[Ed. – I’d say it’s for a simple reason: the definition of “combat” that women have been in isn’t the “combat” that interests heroic fiction or imagination.]
For the last two years I reported on a team of women soldiers recruited by special operations in 2011 to serve on combat missions alongside Army Rangers and Navy SEALs, among other special operations teams, all while the combat ban on women remained in place. When I would tell friends I was working on a story about a “band of sisters” on the front lines—women connected forever by what they saw and did at war and by the fact that America had no idea they did it—they would ask me if the story was about rape or PTSD.
Neither, I would answer. The story was about valor.
I realized by the third time I heard the question that it kept resurfacing in part because the victim narrative has overtaken all others in recent years when it comes to the story of women in uniform. There have been precious few depictions of women in uniform doing their actual jobs, most noticeably when it comes to the movies. Among the recent spate of war films, hardly any women are seen as service members central to the action. …
With women mostly absent from our war stories, Americans find it hard to understand the combat their servicewomen have seen.