The Military Girl Stereotype

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by kjc_25, Apr 10, 2015.

  1. kjc_25

    kjc_25 Member

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    This is a pretty minor annoyance and kind of a stupid question to be asking honestly but I was hoping to hear from some girls who have gone to a Service Academy and their experiences with this. It seems like any time I tell a guy I'm trying for the Air Force that they seem really put off and try to get me to reconsider. I live in Colorado Springs so it seems weird that there is such a sentiment around here but anyway, I've talked to 5 or 6 guys who have all told me something to the effect of "wow, military girls are kind of intense, are you sure?" or "do you really want to do this, you're a chick." or "its going to be too dangerous." (Yes I am aware that I'm going to have to possibly take part in an actual conflict). Even if they don't say it outright it is implied that they are turned off or put off by it. One girl told me in front of an entire class that her brother goes to the Naval Academy and he would never date any of the girls there because they were all "too manly." Guys tell me paths I shouldn't take in the military because they are too intense. I've just started telling people I don't know what I want to do after High School to avoid the stigma.
    Obviously this is not swaying my decision to attend the Academy at all, I'm not going there to attract guys! I don't think being a girl effects my ability to make this decision or hinder my ability to serve my country. I'm a tomboy sometimes but I still like to dress up and do my nails, and I'm not going to let being in the Air Force take away my femininity. It seems like a double standard though because service academy guys are held up on a pedestal in most cases and sometimes (not all the time) girls are shunned.
    For those of you who go to Service Academies, is this how people generally are there? Are all the girls there really super manly? Do none of the guys see you as a potential romantic partner because you are too intense or aggressive? How should one respond to these types of statements? Any advice on how to break the stigma? Thanks so much in advance!
     
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  2. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Haha, she lies. Even at my school men outnumber women 2 to 1. They had their pick. I dated three. We called it "dark siding."

    Were they intense? Eh, I don't know. Generally the guys are pretty "alpha male" and I think the women are pretty close too, so maybe compared to others they seem more intense, but you get pretty used to it as a cadet or midshipman.
     
  3. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    My son graduated in 2012. Since then, I think he's been to 3 weddings of guys and girls who were classmates at the academy. He's going to a 4th one in September. While he didn't date and fellow classmates while at the academy, he dated one female classmate after graduation for quite a while.

    I'm sure there are quite a few preconcieved opinions of "military girls" when a guy is first entering the academy. That changes quickly after being there a while. The biggest attraction between couples is usually what they have in common. What more could they have in common than their entire lifestyle. Not saying that most cadets date each other, most don't. The numbers aren't there. But it's quite common for military guys and girls whether at the academy or after while on active duty to date and possibly marry.
     
  4. Sledge

    Sledge Member

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    To generalize, historically "masculine professions" such as the military, law enforcement, firefighting, etc. attract typical men and atypical (at least by historical standards) women.

    Typical men on the outside, i.e. not in the military, are going to be very intimidated by women in a "masculine profession." That's why your high school boys are questioning your decision. You've "out done them on the Manliness scale" if you are going into the military and they aren't. It's also one of the main reasons why you see marriages between military officers or law enforcement officers. A male in the same profession will not feel as if the gender roles have been reversed, whereas a civilian male might. All of the above are generalizations. There are always exceptions to the rule.
     
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  5. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    My son married a USAFA grad!
     
  6. AlexT

    AlexT Banned

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    KJC_25, I'm glad you're not letting these negative stereotypes being thrown your way sway your opinion. Also, don't let it get you down. You can only do one thing...be yourself and be proud of who you are. Remember, most people believe that their own choices are the best, so there obviously must be something wrong with somebody taking a different path. The attitudes you are encountering could be the result of ignorance, envy or just sheer spite. Those that may be uncomfortable or insecure with their own choices or envious of your choices will seek to belittle yours. I'm certain they don't have nearly enough experience or knowledge to offer good reasoned advice, so take it for what it is...gumflapping. I obviously don't know you or your situation, but some of their attitudes already seem to be affecting your decision negatively, i.e. trying to "avoid the stigma" of going to a service academy. Just remember, you are choosing to pursue a difficult path involving tremendous amounts of work and sacrifice. You are in a distinct minority among your peers. In social groups there is a well-known phenomenon known as the "crab pot effect" If you're ever on the east coast and want to have a crab feast, you will need to get a big bushel of live crabs. If you take the lid of the bushel, a few crabs near the top will try to climb out. They never make it because the crabs below them keep grabbing them and pulling them back in.
     
  7. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Sledge. What you say is correct, with one caveat. The military is not a profession. The military is a society. Just like your local town you live in or even a country. From a social perspective, the military isn't a profession. Now, within the military, are quite a few professions. And your theory does hold some water if your speaking of predominatly male frofessions within the military. E.g. Security forces, EOD, TACCOM, etc. my career field, while open to women, I only met 2 in my entire 21 year career. But the majority of the professions in the military that are unisex, are looked at no differently than in a civilian society.

