"Show a leg there!"


I have a kind of latent fascination for women who presented themselves as men in order to join the armed forces (or other exclusively male circles) throughout history. I say "latent" fascination because I've never really been able to delve into the subject, but keep thinking that I'd like to whenever I hear or read about one of those women. Does anybody here know about good places to start? Books, webpages?

There's also a related thing that has had me wondering for some time. As far as I understand, women disguised as men weren't that enormously uncommon in the armies of, say, 16th to 19th century Europe, but very, very rare in the navies. Being a fan of naval fiction, I'm assuming that the crowded environment and lack of privacy made it considerably more difficult to hide one's physical gender aboard a ship. The question I was wondering if anybody can answer, though, is this: I've been told that "show a leg" originally meant literally that - an order to the seamen to stick one leg out of their hammocks so any disguised women among them could be found. To me, it seems improbable and rings of the contemporary delusion that women's bodies are hairless by nature. Does anybody have any interesting ideas, or even better, facts about this?

(no subject)

I'm looking for recs for books about British paratroopers during the Second World War. Ideally the 13th Parachute Battalion but 6th Airborne in general would do.

Second World War really isn't my field of interest so I've got no idea which historians are worth reading.

(no subject)

I'm currently reading Jack Tar by Roy & Leslie Adkins, which is non-fiction about life for seamen and petty officers in Nelson's navy, and it's got me wanting fiction with a similar focus. All the age of sail novels I know of focus on life on the quarterdeck so I was hoping somebody would be able to point me to something that's more about belowdecks?
stewardess: (bob winnix got a light by mrbnatural)
[personal profile] stewardess2010-06-27 03:24 pm
Entry tags:

Review, books: Sailors and Sexual Identity

Title: Sailors and Sexual Identity: Crossing the Line Between "Straight" and "Gay" in the U.S. Navy
Author: Steven Zeeland
Publication Date: 1995

First: this book is hot. But I recommend it because it's one of the few books on gays in the military that explores how complex sexual identity is for everyone, not just gay and bisexual people.

Each chapter is a first-person recollection from a serviceman, some of whom identify as gay, some bisexual, some straight, some not sure. All have had same-sex sexual relationships.

Zeeland advances an interesting theory: that the military fears equality for gays not because they are worried about gays enlisting, but because it will force them to be open about the strong element of homo-eroticism in the armed forces. By denying that there are gays in the military, the military can keep its head in the sand. Zeeland points out that homo-eroticism has been a part of military bodies for thousands of years, with traditions that go back centuries. It's extremely interesting and thought-provoking. Oh, and hot. :)
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)

(no subject)

Interesting article on female engagement teams on-ground in Afghanistan:

In Camouflage or Veil, a Fragile Bond
used_songs: (Tallulah)
[personal profile] used_songs2010-05-29 08:34 am

The First Navy Flight Nurse on a Pacific Battlefield

The First Navy Flight Nurse on a Pacific Battlefield: A picture story of a flight to Iwo Jima by Lieutenant Gill DeWitt, USN
published by The Admiral Nimitz Foundation, Fredericksburg, TX

I purchased this booklet for $2.50 at the Admiral Nimitz/War in the Pacific Museum bookstore. It's a reproduction of a photo album created by Gill DeWitt. Although many of the the photos seem staged (but not all) and the text has more than it's fair share of cutesy diminutive descriptions of Ensign Jane Kendiegh, it's still an interesting addition to my WWII library.


I like this photo because it seems less staged than many of the others and the text implies that it isn't. "I climbed aboard the C-47 transport plane to find the Chief Pharmacist's mate and pretty little Jane Kendiegh awaiting the take-off."


