The Faye Turney Incident

"You will know that among the detainees there is one lady who is a mother of a child. Why is it that the most difficult work like patrolling at sea should be given to a woman? Why is there no respect for motherhood? Why does the West not value its women?" —Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

No Way to Treat a Lady

by Theodore Dalrymple

Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2007

On Friday, while riding in a crowded carriage in the London Underground, I stood to give up my seat to a woman (I very nearly said a lady, but I am told that these days the word is condescending rather than complimentary) who was at most three or four years older than I. Fortunately, she was old-fashioned, and accepted gracefully.

Had she insisted that I retain my seat, I should have felt extremely guilty and uncomfortable for the rest of the journey. My problem is that, 50 years ago, my mother so successfully instilled in me the idea that a man in a train must stand for a woman that no amount of ratiocination can eradicate it. I know that I am a dinosaur, and that my type has undergone mass extinction because of the feminist asteroid that struck the earth circa 1970; but, as people say when they wish to excuse their own failings, I am what I am.

So it was with a degree of discreditable schadenfreude that I read the howls in the British press about the treatment of the woman British marine, Faye Turney, captured by the Iranians and now held by them. "OUTRAGE–A young mum paraded like a trophy on TV, forced by the cowards of Iran to LIE," screamed one representative headline in the Daily Mirror. This outrage was a typical manifestation of tabloid sentimentality when it turns angry. Suddenly the marine became principally a mother, and a picture of her holding a little baby was widely published to bring a tear to every eye; it was dastardly and unchivalrous of the Iranians to not release so vulnerable a person, as at first they had promised. How dare they use her, the mother of a one-year-old baby, as a political pawn?

Now of course I am not condoning the Iranian action, and certainly not the coercion the Iranians must have used (even if it were only by threat) to obtain the ridiculous letter allegedly composed by Faye Turney, written in language so stilted that not even someone who had been through the contemporary British public education system could possibly have composed it. No native speaker of English in the British Isles would have addressed a letter to "Representatives of the House of Commons."

But Faye Turney is entitled to no special sympathy qua woman: that is to say, to no sympathy that is not extended in equal measure to the 14 men who were captured with her. It is the wisdom of ages that young mothers should not be soldiers, or engage upon military pursuits, and she chose to overturn that wisdom by joining the marines.

True, she did not overturn the wisdom of ages single-handedly, nor was she the only one to do so; she was, in a sense, a victim of political correctness. But she joined the forces voluntarily; she was not press-ganged into it. No one's circumstances are so reduced that joining up is literally the only possibility for him or her.

Nor does she deserve any extra sympathy because, when she joined up, she could hardly have expected to be sent to Iraq while her baby was still very young. It is in the nature of armed forces that they go where they are ordered; surely no one could be so ignorant as to be unaware of this, and Faye Turney was a volunteer, not a conscript. Indeed, on the very day before she was captured, she told a British newspaper deeply opposed to the war in Iraq, the Independent, that she was fully aware of the dangers that she faced.

Either she's a soldier, or she isn't. Being a soldier, at least of the combatant variety, entails the danger of capture, death, mutilation; it isn't just a matter of posing stylishly in camouflage uniform with an automatic weapon for a photo that one sends to one's friends, in order to fulfill some dream of what is now known as gender equality.

Admittedly, it is not Mrs. Turney who is claiming special status for herself as a woman, and no doubt she has too much self-respect to do so; but the press and Downing Street has no hesitation in doing so when it suits their purposes. A "spokesperson" for the latter said, "It is a disgrace. It is cold and callous to be doing this to a woman at a time when she is being detained in this way."

In the name of gender equality, one is not permitted to refer to spokesmen and spokeswomen, or actors and actresses, and one must disregard altogether the masculinity of military tradition. But as soon as a woman soldier is captured, ill-treatment of her is regarded as especially heinous.

If it is true that women and young mothers are entitled to special consideration when they are captured, merely because they are women and young mothers, then the real coldness and callousness is in having exposed them to capture in the first place. Let us have either mothers of young babies who are entitled to special consideration, or women soldiers, but not both.

