Women in Institutions

The role of women's sexuality in the military, sports, and the workplace

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(Disregard the last 15 seconds of the link.  There wasn’t a link with just this scene.)

These two scenes demonstrate how men in the military treat the women in the countries they are serving, which in turn can show how women in the military are sexualized as well.  As seen previously men in the military do not always treat women serving alongside them with the same respect.  Female soldiers are often sexually harassed and the military itself is hyper-masculine so these behaviors rarely are punished.  It is seen as men being men.  These scenes from the 1984 military movie Full Metal Jacket show just how male sexuality dominates female sexuality in the military even outside of female soldiers.  Prostitution is something that is considered necessary to soldiers serving far from home without female contact.  It is rarely questioned or recognized as being out of the ordinary.  This is seen in the Cynthia Enloe article read in class “It Takes More Than Two: The Prostitute, The Soldier, The State, and the Entrepreneur.”

Certain things about this clip show how women’s bodies are scene as sex objects.  Soldiers said things like: “Don’t get between a dog and it’s meat.”  The excuse of military men being so sexual that they need a prostitute in order to satisfy them while they are away seems to relate back to the sporting culture in a way.  Women continue to pursue prostitution as a career in these countries not because of its glamour, but because of the same reasons we saw in lecture that prostitutes view their situation.  They see it as a way to earn money for their family, to be autonomous from men, access luxuries especially since often times military men are seen as being rich and powerful, and quite possible because they feel they may be able to meet a larger population of men to marry.  The prostitutes seek $15 for everything and haggle prices with these men as this is seen as their job.  It seems degrading that these men only want to pay them $5 to do whatever they want, and that they jest about the “batting line-up.”  It is clear that there seems to be less respect for these women than others.  They are seen solely as sex objects there for soldiers to use as they perform their duty for their country.  These women are foreign and exotic, which is reminiscent of the fact that women of different races were considered more desirable for prostitutes in the 19th century.

 While this movie may be older prostitution around military bases today is still prevalent and can be seen in other military movies.  There is a scene in the Academy Award winning movie The Hurt Locker in which Sargent James leaves camp without permission to find an Iraqi boy’s killer.  When he returns to camp and is held at gunpoint until he is identified the soldiers when realizing that he is a comrade immediately assumes that he went to a brothel and congratulate him.  They want him to tell where it is because they want in on the fun.  This just shows that while in certain areas they may not be as openly known prostitution is still actively sought and seen as being okay, especially since this soldier went off base without permission and could have put himself and his unit at risk.  There is no repercussion it seems for this error, but instead laughter and asking to join in.

This treatment of prostitutes is also reflected in the treatment of female soldiers in sexual harassment and sexual assault cases that have been brought forth.  As can be seen in this article, “The Private War of Women Soldiers.”


Women soldiers feel that often times their own enemies are the men in their own encampment.  In one quotation from the article: “This guy out there, he told me he thinks the military sends women over to give the guys eye candy to keep them sane. He said in Vietnam they had prostitutes to keep them from going crazy, but they don’t have those in Iraq. So they have women soldiers instead.”  These women are treated just like the prostitutes, and are sexualized.  When any of these cases have come forward they are often times turned away and very difficult to win.  Suzanne Swift, one women sexually assaulted, went awol after her attack.  The only way she would not go to jail or serve extra time in the military where she was attacked was to sign a statement that the rape never happened.  This is a prime example of how women lack power in the military because they are seen as sex objects instead of people.



Filed under Women in the MIlitary