Today, the big, three-column, above-the-fold statement photo on the front page of every edition of the New York Times makes quite a statement, without saying anything at all.

The photo accompanies a story about the Obama administration’s internal debate over whether to escalate troops in Afghanistan and depicts a group of four soldiers sitting on the dirt in Afghanistan. The caption nonchalantly reads, “American Marines rested at a makeshift patrol base in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday.”

But on closer inspection, these aren’t your typical Marlboro Marines. One soldier has a ponytail, and wait, yes, the other three appear to be women too.





But they’re not labeled as “female Marines.” Just “Marines.” Plain and simple. No big deal. Just a bunch of soldiers doing their jobs. Nothing to see here.

As it should be. Cheers to that.

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Alexandra Fenwick is an assistant editor at CJR.