Managing Sex in the U.S. Military


Managing Sex in the U.S. Military

Gender, Identity, and Behavior

Edited by Beth Bailey, Alesha E. Doan, Shannon Portillo, and Kara Dixon Vuic

Studies in War, Society, and the Military Series

364 pages


May 2022


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May 2022


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May 2022


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About the Book

The U.S. military is a massive institution, and its policies on sex, gender, and sexuality have shaped the experiences of tens of millions of Americans, sometimes in life-altering fashion. The essays in Managing Sex in the U.S. Military examine historical and contemporary military policies and offer different perspectives on the broad question: “How does the U.S. military attempt to manage sex?” This collection focuses on the U.S. military’s historical and contemporary attempts to manage sex—a term that is, in practice, slippery and indefinite, encompassing gender and gender identity, sexuality and sexual orientation, and sexual behaviors and practices, along with their outcomes. In each chapter, the authors analyze the military’s evolving definitions of sex, sexuality, and gender, and the significance of those definitions to both the military and American society.


Author Bio

Beth Bailey is Foundation Distinguished Professor in the Department of History and director of the Center for Military, War, and Society Studies at the University of Kansas. Alesha E. Doan is a professor in the School of Public Affairs and Administration and in the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Kansas. Shannon Portillo is a professor in the School of Public Affairs and Administration at the University of Kansas. Kara Dixon Vuic is the LCpl. Benjamin W. Schmidt Professor of War, Conflict, and Society in Twentieth-Century America at Texas Christian University.


"Sex and gender are topics often approached with anxiety in the security sector, but they are imperative for understanding the sociocultural dynamics in a modern, multidimensional defense establishment. Managing Sex in the U.S. Military will be an important addition to the reading lists of those operating across the entire chain of command."—Mary Raum, Parameters

“A creative, clear, and comprehensive approach to a topic fraught with long-standing and ongoing controversy. The authors capture the diversity and timeliness of the challenge. This is a must-read for those called to understand and manage sex in the U.S. military.”—Patricia M. Shields, editor in chief of Armed Forces and Society

“A pathbreaking book illuminating the history and context of today’s struggles for sexual and gender equity and safety in the U.S. military. . . . Managing Sex in the U.S. Military is essential for those who teach war and society, and gender and sexuality studies. A must-read for military members, leaders, policy makers, and elected officials.”—Jennifer Mittelstadt, author of The Rise of the Military Welfare State

“Phenomenally important. . . . An invaluable collection of essays from eminent scholars that can help leaders prepare for higher levels of command and offer them perspective on vital topics affecting organizational cohesion and morale.”—Gregory A. Daddis, author of Pulp Vietnam: War and Gender in Cold War Men’s Adventure Magazines

“A strong, much-needed collection. . . . Managing Sex in the U.S. Military is timely and fills a necessary gap in the scholarship with accessible, thoughtful essays from a diverse group of scholars. It deserves a wide readership.”—David Kieran, coeditor of At War: The Military and American Culture in the Twentieth Century and Beyond

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
Beth Bailey, Alesha E. Doan, Shannon Portillo, and Kara Dixon Vuic
Part 1. Behavior
1. The U.S. Army’s Management of Sexuality at Home and Abroad, 1898–1940
Andrew Byers
2. Compensation, Commerce, and Conjugality: Managing Male Heterosexuality in the U.S. Military from World War II to the War on Terror
Susan L. Carruthers
3. “A Higher Moral Character”: Respectability and the Women’s Army Corps
Beth Bailey
Part 2. Family and Reproduction
4. “We Recruit Individuals but Retain Families”: Managing Marriage and Family in the All-Volunteer Force, 1973–2001
John Worsencroft
5. Reproduction in Combat Boots
Kara Dixon Vuic
Part 3. Orientation and Identity
6. A Comparative Analysis of the Military Bans on Openly Serving Gays, Lesbians, and Transgender Personnel
Agnes Gereben Schaefer
7. Formal Regulation, Cultural Enforcement: Managing Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression in the U.S. Military
Jacqueline E. Whitt
Part 4. Sexual Assault and Prevention
8. Problematic Policies and Far-Reaching Consequences: Historicizing Sexual Violence in the U.S. Military
Kellie Wilson-Buford
9. Managing Harassment and Assault in the Contemporary U.S. Military
Amanda Boczar
Part 5. Gender, Sexuality, and Combat
10. Combat Exclusion Policies and the Management of Gender Difference in the U.S. Military
Elizabeth Mesok
11. Brothers in Arms? Combat, Masculinity, and Change in the Twenty-First-Century American Military
Christopher Hamner
12. “The Juice Ain’t Worth the Squeeze”: Resisting Gender Integration in Special Forces
Alesha E. Doan and Shannon Portillo
Beth Bailey, Alesha E. Doan, Shannon Portillo, and Kara Dixon Vuic

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