Man the Guns and Join the Navy!
by Gordon Ramsay on March 20, 2016 - 11:40pm
Chris Dugan, a former U.S. soldier recruited in high school at the age of 17, presents what he learned about military recruitment tactics during his service. He explains how U.S. recruitment officers need to recruit new soldiers any way they can in order to climb the ranks. The most successful recruiters often change their methods based on a person’s interests but most fall back to one tried and tested tactic, presenting the idea of becoming a ‘real’ man.
Chris Dugan’s own personal experience provides good insight as to what convinced him to join the army, something which he now regrets. He talks a lot about how the army tricks people into thinking it is a good idea, focusing on their candidate’s financial problems. He also talks about perception and what he thought the army was going to be like before joining. He makes reference to Full Metal Jacket and Platoon which gave him and his friend’s the idea that war was heroic and that he could make it as a hardened war veteran. He also made note of his recruiting officer, describing how his appearance and demeanor impressed him.
Having now been to the army, he reflects about how he felt cheated when he saw his many comrades being slackers, not real men unlike the movie star heroes posted on his wall. His main issue with this whole ordeal is that his idea of masculinity was not present in the army. He never asks himself why he felt the need to prove himself as a man by joining the Marine Corps in the first place. Simply by taking a look at the title of the article, “How they sell the military…”, we see that he is blaming ‘they’, the military. He fails to mention or even realise the importance of a masculine gender construct making out violence to be heroic when done for a greater good. These assumptions about masculinity are very dangerous and are clearly leading young men like him to potentially lose their lives on the battlefield in the hopes of correctly performing their duties as men, a duty which is completely arbitrary. In the documentary “Tough Guise 2.0” Jackson Katz proposes that men who feel unable to conform to their gender requirements will often turn to violence as a means to prove themselves (Jackson Katz). This plays perfectly into the tactics used by army recruitment centers. By going to high schools, they have an endless pick of young males struggling to perform under the social stress of school and who are seeking a way to set themselves apart from others. By going to the army they can prove themselves to be brave strong men ready to fight on behalf of others.
Chris Dugan has correctly identified that there is a problem in the way the army enlists its soldiers by the use of tricks catering to their interests. However, he fails to elaborate on the reason these tricks work so well and instead switches his focus to a comparison between the U.S. army and Britain’s imperialism over Ireland. This is unfortunately all too representative of the way media deals with the consequences of hegemonic masculinity, which is to say they leave it out altogether, instead switching the blame onto other possible factors.
Earp, Jeremy, Jackson Katz, Jason T. Young, Sut Jhally, and David Rabinovitz. Tough Guise 2: Violence, Manhood & American Culture. , 2013.