This photo and some of the other action shots make me sympathize with Kendiegh. I can't imagine trying to do such a difficult and harrowing job with a photographer following me around taking pictures.



aris_tgd: Action is eloquence. (Captain Lochley from Babylon 5.) (Lochley eloquence)
[personal profile] aris_tgd2010-05-28 10:26 pm

Linkspam: Women in Uniform on Feministe

Frau Sally Benz writing on Feministe today has a post on a slideshow of women in uniform. She also links back to a post from March honoring the WASPs of WWII. There are lots of links in the comments of both posts!
stewardess: (bob winnix got a light by mrbnatural)
[personal profile] stewardess2010-05-28 10:44 am
Entry tags:

Reviews, books: Secrets of a Gay Marine Porn Star, Major Conflict

Secrets of a Gay Marine Porn Star by Rich Merritt

After Merritt leaves the military, his life turns into a meth-fueled mess for a while, and it makes for depressing reading. But that's the last 10th of the book. Before that, this is a terrifically awesome tale of a gay man whose sexuality triumphs over monstrous repression. Not only was his family Southern and Christian, they were ultra-fundamentalists; Merritt attended the infamous Bob Jones University.

Joining the military finally takes Merritt out of the narrow world of Christian fundamentalism. His first sexual encounter with a man (a straight-identified fellow soldier) is smoking hot. This books is fucking great, even though the end is self-indulgent.

Merritt was in the service when Don't Ask, Don't Tell was enacted, and his description of the impact it had on both gays and straights in the service is invaluable.

Period of service: 1980s - 1990s. Branch: Marines. Rank: officer.

Note: Merritt's work of fiction, Code Of Conduct, was written when he was in his early twenties, and is unreadable, jam-packed with every badfic trope ever.

Major Conflict by Jeffrey McGowan

McGowan is a completely normal American male: patriotic, smart, brave, loyal -- and gay. Like Merritt, he is slow to become sexually active, and his self-repression results in misery. McGowan struggles with society's characterization of gay men as being "unmanly" and fights against the self-loathing the stereotype induces. He is brutally honest about his lack of self-acceptance, how he overcomes it, and his eventual anger with the military for forcing him to be a liar. This is a superb book in every way, extremely moving and a must read.

Period of service: 1980s-1990s. Branch: Army. Rank: officer.

Reviews: Books: Autobiographies
Entry tags:


Welcome to [community profile] monstrous_regiment. This comm came out of a comment thread on some meta I wrote a while back about military fandoms.

Our user profile has the following description, which is just what I pulled out of my arse. If you have suggestions for improvements please net me know.

What this community is about

Military history and military fandoms are sometimes seen as "boys' interests". If a woman expresses interest -- whether academic, fannish, or just as a hobby -- it's often seen as an oddity.

This community exists as a space for women to talk about the military and related topics: history, historiography, culture, representations in media, book/tv/film reviews, research, fannish creations and meta, etc.

Examples of things that are on topic might include (but are not limited to):

* Reviews of books on military history
* Episode reviews of military TV shows (eg. "The Pacific")
* Looking for Regency romances that touch on the Napoleonic Wars
* Don't Ask, Don't Tell as a fanfic trope
* Women who fought in the US Civil War
* Experiences doing or witnessing historical re-enactment (of battles, etc)
* The home front and women's auxiliary services during WWII
* Questions about the Battle of Trafalgar
* How the Stargate Program works: chain of command, assignments, etc.
* Details of daily life for enlisted servicemen and women
* The after-effects of combat: injury, mental health, etc.
* Approaches to military history as a research field

Really, anything related to the military or to military conflict is welcome. To be explicit, "military" includes any military force (incl. navy, air force, etc), whether real or fictional, past, present, or future.

On being a women-centric community

This community exists to provide a space for women to talk about military subjects. We take a broad definition of "woman", and if you identify as one, then we include you. We don't require any assertion or test to qualify for membership -- in fact anyone may join -- but we ask that those who don't identify as women respect the space we've set up here, and don't try to usurp the conversation (whether in posts or comments).

Rules and stuff

* Cut-tag anything potentially triggering, sexually explicit, or with large images
* Anyone can add tags, so please go ahead and tag posts thoroughly
* Be respectful!

Where the name comes from

The term "Monstrous Regiment" originally comes from a 16th century political tract called The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women, complaining about female heads of state at the time (especially Mary I of England and Mary Queen of Scots). Monstrous Regiment is also the title of a humorous fantasy novel by Terry Pratchett, part of the Discworld series, about a girl who runs away to join the army, and which contains considerable commentary on women and the military.