In the past thirty years, it has become evident that the U.S. military faces widespread and ongoing challenges related to harassment and sexual assault. Despite prevention efforts, estimated sexual assaults are increasing, reporting is decreasing, and the problem persists across all branches of the military. Servicewomen who have experienced and survived these abuses drive the analysis in this book and their voices are central to these pages.
In Hardship Duty: Women’s Experiences with Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, and Discrimination in the U.S. Military, Stephanie Bonnes focuses on the puzzle of how sexual abuse remains highly prevalent in an organization that has dynamic policies, prevention strategies, and evolving education programs designed to combat sexual violence. Drawing primarily on in-depth interviews with fifty servicewomen, Hardship Duty uncovers how masculinity and misogyny are entangled in the organization’s structure, policies, values, physical spaces, and culture in ways that create sexual abuse vulnerability.
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"After reading Stephanie Bonnes' gripping Hardship Duty, I will never hear the word 'permeates' without cringing. In her thorough, interview-based investigation of today's US military, Bonnes graphically exposes the 24/7 workings of institutional misogyny. For white, Black, Latina and Indigenous women in this country's military there is no escape from assault, intimidation, and humiliation. Bonnes makes clear that the irresponsibility is up and down the chain of command. This is a horrifyingly valuable book."
Cynthia Enloe, author of Twelve Feminist Lessons of War
"Bonnes skillfully deploys chilling stories of sexual harassment and assault from her interviews with U.S. servicewomen, in the process peeling back the thin façade shrouding the sexism and misogyny embedded in military culture. Hardship Duty shows how the military still tolerates—even thrives on—a violent masculinity that denigrates femininity, positioning servicewomen in a constant state of bodily risk."
Michael A. Messner, author of Unconventional Combat: Intersectional Action in the Veterans’ Peace Movement (Oxford University Press).
“Stephanie Bonnes writes with directness and passion, transforming the captivating and heartrending voices of fifty servicewomen into a theoretically powerful and intellectually significant conceptualization of sexual assault and harassment in the US military. The best book on the topic in years, Hardship Duty vividly captures how the combination of “warrior masculinity” and “femmephobia” institutionalizes sexually abusive consequences for servicewomen. A lucid and powerfully written work—I highly recommend it.”
James W. Messerschmidt, author of Hegemonic Masculinity: Formulation, Reformulation, and Amplification
“Hardship Duty provides insight into why sexual violence is such an intractable problem in the U.S. military. Based on interviews with women serving in the U.S. armed forces, this painful book shows that the cultural context and organizational arrangements of the military systematically place women at risk of sexual violence -- and at risk for retaliation and further abuse if they report the harms. Hardship Duty is a must read for those committed to preventing sexual violence in organizations, as it offers both analytic insight and practical implications for change."
Elizabeth Armstrong, coauthor of Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality