US Military Places and Spaces as Geographies of Care and the Battle Against Military Sexual Violence

Authors: Connie Buscha*, Texas State University
Topics: Military Geography, Sexuality, Social Theory
Keywords: military geographies, neoliberalism, sexual violence, care
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual 19
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This paper asserts that, historically, the geographies of the US military have been landscapes of care, moral geographies of loyalty, trust, and sacrifice. They are now disrupted by neoliberal individualism largely through the creation of sexual arenas. The mandate for and expectation of care exist structurally, codified in institutional laws, credos, oaths, and mores. Since the advent of the All-Volunteer Force, however, military women, as “others,” are often marginalized and excluded from masculinized kinship and care networks leaving them vulnerable to military sexual violence (MSV). Qualitative data were collected as transcribed interviews (n=20) and these analyzed using classical grounded theory (CGT). These data suggest that sexual scripts currently enacted in military landscapes like hooking up, violating UCMJ Article 134, Article 62 (Adultery), and engaging in ‘power sex’ degrade military order and discipline and compromise the safety of military women. Coupled with ambivalent leadership, copious alcohol consumption, and inherent transiency results in geographies that do not inhibit, but perhaps even facilitate, violence against military women. To mitigate this, ensuring leadership behaviors that foster altruism and care for fellow service members regardless of gender and rank, elimination of alcohol abuse, and the elimination of operational cross-leveling are recommended.

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