    Now, for the civilian who thinks they know about the military, but doesn't, they may think or see the military strictly as soldiers carrying backpacks and rifles and shooting people. Hence, the male stereotype. But the military has every conceivable profession that your local town has. Cooks, pilots, construction workers, mechanics, administrative, electronics, medical, legal, air traffics controllers, veteranarians, computers, scientists, acquisitions, retail, hotel management, etc.

    Once an airman, officer or enlisted, gets through basic training and starts their real training, whether it's academy college or technical school, and start their profession, the majority of stereotypes go out the window. The main reason most men and women in the military don't date and marry each other, isn't because of the male vs women machismo. It's for the same reason most men and women who work at the same company don't date and marry. We look for mates who have enough in common with us but not everything in common. We need some variety. Plus, in the military, it becomes more difficult to move to a new base when both mates need to have a job opening where they are going.

    It can be done, any many do it. Many also get to the point where one may stay in the military and the other gets out. It makes moving and having a family easier. But there's no difference between the military and the civilian world. The military isn't a profession. It's a society made up of hundreds of professions. Just like your local town.
     
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  8. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator Moderator Founding Member

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    Here is a video about one of my son's friends. She is a fellow Wisconsinite, 2011 USAFA grad, and fighter pilot. She is a great example of a very ladylike woman who is also a successful airman. Zoe also was a member of Wings of Blue at the Academy.




    Stealth_81
     
  9. USNA2020

    USNA2020 Member

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    I was browsing the forums and I can totally relate to this post! I had known that I wanted to go to USNA for a really long time but I only started telling people this year since it's my junior year. The responses I've gotten from people were pretty shocking to me: parents were completely against it at first, my counselor even tried talking me out of applying (he's a former marine), and every other person I've told pretty much didn't believe me, even got my congressman looking surprised when I said I wanted to go to USNA.

    Given the stereotypes of females in our generation, I realize that to a lot of people out there, women in the military may still be an unconventional thing to do since we are a minority. Women were once a group that had to fight for their equality, much like the LGBT community today. It hasn't even been 100 years since women were given the right to vote yet here we are today, rooting for a female presidential candidate! But I digress. The important thing to remember is that it is YOUR dream to go to be in the Air Force and it is YOUR goal to serve and protect your country. That is brave and respectable in and of itself regardless of your gender. Your decision is not one you should be ashamed of nor one you should feel the need to hide. To all those people who think you can't do it because you're not "tough" enough or whatever, they're most likely wrong, so just look straight ahead and keep pushing forward.

    And about the whole relationship thing,
    1) You're not going into a SA to find a boyfriend
    2) Boys will most likely be all over you at a SA because again, you're a minority (only 20-25% I think)
    3) You will most definitely find someone who likes you for you, tough or girly, there are billions of people in this world

    Everything I've said is just from my personal experience and opinions which may be different from yours so don't take any of this personally. I just wanted to reassure you that you're definitely not the only one to get weird reactions, and definitely not the first or the last either. Whenever someone tells me "Really..? You REALLY want to go there?" it just boosts my motivation even more. Yes. I REALLY want to go there. There have been a lot of military girls and there will be more, hopefully loosening "the military girl stereotype" a little more with every one. When in doubt, remember that a man can do almost everything a woman can!! They can't make life and give birth now can they :)
     
  10. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    I guess as a female Naval Academy grad and former Marine I can address this. Remember you are getting these comments from 16-18 year high school guys... take it with a grain of salt. More than anything it is threatening to their teenage manliness and that is why you are getting those comments. Ignore them. Your first year, especially at the beginning, not many folks are looking at the opposite sex. Its mostly make it through the day, try to stay awake, not get yelled at. As you get more comfortable and in a routine, you will start to develop friendships. Some of them can turn into more than friendships. I dated Mids when I was there. I was always very quiet about it, mostly because I didn't feel the need for the entire Brigade to know my business. I was this way as a Marine also. My three room mates from USNA all married fellow SA grads (one even married a West Pointer. At least their kids have only experienced Navy wins!). There are tons of relationships within the Corps/Brigade. Most of my female friends from USNA and the Marine Corps have married military or former military members. There are almost double the amount of females at USNA than when I was there. I honestly think because there are more females, darksiding is always joked about, but not seen as so taboo anymore. There are tons of jokes about it, but most of it is in jest. Once you get civilian clothes privileges relationships tend to increase. Mostly because there is more freedom to get off campus, its easier to see the person as who they are out of uniform, and boys tend to wake up when they see girls out of uniform. There will be plenty of opportunities to date. Be wise, rumors can circulate like wildfire at a SA.

