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“I Wish All the Ladies Were Holes in the Road”: The US Air Force Academy and the Gendered Continuum of Violence



In 2003, sixty-one women cadets reported sexual assault at the US Air Force Academy, prompting intense media scrutiny and congressional inquiry. The literature on these assaults draws primarily from media and military reports and surveys, with little attention to the daily, lived experience comprising the problematic gender climate. To address this gap, we employ retrospective participant observation spanning the 2003 crisis to explore the everyday gendered interactions and institutional structure that sustained the rape-prone environment. This study makes two primary contributions to the literature. First, we amend Philippe Bourgois’s continuum of violence to include militarization in order to detail more effectively the contribution of quotidian sexual harassment to a rape-prone culture. Second, we identify institutional features—adversative education, unit cohesion, and assessment—as key contributors to sexual harassment and assault and as contributors to victims’ reluctance to report these offenses. Our findings suggest the need for greater scrutiny of sexual harassment as well as intervention into problematic institutional features. We submit the gendered continuum of violence as a powerful analytical tool for feminist research with applications beyond the military, providing new insights into the resilience of gendered harassment and assault but also suggesting new avenues for change.
“I Wish All the Ladies Were Holes in the Road”: The US Air Force Academy and the Gendered
Continuum of Violence
Author(s): Lorraine Bayard de Volo and Lynn K. Hall
Vol. 40, No. 4 (Summer 2015), pp. 865-889
Published by: The University of Chicago Press
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“I Wish All the Ladies Were Holes in the Road”: The US Air
Force Academy and the Gendered Continuum of Violence
In 2003, sixty-one women cadets reported having been sexually assaulted
at the US Air Force Academy ðUSAFAÞ, prompting intense media scru-
tiny, congressional inquiries, and a shake-up in USAFA leadership ðBing-
ham 2003Þ.
Anonymous surveys of women cadets found that up to 69 per-
cent had been sexually harassed and between 9.5 and 18.8 percent had
been sexually assaulted ðUS DOD 2003; Government Accountability Of-
fice 2008Þ. But the intense national scrutiny was transitory. Several academic
publications on the crisis make important contributions ðDalton 2004; Hig-
gins 2005; McCone and Scott 2009Þ. Yet these draw primarily from media
and military reports and thus provide little insight into the system of mean-
ings and daily lived experience comprising the problematic academy culture,
and they miss key institutional features that exacerbated it.
We propose that insider perspectives are crucial to understanding ðand
thus addressingÞintramilitary sexual violence ðCallahan 2009Þ. To address
this gap, we draw on retrospective participant observation of one of the
authors, who has the rare perspective of having been a USAFA cadet dur-
ing the 2003 crisis, and we triangulate these observations with reports and
other published participant accounts. Our hybrid methodological approach
included an extended collaborative dialogue between the two authorsone as
a USAFA insider, one as an outsiderto mediate bias in analyzing the every-
day gendered interactions, dominant discourse, and institutional structure
that cumulatively sustained a hostile and even rape-prone environment for
For a more holistic understanding of rape-prone military culture, we
propose a gendered continuum of violence that incorporates the quotidian
harassment often misrecognized as harmless along with behavior that is
These included assaults prior to 2003.
Earlier versions of this article were presented at the University of Colorado, Boulder. We
are grateful to Rob Buffington, Emmanuel David, Michaele Ferguson, Deepti Misri, Sanyu
Mojola, Celeste Montoya, Katie Oliviero, Hillary Potter, Beverly Weber, and anonymous re-
viewers for their comments and suggestions.
[Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 2015, vol. 40, no. 4]
© 2015 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved. 0097-9740/2015/4004-0004$10.00
Lorraine Bayard de Volo
Lynn K. Hall
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legally actionable or criminal, examining in turn how these are interrelated.
In Philippe Bourgois’s ð2001Þcontinuum, different manifestations of vio-
lenceinterpersonal violence, political violence, symbolic violence, and
structural violenceinteract in a coconstitutional manner: violence begets
violence. The continuum indicates the mutually constitutive relationship of
different forms of violence, drawing attention to relatively minor hostile
acts and institutional features that both cumulatively sustain a hostile envi-
ronment and support more immediately recognizable forms of harassment
and assault.
Originally formulated to make sense of interrelated strands of violence
in revolutionary El Salvador and the US drug trade, Bourgois’s ð2001Þcon-
tinuum is a powerful though underutilized analytical tool for feminist re-
search. In applying it to US intramilitary sexual assault, we build upon the
continuum of violence in two ways. First, we amend it to include mili-
tarization: the adoption of military worldviews as one’s own, including
adherence to strict hierarchies and normalization of aggression and force
ðEnloe 2000, 2007Þ. Second, we identify institutional features of milita-
rization that reinforce the gendered continuum of violence. In the USAFA
case, these were adversative education, unit cohesion, and assessment
ðCallahan 2009; Morgan and Gruber 2011Þ. Given the climate of mas-
culine normative dominance, USAFA’s adversative method of education
ðin which new cadets endured extreme physical and mental stressÞnor-
malized aggression against those identified as feminine ðCallahan 2009Þ.
Unit cohesion and assessment methods exacerbated this dynamic, discour-
aging resistance should sexual harassment and assault be recognized as
such. Institutional features, in effect, produce incentives and disincentives
that constitute a second line of defense for systems of domination. This
multifaceted approach provides new insights into the resilience of intra-
military gendered harassment and assault but also suggests new avenues for
change. We propose the gendered continuum of violence as an effective
analytical framework across a variety of endemic sexual violence contexts,
including religious, sports, workplace, and educational environments, lend-
ing new insight into the interplay of violence and institutional features that,
in effect, normalize sexual assault.
Gender, sexual assault, and the military
Early studies commissioned by the US Department of Defense ðUS DODÞ
in the wake of the crisis drew upon cadet surveys, site visits, and communi-
See Sanday ð1990Þ, Miller ð1997Þ, Bourgois ð2001Þ, Bourdieu ð2002Þ, and Morgan and
Gruber ð2011Þ.
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cations with relevant parties to emphasize cultural problems contributing
to the pervasiveness and underreporting of sexual assaults. The Fowler
Report ðFowler et al. 2003Þcritically identified USAFA practices that sup-
ported men cadets’ hostile attitudes toward women. The 2005 DOD Task
Force report drew a clear link between sexual harassment and assault: “Ha-
rassment is the more prevalent and corrosive problem, creating an en-
vironment in which sexual assault is more likely to occur” ðUS DOD 2005,
A handful of academic studies also lent important insights regarding
the legal structure that inhibits reporting assault ðDalton 2004; Higgins
2005Þ, the negative gender climate ðDalton 2004; McCone and Scott 2009Þ,
and problems associated with adversative education ðCallahan 2009Þ.With
the exception of Callahan ð2009Þ, these rely upon media and congressional
reports, court cases, and surveys for insight into academy culture, shed-
ding little light on the everyday lived experience of USAFA cadets. We
propose that intramilitary sexual assault can be more fully addressed through
a nuanced understanding of the everyday gendered culture that sustains sex-
ual harassment and assault. This requires alternative methods and meth-
odology, including participant observation and an interpretive effort to
explicate the network of meanings and practices comprising the gender
Jamie L. Callahan ð2009Þdraws from autoethnography based upon her
four years as a USAFA cadet to argue that the adversative educational sys-
tem, which strips cadets of personal control, produces certain dysfunctional
behaviors, including sexual assault ðsee also Embser-Herbert 2004; Higate
and Cameron 2006Þ. Building upon Callahan ð2009Þ, we suggest that mil-
itary adversative education is informed by devalued femininity such that
women are naturalized as targets of harassment and aggression.
The literature on sexual harassment and rape-prone workplace or educa-
tional cultures draws almost exclusively on civilian contexts. Among these,
we find Phoebe Morgan and James E. Gruber’s ð2011Þmeta-analysis of
the sexual harassment research particularly useful as it identifies four con-
sistent risk factorsmale numerical dominance, masculine normative dom-
inance, sexualized environment, and overall toleration of mistreatment. A
key cross-cultural meta-analysis on sexual assault is Sanday ð1981Þ, which
finds societies that place a high value on male toughness and aggression
and that have high levels of interpersonal aggression and high incidence of
war to be rape-prone ð23Þ. Both Peggy Reeves Sanday ð1981Þand Morgan
and Gruber ð2011Þ, then, highlight the risk factors of masculine normative
dominance and toleration for mistreatment or aggression. Sanday ð1981Þ
adds frequent warfare as a factor, which is also suggestive for militarization
and USAFA. One of the few studies on the military establishes a clear con-
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nection between sexual harassment and assault, finding that women who
had been sexually harassed or in a sexualized environment in the military
had significantly greater odds of intramilitary rape, “suggesting a contin-
uum of violence, with rape the most severe form of coercion” ðSadler et al.
2003, 271Þ.
There is consensus in the literature that the masculine normative domi-
nance indicated by Sanday ð1981Þand Morgan and Gruber ð2011Þis a core
military attribute. The US military is numerically male dominated and char-
acterized by a warrior paradigm that values traditionally masculine qualities
of toughness, strength, control, domination, and aggression.
Callahan ð2009Þ
highlights “the combat, masculine warrior culture upheld by USAFA,” argu-
ing that training “reinforce½sthe cultural perception that men are supposed
to be dominant, achievement oriented, powerful, and masculine” ð1160Þ.
