Mothers of Soldiers and the Iraq War: Justification through Breakfast Shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC
Cappuccio, Sondra Nicole, Women and Language
Abstract: A comprehensive search of morning television shows was completed in order to accurately gauge the media's use of mothers as instruments of support and dissent for the current Iraq War. The mother as justifier is presented in dialogues about (their) soldier children, the war, and, in some instances, democracy. This justification is presented through two categories of motherhood the mother as supporter/caregiver and the mother as representative/proud mother--which were dominant representations on the breakfast shows. While a .few stories held an air of dissent, this dissent actually was nothing more than a straw man technique, which ultimately reinforced the overall framework and further justified the war.
Historically, there has been a pattern of the media supporting the United States government's war efforts (Lens, 2003). Whether one considers the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 which threatened fines and imprisonment against anyone who criticized the government, Lincoln's attempt to suspend the Writ of Habeas Corpus and thus deny prisoners the right to question the legality of their incarceration, or the more recent Patriot Act of 2001 which gives authorities almost unlimited access to private information, the United States Government continues a long tradition of limiting free speech and dissent. As part of the "military-industrial complex" (Eisenhower, 1961), the media have been an instrumental tool used to facilitate such limitations of dissent and to deliver an image of America that is sanctioned by the United States government.
Media representations of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt as healthy even though he was a paraplegic, or President Reagan as the 'All American Cowboy' during 'negotiations' with the former Soviet Union, illustrate the extent to which the media is willing to deliver stories that serve the purpose of the government. Yet, these constructions are not limited to Presidents or politicians in promoting political agendas. Rather, it is the media's use of civilian members of society that is a significant adjunct to the government's political agendas and, subsequent, war efforts.
Since the events of September 11, 2001 (9/11), President George W. Bush and his administration have worked hard at connecting 9/11 with all of the administration's current policies, particularly Middle Eastern foreign policy. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 have been used by the current administration, along with others, as evidence of the alleged link between Saddam Hussein's regime and terrorism (including Al Qaeda, for example). By juxtaposing Hussein's regime with terrorism in general, and 9/11 specifically, Iraq becomes a real threat to Americans reeling from the devastation of the September 11th attacks. This personalization of the "threat" of Iraq helps create a context of support for the Iraq War.
On March 19, 2003, the Iraq War began (www.whitehouse.gov/news). Since then, academics and political pundits alike have addressed various aspects of the war ranging from media coverage to political rhetoric to constructions of gender. This inquiry, however, tends to be blind to the ideological underpinnings of gender and militarism. It is within this framework that constructions of motherhood will be examined through an analysis of morning television news shows.
As will be discussed further in this study, the original analysis was to be a search of the three major broadcast network news stories covering mothers of soldiers serving in the Iraq War. Nevertheless, during that search, there was an obvious connection between these stories and coverage on morning news shows. This study will commence with a brief overview of the Iraq War and an examination of the relationship between motherhood and militarism.
On February 5, 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the United Nations to "make the case for war" on Iraq. For eighty minutes, Powell, citing a mountain of evidence, ranging from audio tapes of intercepted Iraqi phone conversations, to aerial surveillance photos, to the statements of defectors and detainees, made sweeping and serious allegations:
The Iraqis were hiding chemical and biological weapons, were secretly working to make more banned arms, were reviving their nuclear bomb project. He spoke of "the gravity of the threat that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction pose to the world." (Hanley, 2003, 4).
Every broadcast network, and each cable news outlet, covered Powell's presentation in its entirety--even creating special logos and screen identifiers entitled "Making the Case for War" to further privilege the official viewpoint and construct war as not only the optimal option, but the only option. The media, acting as the mouthpiece for the government, constructed the Iraq War as a litmus test for patriotism. By emphasizing pro-war arguments and de-emphasizing anti-war rhetoric, the media effectively "squelched debate" and manufactured a "just war", which appeared to be supported by the majority of Americans (Kumar, 2003).
What the media failed to do, however, was capture the reality of dissent that was quite prevalent throughout the United States. Just ten days after Colin Powell spoke at the United Nations, one of the largest anti-war rallies in the United States took place in New York City. According to protest organizers, upwards of 375,000 participated in the rally; while police minimize the number at approximately 100,000 people (www.cnn.com/2003/US/02/15/sprj.irq.protests.main/).
While every minute of Powell's eighty minute speech was aired on broadcast and cable platforms alike, the story of the anti-war rally received much less coverage. The coverage received--such as the article sourced above--tended to construct the anti-war demonstrators as radicals. The prominent visual of the CNN.com story was of demonstrators engaging police in an altercation.
As Kumar (2006) points out, with the passing of time has come the realization that the Bush administration--with the help of the media--used false information and inappropriate tactics to justify waging war on Iraq. When weapons of mass destruction did not materialize in Iraq, it became impossible for the administration, and the media, to maintain the charade that allowed them to ravage Iraq with military force. Yet, what happens when what fails to materialize is something less tangible than a chemical weapon? The role of the media in justifying military action in Iraq was not just a temporary task of convincing American's of certain facts pertaining to particular threat Iraq posed, but rather the long term task of instilling an ideology that primes a people to be predisposed to accepting war and militarism. It is this long-term task of media that will be explored in the sections that follow.
Media, Gender and Militarism
In order to create a society that is predisposed to war, and is therefore ripe for militarization, the media must construct the military in gendered terms. According to Turpin (1998), "masculine values must be privileged over feminine values, and masculine values become equated with military ones" (p. 16). Even though women have increased their service as soldiers, traditionally, the fighting of wars has been represented as an exclusively male activity, which takes place in what Magor (2002) refers to as a 'male terrain'. This is where "the world leaders are male, the hijackers were male, and the mobalised [sic] forces around the world will contain disproportionate numbers of males to females" (Magor 2002, p. 143).
Even though militarization "privileges masculinity" (Enloe 2000, p. 4), and such privilege is heightened during wartime, the masculine soldier must be balanced by the feminine "other" in order for the gendered military to function. For instance, a common image is the representation of a woman tearfully waving the male soldier goodbye. Whether it is making care packages or tying yellow ribbons, the woman traditionally stays home; the man is at war.
In this way, militarization relies on idealized femininity during wartime. Militarization, in general, is central (Enloe 2000). If there is no idealized female staying home that needs protection, then the question begs, why are the men going to war? Moreover, what is then being protected? The events of 9/11 and the purported link to Saddam Hussein have enabled the Iraq War to be used as a tool of protection and social responsibility. According to media texts and government rhetoric, "Lady Liberty" has been threatened, and American soldiers must protect her at all costs.
The relationship between masculinities and femininities in war has often been examined through feminist rhetoric (Blanchard 2003, p. 1293). Emphasis has been placed on the creation of gendered identities during wartime and in postwar periods (Elshtain 1987; Kimble 2004). There is an assertion of a difference between the identities constructed in times of peace versus those in times of war. The rhetoric of postwar eras often takes on a "rehumanizing" element, as if during war, it had metamorphosed into another genre (Kimble 2004, p. 65).
What is most threatening is these gendered constructions are so commonplace they seem unnoticeable to the general public. In fact, according to Enloe (2000), "any militarized government's manipulative capacity has relied on most people not being interested" in and "trivializing" women in such militarized roles (xii). Even though most women are not wearing an official uniform, the roles they play are just as significant in supporting the war effort and, unknowingly, militarization.
Often, Enloe continues, such roles are turned "into either abstract nationalist icons or objects of shame and exclusion" (xii). Militarized roles played by women, especially during wartime, are "spouse, significant other, victim and/or mother--all waiting for the return of their beloved soldier/hero," even though women do serve as soldiers during wartime (Howard & Prividera 2004, p. 89). The uniform of a mother supporting her soldier-child takes its form through the actions she takes--whether it is making care packages or speaking about her child.
Motherhood, Militarism and Media
While there is a dearth of attention given to the media's role in defining motherhood (Keller, 1994; Johnston and Swanson, 2003), mothering and motherhood, as socially manufactured concepts (Mattingly, Lawlor & Jacobs-Huey 2002; Collins 1994; Glenn 1994), are nonetheless constructed through the media. Whether one remembers back to June Cleaver, or Mommy Dearest, there is a commonly held ideal of what a mother should be and how a mother should act. Motherhood is necessary to garner support for war. The role of the male is explicit as the soldier, the general, the politician, and even the antagonist. In these patriarchal constructions of war, motherhood is a central concept, necessary for "any successful manpower formula" (Enloe 2000, p. 237-249). This link between motherhood, militarism, and war can be further explored through representations of motherhood and constructions of militarism in media (Scheper-Hughes 1998, p. 228).
