Becoming a (Virile) Member: Women and the Military Body


Höpfl, Heather. 2003. “Becoming a (Virile) Member: Women and the Military Body.” Body & Society 9 (4): 13-30.

Author: Heather Höpfl


This article seeks to examine the process by which women are incorporated into the military body and considers the extent to which this is achieved both by demonstrating mastery and by the acquisition of the metaphorical penis. Specifically, the article puts forward the view that incorporation into the military body is achieved via a cancellation of the feminine. Women, it is argued, can either be playthings or else quasi men. The point is, and this is the meaning of the title, that either way women are dis-membered to maintain good order. To become a member of the military body, a woman must either conform to the male projection offered her or else acquire a metaphorical ‘member’ as the price of entry into ‘membership’. Women who do conform are assumed into the body and made homologues/homomorphs of men. However, in order to achieve this status of honorary man, they must accept impotence. They are not and do no possess real members. They are rewarded for not re-membering the body.

Topics: Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Masculinity/ies, Femininity/ies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries

Year: 2003

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