Not surprisingly, then, women’s incorporation into the military has trig-
gered resistance. Laura L. Miller ð1997Þfinds US Army men’s resistance to
be primarily expressed through “gender harassment,” employing subtle tech-
niques that are “difficult to attribute to individuals, may not be recognized
by command as a problem, and often invisible in debates about harass-
ment of women in the military” ð36Þ. Such techniques, by design, appear
minor or coincidental but cumulatively pose a debilitating environment.
Militarization and the gendered continuum of violence
We use Bourgois’s ð2001Þcontinuum of violence to better understand the
relationships between the risk factors and gender harassment discussed above
and intramilitary sexual assault.
Different forms of violence comprise the
continuum, yet these are not distinct points with a prearranged order but
rather expressions of violence that blend into and constitute each other
ðScheper-Hughes and Bourgois 2004, 1Þ. We focus on three forms of vi-
olence: everyday, direct political, and symbolic ðBourgois 2001Þ.Everyday
violence denotes interpersonal assaults, including domestic violence and sex-
ual assault. Direct political violence refers to physical violence and terror on
the part of state militaries and armed opposition. Symbolic violence involves
assaults to one’s sense of self-worth and the naturalization of dominance
by both dominator and dominated ðBourdieu 2002Þ. Symbolic violence
moves us beyond a narrower focus on behavior that is more readily de-
tectable and legally actionable ðe.g., quid pro quo or sustained sexual harass-
See Dunivin ð1994Þ,Enloeð2000, 2007Þ,Goldsteinð2001Þ, and Embser-Herbert ð2004Þ.
See Sanday ð1981Þ, Miller ð1997Þ, Saguy ð2000Þ, Roy ð2008Þ, and Morgan and Gruber
868 yBayard de Volo and Hall
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ment by a specific individualÞor criminal ðsexual assaultÞto also consider
everyday diffused forms of gender harassment ðMiller 1997; Bourgois 2001;
Bourdieu 2002, 34Þ.
In our analysis that follows, symbolic violence and militarization are
consistent themes and call for more explication up front. Symbolic vio-
lence, by which Pierre Bourdieu ð2002Þrefers to the internalized humil-
iations and legitimations of inequality, is all the more insidious for its in-
visibility. It does not leave a visible mark, but it is also invisible in that it
is misrecognized as normal. For example, as Callahan ð2009Þwrote of her
experience as a USAFA cadet, “Sexual harassment was such a foundational
part of the socialization process that, at the time, I didn’t even realize it was
occurring” ð1152Þ.
We amend the continuum of violence to include militarization. Bourgois
ð2001Þlimits the definition of political violence to “violence directly and
purposefully administered in the name of a political ideology, movement,
or state” ð7Þ. This misses important dynamics at USAFA, which involved
militarization but not formal military conflict. We have Cynthia Enloe’s
ð2007Þconcept in mind: “To become militarized is to adopt militaristic
values ðe.g., a belief in hierarchy, obedience, and the use of forceÞand pri-
orities as one’s own” ð4Þ. Adding militarization highlights the dangers of
this form of normalized violence, which is a bridge between political vio-
lence and symbolic violence. For USAFA cadets, militarization included
training in lethal combat as well as strict obedience, allegiance to hierar-
chy, and unit cohesion. But militarization is also gendered and reinforces
a pattern of masculinity that includes assertion of power over feminized
others by violent means ðDunivin 1994; Goldstein 2001Þ.
Below we review the USAFA case and then methods and methodology.
The first empirical section follows, with particular attention to how the
harassment risk factors of masculine normative dominance and sexualized
environmentforms of symbolic violencewere problematic in their own
right but also normalized interpersonal physical violence. The second em-
pirical section deals with institutional features of militarizationadversative
education, unit cohesion, and assessmentthat served to maintain gendered
harassment and assault.
“Bring me men”: A gendered history of USAFA
USAFA, located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is a military academy com-
parable to the Naval Academy or West Point. Admittance is highly compet-
itive and requires a nomination from a member of Congress ðSmallwood
1995, 87Þ. In exchange for a five-year military commitment, cadets earn an
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undergraduate college degree and are trained to become Air Force officers.
Many enroll with the goal of becoming pilots.
USAFA is characteristic of Erving Goffman’s ð1961Þtotal institution,
in which cadets, “cut off from the wider society for an appreciable period
of time, together lead an enclosed, formally administered round of life”
ðxiiiÞ. The new cadet goes through what Goffman terms a demoralization
process: “a series of abasements, degradations, humiliations, and profana-
tions of self” that strip away a sense of autonomy and individual agency
ðGoffman 1961, 24, 38; see also Callahan 2009Þ. USAFA’s adversative edu-
cation includes physical rigor, mental stress, absence of privacy, near-constant
surveillance, minute regulation of behavior, and indoctrination in desirable
valuesall based upon a strict hierarchy in which new or “fourth-class” ca-
dets are powerless and obedient to more senior cadets.
This daily training is
intensified during boot-camp-like programs that bookend cadets’ first year:
the six-week Basic Cadet Training before classes begin and Recognition, an
extremely rigorous three-day training after which they are recognized as full-
fledged cadets. The intense USAFA first year “is meant to initiate the cadet
into desired cultural norms that reinforce ‘qualities such as power, tough-
ness, dominance, aggressiveness, and competitiveness’” ðCallahan 2009,
1158; see also Goffman 1961; Vogt et al. 2007Þ.
Women entered the service academies in 1976 under presidential order,
yet male numerical dominance at USAFA remains: men were 83 percent
of the 2003 incoming class ðFowler et al. 2003, 55Þ. Women’s integration
was contentious ðStiehm 1981; Enloe 2000Þ. Women have dropped out
in greater numbers, and many male cadets and alums accused women of
being held to lower standards ðBowman 1994Þ. USAFA acknowledged in
1992, “The cadet climate may be offensive, intimidating, or threatening to
women, if not discriminatory in some ways. ...There is evidence that sex-
ist jokes or demeaning remarks are fairly pervasive” ðGovernment Account-
ing Office 1994, 24Þ. In the mid-1990s, USAFA canceled a cadet-run sur-
vival program after reports of sexual assault during a mock prisoner-of-war
exercise ðFowler et al. 2003, 14Þ. In 1996, a high-level Air Force official
accused USAFA of fostering a “culture of silence” that protected rapists
ðHiggins 2005, 123Þ. In the 1990s, reports of sexual harassment and
assault in other US military branches also came under public scrutiny, such
In the 1996 Supreme Court gender discrimination case United States v. Virginia ð518
U.S. 515Þ, the Virginia Military Institute used “adversative method” to describe its educa-
tional model. Callahan ð2009Þapplies the term to USAFA ðsee also Kimmel 2000Þ. Goffman
ð1961Þand Callahan ð2009Þboth discuss negative implications of this method, including
abuse of power. See Harber ð2004Þfor an overview of the causal link between authoritarian
education and participation in violence.
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as the Navy and Marines at the 1991 Tailhook symposium in Las Vegas
and the Army at Aberdeen Proving Ground in 1996.
Tensions at USAFA erupted in January 2003, when a group of women
who had recently left sent an e-mail to hundreds of other women cadets
as well as media representatives warning about sexual assault. Those who
came forward claimed that not only were they raped but that when they
reported the assaults, peers and superiors ostracized them and in effect
pushed some out. USAFA officials punished some women for “infrac-
tions” the women had committed at the time of their assaultsfor in-
stance, drinking or being in an upperclassman’s room. The unequal dis-
tribution of punishments, combined with retribution from other cadets,
made it virtually impossible for them to remain at USAFA.
Amid media scrutiny, the DOD inspector general conducted a survey
and found that nearly 70 percent of women cadets reported that they had
been sexually harassed while at the academy, 19 percent had been victims
of some type of sexual assault, and 7 percent ð12 percent of the class of
2003Þhad been victims of rape or attempted rape ðUS DOD 2003Þ.
Eighty percent of the sexual assault victims had never reported the assault;
among those who did, 42 percent experienced reprisals. The secretary of
the Air Force replaced four USAFA commanders, and the academy im-
plemented an “Agenda for Change,” which included a sexual assault re-
sponse team and cancellation of Recognition. The following years pro-
duced additional investigations and reports, varying in criticism.
Despite the “Agenda for Change,” in her yearlong 2006 investigation,
Diana Jean Schemo ð2010Þreported much of the same hazing rituals that
existed in 2003. Recognition had been reinstated, and the training struc-
ture that granted nearly unlimited power to upperclassmen over fourth-
class cadets remained.
Upper-class students, typically one to three years older, trained fourth-
class USAFA cadets. In their second year, cadets immediately began train-
ing the first years, often modeling the adversative education method they
had received. One officer and one noncommissioned officer oversaw each
squadron of roughly 120 cadets, but they were not directly involved in the
intense training that filled so many of fourth-class cadets’ waking hours.
In this dynamic, the lines between official training, cadet-instigated hazing,
and interpersonal assault were sometimes blurred.
Despite the small age difference, upper-class cadets exercised significant
power over new cadets. An advice book for applicants described this aspect
of adversative education: “They will take away your freedom. All of it.
You will have to perform like a robot. You will do everything they tell you
to do, when they tell you to do it, no matter how stupid or irrelevant or silly
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the tasks seem. There will be no questioning of their orders” ðSmallwood
1995, 136Þ.
