Bring Me Men: Military Masculinity and the Benign Facade of American Empire, 1898-2001

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Columbia University Press, 2012 - History - 244 pages
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A surprising investigation into the performance of gender and the illusion of American power. America's conception of military masculinity is full of contradictions. To attain masculinity, a warrior must renounce the things in his life that are unmasculine, yet in military practice, warriors are asked to do exactly the opposite. Since America's overseas ambitions began to expand in 1898, warriors have been encouraged to form intimate relationships with their unmasculine foils, not to disavow their legitimacy. The creation of a masculine armed forces therefore requires a surprising degree of engagement with the unmasculine other--while, at the same time, maintaining a strict separation from the very unmasculine things warriors define themselves against.Aaron Belkin explores these contradictions in great detail, along with ongoing attempts by the American military to maintain and perpetuate them. Belkin identifies surprising parallels between the nature of military masculinity and the processes of building American empire. Excluding certain actors from the warrior community strengthens the facade of military masculinity, and in the same way, obscuring certain realities and elements from combat reinforces the heroic actions of soldiers. The military's scapegoats play an important role in bolstering the benign public facade of American empire. Incorporating case studies of male-on-male rape at the U.S. Naval Academy and attitudes toward cleanliness and filth among U.S. troops in the Philippines, Belkin utterly upends our understanding of military power and the fragile processes sustaining it.

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About the author (2012)

Aaron Belkin is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He is the coeditor (with Geoffrey Bateman) of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Debating the Gay Ban in the Military.

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