Helen Benedict is a novelist and professor of journalism at Columbia University in New York. Her new novel, Wolf Season examines the aftereffects of war through the stories of three women, one of whom is an Iraqi refugee, their children, and two men who live in a small American town. The novel before that, Sand Queen, looks at the Iraq War through the eyes of two young women, one an American soldier and one an Iraqi medical student. Her nonfiction books include The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women in Iraq, for which she spent several years interviewing women soldiers and Iraqi refugees. Her writing inspired a class action suit against the Pentagon on behalf of those sexually assaulted in the military, and the 2012 Oscar-nominated documentary, The Invisible War.
The Hidden War of Women Soldiers talk is about why women in the military are, in many ways, on the front line for all women fighting for rights, respect and opportunities equal to those enjoyed by men. Yet because the military remains one of the most masculine of cultures, the women who enter it often face persecution, discrimination, sexual violence, and threats. My talk looks at what is happening to women, why, and what needs improvement.