For example, at mealtimes upper-class cadets limited fourth-
class cadets in how they asked for food, how their dining utensils were
arranged, and how many chews they could take after each bite. The term
“doolie,” applied to first-year cadets, is purportedly based on the Greek
term “doulous” for slave or subject. Another term is SMACK, or Soldier
Minus Ability, Courage, and Knowledge.
Furthermore, USAFA training isolates first-year cadets. In 2003, new
cadets had no access to television or daily off-campus communication. Acad-
emy policy permitted new cadets in their first six weeks to only write let-
ters home. For the next nine months, policies allowed fourth-class cadets
e-mail yet limited telephone calls and visits home to only three over the
The control is manifested in other ways as well. Decision-making power
in filing criminal charges falls to military commanders if the alleged crime
occurred on USAFA grounds. USAFA also has tremendous power over
cadets’ future careers. Cadets who drop out cannot readily transfer to
another military academy or even an ROTC program affiliated with a civil-
ian college, particularly if they are no longer cadets-in-good-standing at
USAFA. Further, nearly all cadets who leave USAFA after two years must
serve five years as enlisted members of the Air Force, which does not allow
the same career opportunities, or else they must pay back the cost of their
education, estimated at $164,000 in 2010 ðSchemo 2010, 139Þ.
Methods and the military
We take an interpretive approach in explicating USAFA culture that draws
upon material from retrospective participant observation in combination
with reports, interviews, and other firsthand accounts ðBulmer 1982Þ.
The second author of this article ðLynn K. HallÞwas originally a full par-
ticipant, an observer immersed in the USAFA setting as a white woman
cadet from June 2001 to February 2004.
Her observations were retrospec-
tively recorded in a 95,000-word unpublished memoir.
The office of admissions strongly encouraged cadet candidates to read this book by a
former Air Force officer and pilot, and it was available for purchase at USAFA.
The authors are listed alphabetically. The first author, whose research expertise lies in
gender, militarization, and violence, took primary responsibility for the theoretical develop-
ment as well as archival work, literature review, and institutional review board approval. In
addition to retrospective participant observation, the second author ðhonorably discharged
in 2004Þalso bore primary responsibility for the USAFA case history.
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We, the two authors, engaged in extended collaborative dialogue over
the recorded observations, in which gender or sexuality was central, group-
ing the material into conceptual themes and then categories. We then ana-
lyzed these in relation to the literature on sexual harassment and assault
and gender and the military. Through this process, we identified gaps in
the literature, as well as the importance of specific USAFA institutional
features and the incremental, coconstitutive nature of the gender climate
that enabled a rape-prone culture. In the following empirical sections, de-
tails are taken from retrospective participant observation unless otherwise
Official reports acknowledge the academy’s discriminatory, threatening
climate toward women. Yet, as noted, little academic or military work has
gone into detailing and analyzing this climate, which formed the basis for
sexual assault as well as victims’ reluctance to report it. Retrospective par-
ticipant observation is uniquely conducive to an enhanced understanding
of how cultural systems with restricted access are articulated and sustained,
providing insight into the microarticulation of power as well as the implicit
meanings attached to these dynamics ðBulmer 1982; Lichterman 1998Þ.
We propose that the benefits of participant observation in this context are
significant. In a military institution, nonmilitary access to everyday cadet
life is limited. Retrospective participant observation thus lends unique in-
sight into the norms, traditions, and power relations experienced and played
out on a day-to-day level.
As with all research methods, there are shortcomings to retrospective par-
ticipant observation. To enhance the representative nature of this study, we
support observations with interviews and events documented in other pub-
lications, including reports, memoirs, and journalistic accounts. Below we
draw on examples that resonated with the USAFA observations and inter-
pretations of others ðeither others present at the time or in subsequent pub-
licationsÞ. The collaborative nature of the analysis further minimized bias
through the combined insider and outsider status of the two authors, as the
outside author provided distance from the case to conceptualize the expe-
rience more abstractly, contributing a broader perspective with attention to
connections, patterns, and influences.
This insider-outsider coauthorship
formed a sort of checks and balances system such that the potential for bias
was consistently scrutinized. The authors discussed at length many obser-
vations that were ultimately left out because of insufficient evidence that
they were representative of the larger trends.
See Higate and Cameron ð2006Þfor further exploration of insider-outsider military re-
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Notably, this study avoids many of the pressures and restrictions often
confronted by researchers with ties to the military. Air Force insiders are
often inhibited from reporting such events out of career concerns or alle-
giance to military discipline or because such events were deemed normal
and not noteworthy ðMitchell 1996; Callahan 2010; Taber 2010Þ. More
generally, access to the military, particularly for qualitative research and
projects independent of military interests, can be problematic ðHigate and
Cameron 2006; Taber 2010Þ. Civilian scholars report high levels of con-
trol by the US military, with restrictions on access, methods, and research
topics, as well as a bias for quick results versus deeper analysis and for re-
search positively bound to the well-being of the military ðCaforio and Nuciari
2006, 38; 4142Þ.
In this sense, retrospective participant observation sup-
plemented by published interviews and reports presents a unique research
opportunity to build theory on this underexamined topic.
“Feeeeee-male”: Symbolic violence and masculine
normative dominance
Several decades after women’s integration, normative masculinity was still
physically inscribed on the campus. Until 2003, on Inprocessing Day new
cadets, men and women alike, ceremonially marched through a tunnel bear-
ing the words “Bring me Men. ...
For over a quarter century, women
cadets squeezed past padlocked boxes concealing urinals to access toilets
in the women’s bathrooms, a mundane physical marker of USAFA’s former
all-male status. The presumption of masculinity was also built into the lan-
guage: “upperclassman” and “airman,” for example, referred to both men
and women.
USAFA was a gendered total institution that reproduced military offi-
cers through the masculine ideals of toughness, strength, bravery, con-
trolled aggression, and mastery over emotions.
Conversely, characteris-
tics broadly identified as feminine were devalued: tenderness, weakness, fear,
passivity, and emotionalism. Cadets maintained this gender hierarchy on a
daily basis, often in mundane wayssmall-scale actions that might well be
excused as trivial if not understood as cumulative as well as coconstitutive
with other forms of violence.
Miller ð1997Þis a noteworthy exception.
This was the opening line of a Sam Walter Foss poem. For more on the poem and its
removal, see Schemo ð2010, 3940Þ.
See Goffman ð1961Þ, Dunivin ð1994Þ,Enloeð2000, 2007Þ, Embser-Herbert ð2004Þ,and
Callahan ð2009Þ.
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On its first page, the basic cadet training manual Wing Tips prohibits
“any language or tone of voice that is unnecessarily out-of-control, de-
famatory, profane, or insulting” ðUSAFA 2001Þ. Nonetheless, some upper-
classmen found ways to demean the women they trained. For example, up-
perclassmen followed the letter but not thespiritofthispolicybyavoiding
obvious slurs such as “bitch” or “dyke” while officers monitored them.
Instead, they sometimes used the seemingly unobjectionable term “female”
but pronounced it with a tone of contempt as two exaggerated syllables:
“feeeeee-male.” The unconventional pronunciation of an otherwise innoc-
uous word marked women as not the norm, not male, and indeed less-than-
men. Yet it would be hard for a woman to complain as the nuances of the
pronunciation left room for deniability on the men’s part and were likely
instead to mark the complainer herself as petty, overly sensitive, or even dis-
loyal ðsee Miller 1997Þ.
A sexualized environment is found to correlate with sexual harassment
ðMorgan and Gruber 2011Þ. Indeed, sexualized activities and jokes at
USAFA were impossible to avoid, and these were often infused even in the
common language cadets used. For example, a cadet whose jacket zipper
stuck out might be accused of having a “boner.” Spirit missions, first-year
antics demonstrating squadron pride, also were often sexualized. In one
traditional prank, men cadets snuck into another squadron’s hall at night
and took pictures of themselves with their pants down. They typically dis-
tributed the pictures to the rest of the squadron ðmen and women alikeÞ
and received praise in return. These examples, relatively minor in them-
selves, point to the quotidian cumulative process by which a masculine sex-
ualized environment is constructed and maintained. Both the boners and
seminude photos were referentially masculine and sexualized, exemplifying
language and practices that excluded women as women.
Also by tradition, fourth-class cadets decorated the graduating class’s
rooms one hundred days before graduation. The fourth-class cadets dem-
onstrated respect for the graduating cadet through the effort put into the
room decoration and the degree of difficulty for the honoree to clean up
ðSchemo 2010Þ. Many decorations were not sexual. The entire surface
of a room might be covered in tinfoil or the dressers turned into dirt-filled
flowerpots. However, cadets targeted some women’s rooms for pornog-
raphy. In one instance, first-year men used the room decoration as an
opportunity to disrespect particular women they referred to as bitches by
covering their room with hard-core pornographic images, with special em-
phasis on men’s sexualized domination over women. This effectively dis-
placed the seniority-based cadet hierarchy by invoking a gender-based one
in which men sexually dominated women. As this insertion of sexualized
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gender hierarchy occurred in the context of a time-honored prank, it was an
effective way for first-year men to undermine senior women in the guise of
innocent fun. The squadron, in turn, expected the women to simply dispose
of the porn rather than report the infraction.