Even though the connection between motherhood and militarism have been commonplace and seemingly below the surface, the media has been an avid supporter and proponent of militarization. This is noteworthy since militaries and propaganda generators have historically linked "motherhood, nationalism, and militarism" (Turpin 1998, p. 11). The media provides this vital connection through its transmission of ideologically charged images and stories. This nexus provides validation for some women, particularly during wartime when mothering is presented as a "vital contribution to the nation's war effort" by the privileged masculine elite (Enloe 2000, p. 11). It is in this way the militarized government and politicians exploit the link between motherhood and militarism as a means for justifying and garnering support for war.
The research that has been conducted on media representations of motherhood during wartime has been sporadic. It relies on a few key texts, and the extent to which the topic has been explored varies depending on the conflict (Enloe 1988; Johnston & Swanson 2003; Ruddick 1990; Zeiger 1996). Zeiger (1996) and Fahs (1999), for example, discuss the uses of motherhood as national symbols during wars in which the United States was engaged.
These studies consider domestic wars, such as the Civil War, and international wars, like World War I (and the current Iraq War). For example, the white, middle-class mother was the main image seen of mothers during World War I (Zeiger 1996, par. 1). Such "maternal imagery is emotionally evocative and thus a powerful symbolic resource in garnering public support for war" (de Volo 1998, p. 240). In fact, forms of mothering, especially during wartime, are often presented through media in terms of patriotism and symbolism. Dissent is constructed within this framework. (Zeiger 1996)
In reviewing the existing literature, it became evident that the construction of wartime mothers in the media needed additional attention. To further the body of knowledge in this area, the present study will examine such constructions of motherhood during the Iraq War through the lens of morning news. The narrative of news, like the narrative of war, is masculine (Lemish & Barzel 2000, p. 151; Rakow & Kranich 1991, p. 9). The stories of mothers of soldiers serving in Iraq are a frame for the constructions of mothers and motherhood.
A comprehensive search of morning television shows was selected in order to accurately gauge the media relating to the topic of mothers being used as an instrument supporting the current Iraq War. A Lexis-Nexis search, conducted using the search term "Iraq AND War," generated seventy-four stories between the dates of March 19, 2003 and April 17, 2005. These were from morning television news shows on the broadcast networks ABC, CBS, and NBC.
March 19, 2003 marks the start of the Iraq War (www.whitehouse.gov/news). Although President George W. Bush announced "major combat operations" in Iraq ended on May 1, 2003, fighting continues. The U.S. still deploys massive troop forces in Iraq, with new troops being continually rotated and deployed (www.whitehouse.gov/news). Therefore, the search was extended from the start of the War until the commencement of this analysis.
Originally, the Lexis-Nexis search was conducted on all ABC news transcripts. From the forty-four original results generated, thirty were from the morning show Good Morning America. Subsequent searches were conducted of the other two major broadcast networks, CBS and NBC, and yielded similar results. Out of forty-two stories on CBS, twenty-four were from the Early show. Out of thirty-seven stories on NBC, twenty were from the Today show. A total of sixty-one relevant transcripts (twenty-four from Good Morning America, twenty-one from the Early Show, and sixteen from the Today show) were analyzed.
The relevance of breakfast television shows
These results show the relevance such morning news (breakfast television) shows have on the broadcast networks' reporting of this topic. Nevertheless, these breakfast television shows differ from daily, prime time, broadcast news shows in their structure and audience relationship. This often trivializes such breakfast shows when compared with more serious news shows (Dahlgreen, 1995; Prato, 1997, p.54; Wieten & Pantti, 2005, p. 21). Even so, the breakfast television time slot is "the only part of the day in which network television audiences are on the increase" (Robertson, 1999, p. 42.) In fact, the networks are undergoing an intense competition for viewers in these time slots (Prato, 1997, p. 54).
Breakfast television's format is a combination of information and entertainment (Schaffer, 1991 ; Wieten & Pantti, 2005) where
[E]ach network show's version of news, weather, entertainment and the tourist factor is routinely watched, listened to or ignored by legions of viewers as they eat breakfast, brush their teeth, and locate matching socks. (Robertson, 1999, p. 42)
Yet, such shows' (Good Morning America, Early Show, Today) "agenda-setting potential" is highlighted through their relationships with viewers.
Even though there is a fragmented audience (Hack, 1999; Prato, 1997), Weiten and Pantti (2005) find that "breakfast television is obsessed with identifying itself with the daily world of the television viewer" (p. 22). This need for identification appears within the structure of the shows. Schaffer (1991) finds the shows attempt to connect with the audience through 'overt' recognition. This occurs through mentioning the audience and/or directly addressing it (p. 153).
