Gender and Militarism in U.S. Culture during the Long Twentieth Century

Authored by: David Kieran

The Routledge History of Gender, War, and the U.S. Military

Print publication date:  August  2017
Online publication date:  August  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138902985
eBook ISBN: 9781315697185
Adobe ISBN:


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On August 7, 2015, ten candidates for the Republican presidential nomination gathered on a stage in Cleveland. Towards the end of the evening, one of the moderators, FOX News host Megyn Kelly, asked Mike Huckabee whether he would favor allowing transgender men and women to serve openly in the armed forces. The former Arkansas governor was unequivocal. “The military is not a social experiment,” he answered, before explaining that “[t]he purpose of the military is to kill people and break things.” 1 A few days later, the New York Times published a lengthy investigation into the sexual violence perpetrated by the Islamic State. According to Rukmini Callimachi, “The systematic rape of women and girls from the Yazidi religious minority has become deeply enmeshed in the organization.” 2 Within hours, the National Review’s David French leveraged outrage over this violence into a critique of the Obama administration’s Iraq policy, telling readers to “remember that none of this was inevitable” and that “stories like the stories you read above represent the human cost of weakness and withdrawal.” 3 And a few weeks after that, Captain Kristen Griest and Lieutenant Shaye Haver became the first women to successfully complete the Army’s rigorous Ranger school. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) echoed the sentiments of many who felt that Griest and Haver’s achievement finally put to rest questions of whether women were capable of serving in the combat arms. The two “‘have shown that women can compete on a level-playing field with men to serve in the defense of our nation,’” Mikulski argued, going on to say that “‘continued gender integration will improve readiness and help our Armed Forces to recruit the best talent we can throughout all of our services.’” 4

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