Kelly McParland: Gender wars claim U.S. colonel who used the word ‘ugly’

| | Last Updated: 25/11/13 6:46 PM ET
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A U.S. army colonel who was supposed to help get more women into combat roles has lost her job for using the word “ugly.”  She’s also learned a valuable lesson about digital communications: no one can be trusted, and even when sharing what you consider internal messages to trusted colleagues, you have to assume any slip will be used against you to produce maximum damage and humiliation.

Col. Lynette Arnhart was in charge of a team tasked with helping women get past barriers to combat roles. The U.S. is trying to figure out how to open the way for more women to gain battlefront jobs, including in the infantry, armor and elite commando positions. A deadline of Jan. 1, 2016 has been set to open as many jobs as possible to women, or explain why they remain closed.

Never assume an email ends with the person to whom you’ve sent it. Never use any language that couldn’t withstand the most withering public prosecution. Don’t expect you’ll be given a break for even the slightest slip-up.

Overcoming prejudices based on sexual stereotypes was integral to that effort, and part of Col. Arnhart’s job. In suggesting  strategies for explaining its integration policy to the press and public, she tried to make the point that perceptions are important.

“There is a general tendency to select nice looking women when we select a photo to go with an article (where the article does not reference a specific person),” she said in an email. “It might behoove us to select more average looking women for our comms strategy. For example, the attached article shows a pretty woman, wearing make-up while on deployed duty. Such photos undermine the rest of the message (and may even make people ask if breaking a nail is considered hazardous duty).”

Unfortunately, in addition to the crack about breaking a nail, she wrote: “In general, ugly women are perceived as competent while pretty women are perceived as having used their looks to get ahead.”

So guess what happened next? Arnhart sent the email to just two people, but one of them, Col. Christian Kubik, a public affairs officer, forwarded it to other public affairs officers, urging them: “Please use ‘real’ photos that are typical, not exceptional.”

Naturally, someone “shared” the email with Politico, and the backlash began. It was probably the “ugly” that doomed Arnhart. If she’d been more cautious, bland or circumlocutory in her choice of adjectives, she might have still been happily doing her job. Instead, she has agreed to “step aside.” As reported by the Associated Press:

Army spokesman George Wright said Col. Lynnette Arnhart had agreed to step aside, and Gen. Robert Cone, commander of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Eustis, Va., had accepted the gender integration study’s leadership change “in order to protect the integrity of the ongoing work on gender integration in the Army.”

In addition, Col. Kubik, “was suspended for his involvement in the email pending an investigation.” Before his suspension, Kubik had said the email was intended to be internal and didn’t reflect official Army policy, and that: “The intent was to help ensure that images depict professional female soldiers as they are … And to ensure that they are recognized on their hard-earned achievements as members of the professional arms.”

Well, too bad. Kubik, like Arnhart, now knows that “intent” has nothing to do with it. Women were “outraged” by the email, according to the Associated Press, because in warning against stereotypes, it had reflected them. Evidently, even referring to stereotypes can be stereotyping, and can’t be countenanced, no matter how good the intention.

As with so much on the Internet, once Arnhart’s email made it to the public domain it was instantly distorted, and the distortion used against her. In her e-mail, she had noted that a photo of a female soldier with mud on her face “sends a much different message — one of women willing to do the dirty work necessary in order to get the job done.” But instead of an advocate for women, she’s been branded as out-of-touch with current gender politics for daring to admit that prejudices exist.

It’s another lesson on the dangers of digital communications. Never assume an email ends with the person to whom you’ve sent it. Never use any language that couldn’t withstand the most withering public prosecution. Don’t expect you’ll be given a break for even the slightest slip-up. And if you can help it at all, never put any but the blandest and most innocuous messages in writing.

National Post


Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre

The War we need to be concerned about is the war on men.Take the corrupt Man Hating Ottawa Police who openly brag that 90% of the people charged with domestic violence, are, male.

That's right, 90%, but out of that 90% what they don't reveal is that most of them were in fact victims of domestic violence who the police decided to charge.

One of the worst examples of this fabrication of evidence and obstruction of justice in the Ottawa Police "War on Men" is Ottawa Police Det. Peter Van der Zander who fabricates evidence and obstructs justice with impunity.

There is also a Constable Wayne Same Smith, Badge No. 880 who has also left a trail of destroyed fathers.

The Ottawa Police are partners in crime with the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa, perhaps the nastiest, vilest example of professional promoters of Hatred and Domestic Violence against fathers in Canada.

For the worst examples of professional fabricators of evidence against fathers, there is Child Protection Worker Phil Hiltz-Laforge and CAS lawyer Marguerite Isobel Lewis who is perhaps one of the worst examples of Obstruction of Justice in the Ottawa CAS and Ottawa Police  war on Fathers.

It's enough to make you want to puke when you see the name Ottawa Police or the vile corrupt  secretive "gestapo" of Ontario called the Children's Aid Society.

If you have been a Male Victim of Domestic Violence in Ottawa and ended up being victimized by the "partner assault" group of the Ottawa Police, or the Ottawa CAS please email or call 613