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The Sexual Economy of War: Discipline and Desire in the U.S. Army (Battlegrounds: Cornell Studies in Military History)

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In The Sexual Economy of War, Andrew Byers argues that in the early twentieth century, concerns about unregulated sexuality affected every aspect of how the US Army conducted military operations. Far from being an exercise marginal to the institution and its scope of operations, governing sexuality was, in fact, integral to the military experience during a time of two global conflicts and numerous other army deployments.

In this revealing study, Byers shows that none of the issues related to current debates about gender, sex, and the military?the inclusion of LGBTQ soldiers, sexual harassment and violence, the integration of women?is new at all. Framing the American story within an international context, he looks at case studies from the continental United States, Hawaii, the Philippines, France, and Germany. Drawing on internal army policy documents, soldiers' personal papers, and disciplinary records used in criminal investigations, The Sexual Economy of War illuminates how the US Army used official policy, legal enforcement, indoctrination, and military culture to govern wayward sexual behaviors. Such regulation, and its active opposition, leads Byers to conclude that the tension between organizational control and individual agency has deep and tangled historical roots.

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