Women need to be vigilant about the rights and strides they have gained to be sure they are not circling back to feed an oppressive system. Women may be serving in the military but they are filling specific roles as the feminine presence within the ranks. Women are gendered and sexualized from the day they swear in. My research gives valuable insight into the world of the military and how much emphasis is placed on conforming. I explain how servicewomen are expected to act and then interview eleven servicewomen to see if they are behaving according to the military (and U.S.) cultural standards of femininity. I also include my own perspectives as a veteran and feminist. Specifically, I demonstrate how servicewomen are emotional laborers that must prove their competency, they must be emotionally available and supportive, and must be sexually discreet. If American servicewomen joined the military to change or improve their lives, they should be aware that they are maintaining femininity by serving in this heteromasculine normative institution and that this femininity is defined by masculine society to maintain the status quo. The knowledge produced in this thesis is helpful for the study of gender and women because it allows us to peek into the world of the soldier and see just how gendered of a world our "heroes" exist in. My results demonstrate servicewomen are valued by male and female peers alike when they conform and are devalued when they do not present normative gender characteristics. We can examine the culture of U.S. soldiers and what they are trained to value and devalue to better understand why ideologies and violence exists in the military. Findings further show the U.S. military is essentially hiding female soldiers in plain sight by coercing servicewomen into believing notions of how a female soldier should look and behave, causing restrictions on mobility for women. By smiling and remaining cheerful about their current situation, women in the military are quietly, knowingly, and docilely conforming to men's needs and desires.
Jocelyn F. Stitt
Date of Degree
Master of Science (MS)
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Gray, K. M. (2013). The Emotionally Supportive Sister-Soldier: How the United States Military Values Normative Femininity and Devalues Nonconformist Servicewomen [Master’s thesis, Minnesota State University, Mankato]. Cornerstone: A Collection of Scholarly and Creative Works for Minnesota State University, Mankato. https://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/etds/123/
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