Gentle Warriors, Gunslingers, and Girls Next Door

Gender and the Vietnam War

Authored by: Heather Marie Stur

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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The cover story of the August 1975 issue of Soldiers, a U.S. Army magazine, focused on a controversial issue: hair. A new generation of enlisted men wanted to keep their hair longer than the close crop many officers believed was a crucial part of Army discipline and image. Outlining the history of Army hair regulations going back to the late eighteenth century, the article sought to address the conflict between officers and enlisted personnel over what was an acceptable Army haircut for men. Since the late eighteenth century, the article argued, Army hair regulations had changed according to civilian styles. In more recent years, the image of an Army soldier, short haircut and all, had symbolized the “All-American boy,” but even that could no longer be considered a standard because “what the general public’s All-American boy image is in 1975 hasn’t been determined.” The growing number of women in the Army further complicated the hair issue. Army regulations did not stipulate that women’s hair be a certain length but indicated that hair should neither fall below the bottom edge of the collar “nor be cut so short as to present an unfeminine appearance.” 1 At first glance, the debate over Army hairstyles might appear to be a case of youth rebelling against conservative authorities, but it encapsulates the challenges to the connections between gender and military service in the wake of the Vietnam War.

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