Many popular jodies ðcall-and-response chants sung while marching
to keep stepÞinvolved overtly sexualized means of devaluing women. Ca-
dets led one particularly offensive jodie that, in each stanza, described cre-
ative ways of objectifying women and having sex with them: “I wish all
the ladies were holes in the road, and I was the dump truck, I’d fill them with
my load.” USAFA officially prohibited such jodies. But in practice, when
officers were home in the evenings or when cadet-led squadrons were miles
away on rifle runs, cadets sang those chants as a time-honored tradition.
The cadet refusing to sing the jodie could expect to be verbally harangued
by cadre and labeled for insubordination.
The devaluation of femininity at USAFA took on nostalgic qualities
through an extensive network of alumni who continued to influence the
culture. Graduated cadets often returned as instructors or commanders.
Many sent their children to USAFA. Colorado Springs graduates served
as “sponsor families,” inviting cadets to their homes on weekends. Alums
returned for football games and served on the alumni organization. Many
had been cadets before the integration of women, and some were openly
hostile to women cadets. In August 2003, a USAFA alumnus took out a
full-page advertisement titled “Bring Me Men” in the Colorado Springs
newspaper and included biblical passages as support for an all-male military
ðsee Dalton 2004, 189Þ.
One’s class year was a defining feature for USAFA cadets and alums, and
the class of 1979the last all-male classdistinguished male grads as either
pre- or postwomen. Commandant of Cadets General Taco Gilbert ð20013Þ
graduated with the class of 1978; several other commanding officers at the
time of the assault crisis were from those classes immediately prior to the
female-integrated class of 1980. The cadet experience of many such alumni
was partially defined by USAFA’s status as exclusively male. This is best
illustrated by the class of 1979’s label “LCWB,” or “Last Class with Balls”
ðsometimes “Last Class without Bitches”Þ, a proud reference to their status
as the last all-male class.
These initials and their meanings were well known
to cadets. The Fowler Report ðFowler et al. 2003Þnoted that 1979 alumni
still attended USAFA football games and other events wearing baseball
hats, T-shirts, and other items displaying the initials. Until recently, the
class of 1979 alumni homepage address was LCWB
The initials are sometimes explained as signifying loyalty, courage, wisdom, and bravery.
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indicates the depth of the threat that USAFA women posed to many USAFA
men’s identities ðsee Kimmel 2000Þ. Indeed, if all classes entering after 1975
were “without balls,” the inclusion of women reflected negatively upon the
masculinity of many USAFA men. A binary differentiated pre-1975 real
men and post-1975 substandard or effeminate men. While a source of
pride to alumni “with balls,” this formulation supported a gender hier-
archy and condoned resentment toward women among post-1975 men
cadetsafter all, women cadets, by their very presence, were robbing men
of their balls, which is to say their masculinity.
Perceived weakness among cadets has long been marked as feminine:
in the early 1960s, cadets described those who could not hack it at USAFA
as “weak sisters” ðTime 1962Þ. Forty years later, cadets frequently assigned
the word “weak” to performances that fell below the masculine standard.
Readily extending beyond physical strength, cadets used “weakness” to
police masculinity. Classmates mocked one first-year man who consis-
tently fell behind in physical training. Not only was he physically weak, but
cadets also perceived this cadet to speak with a higher-pitched voice, whine
about training, and walk in an effeminate manner. Cadets taunted him with
anicknameHeinz 57, known as the “weak sauce”andevencreatedcom-
puter images to that effect. This sustained harassment boiled down to the
assertion that this cadet was symbolically as well as physically weak and thus
not a real man.
The devaluation of femininity presents complications for how a USAFA
woman does gender.
For example, until 2004, barbers cut incoming wom-
en’s hair to three inches or less, often creating unflattering mullet styles.
Once assigned to squadrons, their military-issued haircuts could be per-
ceived as too masculine for a woman, eliciting a more negative reception.
Cadre singled out the rare woman who shaved her head completely ðlike
all the menÞfor “trying to be a man” and subjected her to hazing on that
basis. Policies sometimes required women to perform very traditional ver-
sions of femininity. For example, in their second year, etiquette classes re-
quired women to wear dresses and to allow the men to pull out their chairs,
a form of training that relied uponand reinforcednotions of women as
the delicate weaker sex and men as chivalrous protectors.
Examining West Point, Michael Kimmel captures the no-win situation
in which “woman cadet” is an oxymoron, posing women with a paradox:
“To the extent that they are successful cadets, women cannot be successful
women; to the extent that they are successful women, they cannot be suc-
We expect that such men are also at higher risk of being sexually assaulted.
See Stiehm ð1989Þ, Enloe ð2000Þ, Kimmel ð2000Þ, and Schemo ð2010Þ.
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cessful cadets. ...Either way they lose” ð2000, 504Þ.
At USAFA, women
responded in various ways, some adhering more closely to masculine ideals
and others performing femininity more traditionally ðMcCone and Scott
2009Þ. Men often labeled women classmates as either dykes or sluts based
upon how masculine or feminine they perceived them to be. Alternatively,
USAFA women were devalued through the message that there is a fun-
damental difference between them and “real” women, as captured in the
saying “Don’t do blue,” a warning among male cadets not to date USAFA
women ðcadets’ uniforms are blueÞ. In effect, USAFA women were in a
catch-22 with no safe or valued position on the gender spectrum: they
were devalued as too feminine or too masculine, as lesbians or heterosex-
ual sluts. The problems associated with this frustrating but familiar no-
win situation for women were compounded at USAFA, a total institution
that offered little respite or alternative social environment. Many women
tried to become what they termed “stealth cadets” and to “fly under the
radar” by balancing conformity to masculinity and a denial of femininity
without seeming too desperate “to be a man.” The contempt directed at
womenand “weak” menreflects the underlying degradation of femi-
ninity as encapsulated in the concept of symbolic violence.
Shower drills and golf courses: Bridging symbolic violence
and physical assault
In the instances of symbolic violence discussed above, the devaluation of
women is problematic in and of itself. We argue that it further worked to
normalize aggression, physical dominance, and ultimately sexual violence
against women, making sexual assault seem less serious than other forms
of violence or rendering it as normal, expected, and thus, in effect, invis-
ible. In this section, we examine interpersonal, physical instances of ag-
gression that were supported by militarism and the symbolic gender vio-
lence discussed above.
Physical training offered a common opportunity for men to target
women for aggression. USAFA prohibits cadre from training women dif-
ferently than men: “Conduct or statements which reveal an inability or
unwillingness to provide equal opportunity and fair and impartial treat-
ment to an individual or group because of race, gender, religion, color,
national origin, or age” is a training violation ðUSAFA 2001Þ. Nonetheless,
upperclassmen frequently singled out women when officers were not pres-
See also Stiehm ð1989Þ,Mitchell ð1996Þ, Embser-Herbertð2004, 220Þ, Basham ð2009Þ,
and Callahan ð2009Þ.
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ent, a common situation in basic cadet training. One upperclassman in
particular targeted women to the extent that some women fourth-class
cadets were alarmed and collectively discussed whether to report him. He
helped to devise an obstacle course dubbed the Golf Course, in which
first-years crawled through sand, over hills, and through pits, while cadre
harassed them verbally. As women passed by, this particular man kicked
sand at them, sometimes accompanied by an order for the cadet to open
her eyes and mouth beforehand. Cadet culture included general harass-
ment as normal training and central to the adversative educational model.
However, in this case, because of the physical quality of the harassment
and the targeting of women, we propose that it served to reinforce gen-
dered hierarchy. This rather quotidian example suggests how, cumula-
tively, the symbolic violence inherent in masculine normative dominance
can blend into and inform a physical mode of harassment, with actions
targeting women that could cause physical harm. The fact that other cadre
present implicitly condoned it served to legitimize the devaluation of
femininity and generalized hostility toward women. Indeed, the first-year
women ultimately defaulted to silence rather than reporting this man’s
The devaluation of femininity did not necessarily correspond with em-
bodied women but rather with feminine characteristics, such as those
relating to physical stature and strength. In the traditional USAFA game
of “midget tossing,” upper-class cadets chose a “midget” to throw down
a mattress-lined hallway.
Whichever team threw their midget the fur-
thest won. Typically, cadets selected the smallest first-year students, usually
women. In this way, tall first-year students were privileged, and being pe-
titea feminine qualitywas in effect punished. Cadets treated the game
as innocuous entertainment, and midgets were purportedly part of the
fun. Yet midgets became objects without individual will or interests in this
instance of symbolic violence that bridged into physical violence. Indeed,
in 2002 when cadets threw a fourth-class woman, they broke her back and
ended her career.
Another problematic tradition was the “shower drill.” In this unofficial
ðindeed prohibitedÞyet time-honored training exercise, upper-class stu-
dents divided fourth-class cadets by sex, ordered them to strip naked, and
ran them through extremely hot and cold showers while pausing to make
them do push-ups under each shower ðsee also Schemo 2010Þ. The upper-
class students, who often stripped themselves, only trained fourth-class
We note the term “midget” is considered offensive to the dwarfism community.
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cadets of the same sex and in separate bathrooms. Nonetheless, this mixing
of physical pain with nudity and awkward poses ðsuch as crawling under
stallsÞintroduced a demeaning sexualized element into military training.
USAFA specifically prohibited it, but cadets would risk being ostracized
and labeled selfish and weak should they contest it. As cadets tolerated
such drills under pressure, the distinction between instances of physical
pain and degradation that were a legitimate or condoned part of military
training and those that crossed the line was blurred. Practices such as
midget tossing and shower drills were prohibited yet valued traditions,
practiced covertly. As a result, a predominant mind-set among new cadets
was that they must obey and endure anything cadre inflicted. Since such
traditions continued despite official prohibitions, a gendered, sexualized
“anything goes” attitude was normalized and understood as expected, in
effect overruling the clear limits stated in the handbook.
