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The Enigmatic Lynndie England: Gendered Explanations for the Crisis at Abu Ghraib

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This essay examines the gendered explanations for the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib. Specifically, I examine how mainstream news media's selective focus on Lynndie England encouraged the public to read Abu Ghraib primarily as a gender crisis rather than as a crisis in US military culture. This framing not only deflected attention away from the other soldiers involved in the scandal (particularly the men who were involved) but also diverted criticism away from more comprehensive discussions regarding the US military's use of abuse and torture, the unlawful detainment of suspected terrorists, and the erosion of civil liberties in the post-9/11 era. Moreover, these representations of Abu Ghraib as a gender crisis prompted new criticism regarding gender integration in the military and constructed feminism as the new villain in the American melodrama.

Keywords: Abu Ghraib; Feminism; Gender Performativity; Melodrama; War on Terror

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14791420903049744

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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