Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Women Under Fire

The movie Courage Under Fire relates to recent changes in the United States military. Women, for so long, have not been able to fight in combat positions in the U.S. military. All combat positions are now open to all women. Women were and are still seen as weak, emotional, and not fit for the military. Courage Under Fire shows a female Captain in the Army, Captain Karen Walden (Meg Ryan), during the Gulf War, who does not represent this stereotypical female. She is the commander of a Medevac Huey. Her and the soldiers she commands sees other soldiers in distress and helps them just before their own helicopter goes down and then they become in trouble. She shows courage, strength and heroism
in a scary, hostile and dangerous place. These characteristics make her stand out to the higher ranking men in the military. Walden ends up getting killed for her act of courage under fire and receives a Medal of Honor. Giving this Medal of Honor to Walden, a female, is difficult because this is not a typical scenario. This movie shows a true women defying cultural stereotypes through her strength, power and courage in war.

In this movie, Walden refuses the female cultural stereotype in many ways. Just being a soldier in the Gulf War, Walden defies the stereotype that women cannot fight and handle being in a war. Because she is the commander of a Medevac Huey, Walden stands up to men and makes decisions and gives orders that they might not agree with. Women are supposed to take orders from men in our culture, so this is seen as not right to the men she is in charge of in some scenes in the movie. Walden ends up dying as a result of being shot after their helicopter goes down. Because of how she acts when she gets shot, she is seen as different and not normal. She is strong despite her getting injured. Just the fact that Walden went into the military and succeeded is a cultural backlash, being awarded the Medal of Honor is a specific event of how she succeeds in this field. Walden being the commander of this unit and her power that she has is definitely not a normal thing. She rejects the stereotype that men are “in charge” of women, she shows this when they are waiting for help after the helicopter goes down. She says “No surrender” to the other soldiers in a stern voice, this shows her commitment. She also makes a statement that they are not leaving the area where the helicopter went down because they have an injured soldier, she doesn’t want to risk his life or any other soldiers, this shows her loyalty. In the scene when she gets shot, she says “I gave birth to a nine-pound baby, asshole. I think I can handle it.” Walden shows toughness, strength and fearlessness to the other soldiers. Walden’s personality, character traits in war and the fact that she is in war is a unique and realistic part of our society.

Captain Karen Walden in the movie Courage Under Fire represents what our cultural thinks is false for women. Women in America are supposed to act, look and think a certain way. Women are put into categories and certain things are expected from them. This stereotype affects many cultural aspects of our society and everyday life. It is normal in our society for people to question women with jobs or hobbies that are reserved for men. These stereotypes are all around us and are even portrayed in movies and t.v. shows. Like Walden, women should defy stereotypes and do what they love no matter what other people think.


  1. Excellent analysis, This was a great example of defying stereotypes against women in the military.

  2. Excellent analysis, This was a great example of defying stereotypes against women in the military.

  3. I think this is an interesting piece of work because it isn't all too accurate on a historical level, but since the recent changes the military made, it could be. There has been only one woman to win the medal of honor before (1865, noncombat), which I didn't know.