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Pop culture retrospective: Women in the military

In honor of Wednesday’s news that U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has decided to lift the 1994 ban on women serving in ground combat units, we decided to take a quick look at some portrayals of women in the military in pop culture.

Many of these are far from feminist representations of women in service, and in fact, most of the time, they’re pretty much the complete opposite — exaggerating stereotypical “femininity” in the face of combat, and using it for comedy. But there are a few standout films and TV shows — like China Beach and Courage Under Fire — that were ahead of their time. Will officially allowing women in combat continue to push Hollywood to make strides in the way women in the military are represented in television and film? At very least it’s doubtful we’ll see the days of Skirts Ahoy! and Operation Petticoat again. Check out some key scenes from the past half-century of women who donned a uniform on screen below, and let us know what we missed in the comments!

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