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Review of Miliwoman

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This one is an oddity I can't quite fathom, because although it's a vast international gallery of photos of servicewomen, I don't think it's going to be having uniform fetishists panting with excitement. It's just not that sensuous. Rather, it's a collection of family snaps, candid but innocent public captures, historical images and in some cases, propaganda. Your granny wouldn't find anything offensive here, although there's a small smattering of professional models in camouflage, and she might suggest that the current Miss England, who is also a lance-corporal in the British Army, should button her tunic instead of displaying her weaponry quite so explicitly.

It all has a voyeuristic appeal, but only the sort you would feel from looking through someone else's family photo album. There's a vicarious tourist aspect, and maybe even some academic interest in the different uniforms imposed on the armed services of different societies. And it's going to be a pleasurable visit for anyone who simply likes to people-watch, especially men, who would in general, I imagine, not be so attracted to a similar site featuring nothing but servicemen in uniform. But these women, aside from a handful of models who don't really seem to belong here, aren't pin-ups. They're average women at work, often looking bored or miserable or both, and frequently stuffed into unflattering uniforms and made to march around in the cold. Even when they're outstandingly pretty and smiling for the camera, they aren't doing it for the gratification of some unknown and distant male audience, they're smiling at the friend or colleague or family member who took the photo.

The site currently claims eighty-eight countries and more than twelve thousand photos, donated by individual visitors and by 'publically (sic) available sources', for which read Google, I assume. The USA is strongly represented, with 1500 images at the time of writing, but it still has some way to go before catching up with China, currently showing more than 1800 photos. At the other end of the scale, Burma is represented by one rather scary looking female soldier, and Tunisia, unique in the Arab world for having sexual equality in the workplace, offers just the two policewomen on traffic duty.

The far end of the alphabet is represented by Yemen, whose policewomen carry swords and look like they know how to use them, and the front end is represented by Afghanistan, which contributes probably the scariest policewoman I've ever seen. (

Some of the images are recent, while others have historical interest. Look especially at the images from the USSR, a mainly monochrome album. It would take an expert to tell when each of these photos was taken, but I guess they represent quite a span of years.

Lastly, there is the modern Russian section, which is far and away the largest and arguably the most varied and entertaining, implying that the site is based there. It currently clocks in at more than 2500 images, including photos of fire and emergency personnel, cadets, cossacks (female cossacks? Who knew?), prison wardens and customs officers, prosecutors and transport staff.

It's all very tasteful and apparently done for no other reason than that the site owners want to show women as beautiful in their own right, without objectivizing them. I guess it is titillating, if you accept that to mean "pleasantly stimulating", but it's not erotic. If you doubt it, take another look at that photo. (

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