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Is Michèle Flournoy the Defence Secretary Feminism Really Needs? Voices 

Is Michèle Flournoy the Defence Secretary Feminism Really Needs?

Please note: Mr. Christopher C. Miller was appointed to be the next Secretary of Defense on Nov. 9th, 2020, after this article was written.  This is nonetheless a reflection that is still relevant, as feminism is always a topical interest of The Insider.



Michèle Flournoy is expected to be appointed by Joe Biden as the first female defence secretary of the United States in accordance with his “pledge to have a diverse cabinet”.


“Ms. Flournoy’s sound policy experience will be vital to ensuring strong civilian oversight of the military, professionalism and ethics in our special operations forces, workforce diversity, and activities to strengthen our technological edge through science and innovation,” Reps. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) and Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) from the House Armed Services Committee explained in a joint statement.


What “sound policy experience”?  Flournoy was a senior defence advisor during Bill Clinton’s and Barack Obama’s presidencies; she is a controversial figure at best.


She is thought to have singlehandedly caused the escalation of the Afghanistan war by being one of Obama’s most “hawkish” advisors, encouraging the increase of troops deployed to an all-time high of 100 000 in 2010 (a decision then-Vice President Joe Biden opposed), which led to the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers and of even more Afghans.


She also advocated for an increase in military spending, stating in 2017 that Trump was right in increasing the military budget to $603 billion, “only” a 3% increase from Obama’s final budget request, as she explained in an opinion article for The Washington Post.


In 2016, she suggested that “sending more American troops into combat against ISIS and the Assad regime than the Obama administration has been willing to commit” would be in the US’ best interests.


She even accused Obama of “inaction” in Syria when he had released a total of 26 171 bombs in 2016 across the globe, most of which were dropped in Syria and Iraq.  That’s three bombs per HOUR, 24 hours per day.


While he lowered the number of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, he increased substantially “air wars” and deployment of special forces.  In 2016, these forces were located in 70% of countries worldwide – that’s 138 countries – an increase of 130% since Bush’s presidency.


Yet, Michèle Flournoy repeatedly claimed that Obama wasn’t using the military enough.


So why is everyone acting as though it would be a “win for feminism” if she were appointed as the first woman to be defence secretary?  Sure, she would be breaking a glass ceiling, but isn’t it a bit insulting that in order for a woman to be respected in politics, she must have the bloodthirst of a vulture and qualities (albeit wrongfully, as I am a gender anarchist) associated with men?


Women in politics are expected to not show weakness; they must be invulnerable to criticism and not show mercy towards their opponents.  This is the only way for them to be seen as the “equals” of the men in this competitive field, for if they falter even slightly, they will be seen as incompetent and presumed inferior because of their gender.


An example of this misogyny that is so deeply embedded in the world of politics is when Republican Congressman Ted Yoho called Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a “fucking bitch”, among other sexist insults.  Cortez gave a speech denouncing what she referred to as the “culture of misogyny” and that’s exactly what this is.


It is because of this culture of misogyny that the only successful women in politics are those who go the extra mile that men are not required to.  They do not only have to prove that they have the competencies and the qualities needed, but they must prove that they are woman enough.   



By Sophie Dufresne

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