Marie deYoung. This Woman's Army: The Dynamics of Sex and Violence in the Military. Central Point, OR: Hellgate Press, 1999. 378 pp. $16.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-55571-507-6.
Reviewed by Christine Hansen (The Miles Foundation, Inc., Newtown, Connecticut)
Published on H-Minerva (March, 2002)
A Female Chaplain's Journey in the U. S. Armed Forces
A Female Chaplain's Journey in the U. S. Armed Forces
This Woman's Army is the personal memoir of Marie deYoung's service as a junior officer and chaplain in the U. S. Army in the 1980's and 1990's. The author utilizes her own career and experiences in an effort to frame a discussion on gender integration in the U.S. Armed Forces.
The book is the memoir of a junior enlisted officer and chaplain. DeYoung served at various installations while developing Army Community and chaplaincy services. Her tasks included development of child care facilities, sexual ethics programs, domestic violence training, and gun violence policies.
DeYoung expresses the traditional view that institutions of military training are a rite of passage for young citizens. She affirms that combat arms training is essential to the socialization of young men, because it provides community service and training opportunities.
Further, she contends that the military has honored gender differences. She also expresses disdain for the "social engineering" of the armed forces in recent decades.
The memoir does not translate into a dissertation on gender integration in the U.S. Armed Forces. DeYoung punctuates the memoir with anecdotal accounts, misinformation and opinion. She attempts to demonstrate that a double standard exists for women serving in the military (p. 207) through the recounting of pregnancies, sexual assault allegations, adulterous affairs and sexual exploitation involving female soldiers and spouses.
The statistics cited in the text are inaccurate. The author fails to provide supporting evidence for her case in the form of research, study, literature review, footnotes and/or a bibliography. For intance, DeYoung suggests that "women are four times as likely as men to be excused from assigned deployments due to unplanned pregnancies" (pp. 219-220).
However, military women on the average spend a mere one hour fewer per month than men at work. When maternity leave is excluded, military women have a lower rate of lost time at work than their male counterparts [Willens and Smith. "Women in the Military: Combat Roles Considered." Center for Defense Information, 1996 and 1998; and MINERVA, Spring 1994]. In fact, recent studies reveal that junior officers and enlisted women reported reduced command and pregnancy support and increased harassment in conjunction with poorly timed pregnancies [Evans and Rosen. "Pregnancy Planning and the Impact on Work Climate, Psychological Well-Being and Work Effort in the Military." Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. 1997 October; 2 (4): 353-61].
DeYoung also cites, "false allegations of rape and sexual harassment are intended to deflect attention from their own misconduct or to obtain post-coital birth control" (p. 237); "FBI statistics for false rape allegations is 15 percent...unequivocally, the rates of false rape charges [in the military] are much higher in the military" (p. 237); "abuse excuse is used to deflect their own misconduct" (p. 314); and "false allegations are a symptom of women's emotional problems that are exacerbated by ill-suited military occupations" (p. 237).
However, the statistics relative to false allegations of rape cited most frequently by sexual assault counselors range from two to three percent. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, based on the Uniform Crime Reporting Code (UCR), routinely cites 8 percent of rape allegations as false [Dick Haws. "The Elusive Number of False Rapes." Columbia Journalism Review. November/December 1997; and National Crime Victim's Survey, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1997 and 1999]. Thirty-one percent of rapes are reported to military officials, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
DeYoung mentions a high correlation between domestic violence and infidelity in the military. She notes "the army documented an alarming statistic that a soldier kills a family member at the rate of once per week" (p. 320). Again, no references, regulations or policies are cited. Domestic violence is a serious problem within the military. The prevalence, characteristics, correlations and comparative analysis of intimate partner violence remain a source of debate [Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel. (1994). Abuse Victims Study. Department of Defense; Thompson. (May 23, 1994). "The Living Room War." Time; Caliber Associates. (1996). The Final Report on the Study of Spouse Abuse in the Armed Forces. Department of Defense; "A Comparison of Spousal Aggression Prevalence Rates in U.S. Army and Civilian Representative Samples. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 67 (2): 239-242. Defense Task Force on Domestic Violence. (February 2001). Initial Report. Department of Defense; Hansen. (April/May 2000). "A Considerable Service: An Advocate's Introduction to Domestic Violence and the Military." Domestic Violence Report].
In order to address military family issues, DeYoung recommends reinstating the old rules prohibiting marriage during first enlistments followed by a tirade about rural teenage girls residing near military installations (pp. 227, 229, 230-231). She also recommends a policy of "educate and medicate" for birth control (p. 232).
DeYoung exempts male servicemembers from responsibility throughout the volume. The value of the military family is marginalized and cited as an impediment to military readiness and unit cohesion.
The text does include a discussion of sexual harassment and gender discrimination incidents intimately familiar to the author. However, DeYoung accepts the military's characterization of these incidents as aberrations (p. 75). She accepts apologies in response to formal complaints. Her self-described management style is collegiality (p. 109). Again, the discussion does not include details of military policies and regulations. The memoir also contains experiences with the drug, gang and gun culture within the U. S. Army. DeYoung describes efforts to address gun violence at Ft. Hood, Texas and the intercession of the NRA.
DeYoung expresses a disturbing disdain for a variety of ethnic groups (pp. 8, 11, 19, 26 and 31); economic classes (pp. 18, 19, 227, and 229- 231); and sexual orientation (pp. 99, 100 and 101). The preface sets the tone with notations relative to Hispanic Americans joining the ranks (p. vii), and the details presented about a superior female soldier (pp. 92- 102).
DeYoung concludes that "the army can no longer be repository for all of society's damaged children...the Army is not a family of last resort...should never be a substitute for a family" (p. 377-378).
The marketing suggests that serious study, educated opinions and significant conclusions relative to gender integration, sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, prostitution and alcohol and drug abuse within the U. S. Army are contained in this volume. The content does not represent serious study or educated opinion. The memoir, unintentionally, illustrates the policies, practices and training within the military. DeYoung notes in several passages a lack of training (p. 91, 95-96, 134 and 356) and command discretion (pp. 101, 105 and 350).
Further, the marketing supports the development of Citizen Soldiers to Restore Military Integrity. The author is President and Founder of the organization. DeYoung will find readers and support from organizations and individuals opposed to gender integration within the US Armed Forces.
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Christine Hansen. Review of deYoung, Marie, This Woman's Army: The Dynamics of Sex and Violence in the Military.
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