February 6, 2005

Mosul Update: Missing Men

With the election behind us, I was wondering if the news photos from Mosul had changed at all. 

Besides familiar shots of street patrols, sniper battles and firefights, I did find some pictures of soldiers hanging out with local children or cautiously interacting with civilians.  From what I could tell, however, the home raids and inspections are continuing. 

Although I’ve looked at many of these types of photos, this most recent one seemed different.  Typically impersonal and perfunctory, this picture seemed intimate and voyeuristic.


Without draw any conclusions, I decided to look back at other inspection photos again.  What I noticed was that, besides the soldiers, you hardly seen any men.  You see women and children in the house with troops, or the troops alone.


So where are the men?  Are most of these raids in houses where the men have already been apprehended?  Are the men working, or simply away during the day?  Do the men step away from the house if its being inspected — perhaps out of shame?  Or, are men present, but not captured by the camera for certain reasons? 


Thinking about it now, it’s odd I never considered these pictures in terms of gender. 

Was it’s because the subject is war, and war tends to pull for gender stereotypes? Could I have assumed Arab men wouldn’t want to be seen in this kind of situation?  Maybe sex roles stratify in such a way (just like in other places) that a man would not be home in the day. 

Or, maybe it’s because Bush has introduced so much testosterone into the political and cultural climate that its not even noticeable anymore.

(image 1: AFP/Mauricio Lima at YahooNews; image 2: AFP/Mauricio Lima at YahooNews; image 3: Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson/U.S. Army photo at defendamerica.mil)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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