This abusive context is exacerbated by the specific nature of military
training itselfpreparation for lethal use of violence. USAFA cadets re-
ceive military training, and the climate of sexualized masculine normative
dominance is combined with the value placed on strength, toughness, and
aggression found in any segment of the military ðEnloe 2000; Goldstein
2001Þ. For instance, basic cadet training included assault courses in which
cadets negotiated exploding bombs and sand-filled tunnels in order to
assault the enemymannequinswith mock M-14 rifles. New cadets com-
peted in a “Big Bad Basic” competition in which they attacked each other
with pugil sticks ðheavily padded polesÞ, and the victorsmen and women
earned status and popularity among cadets. USAFA required cadets to
pass two unarmed combat classes as well as combat survival training be-
fore graduation; men also had to complete either a boxing or a wrestling
class. Cultivation of aggression and training in lethal violence distinguish
USAFA from the workplace and educational institutions of previous re-
search on harassment. We suggest that the core military values of strength
and aggression bear a coconstitutional relationship with normative mas-
culinity. Military women disrupt this relationship; furthermore, the corre-
sponding equation of weakness with femininity directs aggression against
and domination over those identified as feminine ðGoldstein 2001Þ.
However, the normalization of masculine domination was by no means
complete in 2003, and some women and men cadets rejected gendered and
sexual harassment and assault. We detail below a second line of defense, as
USAFA institutional features served as fail-safe measures backing up this
gendered continuum of violence should victims not consent to their vic-
timization. In this way, we suggest how institutional features complement
and reinforce violence.
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The long blue line: Institutional features of militarization
as a second line of defense
In considering how certain features of militarization can reinforce the vio-
lence continuum, we note that USAFA had an array of policies and pro-
cedures designed to prevent many of the problems discussed here. Our
task in this section is to identify several institutional features that work
to undermine such policies and procedures, viewing these as important
complements to the forms of violence on the continuum.
As the Fowler Report ðFowler et al. 2003Þdocuments, USAFA of-
ficials and cadets alike had a pattern of defending the accused when sex-
ual harassment or assault was reported ðsee also Bingham 2003; Dalton
2004Þ. Women were ostracized by fellow cadets, while officials questioned
the women’s veracity, obstructed reports, and punished those who came
forward. We submit that the symbolic violence of masculine normative dom-
inance was backed by three interrelated features of militarization: adversa-
tive education,unit cohesion, and assessment. Adversative education stripped
cadets of personal control while instilling deference to superiors and en-
durance in extreme hardship. As adversative education is detailed above,
this section will focus on the other two features. Unit cohesionstrong
bonds among classmates involving loyalty and mutual supportwas under-
stood as a means of surviving four years of adversative education as well as
surviving in war. Furthermore, cadets’ evaluations of each other partially
determined assessment and postacademy active-duty assignments, suggest-
ing negative career repercussions for those perceived as disloyal.
USAFA has a strict honor code that all cadets must memorize, in which
even toleration of other cadets’ infractions is an infraction itself. However,
unit cohesion sometimes pulled cadets in the opposite direction, and cadets
frequently violated the code. For example, USAFA administered weekly
military knowledge tests to fourth-class cadets, and these required exten-
sive memorization. Cheating on the tests was fairly common, yet rarely
were cadets willing to be accused of “pimping out” a classmate by report-
ing it. Instead, the notion “collaborate to graduate” produced collective
silence, and cadets viewed cheating as less severe than other honor viola-
tions or normalized it as typical cadet behavior ðsee also Schemo 2010Þ.
The hierarchy of offenses also applied to sexual harassment, which often
was not readily perceived as an infraction but rather as normal, victimless
behavior. For example, one man regularly e-mailed pornography to the
other fourth-class cadets in his squadron, a clear violation of regulations.
Most women in the squadron brushed it off, saying, “that’s just the way
½heis.” In a sense, these women were also saying, “that’s just the way it is,”
meaning that women must tolerate pornography to survive at USAFA.
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However, one first-year woman did report the problem to an upperclass-
woman, who informed the squadron officer. When the officer spoke with
the male cadet, the officer revealed the identity of the first-year woman.
The male cadet, indignant, informed the squadron about who had “pimped
him.” The squadron united around the accused porn distributer and os-
tracized the woman informant for her perceived breach in loyalty. The
squadron as a whole was unconcerned about this episode’s contribution
to a hostile environment for women, accepting it simply as the way it is
and condemning the informer as the threat.
Examining unit cohesion more closely, the implications for losing the
support of one’s classmates are considerable. To promote the unit cohe-
sion considered central to military effectiveness, USAFA training is de-
signed so that cadets cannot realistically complete it without relying on
classmates’ support. This requires the cadet to learn to be a team player.
As described in a book for new cadets, “It is a mutual dependence that
you and your classmates must develop. This is how it is meant to be; this
is how the system works” ðSmallwood 1995, 142Þ. For many cadets, it pre-
sented a clear imperative to sacrifice integrity in order to remain loyal to
classmates when necessary to survive ði.e., to graduateÞ.
USAFA traditions cultivated mutual dependence through military themes
and reference to warfare. Upper-class cadets instructed fourth-class cadets
that when they entered the operational Air Force, their lives would depend
on others in the “long blue line” of fellow graduates. Particularly popular
was the story of the 096, a survey used by the USAFA dining hall said to
have saved one graduate’s life in Vietnam. By tradition, cadets answered
the 096 survey questions with the same six memorized responses. When
a USAFA graduate was shot down over Vietnam and evading capture, he
proved his identity to another graduate via radio ðand confirmed he was
not the enemyÞby reciting the 096 responses that only another USAFA
alum would know. In effect, this story upped the ante: cohesion within
the long blue line was not just important for graduation but might also
save one’s life.
Disrupting such cohesion had concrete ramifications for a cadet’s mil-
itary career. Every semester USAFA graded each cadet on three scales:
grade point average, physical education average, and military point aver-
age ðMPAÞ. The latter, which judged how the cadet was faring in learn-
ing to become an officer, was calculated in large part on the basis of rat-
ings given by fellow squadron members. A cadet identified as having betrayed
classmates risked low peer evaluations, a lower MPA, a lower class rank
at the end of the four years, and ultimately, a less desirable job assign-
ment following graduation. Cadets who had devoted years of hard work
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to earn a pilot slot were reluctant to risk their class rank for being a whistle-
The complementary nature of these three institutional features of ad-
versative education, unit cohesion, and assessment is apparent in the case
of Beth, who reported on her experience with sexual harassment and sex-
ual assault at USAFA in 2003 ðBingham 2003Þ. To begin, the strict hier-
archy of authority central to adversative education dissuaded cadets such as
Beth from reporting the inappropriate or even sexually predatory behavior
of cadet superiors. An upperclassman e-mailed Beth pornographic images
with a list of sex acts he wanted her to perform. Disgusted, she was never-
theless reluctant to resist a superior: “That is your job as a subordinate. ...
You’re supposed to make your superiors happy” ðBingham 2003Þ. When
she ultimately did object, he turned to unit cohesion and the threat of
ostracism, blackmailing her that he would turn in her classmates for drink-
ing alcohol, and when they got into trouble, she would be blamed ðBing-
ham 2003Þ. The sexual aggression escalated to sexual assault. Beth even-
tually confided to a fellow cadet, but she still initially refused to report
the assault because “she didn’t want to lose her career over it. ...She knew
that rape charges would ground her permanently” ðBingham 2003Þ.In
sum, militarization in the forms of adversative education and unit cohe-
sion, as well as the academy’s methods of assessment, operated as a sec-
ond line of defense should victims of harassment and assault come to rec-
ognize violence as such and thus understand themselves as victims.
The gendered continuum of violence: Implications and
future applications
Our goal in this paper has been to detail quotidian experiences of cadet
sexual harassment and assault at USAFA in order to build theory on gender,
the military, and the continuum of violence. Our USAFA analysis revealed
the importance of both militarization and institutional features in under-
standing intramilitary sexualized violence. Militaries, by design, commit po-
litical violence. But since military violence extends beyond the physical bat-
tlefield, the absence of warfare should not divert attention from the more
diffused and less dramatic forms of military violence. Thus, while the prior
definition limited political violence on the continuum to “violence directly
and purposefully administered,” we added militarizationthe commit-
ment to hierarchy, obedience, and use of force ðBourgois 2001, 7Þ. We also
highlight symbolic violence, emphasizing gender. Although USAFA’s ad-
versative method involved assaults to all new cadets’ sense of self-worth and
the naturalization of seniority-based dominance, the gendered nature of the
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symbolic violence significantly disadvantaged women cadets as well as men
identified as feminine ðBourdieu 2002Þ. Militarization interacted with
gendered symbolic violence to foster endemic sexual harassment. Problematic
in itself, sexual harassment also increases the likelihood of sexual assault
ðSanday 1981; Sadler et al. 2003; Morgan and Gruber 2011Þ. We maintain
that militarization and the symbolic violence of masculine normative dom-
inance reinforce each other to produce a particular logic supporting sexual
harassment and violence against those identified as feminine. Institutional
features at USAFA back up this dynamic, contributing if not by design
then by effect a second line of defense such that witnesses and victims
normalized gendered harassment and abuse or declined to report it.
