Sunday, August 9, 2009

A man's world

Have I written yet that I am living in a man's world? Some days I don't notice and, on other days, it smacks me right across the face. Those of you who have spent any time in or around the Army are rolling your eyes. Of course, it's a man's world and we women are outnumbered. The Army still has career fields that are exclusively male and all of our security force here on the PRT [Provincial Reconstruction Team] are members of one such career field. I guess it just still catches me off guard, since the U.S. Air Force and the medical field, specifically, seem to have a better balance of men and women.

Here on our team, fewer than 10 percent of the organization are women, and I am the only female officer. We ladies stick together; none of us are too “girly” and we manage to fill the “little sister” role pretty well. We climb in and out of our big trucks without help, lug our 30 pounds-plus medic bags around and clean our own weapons. I even helped unload ammo from the trucks the other night after a long mission. These things do not bother any of us and they actually make us feel like valued members of the team. We can carry our own weight and pull duties with the men, thank you very much!

So how does it hit me in the face? There are portable toilets here where the seats are on a spring to stay in the “up” position.They're still easier to deal with than the ones that are just a hole to stand over. I won't even get started on that. Then, I was told the other day that there is a “discussion going around” that I shouldn't engage in talks or carry out what we call key leader engagements with senior Afghan leaders in our province, most of whom are men. Why? Because I am a woman and they don't respect women like westerners do. My response? “Reeeally? Huh. Well, let's go see the governor!” So we went to see him and the meeting was fine. Now, mind you, I will never meet alone with any male Afghan officials; my security and interpreters would never let that happen. They are pretty protective, which, to be honest, is where the being-a-woman-in-a-man's world thing is sometimes nice.

With the pending elections, it will be interesting to see what changes happen in our province. For example, here the governor is appointed by the president, not elected by the people. There are representatives in the province who are elected, and this is part of the pending process, as well. Two of these positions are held by women and they are true heroes; they must walk a very fine line between being a respectable Afghan women and promoting themselves as serving the people. I look forward to meeting them soon and telling them how much I respect them for their desire to serve their people under such scrutiny. They are truly finding their way in a man's world, so how can I complain about my own battles?


  1. Those upcoming elections are a big BIG deal. Wouldn't be a bad thing if Karzai lost and there was a peaceful transfer of power. Just think how empowering that would be for that country!

    Yep it's a man's world, but I'd take you in a street fight (or most anything else) any day of the week, Lori!

    Much love, Curt

  2. Hiya Lori!

    Great to hear life's relatively routine for you so far...a war zone's NOT the place you want to be when things get interesting!

    Am trying to get your mailing address from the Johnson's or your folks to send you a big care package with lots of BOOKS in it!

    You won't believe how fast the next six months pass. And then that last month will never end. Enjoy the friends you make in theater and soak up the's a once in a life time gig...

    Big waves and hugs!
    Cindy (Miller) Dees

  3. Always-up toilet seats? You need look no further than the McCormick household for those, my friend! Man's world indeed!

  4. Hey Lori,
    we miss you and are praying for your safe return. Have a great time in Germany. We are counting the days until you come home. Take care and keep your head down. I am enjoying your blog. Love you and miss you. GIG'em

    The Potosnak's Joe Dawn Leeza and Michael.