Synopses & Reviews
From Skirts Ahoy! to M*A*S*H, Private Benjamin, G.I. Jane, and JAG, films and television shows have grappled with the notion that military women are contradictory figures, unable to be both effective soldiers and appropriately feminine. In Soldiersandrsquo; Stories, Yvonne Tasker traces this perceived paradox across genres including musicals, screwball comedies, and action thrillers. She explains how, during the Second World War, women were portrayed as auxiliaries, temporary necessities of andldquo;total war.andrdquo; Later, nursing, with its connotations of feminine care, offered a solution to the andldquo;gender problem.andrdquo; From the 1940s through the 1970s, musicals, romances, and comedies exploited the humorous potential of the gender role reversal that the military woman was taken to represent. Since the 1970s, female soldiers have appeared most often in thrillers and legal and crime dramas, cast as isolated figures, sometimes victimized and sometimes heroic. Soldiersandrsquo; Stories is a comprehensive analysis of representations of military women in film and TV since the 1940s. Throughout, Tasker relates female soldiersandrsquo; provocative presence to contemporaneous political and cultural debates and to the ways that womenandrsquo;s labor and bodies are understood and valued.
A comprehensive feminist analysis of representations of military women in film and television in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, from World War II to the present.
A comprehensive analysis of the changing representations of military women in American and British movies and TV programs from the Second World War to the present.
About the Author
“Soldiers’ Stories is an important, timely, imminently readable—and teachable—cultural history. Yvonne Tasker takes the figure of the woman soldier in US and UK popular film and TV as a cultural flashpoint for examining the history of our collective thinking about war, violence, authority, sexuality, female embodiment, and gender trouble in the military.”—Sharon Willis, author of High Contrast: Race and Gender in Contemporary Hollywood Film“What is so valuable about Yvonne Tasker’s investigation of film and TV images of British and American military women is that she doesn’t stop at the end of World War II. She keeps us attentive right through the Korean and Vietnam wars. She makes sure we track the ambivalences and confusions that women in militaries provoke—among officials, directors, scriptwriters and audiences—over two generations. I have learned so much from Soldiers’ Stories.”—Cynthia Enloe, author of Nimo’s War, Emma's War: Making Feminist Sense of the Iraq War
Table of Contents
List of Figures ix
A Provocative Presence: Military Women in Visual Culture 1
Part One 19
1. Auxiliary Military Women 23
2. Invisible Soldiers: Representing Military Nursing 71
3. Musical Military Women 115
4. Women on Top: Comedy, Hierarchy, and the Military Woman 139
5. Military Women and Service Comedy: M*A*S*H and Private Benjamin 173
Part Three 201
6. Controversy, Celebration, and Scandal: Military Women in the News Media 205
7. Conflict over Combat: Training and Testing Military Women 235
8. Scandalous Stories: Military Women as Victims, Avengers, and Investigators 255