- Teaching Resources
In the last year, several new and noteworthy films documenting women's experiences have been released. Consider using these films in your classes, and send us a teaching note to let us know how they worked.
Women in the Combat Zone
Some feminist approaches understand war and conflict as gendered phenomena, specifically as the global political manifestation of hegemonic masculinity. Too often, analyses of war focus exclusively on men's experiences. Women in the Combat Zone chronicles the experiences of women in Iraq. Women comprise 10 percent of the U.S. forces in Iraq. These women work as intelligence officers, helicopter pilots, and military police. Some have been held as prisoners of war. Many others are returning home wounded. Some have not lived through the fighting. Many are single mothers. Some are not even twenty-one years old at the time of their deployment.
Although ground combat is still off limits to women, Ted Koppel, who introduces the film, claims that "a certain level of gender equality has arrived." Women are increasingly a part of war, and that includes the worst wartime activities. As the pictures of Lynndie England smiling for pictures with naked Iraqi prisoners indicate, women, too, participated in the sexualized abuse of prisoners of war at Abu Ghraib. In "a twisted tribute to gender integration," the infamous prison was directed by the highest-ranking woman in the military at the time of the scandal.
Because the nature of the Iraq war has blurred the lines about what constitutes a conflict zone, women are increasingly immersed in violence. Women working as military police are often on the front lines. Women in the Combat Zone provides images and background information to discuss the implications of this dubious indicator of gender equality. Ultimately, women interviewed for the film agree that going to war is a sacrifice of sorts, and framing women's work in war, in this way, does not sound altogether different from the work women have long completed in times of war. [End Page 178]
Women in the Combat Zone is distributed by Films for the Humanities and Sciences. The film is available for purchase at <http://www.films.com> for $89.95.
No other feminist performance piece has captured campuses like Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues. Colleges and universities throughout the world have joined in the V-Day campaign, staging productions of The Vagina Monologues to raise money and awareness toward stopping violence against women and girls. Proceeds are donated directly to local service organizations. The documentary Beautiful Daughters captures the February 21, 2004, staging of the first transgender production of The Vagina Monologues.
According to Andrea James, co-producer of the production:
One of our main goals was to give a voice to those who do not normally get a voice in our community: the successful, assimilated women living quiet productive lives, and those who are on the front lines, working to help our youngest and most vulnerable who face the highest rates of interpersonal violence. We wanted activists onstage and involved behind the scenes. Our community is typically portrayed in the media as prostitutes, punch lines, and psychopaths, as victims or criminals, and we wanted to remedy that with an inclusive event that celebrated the diversity of our community. We also felt it was important to show our community raising money for good causes, so that our ongoing monetary and cultural contributions could both be acknowledged. We chose The Task Force and the Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women as our V-Day beneficiaries, rather than trans-specific organizations, because we wanted to build bridges to other communities of activists and show that queer issues and women's issues are our issues, as they have so often done for us . . .
In many ways, the entire event was a microcosm of issues facing our community as it struggles to find its nascent political voice . . .
We proudly stand alongside all women, ready to add our voices to the rousing chorus of vibrant and beautiful voices brought together by V-Day.(<http://www.deepstealth.com/film/beautiful_daughters/>)
Interspersed with footage of the production are interviews with participants. Several describe the process of...