We see great potential for the application and extension of the approach
presented here. The theoretical framework can be readily applied to other
military contexts within and outside the United States in order to enhance
and extend understanding of the links between forms of symbolic violence,
militarization, and institutional features that may either enhance or impede
sexual harassment and assault.
The continuum also can be usefully applied to gendered violence in
contexts beyond the military ðsee, e.g., Hume 2009Þ. Recent highly pub-
licized examples of sexual assault against adults and children in various in-
stitutions worldwide amplify the need for interdisciplinary research and the-
ory building. The continuum of violence highlights relationships between
forms of violence that are commonly understood as gendered ðsexual assault
and domestic violenceÞand those that are not. It further encourages explo-
ration of uncharted links between the routine or seemingly trivial, on the
one hand, and the overtly tragic or legally actionable, on the other hand.
The effectiveness of such research will rest upon accessing local meanings
and lived experiences and identifying the structural and institutional costs
and benefits that further limit any possible resistance to violence.
We also highlight the implications of this research for USAFA. In some
ways, our findings suggest the immensity of the task at hand. Schemo ð2010Þ
optimistically estimates that USAFA would only need four years to create a
new culture through student turnover. We caution against such optimism.
Given the long-standing and nearly universal association of war and mas-
culinity, interrupting the link between masculine normative dominance and
militarization will be difficult. Furthermore, USAFA memory is perpetuated
by alumni and the Air Force more generally. As Callahan ð2009Þwarns,
“Changes to training and education are likely to meet with stiff resistance,”
For excellent examples of interpretive feminist research on non-US militaries, see Kwon
ð2001Þ, Sasson-Levy and Amram-Katz ð2007Þ, Roy ð2008Þ, and Basham ð2009Þ.
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particularly from alumni who complain about the erosion of USAFA her-
itage and tradition ð1163Þ. Indeed, many of the problematic practices and
traditions still exist or were reinstated at USAFA, including extensive train-
ing of new cadets by the three upper classes, Recognition, and shower
Meaningful change will require a sustained military effort that must
be backed by a vigilant and vigorous civilian-based mobilization.
Here there is reason for optimism. Servicemembers and veterans are in-
creasingly vocal about the pervasiveness of intramilitary sexual violence. The
military, in turn, is starting to recognize the depth of the problem. As then
secretary of defense Robert Gates asserted: “½Intramilitary sexual assault
not only does unconscionable harm to the victim; it ...threatens national
security” ðUS DOD 2011Þ. In 201213, five male USAFA cadets were
charged with sex crimes, with three convictedan unprecedented number.
Although none received sentences over eight months, official acknowledge-
ment of the problem and legal action are important steps.
Feminist research should ideally inform these steps. We have argued
that new insights are gained by examining not only legally actionable sin-
gle events but also quotidian, subtle forms of symbolic violence. From our
findings, it follows that USAFA should view gender and sexual harassment
and sexual assault as interrelated and thus should target them comprehen-
sively. In doing so, USAFA would do well to attend to the sexual harassment
risk factors identified in Morgan and Gruber ð2011Þ, as well as our findings
on adversative education, unit cohesion, and assessment ðsee also Callahan
2009Þ. First, to mitigate the negative impacts of adversative education, we
suggest substantially enhanced oversight of cadets by officers whose quali-
fications include education on and commitment to ending gendered and
sexual harassment and assault.
Second, unit cohesion should be reframed
to stress task cohesion, prioritizing a unit’s ability to accomplish goals over
the depth of bonding. A more pointed USAFA focus on task accomplish-
ment despite personal animosities could increase unit effectiveness while
lessening the incentive for ostracism. Third, and related, assessment must rely
upon objective scoring techniques and observations by officers, cadets from
other units, and even civilian boards. Fourth, a higher percentage of women
Cadet training and Recognition are detailed on the USAFA admissions website, http:// Many of the problems associated with USAFA traditions and
training post-2003 are documented in Schemo ð2010Þ.
The current USAFA sexual assault prevention program is outlined at
.mil/units/sapr/. Given the military’s lack of gender and sexuality studies and observed ten-
dency to proliferate trainings to comply with an order rather than to educate, civilian-led train-
ing for officers is warranted.
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cadets would dilute the power of masculine normative dominance at USAFA
ðMorgan and Gruber 2011Þ.
Much feminist research remains to be done, particularly that which
incorporates insider observations and introduces a comparative perspec-
tive, ideally under conditions of relatively unfettered access to cadets and
active-duty military. Research into other academies and militaries world-
wide would extend the findings on the operation of militarization on the
violence continuum.
It would also lend insight into the relative impor-
tance of the institutional features we identify and might possibly identify
new ones. USAFA research could chart post-2003 changes as well as further
develop effective means of intervention. Finally, among the many research
gaps, previous feminist scholarship on sexual violence points to same-sex
sexuality and race as particularly urgent and underexamined aspects of in-
tramilitary sexual harassment and assault.
Women and Gender Studies Program
University of Colorado, Boulder
Basham, Victoria. 2009. “Effecting Discrimination: Operational Effectiveness and
Harassment in the British Armed Forces.Armed Forces and Society 35ð4Þ:728
Belkin, Aaron. 2012. Bring Me Men: Military Masculinity and the Benign Fac¸ade
of American Empire, 1898 2001. New York: Columbia University Press.
Bingham, Clara. 2003. “Code of Dishonor.” Vanity Fair 520 ðDecemberÞ: 164
Bourdieu, Pierre. 2002. Masculine Domination. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univer-
sity Press.
Bourgois, Philippe. 2001. “The Power of Violence in War and Peace: PostCold
War Lessons from El Salvador.Ethnography 2ð1Þ:534.
Orna Sasson-Levy and Sarit Amram-Katz ð2007Þfound no sexual harassment problem
in gender-integrated Israeli officer training, suggesting that comparative research might yield
important findings on the determinants of sexual harassment.
See Crenshaw ð1992Þ,Enloeð2000Þ,Nagelð2003Þ,Embser-Herbertð2004Þ, and Belkin
ð2012Þ. The first cohort of openly gay and lesbian cadets graduated in 2012; gender and
sexuality research in this new policy climate would lend important insights. Furthermore,
the dynamics identified here must be examined as they intersect with race. All four cadets
convicted of sexual assault since 2004 are African American. African Americans comprise only
7 percent of cadets, which calls into question whether race operates at USAFA to produce
certain understandings of force and consent such that certain men are more readily under-
stood as rapists.
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... Hegemonic masculinity and emphasized femininity are not fixed concepts; rather, they are based on social location and context (Connell 2005;Messerschmidt 2018). The military has been conceptualized as a gendered institution (Acker 1990) that devalues associations with femininity and encourages a "warrior masculinity," which rewards servicemembers who display aggression, control, dominance, physical strength, and violence (Bayard de Volo and Hall 2015;Bonnes 2020;Callahan 2009;Enloe 2000;Hale 2008;Higate 2002;Hinojosa 2010). Due to femmephobia, associations with femininity are often used to insult or humiliate men and women (Hoskin 2019). ...
... Due to femmephobia, associations with femininity are often used to insult or humiliate men and women (Hoskin 2019). For example, in military training, servicemembers direct feminine insults at men who cannot keep up physically, labeling them "girls" or "pussies" to challenge their masculinity (Barrett 1996;Bayard de Volo and Hall 2015). The derogatory use of feminine terms for men who underachieve both affirms the masculinity of those who perform well and maintains the subordination of femininity to masculinity (Barrett 1996;Hoskin 2019). ...
... In traditionally masculine settings, men might derive some of their identity through the notion that the work they do is masculine and thus different from and better than women's work (Bayard de Volo and Hall 2015;Schrock and Schwalbe 2009). When women enter traditionally masculine spaces, some men respond by increasing their displays of masculinity (Prokos and Padavic 2002). ...
This article draws on in-depth interviews with 50 U.S. servicewomen to advance sociological understandings of gender, femininity, and harassment. Recognizing that women are targeted with harassment throughout their military careers, I analyze specific episodes of harassment to examine organizational and interactional meanings and the power dynamics embedded in these instances. This article explains why servicemen escalate harassment toward women who are pregnant or who enter heterosexual relationships. In a militarized context that already denigrates femininity, I argue that men impose gendered and sexualized meanings on women’s life-course events to limit women’s organizational inclusion. These events, such as pregnancy and engagement or marriage to a heterosexual partner, serve as “femininity anchors” that tether women to femininity within a hyper-masculine environment. Femininity anchors present serious interactional and individual consequences for women as they attempt to navigate the gendered terrain of the U.S. military. Aside from eliciting moments of elevated sexual and nonsexual harassment, femininity anchors restrict women’s acceptance as real servicemembers and negatively affect their military careers. In highlighting the negative treatment women receive due to femininity anchors, I demonstrate how the specific ways gender is embedded in an organization shapes patterns of harassment and exclusion.
... Indeed, the continuum of violence has been usefully applied to multiple feminist research agendas -even if largely to investigate gender-based violence. 96 This application has rested on the acknowledgement that various types of violence must all be taken seriously and inform other types of violence. This connection is important for feminist agendas focusing on violence against women, as it shows how often neglected or subtler forms of violence -such as discursive, structural, or symbolic violence -are important to understanding how more obvious forms of violence like femicide or sexual violence occur. ...
