Just a Girl in the Army: U.S. Iraq War Veterans Negotiating Femininity in a Culture of Masculinity


The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have marked a change in U.S. women’s military service. For the first time, women were officially placed, though not always officially recognized, in combat roles. This research explores the position of women in the U.S. military, issues related to gender and what it means to be a woman integrating into the masculine culture of the military.


This article considers the experiences of 12 U.S. Army women combat veterans. These women served in historically significant roles as some of the first women to officially serve in combat in the U.S. military. This article focuses on the role of gender in these women's experiences in the context of the masculine culture of the military. We explore how they used performance of masculinity and metaphors of family to fit into their combat units. We also deliberate on how sexual harassment was used against these women in ways that communicated that they were not fully accepted. Finally, we consider the tension between empowerment and disempowerment in these women's narratives of their military service.

Full Reference

Just a Girl in the Army. Kacy Crowley, Michelle Sandhoff. Armed Forces & Society. Vol 43, Issue 2, pp. 221 - 237.