I’ve written previously about the portrayal of women in the military — in particular, the U.S. Navy’s attempts to redefine femininity to make the Navy more appealing to women by assuring them they can be strong, smart, and still go shopping and stuff. Katrin sent in an example of a 10-minute Israeli Defense Force recruitment video that does something similar. The women are pretty, all with long hair, most wearing makeup, and the woman they focus on is shown playing the piano in an elegant formal dress and earrings:

Ultimately, rejecting that world of nice clothes and piano-playing for the more masculinized role of a combat soldier (Israel is one of the few countries that allows women to serve in combat positions) is clearly depicted as the preferable choice. And, interestingly, the IDF is shown as an escape from sexual harassment by men.

However, IDF women are being portrayed in another way as well: a number of former female IDF soldiers posed for Maxim magazine back in 2007. The first line of the article:

They’re drop-dead gorgeous and can take apart an Uzi in seconds. Are the women of the Israeli Defense Forces the world’s sexiest soldiers?

I’m putting the images after the jump because they’re potentially not safe for some workplaces — the women aren’t nude, but they are quite scantily clad.

Lest you think this was simply a bunch of individual women who are no longer in the IDF choosing to pose, the Jewish Post reveals that “the strategy was in fact, a government sponsored push to evoke a sexier depiction of Israel to American males in New York.” While the above video was created to attract women to the IDF, the Israeli government conceived of the Maxim spread as a way to use IDF women to appeal to men:

David Saranga, Consul for Media and Public Affairs at the Israeli Consulate General in New York, explained that they were just seeking good demographics. “Israel’s image among New York men aged 18-38 is lacking.” Saranga figured the spread in the popular men’s magazine would offer “an image they’d find appealing.”

And apparently this series was an attempt to make Israel seem less masculinized:

“Israel is viewed as a very macho society. We want to show that we are a normal society like others,” said Saranga.

How depressing that showing pictures of nearly-naked women in an attempt to appeal to men is the essence of being “normal.”

It’s a good example of segmented marketing — presenting different audiences very different images of a product (in this case the IDF) that may even seem contradictory. In this case we have the IDF as a place for women to prove themselves and escape unwanted male attention…and the IDF as a source of hot chicks for men to ogle.

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