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Since the end of official empire postcolonial research has changed our image of colonialism to foreground the multiple forms of violence that lay at the heart of it. Drawing on increasingly critical feminist research approaches, I argue that this understanding must and can be extended to our conception of white women’s role in colonialism. In order to push this research further, this paper advocates for a more systematic approach to the study of European women in colonial violence. Therefore, using case studies of both German and British empires, a theoretical argument is made to show how we can conceptualise white women’s violence in empire. Then, the paper proposes a systematic approach to how such studies of European women’s role in colonial violence may be undertaken by combining feminist International Relations scholarship and postcolonial feminisms with Bourgois’ continuum of violence.
... The ideal servicemember is usually associated with masculinity and constructed in opposition to femininity (Basham, 2009;Bonnes, 2020Bonnes, , 2022Steidl & Brookshire, 2018). The military has a highly gendered context that encourages a "warrior masculinity," which rewards servicemembers who display aggression, control, dominance, physical strength, and violence (Bayard de Volo & Hall, 2015;Bonnes, 2020;Callahan, 2009;Enloe, 2000;Hale, 2008;Higate, 2002;Hinojosa, 2010) and prosecutors claim that these images are used by defense to gain sympathy for the accused. This culture, which clearly delineates masculinity and femininity and their respective value (Acker, 2006;Hoskin, 2019), is often evident in the narratives used by lawyers to minimize the member perception of harm inflicted. ...
High rates of sexual assault within the United States Armed Forces have led to several initiatives designed to combat sexual violence and increase prosecution of perpetrators. While scholars argue that the military’s hypermasculine culture contributes to high rates of victimization, less is known about how this culture impacts each case within the military justice system. Using in-depth interviews, we explore how military prosecutors develop strategies to navigate this uniquely gendered terrain as it intersects with victim stereotypes. Findings suggest that prosecutors invoke military discourse to combat rape myths but are constrained by gendered assumptions of the ideal servicemember.
... Female ex-combatants' experiences of war and "postwar" peace in the private sphere in Nepal resonate with feminist IR scholarships' claim on the private sphere as a political sphere of power contestation revealing continuity of multiple "chains of violence"-from direct and visible to systemic and structural (see Cockburn 2004 ;Alden 2010 ;Bayard De Volo and Hall 2015 ;Braithwaite and D'Costa 2018 ) and from war to "postwar" (see Alden 2010 ; Giri 2021 ). Moreover, the feminist intersectional lens shows that female excombatants from a lower class, lower caste, and ethnic minorities were disproportionately impacted by the burden of social reproduction, ostracization, alienation, and many problems with reintegration after the war ( Giri 2021 ). ...
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Extant research links forced marriage and sexual violence in rebel groups with their respective political projects, social control, and group cohesion. However, forced marriage and sexual violence are rare in many rebel groups, including the Maoists in Nepal who claimed to have a “progressive,” “scientific,” and “modern” framework for governing marriage and sexuality. In the light of this puzzle, I ask, what does a noncoercive/nonviolent rebel governance of marriage and sexuality mean for a rebel group's political project of social control and power? What is the gendered impact of such governance? Importantly, how does it impact female combatants at the intersection of multiple oppressions? Using abductive analysis of extensive interviews with female ex-combatants and their leaders, I build a theoretical explanation about the noncoercive/nonviolent governance of marriage and sexuality that is not just linked to the formation, consolidation, and legitimation of political agendas, but also enabled social control and political power for the Maoists. However, this further marginalized those female combatants who were already disadvantaged. I employ a feminist intersectional framework while critically reflecting on my own positionality. The implications of these findings extend beyond Nepal, illuminating dynamics of rebel governance and the complexity of war and postwar social organization.
... Similarly, feminist scholars highlight various systemic violence and violence in the private realm and interlinkages among various types of violence (Braithwaite & D'Costa, 2018;Cockburn, 2004). The 'continua of violence' in feminist scholarship refers to the continuity between various forms of violence from small acts to largescale institutional and structural violence (Bayard de Volo & Hall, 2015). Similarly, the interlinkage and continuity could be across temporal and spheric dimensions (Cockburn, 2004) and between violence in the private and the public, the personal and the political, and war and peace (Braithwaite & D'Costa, 2018). ...
This book offers a comprehensive analysis of the multifaceted dimensions of violent extremist groups in South Asia, attending especially to the relationships between the local and regional forces influencing their emergence and activities. In addition, research in the book shows how political, security-sensitive events and processes are framed, and the factors responsible for such framing. Similarly, it discusses prevalent discourses on anti-violent extremism policy and the on-the-ground militarized preventive/reactive interventions they guide, which are inspired by ideologies that increasingly reflect controversial understandings of the experiences of people within conditions of state fragility. In doing so, the book balances attention to local conditions that frame the rise and fall, or persistency, of incidences of violent extremism. The systems-based ecological framing of issues in the book is influenced by a concern for the broader questions of securitization, global governance, poverty, (under)development, and armed conflicts in South Asia. That said, this book is distinctive in as much as it constitutes the first-ever attempt to analyze South Asian countries through the lens of the state fragility framework and to examine how issues of state fragility contribute to violent extremism. Through case studies drawn from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, this collection suggests that fragile states have not only created conditions for extremist groups but that some states at times also adopt violent populist policies to marginalize minorities, pushing those minorities to resort to violent means.
... The risk of experiencing sexual violence from fellow servicemembers is increased during deployment and in combat (LeardMann et al. 2013) and when gender ratios in a unit are heavily skewed in favor of men (Rosen and Martin 1998). Protective factors include strengthened and well-publicized anti-harassment policies (Bayard de Volo and Hall 2015;Williams, Fitzgerald, and Drasgow 1999) and unit leaders who model these policies within their command (Risen 2013; Rosen and Martin 1998). Despite the institution's efforts to improve the reporting process, half of those who make an official report still say they experience some form of retaliation (Morral et al. 2015). ...
Until recently, opportunities to analyze the sexual harassment of LGBTs in the U.S. military were constrained by their formal exclusion; the existing research was largely conducted under the conditions of closed service, which were crucial to its operation. This article considers if and how sexual harassment is being re-conceptualized in the era of open service. Using in-depth interviews, I assess how current, future, and former service members narrate the emergence of open service and its relationship to sexual harassment. Although sexual blackmail may have lost some of its purchase under these conditions, I find that discussions and enactments of sexual harassment play a central role in containing the threat of queer contamination that has been introduced by open service. These are practices of what I term “queer social control” and demonstrate one of many reasons why inclusion should not be mistaken for acceptance; rather than resisting heterocisnormativity and the military’s role in its maintenance, the dynamics of LGBT incorporation actually reinforce it. This seemingly paradoxical finding is, in fact, the only logical outcome of the homonormative bargain that has been struck in the name of advancing LGBT rights.
... We met and discussed emergent themes regularly, refining our thinking as we drafted and wrote memos, tools, and public outreach materials, also based on our reading of the existing literature. Our collaborative analysis centered on an "insider-outsider" approach (Bayard de Volo & Hall, 2015). The third author is a senior faculty member and longtime employee of the university, and provided critical insider information, institutional histories, and connections, while the first two authors, very recently hired junior scholars, provided "necessary distance" from the case to "question and encourage clarification," allowing us to conceptualize institutions in crisis more broadly (Blum & Mickey 2018, p. 180).This collaborative data analysis process led us to derive the TREE model, which we present below. ...
... We met and discussed emergent themes regularly, refining our thinking as we drafted and wrote memos, tools, and public outreach materials, also based on our reading of the existing literature. Our collaborative analysis centered on an "insider-outsider" approach (Bayard de Volo & Hall, 2015). The third author is a senior faculty member and longtime employee of the university, and provided critical insider information, institutional histories, and connections, while the first two authors, very recently hired junior scholars, provided "necessary distance" from the case to "question and encourage clarification," allowing us to conceptualize institutions in crisis more broadly (Blum & Mickey, 2018, p. 180).This collaborative data analysis process led us to derive the TREE model, which we present below. ...
... Military masculinities are constituted in contrast with, and as superior from, other forms of subordinated masculinities as well as femininity (Bayard de Volo and Hall 2015;Connell 1995;Diamond, Kimmel, and Schroeder 2000). Cockburn (2001, 16) suggests that the military institution is guided by the "differentiation and asymmetry of masculine and feminine as governing principles, as idealized qualities, as practices, as symbols. ...
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Militarism and soldiering are materialized by gendered imaginaries and enabled through physical and emotional labor within military households. Soldier households in Pakistan are rarely nuclear, and soldiering in the Pakistan military is filtered through the structures of rurality, postcoloniality, and localized manifestations of patriarchy. This article draws upon interviews, ethnographic fieldwork, and participant observation in villages in Pakistan and institutions of the military to examine the emotional labor in relationships between soldiers and their female kin, wives, and mothers. The silences and disconnects experienced in these relationships are not a side effect of soldiering and its demands; on the contrary, they need to be understood as the essence of the processes that create soldier-subjects. These attachments and enablers of soldiering are also, paradoxically, premised on ideas of precariousness, a disjuncture that can be better understood through the prism of the military institution’s complicated relationship with the female subject – a relationship built on (dis)enchantment with the feminine (other). This article sets up these erasures of connection, the enabling yet fragile relationships between the soldier and his female kin, as intimate sites to understand militarism. These relationships both sustain the war project and hold the potential for diminishing it.