Iran Humiliation Exposes Insanity of Women in Front Line

by Gerald Warner

The Scotsman, 1 April 2007

'WHAT did you do in the war, Mummy?" Like a douche of cold water, the harsh realities of the outside world were dashed in the faces of all the feminists, equal opportunities tsars and quota-touting social engineers, as a visibly (and very understandably) distressed Leading Seaman Faye Turney was exhibited on Iranian television. This was the first check to Britain's somnambulist drift into a politically correct utopia; there will be many more.

Whoever thought it was a good idea to send a woman with an armed party to board and search a foreign ship in the most dangerous waters in the world deserves to walk the plank. This was the consequence of an artificially orchestrated mood of universal delusion, enforced by PC terror, that inhibits anybody from suggesting there is any activity or area of life, under any circumstances, that should not be open to women. Leading Seaman Turney is paying the price for that irrational orthodoxy; and so is the rest of Britain, in terms of national ignominy.

They are loving it in Buenos Aires. Tomorrow is the 25th anniversary of Argentina's invasion of the Falklands, and the spectacle of British sailors and marines—one of them a woman—captured without offering resistance and exposed to global derision is gratifying beyond measure to our old enemy. Everyone on the Latin American subcontinent recognises it is only a matter of time before Argentina makes another grab for the 'Malvinas': that time may have been significantly abbreviated by last week's spectacle of British military humiliation.

Even apart from the issue of Faye Turney, there are serious questions arising from this debacle. Why were our sailors inadequately armed? Why did neither they nor their ship, HMS Cornwall, detect the approach of the Iranian gunboats and take appropriate action? The boarding party was equipped with the Xeres communication system. HMS Cornwall was just four nautical miles away. A Lynx helicopter from the ship shadowed the Iranian boats after their arrest of the boarding party. Where were the contingency plans? Why do the British rules of engagement, unlike the American, preclude offering resistance? Such passive conduct detracts from the credibility of our armed forces and is hugely encouraging to our enemies.

Above all, what was Faye Turney doing in that galley? She had been interviewed not long before the incident, after which a drivelling hackette predictably described her as "an extremely capable, professional woman who adores her daughter but also wants to serve her country..." It would have been a betrayal of the sisterhood to admit that, for both women and men, there are choices in life which are mutually exclusive. What was the mother of a three-year-old child doing boarding ships in the perilous waters of the Persian Gulf?

After her arrest, however, this capable professional was suddenly redefined by the media as a "young mother". You would have thought she had been snatched by Islamic terrorists while shopping for babygrows in her local mall. "Forced to wear the hijab," shrieked the headlines, as if she had been forcibly sewn into a burkha. In fact, her minimalist headscarf was little different from the Queen's headgear when she goes for a canter in Windsor Great Park.

None of that excuses the disgraceful behaviour of the Iranian regime. Nor should we censure Faye Turney for parroting the obvious drivel put into her mouth by her captors. She knows nobody in this country is deceived, and the Revolutionary Guards are not gentry that most men would care to defy.

What has still not impressed itself, even now, on British commentators is the full significance of this event as a reminder of the stark insanity, as well as the immorality, of putting women in the front line. These British captives have been relatively lucky: if they had been taken by al-Qaeda, the ghouls on sink estates might by now have been surfing YouTube to watch the first British female decapitation since Mary Queen of Scots.

That is the sobering reality. Has it sunk in at the Ministry of Defence, or will the brass hats continue their politically correct posturing until some grotesque cruelty is inflicted upon a servicewoman? The paradigm of women soldiers in Western armies, in the perception of the Middle Eastern public, is the appalling Lynndie England, photographed abusing male prisoners in Abu Ghraib. Sexual humiliation of men, by a woman, is the ultimate provocation in Middle Eastern cultures: any Western service-women taken prisoner by non-governmental forces in the Middle Eastern theatre are likely to pay dearly for that atrocity.

Another fact demonstrated by this incident is the extreme fluidity of the front line in modern warfare. That means women should be withdrawn still more to the rear in any battle plan.

Nobody has a problem with women serving in the forces. They did so with great distinction in the Second World War. Today, however, we have around 18,000 women in the services, representing 9.1% of our armed forces. Only 1% is officially combat personnel (in the Army Air Corps) but, as this incident shows, the demarcation lines are dissolving. That is 1% too many: it is morally repugnant for a woman to strafe and kill other human beings.

