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    Military sexual trauma: gender, military cultures, and the medicalization of abuse in contemporary America

    Bourke, Joanna (2022) Military sexual trauma: gender, military cultures, and the medicalization of abuse in contemporary America. Journal of War & Culture Studies 15 (1), pp. 86-105. ISSN 1752-6272.

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    Sexual violence is a serious problem within armed services. This article explores intra-service rape – that is, rape carried out by servicepersonnel against other servicepersonnel – in branches of the U.S. military from the 1990s to the present. Such forms of violence are often denied by senior military officers and, when acknowledged, routinely minimized. The article begins by establishing the parameters of the crisis of sexual abuse within the US armed services. Second, it explores systematic failures to recognize forms of suffering. Victim-survivors in the military are vulnerable to military-specific obstacles to reporting their abuse and being believed, including contractual restrictions and ‘chains of command’, organizational cohesion, warrior comportment, interpersonal vulnerability, and gendered and sexual identities. Particular attention is paid to differences by gender and sexual orientation. Third, it analyses the medicalization of suffering in the modern military and its effects. What meanings are assigned to ‘military sexual trauma’ (MST) and how has that label affected victim-survivors of rape or sexual assault? The article concludes by arguing that the concept of ‘trauma’ as it is applied to victims of sexual abuse does a formidable amount of political and ideological work.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2021 13:25
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:07


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