You could make the argument that this was a show of representation, proof that there are not only men working in the SAF, but also selfless women who have defied stereotypes for a career in the army.
The SAF, for instance, regularly parades these attractive young women in front of thirsty male citizens in order to get them to sign on with the army. Seeing as most high-ranking military personnel are male, it wouldn’t surprise me if it is these men who make the decision to put the servicewomen on display. That is without a doubt, quintessential male chauvinism.
Usually, this cheap hiring tactic is laughed off by people, and I will be the first to admit that I have done so as well. But this sentiment is echoed throughout all of online media. A quick google and you will quickly find detailed profiles about how these servicewomen will win your hearts.
Very often, details of their back-breaking work are skimmed over so that we can find out what traits these “Down-To-Earth” women with “Girl-Next-Door” looks have, such as being able to sing, play the guitar, or hold your breath, cook.
These are traits traditionally used to describe the sexist ideal of the domesticated and obedient wife, and sound more like dating profiles rather than that of working professionals.
One can only imagine what secret mess tin recipes these women have hiding up their Smart 4s.
We have to realise that there is a fundamental flaw in the public’s mindset, that we so quickly zoom in on the physical traits of female servicewomen. The fact that we don’t even see it as a problem shows how rooted it is in our culture.
If even the notoriously archaic FIFA can take steps to address sexism, it is high time the SAF and other relevant authorities acknowledged that this is a problem, and take the steps needed to shift the attention away from these women, and eradicate this issue.
If not, this fixation that we have on attractive servicewomen will only fester. Already, we often hear about how attractive people get preferential treatment, and how they generally get undue credit at the expense of the truly talented people.
Just how many times have you heard a disgruntled male co-worker insinuate that his female colleague got promoted because she went beyond the extra mile to please her boss?
So long as these attitudes persist, nothing will change. We need to realise that everyone is responsible for perpetuating these ideas.
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