A total of sixty-one relevant stories, garnered from the Lexis-Nexis search, were analyzed. Each story was read numerous times. Focus was placed on the language and dialogue of each story and the framework in which the story was placed. Specific attention was paid toward stories containing a tone of dissent. Moreover, differences among the three morning shows were noted.
Results and Discussion
This analysis specifically looked at the rhetoric of mothers of soldiers serving in Iraq during interviews on ABC's Good Morning America, CBS's Early Show, and NBC's Today show. In the interviews, the mothers of the soldiers acted as justifiers (tools, agents, promoters) for the current American democratic paradigm and, subsequently, imperialism as a whole, through their reverence for their children and for other soldiers serving as well. The mother as justifier is presented in dialogue about (their) soldier children, the war, and, in some instances, democracy.
This justification is presented through two categories of motherhood, as represented through the spots on the breakfast shows. The mother is a supporter/caregiver and a representative/ proud mother. The supporter, or caregiver, mother demonstrates approval and acceptance for her child by being an organizer, creating drives and consumerism and through providing emotional support. The representative/proud mother is seen in two ways: a storyteller, sharing her child's story; and, a reasoner, giving the audience an explanation or testimony. While a few stories held an air of dissent, this dissent was nothing more than straw man provided within the framework for justification.
Differences among Good Morning America, Early Show, and Today
It is important to note the differences between the stories presented on each of the networks. While many of the stories contained the same structure, the content varied between the networks. Both ABC (Good Morning America) and CBS (Early Show) featured soldiers' deaths and injuries in over half of their stories; whereas, NBC (Today) only had two such instances presented in its news spots.
Moreover, the majority of the stories on NBC's Today featured families being reunited with their soldier/ hero. Both ABC's Good Morning America and CBS' Early Show did not feature any such stories. Nevertheless, the tone of the texts remained consistent across the networks as evidenced in this analysis. Mothers were constructed on all three networks in the same manner, whether through the illusion of dissent and/or the representation of their roles as supporter/ caregiver and representative/proud mother.
Mother as supporter/caregiver
The mother acts as a justifier through her role as supporter/caregiver. According to Howard and Prividera (2004), "the woman caretaker archetype encourages patriarchal militarism by promoting women to serve in roles that support the military mission" (p. 90). Often, the mother provides care through consumerist and emotional support.
According to Keller (1994), the provision of goods and services is a demonstration of motherly love. Frankie Mayo, mother of Chris Mayo, currently deployed to Iraq, organized a drive to send air conditioners over to her son and other soldiers in Iraq. She states on July 18, 2003, during an ABC interview, "Well, it was an e-mail that I got from Chris, actually that said that, how hot is was ... And it was just really oppressive and he asked me could I organize some local business in Delaware to send some air conditioners, so I have." She continues to state her support for her son and other troops serving "because the ones that are over there are going to be there for a very long time and we as Americans need to support them" (ABC, July 18, 2003).
Ms. Mayo is also featured on the Today Show on the same date. Her interview is presented in much the same manner, with prompting questions from the host and her responses being almost identical to what was stated on ABC. She states, "We're going to keep sending them as long as the troops need them. They're going to be there for a long time. And we really need to support the troops that are going to be there, especially now" (NBC, July 18, 2003). While not all of the interviews were so similar, again, these themes were prevalent throughout each of the networks.
Such consumer support is seen through care packages containing candy, sunscreen, magazines, and/or various other goods the mothers send to their children serving in the Iraq War (CBS, May 26, 2003; NBC, December 22, 2004). Mothers are featured organizing blood drives and even placing the ubiquitous yellow ribbon on the backs of their vehicles as a similar demonstration of support (NBC, March 27, 2003; NBC, March 29, 2003; Kumar 2004, p. 298).
Mothers are also seen as providing emotional support. According to Enloe (2000), "she is a woman who will offer solace and physical care" (p. 254). Carmen Thompkins, mother of US soldier Brenton Gooden, discusses her support for her late son and reiterates his need for her emotional support. She reads his letter during her interview--"I need stuff from home to remind me that I have someone or somebody waiting for me" (CBS, May 26, 2003).
In another story featured, Kim Hall discusses her role in her son's recovery from a life-threatening injury received during service in Iraq. She asserts, "Well, I think that if I wouldn't have been there, maybe there's a chance that he wouldn't have made it because he needed that--that stability and the family" (CBS, May 31, 2004). Her son, also interviewed, reiterated the importance of having his mother, and other mothers, to support the troops. The mothers boost morale and provide for the emotional needs of their soldier-sons; this, according to Ms. Hall's son, is something a mother can do.
