Thursday 11 June 2009

‘Send ‘em home to their kitchens – or let them onto our submarines?’ US naval attitudes towards women at sea

Newly available on the Internet is Darlene Iskra’s fascinating 2004 paper comparing arguments about whether women should be on ships. She analyses the content of periodicals Navy Times and U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, looking at articles and letters about women’s assignment to non-combatant ships in 1978/1979, combatant ships in 1993/1994 and submarines in 1999/2000.

Iskra found that even though women have been serving successfully at sea for almost 25 years and demonstrated they ‘can perform military jobs previously thought impossible, the underlying assumptions continued to reflect socially constructed views of the warrior ideal as male, heterosexual, virile, aggressive and physically strong. Women were presented as outside of this ideal, reinforcing the status inequality of women in the military.’