Behind this stark phenomenon lurks a much larger issue: the failure of feminism to champion femininity and its betrayal of women by turning them into imitation men. Contrary to the feminist socio-babble in the media, it is the masculine identity that has taken over both sexes, not vice-versa. Three years ago, a survey showed three in five working mothers would rather be at home, but were compelled to take jobs for financial reasons, driven into the workplace by Gordon Brown (recent champion of the family). By a classic piece of spin, a job has been repackaged as a 'career'.

Somebody in authority should have told Faye Turney, in short order, that she had maternal obligations to her three-year-old daughter that precluded her undertaking active service with the Royal Navy. We must pray that she and her shipmates return home safely very soon.

Why Are Mothers Fighting Wars?

by Kathleen Parker

On any given day, one isn't likely to find common cause with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He's a dangerous, lying, Jew-hating cutthroat thug—not to put too fine a point on it. But he was dead-on when he wondered why a once-great power such as Britain sends mothers of toddlers to fight its battles.

Ahmadinejad characterized the release of 15 British sailors and marines, including one woman, seized at sea last month as a gift to Britain. In reality, the hostages were the West's gift to Ahmadinejad.

When a pretender to sanity like Ahmadinejad gets to lecture the West about how it treats its women, we've effectively handed him a free pass to the end zone and made the world his cheerleaders.

Not only does the Iranian president get to look magnanimous in releasing the hostages, but he gets to look wise. And we in the West get to look humiliated, foolish and weak.

Just because we may not "feel" humiliated, doesn't mean we're not. In the eyes of Iran and other Muslim nations, we're wimps. While the West puts mothers in boats with rough men, Islamic men "rescue'' women and drape them in floral hijabs.

We can debate whether they're right until all our boys wear aprons, but it won't change the way we're perceived. The propaganda value Iran gained from its lone female hostage, the mother of a 3-year-old, was incalculable.

It is not fashionable these days to suggest that women don't belong in or near combat — or that children need their mothers. Yes, they need their fathers, too, but children in their tender years are dependent on their mothers in unique ways.

There's not enough space here to go into all the ways that this is true, but children (and good parents) know the difference even if some adults are too dim, brainwashed or ideologically driven to see what's obvious.

Why the West has seen it necessary to diminish motherhood so that women can pretend to be men remains a mystery to sane adults. It should be unnecessary to say that the military is not a proper vehicle for social experimentation, but a machine dedicated to fighting and, if necessary, killing.

Women may be able to push buttons as well as men, but the door-to-door combat in Fallujah proved the irrelevance of that argument. Meanwhile, no one can look at photos of the 15 British marines and sailors and argue convincingly that the British Navy is stronger for the presence of Leading Seaman Faye Turney — no matter how lovely and brave she may be.

But let's assume for the sake of argument that women, despite all evidence to the contrary, are as capable as men in any battle. If our goal is to prevail, then shouldn't we also consider other ramifications of putting women in combat and/or in positions of risk?

Those ramifications include women's unequal vulnerability to rape and injury, as well as cultural attitudes toward women that may enhance their exposure to punishment or, alternatively, to make them useful to our enemies.

Iran wasted no time dressing up Turney in Islamic garb and parading her before television cameras. More than her fellow male captives, Turney was required to confess repeatedly, to apologize for trespassing in Iranian waters and write letters of contrition.

This was not, needless to say, Churchill's Navy.

Rape, though not a likely risk in this case, is a consistent argument against putting women in or near combat. While advocates for women in combat argue that men are also raped, there is an important difference. Women are raped by men, which, given the inherent power differential between the sexes, raises women's rape to another level of terror.

What kind of man, one shudders to wonder, is willing to allow his country's women to be raped and tortured by other men of enemy nations?

None that I know, but our military is gradually weaning men of their intuitive inclination to protect women — which, by extrapolation, means ignoring the screams of women being assaulted.

At the point when our men can stand by unfazed while American servicewomen are raped and tortured, then we will have no cause to fight any war. We will have already lost.

Positioning women to become pawns of propaganda, meanwhile, is called aiding and abetting the enemy.