11/20/2005 02:39 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Reading The Pictures: Watching The Man Do It


If the main point, as stated, is that women are finally "doing heavy lifting in a real war," it's hard to tell from this article on the front of today's NYT Sunday Style section. Given the page, of course, it's perfectly understandable the piece would be chatty, gossipy and personal. Still, that's doesn't explain the condescension.

The article follows Pvt. Safiya Boothe, a machinist assigned to an infantry division. And what do we learn about her successful adaption to the traditionally male world of war making? To the extent the article even discusses her soldiering (as opposed to the fact that she doesn't fuss about her looks when she's in 120˚ heat; that perfume attracts sand fleas; and she ended up in the infantry because she didn't know she had a choice), we discover that she prayed she wouldn't not die of humiliation when a nearby mortar exploded while she was sitting on a portable latrine.

And, the photo?

If the female soldier these days really is earning her place alongside her male counterpart, how come the only image the editors could find to lead the story shows Ms. Boothe watching the man do it?

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(image: Max Becherer/Polaris, for The New York Times. November 20, 2005. Camp Normandy, Iraq. NYT Sunday Style, p. 1)