Service by Other Means: Changing Perceptions of Military Service and Masculinity in the United States, 1940-1973

TitleService by Other Means: Changing Perceptions of Military Service and Masculinity in the United States, 1940-1973
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsRuthenberg, Amy
EditorHagemann, Karen, and Sonya Michel
Book TitleGender and the Long Postwar: The United States and the Two Germanys, 1945-1989
Pagination165-184
PublisherJohns Hopkins University Press
CityBaltimore, MD
Abstract

This chapter argues that three factors – the decaying public image of the American soldier, the selectivity of federal military manpower policies, and activists’ vocal rejection of military service – helped decouple military service from male citizenship obligations in the United States between World War II and the Vietnam War.  Many men ceased understanding service in the Armed Forces as their responsibility and sought ways to avoid conscription. Competing modes of masculinity offered them ways to define their own manhood, be it through occupational means, domestic responsibilities, or protest.  Not all draft avoiders rejected military service as a result of principled ideology, but all benefited from the combined influence of the three factors outlined in this paper.  As a result, young men who sought ways to evade military service in Vietnam could go so far as to call attention to physical defects, declare themselves homosexual, or literally run away to escape the draft without the same fear of feminization that had existed during World War II.

URLhttps://www.wilsoncenter.org/book/gender-and-the-long-postwar-the-united-states-and-the-two-germanys-1945-1989
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872654218

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