Feminism on the frontline: a critical praxis of remembering differently women veterans' war efforts in post-9/11 U.S. America

TitleFeminism on the frontline: a critical praxis of remembering differently women veterans' war efforts in post-9/11 U.S. America
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsRoy, Heather A., Natalie Fixmer-Oraiz, University of Iowa, and Department of Communi Studies

In my dissertation, I analyze the implications of public memories used to encourage the forgetting of women veterans' war efforts and offer up a critical praxis of remembering differently in order to challenge normative memorial practices. Remembering differently is informed by rhetorical and feminist theories because it is a critical performance that reclaims forgotten memories; interrogates systems of power, such as gender; and seeks to add to, edit, reread, and remember public memories of individuals who have been silenced, erased, and appropriated. I argue that prevailing war memorialization of women bolsters nationalistic and patriarchal ideologies by framing female veterans as only being trailblazing patriots who have broken the glass ceiling, while downplaying servicewomen's lived experiences with PTSD, sexual assault, sexism, and job discrimination in the military. As a result, these depoliticized memories reinforce hegemonic beliefs that situate social, political, and economical injustices in the past rather than as present day concerns. In each chapter, I analyze how U.S. female veterans are remembering differently their military experiences with personal memories of war in public performances. The veterans' acts of commemoration move beyond the heroic narrative of warriors breaking down barriers and interrogate issues relevant to female soldiers like sexism, assault, job discrimination, PTSD, and homelessness. My thesis is not simply advocating for "more remembering" in order to achieve some semblance of equality, because I do not believe more representation necessarily results in more pronounced individual rights. Rather, my purpose is to examine the rhetorical functions, opportunities, and constraints of remembering differently, in particular, for female veterans who are actively articulating patriotic and dissenting commemorative discourses.