Summary by Scott Herford 4 years ago
Although women in both Iraq and Afghanistan have taken part in ground combat and although restrictions have been lifted officially, there remains a strong resistance to the policy that now allows women to work in officially designated combat-related jobs. This resistance is especially strong among online comments to military media coverage. This study examines narratives of masculinity and resistance to women’s presence in combat through online commentary by mostly men who self-identify as military past and present. Using narrative analysis as technique we examine the hegemonic conditions of military culture that render women’s participation problematic. We identify a melodrama, an emotional, simplified, persuasive, and morally laden narrative surrounding the battle between ‘good’ and ‘evil’,one that results in what we term masculinity under attack, complete with prototypical plots, characters, and moral evaluations, such as blameless victims, evil villains, and (blocked) heroes. Because narratives are strategic, persuasive, and deeply ideological, this work offers a unique examination that connects the local narratives of this online community to a broader cultural narrative, one that has material implications for women and all things feminine in the military.