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The All-Volunteer Force: Patrolling Gendered Boundaries Through the Combat Ban

  • Stephanie SzitanyiEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

What role did gender play in re-envisioning the ultimate soldier under the creation of the All-Volunteer Force? The chapter combines an historical account of statutory restrictions on women’s military service from 1948 with a discursive analysis of 71 Congressional hearings between 1970 and 2015 concerning the combat ban. As the military tried to reestablish a positive public image after the Vietnam War, creation of the All-Volunteer Force created space to degender military recruitment practices and increase service roles for women. Instead, the institution’s new blueprint on gender relations regendered it as a predominantly male voluntary force, whose willing service to the nation strengthened notions of military masculinity. Framed as “incremental and deliberate” progress, the ban curtailed women’s access to combat roles for nearly 50 years thereafter through a series of discourse shifts, discourses which consistently demonstrated biological, psychological, and social anxieties about women’s bodies and which framed them as incompatible with military service.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Schools of Public EngagementThe New SchoolNew YorkUSA

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