This chapter explores how the feminist conceptualization of oppressions and violence can help us better comprehend and analyse fragile peace and think about better solutions to the possibility of violent extremism in Nepal. After the peaceful settlement of the Maoist insurgency in Nepal (1996–2006), the Nepalese government has claimed the peace process as completed and Nepal ushering towards growth and prosperity. This chapter shows that the premature proclamation of ‘post-war’ peace is problematic. Many causes of the Maoist insurgency in Nepal have not been completely addressed. The ‘post-war’ peace in Nepal remains fragile as beset by many continuing challenges like poverty and inequalities, unequal distribution of power and resources, and natural hazard-related disasters while the democratic restructuring of the state remains an unfinished project. Similarly, the voices of the marginalized population under multiple oppressions are unheard and their needs remain unaddressed. Moreover, emerging crises like climate change and natural hazard-elated disasters have added further vulnerabilities. Thus, the chapter argues that the combination of all these factors can create a perfect incubating environment for the recurrence of violent extremism. Feminist theorizations of oppression and violence in the concepts of ‘matrices of domination’ and ‘continua of violence’ can better understand and analyse multiple and intersecting forms of oppression and violence in Nepal.
Asking fundamental and often uncomfortable questions about the nature and purposes of formal education, this book explores the three main ways of looking at the relationship between formal education, individuals and society: that education improves society. that education reproduces society exactly as it is. that education makes society worse and harms individuals. Whilst educational policy documents and much academic writing and research stresses the first function and occasionally make reference to the second, the third is largely played down or ignored. In this unique and thought-provoking book, Clive Harber argues that while schooling can play a positive role, violence towards children originating in the schools system itself is common, systematic and widespread internationally and that schools play a significant role in encouraging violence in wider society. Topics covered include physical punishment, learning to hate others, sexual abuse, stress and anxiety, and the militarization of school. The book both provides detailed evidence of such forms of violence and sets out an analysis of schooling that explains why they occur. In contrast, the final chapter explores existing alternative forms of education which are aimed at the development of democracy and peace. This book should be read by anyone involved in education - from students and academics to policy-makers and practitioners around the world.
Structural analyses describe men as the dominant gender in the military; yet some Army men use strategies against women similar to the "weapons of the weak" described in the resistance literature. Social psychology sheds light on this behavior because of its emphasis on perceptions of power. Some Army men actually believe that women are the powerful gender within the military, and thus act as an oppressed group on the basis of those perceptions. Structural analyses that divide the population into the powerful and the powerless are further limited because they do not account for coexisting multiple hierarchies of power. Individuals can simultaneously enjoy privilege and face disadvantages according to race, gender, age, occupation, and position within an organization. Although the Army apparently has made some headway in deterring overt sexual harassment, some men still may resort to covert gender harassment to express their disapproval of women's participation in the military.
Männliche Herrschaft. Dieser Versuch einer Analyse der männlichen Herrschaft, der Form symbolischer Herrschaft schlechthin, stützt sich auf ethnologisches Material aus der Kabylei. Die Gesellschaft der Kabylen, eine die Berbersprache sprechende Bergbevölkerung in Nord-afrika, hat insbesondere in seinen rituellen Praktiken, seiner Poesie und seinen mündlichen Überlieferungen ein System der Vision und Division lebendig gehalten, das der gesamten Mittelmeerwelt gemeinsam ist und auch heute noch in unseren mentalen und teilweise sozialen Strukturen vorhanden ist. Das Beispiel der Kabylei läßt sich mithin wie ein "vergrößertes Bild" behandeln, aus dem sich müheloser die grundlegenden Strukturen der männlichen Weltsicht herauslesen lassen. Ein erstes Ergebnis : Aufgrund des unmittelbaren Zusammenspiels zwischen zum einen den sozialen Strukturen, wie sie sich z.B. in der Organisation von Raum und Zeit oder in der Arbeitsteilung zwischen den Geschlechtern niederschlagen, zum anderen den mentalen Strukturen oder, genauer, den in Korper und Gehirn eingeschriebenen Prinzipien der Vision und Division, setzt sich die Ordnung des Männlichen im Modus der Evidenz, als vollkommen natürlich, durch. Tatsächlichwenden die Beherrschten -im vorliegenden Fall die Frauen- auf alle Dinge dieser Welt und nicht zuletzt auf die Herrschaftsbeziehung, der sie unterliegen, und auf die Personen, vermittels deren diese Beziehung sich realisiert -also auch auf sich als Personen-, ungedachte Denkschemata an, die als Produkt der Inkorporation der Machtbeziehung in Form von Gegensatzpaaren (oben/unten, groß/klein usw.) diese Beziehungen vom Gesichtspunkt der Herrschenden aus kontruieren und als natürliche erscheinen lassen. Die symbolische Gewalt realisiert sich über einen Akt der Verkennung und Anerkennung, der sich aulkrhalb der Kontrolle des Bewußtseins und Willens, in der Dunkelheit des Habitus vollzieht. In der Sozialisierung wird eine Somatisierung der Herrschaftsbeziehung angestrebt. Zunächst durch soziale Konstruktion der Anschauung vom biologischen Geschlecht, die selbst einer umfassenden mythischen Weltsicht zugrunde liegt. Dann durch Einüben einer körperlichen Hexis, die durchaus als inkorporierte Politik zu sehen ist. Vermittelt über diese doppelte, geschlechtlich differenzierte und differenzierende Arbeit der Einübung bilden sich zwingend bei Mann und Frau unterschiedliche Dispositionen in bezug auf die am wichtigsten erachteten sozialen Spiele aus, als da sind (in der kabylischen Gesellschaft) : Ehrenund Kriegsspiele, mit denen sich am besten Männlichkeit demonstrieren läßt ; oder in den differenzierten Gesellschaften alle Spiele, die hohe Geltung genießen, Politik, Kunst, Wissenschaft usw. Diese Beziehung der urspünglichen Ausschlieftung läßt sich sehr gut an Virginia Woolfs Roman Die Fahrt zum Leuchtturm analysieren : In Unkenntnis äerillusio, die dazu verleitet, sich in den großen sozialen Spielen zu engagieren, sind die Frauen auch frei von der libido dominandi und von daher in der Lage, einen relativ luziden Blick auf die männliche Spiele zu werfen, an denen sie in der Regel nur stellvertretend teilnehmen. Erklärungsbedürftig bleibt der inferiore Status, der den Frauen nahezu universell zugewiesen wird. Hier muß die Asymetrie der Statusse in Betracht gezogen werden, die beiden Geschlechtern in der Ökonomie des symbolischen Tauschs zugeschrieben wird : Während die Männer Subjekte der matrimonialen Strategien sind, durch die sie ihr symbolisches Kapital zu erhalten oder zu mehren suchen, werden die Frauen immer als Objekte dieses Tauschs behandelt, zirkulieren darin als Symbole mit der Fähigkeit, Bündnisse zu schmieden. Auf diese Weise mit einer symbolischen Funktion versehen, sind sie gezwungen, standig an der Erhaltung ihres symbolischen Werts zu arbeiten, durch Anpassung an das männliche Ideal der weiblichen Tugend, Scham und Keuchheit, und Erwerb der körperlichen und kosmetischen Attribute zur Erweiterung ihrer physischen Ausstrahlung und ihres Charmes. Der Status als Objekt, der den Frauen zugewiesen wird, la lit sich unzweideutig an der Bedeutung erkennen, den das mytischrituelle System der Kabylen ihrem Beitrag bei der Zeugung einräumt : Paradoxerweise wird die Schwangerschaft, diese genuine Arbeit der Frau, zugunsten der männlichen Intervention im Geschlechtsakt geleugnet. So bleibt auch in unseren Gesellschaften der privilegierte Part, den die Frauen bei der eigentlichen symbolischen Produktion -innerhalb wie aulkrhalb der Familieneinheit -spielen, verschleiert oder zumindest unterbewertet. Daraus folgt, daß eine Befreiung der Frau nur von einer symbolischen Revolution zu erwarten ist, die die Fundamente der Produktion und Reproduktion des symbolischen Kapitals selbst in Frage stellt, insbesondere aber die Dialektik von Prätention und Distinktion als der Grundlage der Produktion und Konsumtion der als Distinktionszeichen fungierenden kulturellen Güter.
In this article I examine how and why the term "sexual harassment" has been defined very differently in American and French law. Drawing on political and legal history, I argue that feminists mobilized in both countries to create sexual harassment law, but encountered dissimilar political, legal, and cultural constraints and resources. Having adapted to these distinct opportunities and constraints, feminists and other social actors produced sexual harassment laws that varied by body of law, definition of harm, scope, and remedy. I conclude by discussing the implications of these findings for studies of culture, gender and the state, globalization, and public policy.
In recent years, the British military has introduced a number of policies aimed at recruiting and sustaining demographically diverse armed forces. Central to these is a “zero-tolerance” approach to discrimination and harassment. However, by undertaking an “effective” reading of policies aimed at managing sexual orientation and gender diversity, and by drawing on qualitative research with members of the British forces, this article demonstrates how the military's own implementation strategies facilitate discrimination against some recruits. It concludes that although the British military is understandably keen to protect its operational effectiveness, by clinging to unreflexive claims about the nature of social cohesion, and in failing to respond to societal demands for inclusion, military officials are undermining the social legitimacy of the armed forces. By extension, they are destabilizing, rather than protecting, their capabilities.