When Israeli female soldiers get saucy, some Israelis can’t help but applaud. Columnist Halleli Jabotinsky published newly surfaced photographs on her blog, and declared that they actually performed an “important service” by humanizing the Israeli military and also looked “cute.”
In the photographs, which went viral in social media, new recruits exposed their thongs under their uniform, and in a separate image posed in helmets and a tiny amount of combat equipment.
The military has disciplined them, but over at Haaretz Allison Kaplan Sommer has some sympathy for them as young women “who don’t necessarily have any desire or natural aptitude life in the military, but are doing their duty, and decided to relieve the boredom in a silly way.” She wrote: “If these girls were living the life their American peers, they’d be just another bunch of airheaded sorority sisters pushing the limits of good taste on Facebook. Sure, their campus might be buzzing about them, but the Washington Post and New York Times wouldn’t be into their business.”
But army bases aren’t the same as university campuses, and anybody who cuts these girls slack for their very feminine prank should check that there isn’t some patronizing gender-politick at work.
Jabotinsky’s views, which are common, are underpinned by a chauvinistic attitude towards female soldiers. She would have us believe that they should be applauded for looking good, and that they did well by illustrating to the world that girls, even in the IDF, will be girls. The subtext is: What do you expect from women; leave the real soldier-work — the serious stuff — to the men. But in the army rules are rules, uniforms aren’t to be sexualized for public consumption on social media, and nobody should praise soldiers for doing so — even if they think, as Jabotinsky does, that it ultimately gives the IDF a good image.