In the fictional world, assassins wield lethal weapons to threaten glamorous lady spies. In the real world, bad things happen to good female intelligence officers, and the 'enemy within' is generally not a mole.
Over the years a pattern has emerged of women in the CIA having their reputations tarnished by stories of alleged personal deficiencies that surface in the press. Anonymous sources in the intelligence community, or outsiders with an agenda, turn real women into caricatures.
The most recent example is an article in the
Never mind that you figured out where bin Laden was, dear, you're a bitch.
For the record, I didn't know 'Maya', but I knew plenty of good female intelligence officers who were labelled either in the press or in their performance appraisals as 'abrasive'. And yes, they could be, but often because they had to fight to be heard.
This treatment is particularly galling when it happens post mortem. In
The reaction angered
Never mind that you gave your life for your country, dear, we can't have the world thinking that women in the clandestine service are competent.
In 2003, the journalist
Never mind all your training, the
In the early 1990s,
CIA officers whom Brookner had disciplined painted her as boozy and licentious woman, who wore 'brief shorts and thin T-shirts, with no perceptible underwear'. She fought back with a lawsuit alleging 'a pervasive atmosphere of machismo and sexual discrimination' in the
In 1995, the CIA paid out
Manipulating the press is one of those things that the old boys in the intelligence service know how to do.
Spy fiction and films also do female agents a disservice by offering an image of gun-wielding seductresses who bear little resemblance to their real-life sisters.
In an article on The Daily Beast website, Plame took on the popular images. 'I can't tell you how many times I've been asked by seemingly reasonable people whether I had to sleep with sources to get the intelligence, and did I carry a gun and have I killed anyone? The answer to each of those questions is no.'
Women have made great strides in the CIA, rising as high as Executive Director and Deputy Director for Intelligence, but one has only to read the papers or the spy novels to see how far they have to go.
- Visions: America after Hegemony
- The Honorable Absurdity of a Soldier's Role
- America's Big Fat Advantage
- Immigration Reform and Entitlement Reform Go Together
- Baby Gets Cruel Lesson in Life Early
- Iraq: Bush's War, 10 Years Later
- Iraq a Convenient Scapegoat
- Abu Ghraib Revisited
- He Says His Battle Almost Over
- Iraq: Soul Poison
- Americans Fear Iran, But There is Much to Learn From Cuba
- Onion 'Edgy': Tasteless and Sickening
- From Affirmative Action to Diversity
- A Ruling on Racial Progress
- High Court Ponders: Is Racism Over?
- Death and Life in Maryland
- Detroit's Decline
- Signs that the NRA is Losing
- Who would follow our example on Keystone Pipeline?
- Pentagon Keyboard Jockeys Can Now Out-Decorate Combat Heroes
- The Minimum Wage and The Meaning of a Decent Society
- United States and Israel Push The Boundaries of International Law
- War's Lingering Phantoms
- An Incubator For Peace
- Lasting Peace
- Controlling Lucifer
- United States Hiding Behind Tortured Definitions
- Covert Sexism in Espionage
- Gun Nuts' Fantasies vs Real World Tragedies
- United States to Join Global Race for Talent -- Big Time
- CIA Nominee Defends United States Drone Policy
- U.S. Policy as Global Security Provider Built on Plymouth Rock
- I Am Because You Are
- On Flaky Professors and Nutty Ideas
- Continuing a Foreign Policy Pivot
- War On Pot Has Gone Up in Smoke
- Second Amendment Vigilantes
- The Empowerment Project
- Unarmed Empowerment
- The War Between the Amendments
- Conversation on Gun Violence Excludes a Key Perspective
- NRA Shoots Down Its Own Ideas
- Obama Goes Big on Gun Control, But Can He Deliver?
- Appropriate Job for Big NRA Backer
- Good Sense and Gun Control
- NRA's Choice: Be Part of Solution or Continue to Make Problem Worse
- Spy Secrets of 'Zero Dark Thirty'
- Does Torture Work?
- Border Fears Riddled with Holes
- The Crisis of the Middle Class and American Power
- United States Heads Toward Gun Control Debate
- Freedom to Live in Fear
- Plotting an Uncivil War
- The Social Context of Mass Murder
- Video Games Not to Blame for Mass Shootings
- Hollywood Film Brings Torture Back Into The Light
- The Other Cliffs
- A Holiday Letter from America
- Take Care of the Children
(c) 2013 Tribune Media Services, Inc