Mother as representative/proud mother
The mother as justifier is again presented in the category of representative/ proud mother. According to Turpin (1998), "nationalist propaganda often calls on women to give up their sons in wartime and to take pride in a son's military service" (p. 7-8). The representative/ proud mother is fostered through the mother acting as a reasoner and storyteller.
Often the mother as reasoner explains her soldier-child's service in Iraq and testifies to his/her abilities (even posthumously). According to Enloe (2000), "she is a woman who gives the photograph of her son in his uniform pride of place at home, a representation of him that is worthy of special public attention" (p. 254). Such explanation and testimony foster themselves through statements like the one featured on ABC (April 3, 2003), "[B]oth of them loved this country, wanted to be citizens of this country, wanted to fight for this country."
Another mother, Elaine Strout, discusses her son--"Oh, he was just such a wonderful person. He, loving. You look in his eyes and you could see his love for his country and his family" (ABC, March 22, 2003). As evidenced, the testimony is often placed as an explanation for service and, in some cases, the death of the soldier-child, through love of country. This juxtaposition of the mother as representative for her child, through providing reasoning and testimony, places the mother as justifier.
When mothers are sending messages to their soldier-children, they often testify of the pride they hold for their child. Oftentimes, this pride is evidenced as the mother tells her son (who is covered in dirt and obviously tired and worn from his duty) how great he looks. Georgette Falbo testifies to her son's service and continues the discussion of her pride in what he is doing, stating "I want to tell him that I'm very proud of him, and I love him. And I think he looks really good" (NBC, December 24, 2004).
The mother also acts as a representative/ proud mother through her role as a storyteller. In such narratives, "morality is contextualized" (Mattingly, Lawlor & Jacobs-Huey 2002, p. 750) and the stories "draw on 'facts,' that is, what is intersubjectively taken to be true" (p. 745). The stories, as told by the mothers on the morning news shows, would focus on the action(s) taken by their soldier-children.
This action would either refer to something done when the son or daughter was younger, pre-Iraq War, or would concentrate on present actions. Sue Thiry describes her stepson, Jason Thiry, who was killed in Iraq. Here, she tells the story of his life, and their relationship, illustrating, "[E]ven the whole time he was in the service, Mother's Day, special occasions, he always made a point to calling home and talking to me and the family" (CBS, April 18, 2004).
Nadia McCaffrey was yet another mother who acted as a storyteller for her late son. During her son's service in Iraq, she stated, "[H]e concentrated on the children, because there is not much, they don't have anything, there is no running water, there is no electricity, there is practically no food. So he was giving whatever he could" (ABC, June 29, 2004). Although Ms. McCaffrey's story brings to light some of the atrocities that were currently occurring in Iraq, the segment brushes past this and concentrates further on Ms. McCaffrey's pride in her son.
The appearance of dissent
A relatively small number of the stories (six) analyzed contained tones of dissent. These stories appeared after President George W. Bush officially declared that major combat operations "ended" on May 1, 2003. Nevertheless, while there are just a few stories, these texts highlight the frame in which the appearance of dissent occurs on the broadcast networks ABC, CBS, and NBC, especially during morning news. On the one hand, such "dissenting" action of mothers is a natural consequence "of the connection between their grievances and their familial roles as mothers and caregivers" (Shriver, Miller & Cable 2003, p. 653).
Often, this dissent is an illusion. In fact, the expressed fear and disillusionment "over the fate of their solder-sons illustrate how crucial the military service is, how significant and important, a matter of life and death" (Lemish & Barzel 2000, p. 166). This dissent is illustrated through two mothers' stories: Lila Lipscomb and Cindy Sheehan.
Lila Lipscomb's son, Sergeant Michael Pederson, was killed during the beginning of the Iraq War. She chose to appear in Michael Moore's movie "Fahrenheit 9/11," which has been depicted as a dissenting film. However, as Ms. Lipscomb discusses her appearance in "Fahrenheit 9/11" during her interview on ABC, the straw man framework of dissent is evident. She issues statements such as "the best thing still is to serve this country" and "I still believe that the military gives people options and it helps them mature to be great human beings" (ABC, June 30, 2004).
