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The Military as a Macho Culture — or Not

- April 14, 2008


Anybody got a problem with the idea that military service — from boot camp through combat — breeds hyper-aggressive behavior?

Well, yes. Regina Titunik does.

In an article titled “The Myth of the Macho Military” that appears in the latest issue of Polity, Titunik, an associate professor of political science at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, writes:

bq. The public debate about the incorporation of women in the U.S. Armed Forces has primarily included feminist-insipired critics, who denounce the hostility toward women they perceive is promoted by the military’s masculinist culture, and, alternatively, opponents of the greater inclusion of women in the military, who valorize the exclusivist masculine qualities that many feminists criticize. Although these ideological adversaries differ in their estimation of military culture, they both share — and have reciprocally reinforced — a view of the military as steeped in the traditions and practices of aggressive masculinity. This article shows that the prevailing view of the military as hyper-masculine is misguided. Not unhindered aggressiveness, but camaraderie, discipline, and service are the qualties instilled in soldiers. These qualities foster military effectiveness and counterbalance sexist tendencies producing a complex institutional culture congenial to women in significant respects.

In other words (mine), Rambo is a rogue, not a good soldier, and the military virtues are feminine in nature. An interesting twist that I hadn’t encountered previously.

ADDENDUM: Clyde Wilcox forwarded the following to me — living proof of a turn away from macho in the Spanish military. Click HERE to see for yourself..

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