Bring Me Men: Military Masculinity and the Benign Facade of American Empire, 1898-2001 (Critical War Studies) Paperback – 30 May 2012
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'In this well-researched, comprehensive manuscript Belkin demonstrates rather convincingly the many contradictions and dualities inherent throughout the US military's history when it comes to "turning men into boys" via military service. ...an important, timely contribution in the academic areas of masculinity, gender studies and political science.' --Choice
'One of the smartest analysts of today's US military, Aaron Belkin here challenges the too-simple presumption that an uncomplicated militarized masculinity dominates American soldiers' lives. Instead, through grittily graphic cases, Belkin reveals a dense web of gender confusions and contradictions that foster a culture of obedience inside the military, while nurturing a dangerously undemocratic set of myths among civilians. This is a timely, significant book.' --Cynthia Enloe, author of Nimo's War, Emma's War: Making Feminist Sense of the Iraq War
'Just as the racial integration of the American military starting in the Korean War and the gender integration beginning with the current all-volunteer force reflected and helped shape American conceptions of race and gender, so does the recent lifting of the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly mirror and shape our conceptions of sexuality, and particularly masculinity, in both the military and more broadly in society. Aaron Belkin has been the most prominent analyst of this latter process. This volume reframes our evolving understanding of sexuality and the falsity of the masculine/feminine dualism, and places this process in the context of historical, cultural, and political change in America.' --David Segal, Director, Center for Research on Military Organization
About the Author
AARON BELKIN is Associate Professor of Political Science at San Francisco State University and Director of the Palm Center at the University of California. He was a MacArthur Foundation postdoctoral fellow at the University of California Berkeley and a pre-doctoral fellow at Stanford, and he has published more than twenty-five books, chapters, and peer-reviewed journal articles. His most recent book is United We Stand? Divide and Conquer Politics and the Logic of International Hostility.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Bring Me Men is an exquisite cross between Andrew Bacevich's book "The New American Militarism" and William Ian Miller's "The Anatomy of Disgust." Belkin explains that the peculiarly American brand of military masculinity is steeped in parts of humanity that can disgust us (filth, sexuality, penetration, sadism, and weakness), and these bizarre conceptions of masculinity are in turn a microcosm of how the U.S. conducts foreign relations. Military masculinity is a fantasy-world depiction of maleness and authority that is often at odds with our values, both civilian and military, and at odds with traditional masculinity itself.
It's this contradiction that will fascinate readers. Belkin is a researcher and scholar who may have been the person most responsible for ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." He worked closely with the military to ensure its policies would be based on facts and experience, not fear and emotion. He succeeded, but gay service members were just another in a long line of scapegoats on which the military has projected the problems it most wanted to deny in itself.
The stories are the most irresistible part of Bring Me Men. From tales of sanitation engineering during the Spanish-American War to recent efforts to bury reports of heterosexual male-on-male rape at military academies, Belkin bypasses the shiny patriotism of the 9/11 era and digs into the softer rot beneath.
Finally, Bring Me Men dares to show how our uncritical adoration of those serving in uniform has led to a counterproductive and dangerous policy of American exceptionalism abroad. This book is a work of real courage. Read it and you'll never hear a call to use military force the same way again.
A former Air Force officer, current law professor, and author of "A More Perfect Military: How the Constitution Can Make Our Military Stronger"
The book is written by an academic and its style is very academic, so it can be hard to follow some times. And it is horrifying. But a good read!
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