The military doesn’t just urge women, it requires them—especially if they want to succeed—to view themselves on the same playing field as their male counterparts. They are also expected to behave and perform in traditionally masculine ways—demonstrating strength, displaying confidence in their abilities, expecting to be judged on their merits and performance, and taking on levels of authority and responsibility that few women get to experience. The uniform and grooming standards work to downplay their physical female characteristics. Additionally, the expectation—explicit or implicit—is that they also downplay other attributes that are traditionally considered feminine, such as open displays of emotion. That’s not to say that gender isn’t going to be noticed or that others aren’t going to make it an issue—they will. But highlighting female characteristics is undesirable. As General Lori J. Robinson, the U.S. military’s first female combatant commander, put it: “I’m a general, a commander, an airman. And I happen to be a woman.”
…What civilians do not realize, what women veterans often do not even realize, is that they might appear to be like other women, but they aren’t operating on the expectations traditionally applied to women. Behaving at odds with these traditional expectations is often a significant drawback in the ability of women veterans to fit-in in the workplace, in the dating world, in the female civilian community, in society in general. And directly challenging these expectations can often lead to conflict.
…This kind of exchange, where a woman’s connection to the military is assumed to be earned by another, most likely male, individual can be insulting and disheartening to a woman who has served.
An interesting and important point of view. I would imagine though, that perhaps this phenomena of women adopting “male” norms is not confined to the military.