (which is like the SATs of the military) scores, I wasn’t allowed to take any job that said “combat” in the title. Obviously, that’s changed now, and I couldn’t be more proud of the next generation of women picking up the torch and being able to do the jobs I wasn’t allowed to do.
The first women rangers just graduated from the toughest training known to man. We have women who run bases, units, are in combat, yet we still haven’t seen a “based on true story” big budget war film featuring women since GI Jane came out in 1997, (which made 97.1 Million usd and was directed by Ridley Scott, yet every time I turn around there’s a big budget film about everyday male soldiers.
Don’t try to tell me there’s no interest. Look at what happened with Wonder Woman. Not just women came out in droves, pretty much the entire world did and it made 821.9 Million dollars just from the box office. We did get a small budget film that came out in 2016 based on the true story of Meagan Leavey, a female K9 handler in the marines. The movie made 13 million USD, which is more than it’s counterpart, Thank You For Your Service, also a “based on true story” about a male marine that grossed a little over 9 million USD that came out in 2017.
People want to see more films about women in the military. When Dunkirk came out, I heard the outcry that it featured only men. I understand that was what the movie was about, but there were plenty of women involved that someone could write a story about. So I go back to my original question: When will we see a “based on a true story” big budget film about women in combat? When will it stop taking superhero movies for women to be taken seriously as veterans? I see these movies as progress, don’t get me wrong, and I’d love to hear your thoughts about this, especially female veterans. There’s a movement called the “She who borne the battle” that the IAVA group is spearheading based on this very subject. https://iava.org/she-who-borne-the-battle/
I think the time is now for someone to spearhead this and answer the call. Female veterans shouldn’t have to beg to get the respect we deserve. Let’s honor their sacrifices and hard work the way we have the men.