The Israeli Defense Force is an interesting army. On the one hand, it allows male soldiers not to participate in a social event if women's singing offends them. On the other, in light of the Gay Pride Parade, Its spokesman publishes a picture sending a message of peace, love and pinkwash. At the same time, its weekly Bamahane is sent to print with an article titled "Targeted Wooing", which gives male soldiers the sexist advice of a seduction workshop. An interesting army with a golden-touch, when relates to gender.
The latest fiasco took place last week. The article was published in the official army weekly and was posted on the IDF's Facebook page. It presented wooing principles very similar to the slandered those of the Temptation Art Center, which offers workshops on some unnecessarily elegant courting steps: touching without a warning, insults, and the total disregard of a woman's will.
The broad condemnation the center received after it reached public awareness in December 2010 did not prevent the army magazine from publishing a flattering article on the soldiers' experience in a seduction workshop; a workshop in which hitting up a girl (or on a number of girls) is referred to, according to the story, as "opening a set."
The article soon went viral on Facebook, first on Bamahane's Facebook page, and later shared by others – after it was removed. "Publishing the article only shows the way women are treated and of your view of them as something needed to be 'occupied' by force, despite their resistance," someone wrote to Bamahane, adding sarcastically: "For it is not important what they feel, and they cannot decide for themselves who they want to go out with."
You don't have to be a feminist to see that the language used for seduction is using military imagery, and vice versa. The woman is conquered, and the conquered is referred to as feminine. A short time before American soldiers tortured, raped and sexually humiliated Iraqi inmates in Abu Ghraib prison, Anthropologist Veena Das wrote that "the theme of humiliating the 'enemy' through effeminizing has been recorded in many colonial contexts."
Not only in its title does the article mix wooing with occupying. The sub headline reads: "what soldier wouldn't like to come home to a loving girlfriend for the weekend? Searching, although unable to find love, five soldiers decided that if the mountain won't come to Muhammad, Muhammad will seduce the mountain," a cultural reference to the enemy is added.
"In a special workshop they have learned what girls think (more or less), how to talk to them (almost) and specifically, that just like in the IDF – that security is the most important thing." (In Hebrew, the same work is used for security and confidence.)
The IDF removed the online article on Friday and posted an apology on Facebook, saying: "the article 'Targeted Wooing' is about a workshop soldiers participate in their off time and is not an IDF activity. In case the content of the article hurt or offended, we apologize. It was not our intention. Shabat Shalom."
The article itself said that "now we are getting to the important part of the workshop, almost as in weapons training – today, physical contact comes in the picture. The instructors advise the students to be friendly from the first moment coming in the ring, a bar for example. The instructor Miki illustrates the principles of physical contact. I am standing with my back to the students. At first, he directly puts his hand on my shoulder. The contact is unpleasant and it feels as if my privacy is invaded. Then, he slides his hand gently and stops at the same place. This time it is reasonable and it seems friendly."
Another advice given in the article is to offend girls using "sarcastic phrases, bordering with insults" to deflate their ego, adding "there is a thin line between a sarcastic saying and an insult," and that for that reason, "it is only limited to the early stages of the acquaintance."
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