This militarization of dissent is again highlighted in the spot featuring Cindy Sheehan's protest of President George W. Bush's 2005 Inaugural Ball. Her disillusionment of her son's fate and fear for the other soldiers still serving in Iraq legitimates her story of "dissent". Ms. Sheehan states, "Well, I think that we do need to honor our soldiers, but we also need to honor them by equipping them properly in Iraq, maybe putting some armor on their Humvees, and to support them, the troops that are over there right now" (ABC, January 20, 2005).
While Cindy Sheehan was being interviewed, her voice of dissent was paired with a representative from the Presidential Inaugural Committee who provided reasoning for the actions Ms. Sheehan was protesting. This did not enable the story to continue in its construction and tone of"dissent". Instead, it ensures "the dominant language of war and 'justice' conquers and that the patriarchal order which supports this rhetoric is sustained" (Magor 2002, p. 143). Other such stories featuring mothers with a "dissenting" voice were produced in the same manner (CBS, March 20, 2004; January 6, 2005).
For example, two mothers who each had sons killed in combat are juxtaposed against each other during a segment on CBS. One mother, Lynda Unger, still supports the war. Cindy Sheehan is featured as the other, dissenting mother. Yet, Ms. Unger's story is placed as a refutation to Ms. Sheehan's concerns. There was not an outright statement of dissent from Ms. Sheehan. Instead, the segment discussed her actions as a result of her son's death. Ms. Sheehan was left as a storyteller of her son. She talks about him as a child and her memories of him, telling "[T]his is his teddy bear. He ate all the fuzz off of it when he was a baby, but he wouldn't go to bed without it. (CBS, January 6, 2005).
The segment of the two mothers ends with a reaffirmation of their own militarization. The women were both awarded the Gold Star. According to the segment, "the Gold Star designates those who've given something more precious than their lives; they have given the lives of their children" (CBS, January 6, 2005). Even within the context of "dissent", militarism of motherhood is still evidenced. Since this analysis, Cindy Sheehan has become a household name. She has been at the center of numerous demonstrations focused on garnering an explanation from President Bush regarding his reasons for the war in Iraq (Horton 2005; Solomon 2006).
Enloe (2000) finds "it is the confluence of militarized family dynamics, a militarized popular culture, and a militarized state that makes the myths of militarized motherhood so potent" (p. 254). The segment featured on CBS that emphasized a mother's sacrifice of her child as being more important than that mother's own life, reiterates the emphasis placed on defining motherhood by both the government and media. Yet, why are mothers constructed as such justifiers in media, particularly when talking about their soldier-children? It is often assumed the mother tells the story of her child because she is the person left to do it (Walsh 2004, p. 71). This cannot be the entire rationale for featuring mothers on such news shows since their stories help to maintain the status quo.
These mothers featured, through their "anxiety and pain, serve as a mirror to society's values" (Lemish & Barzel 2000, p. 166). Mothers are not just waving their sons off to war. Instead, they become national icons for war.
Morning television news shows promote the link between militarism and motherhood. This is especially potent because of the relationships the breakfast shows create with their audience members. Even the majority appearance (in comparison with all news stories featuring mothers and Iraq from ABC, NBC, and CBS) on morning news shows is diminished, since such breakfast shows have often been trivialized.
The mother as justifier maintains such militarization and, in the same regard, becomes the 'other'. When analyzing "the Western tradition of war stories, women have been the 'other'--patriotic mothers sending sons off to war, pacifist givers and protectors of life, or the civilian support network cheering on the soldiers" (de Volo 1998, p. 241). These concepts of motherhood have been further analyzed in this study. The mother serves as a justifier for the Iraq War. She is constructed as supporter/caregiver providing for the consumerist and emotional needs of her soldier-child currently serving in Iraq. She is also constructed as a representative/ proud mother testifying for her soldier-child and telling his (or her) story.
In these segments analyzed, the mother's dissent is only an illusion. Instead, it often provides more support for the Iraq War than dissent. Nevertheless, while it was beyond the scope of this analysis, it is the construction of the mothers within the frame of dissent that needs to be further examined in other texts and media.
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Sondra Nicole Cappuccio is in the Department of Culture and Communication at Drexel University. Her research focuses on gender studies and new media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.…
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Publication information: Article title: Mothers of Soldiers and the Iraq War: Justification through Breakfast Shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC. Contributors: Cappuccio, Sondra Nicole - Author. Journal title: Women and Language. Volume: 29. Issue: 1 Publication date: Spring 2006. Page number: 3+. © 1998 George Mason University. COPYRIGHT 2006 Gale Group.
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