In This Review

The Kinder, Gentler Military: Can America's Gender-Neutral Fighting Force Still Win Wars?
The Kinder, Gentler Military: Can America's Gender-Neutral Fighting Force Still Win Wars?
By Stephanie Gutmann
Scribner, 2000, 283 pp.

The author's answer is, probably not. A journalist who (as she confesses) had little contact with the military growing up, Gutmann is alarmed by what she believes gender integration has done to the military. She sees the Navy, for example, as a "feminized, specifically as a nurturing-to-the-point-of-infantilizing Mommy -- a smothering Mommy who corrects your language, who takes away your booze, who slaps you if you gawk at a woman or tell a dirty joke." Gutmann prefers pointed anecdotes over statistics, and many female service personnel will no doubt view her as a gender-traitor. But in truth, she has captured some of the uncomfortable realities of how the military has been transformed by its integration of women and its efforts to make them comfortable in its ranks. Whether the payoff -- tapping the talents of half the population and promoting social peace in an increasingly egalitarian society -- is worth it remains the larger question. A book not to be ignored, even by those who find its argument infuriating.