Fighting Stereotypes: Public Discourse About Women in Combat

TitleFighting Stereotypes: Public Discourse About Women in Combat
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsCollins-Dogrul, Julie, and Jamis Rebecca Ulrich
Date Published06/2017

This study examines reader responses to opinion editorials about women in combat and contributes to the literature on women in the military by explaining how contests over sex–gender essentialism and diversity underlie public debates about individual rights and military effectiveness. Comments in favor of women’s ground combat exclusion use a logic of averages to promote essentialist thinking about men and women. They categorize women as inferior soldiers and argue that desegregation puts individual soldiers and the nation at risk. Conversely, comments in favor of integration advance a view of sex–gender diversity that places men and women along a continuum with overlapping qualities, suggesting further that giving exceptional women the freedom to serve in ground combat will advance both equality and military readiness. Underlying this discourse are distinct conceptions and expectations of men and women.

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