    Couple stories for you... I had a Lt who worked for me who was in the first class at VMI that allowed women. I heard through the grapevine that this young man was one of the most vocal outspoken critics of the school allowing women. Guess who married a fellow VMI grad? So many guys say they would never never darkside. Those who are most vocal about it, tend to be the ones who fall for a fellow Mid/Cadet. As a basketball player we used to get a ton of recruits. One of the biggest concerns we heard from mothers was regarding their daughters turning into manly robots at USNA. Usually by the end of the weekend the parents concerns were eased and they realized we were normal 18-22 year women like any other college team they visited, we just wore uniforms and graduated with really cool jobs.

    Dual military relationships are very hard. But they can work. There is a level of comfort knowing what each other is going through. My boyfriend and I were in Iraq at the same time. We saw each other 2 times while there which was nice. We were both there at a horrible time and both saw some horrific stuff. When we got home we were both suffering a touch of PTSD and going through the general awkward transition back to the real world. It was nice knowing he knew exactly what each other was going through. So there were benefits to that. But balancing two careers can be challenging with deployments, duty, schools, etc, especially with children. Its always beneficial to have a very supportive extended family. Sometime grandparents have had to be flown in to help lend a hand while parents swapped out deployments or kids. This is true even for spouses not serving with extended families. One of the biggest challenges I have seen from my female military friends has been timing of children. Trying to figure out the best time in careers to have kids can be difficult. I don't think this is necessarily unique to the military, but it is hard. I know the Services are looking at ways to make this better such as sabbaticals.
     
  11. MombaBomba

    MombaBomba Member

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    I doubt there is anything you can say which will alter their opinions. It comes down to what "reaction" are you most comfortable giving and what "reaction" are you most comfortable handling. Basically, what can you live with? The high school years are tough, and it is very difficult to break through accepted teenage stereo types and insecurities. You may be able to "break through the stigma" with a good friend, someone who really cares about you as a unique individual and not an extension of him/her and his/her social group.

    And here are some of the negative reactions I heard as a mother of a male applicant and now a cadet: "He wants to go there? Why? He is so smart. It would be such a waste. He has such promise. He could get hurt or even killed. Don't you know who is president? The idiot politicians are making the decisions and putting him in harms way for their politics. They are going to program him, just like everyone else in the military. He wont be allowed to think for himself. He will become a mindless robot who only knows how to follow orders." And my all time favorite: "Don't you know he is going to learn how to kill someone? They are going to turn him into a killer." (That comment was said with particular horror)

    Loads of fun dealing with such comments. Depending on who said them and my mood I would a) shake my head and just walk away, b) get snarky, c) point out its his dream and I support him. I accepted years ago there are some people who I will never be able to reason with or who aren't worth my time. For me, I learned to "let it go" for the most part. It is the best solution for me in most of these circumstances.
     
  12. USAFA83GradWife

    USAFA83GradWife Member

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    Haha! DD got this comment once. She responded with, "Well, then you better not piss me off!"

    BTW, the last thing you would call my DD is "manly". That comment cracked me up. :rolleyes:
     
  13. MedB

    MedB Parent

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    KJC,

    Thanks for your decision to serve and congratulations. As for the responses you're getting from boys:
    • First, remember they are just that... boys. And many of us are still pretty immature and insecure in high school. Part of what you are experiencing is something all strong/confident/accomplished women have to deal with; men's egos and insecurities. It gets better as we mature, but some men are only ever comfortable with demure/needy women.
    • Second, some of it has to do with people's natural reactions to SA cadets; male or female. They just don't understand and some people tend to react badly to things they don't understand.
    • Finally, take it from a proud dad with a DD at USAFA that you can most certainly have a "girly" side and still attend a SA. I will never forget the day my daughter taught me a little lesson about women having two sides....
    It was such a minor event actually, but my moment of clarity came on a typical chilly morning at the hockey rink. Our young DD had just finished a particularly rough practice/scrimmage with a lot of physicality. She was hanging and banging with the boys and giving as good as she got and then some (much to the chagrin of her mother !). After a couple of hours the session ends and she skates over to us. She yanks off her helmet and in her most prissy, feminine pose and voice announces "Ewwie, I'm so sweaty" while flipping her hair like a model at a beach photo shoot. I will never forget just staring at her and grinning in wonder that a young woman could switch from competitive/intimidating to feminine/girly just that quickly.

    So... Go work hard, compete hard, and play hard at USAFA. And know that there are plenty of amazing young women just like you that balance being a girl with an officer candidate just fine. Congrats and good luck!
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2015
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  14. Gballer

    Gballer Member

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    I want to take a minute to thank you all for your comments! My DD visited USAFA in a couple of months ago and LOVED everything about it--couldn't wait to apply. Now that she is accepted to SS and is in the middle of applying for the ℅ 2020, she all of a sudden isn't so keen on going. I really feel like she is getting some of these negative comments when she shares her plans. Believe me, she will be reading this post!! Thank you again!
     
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  15. USAFADAD2017

    USAFADAD2017 Member

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    NOTHING manly about my C3C daughter. Physically strong yes.. but STILL LOVES her manicures and pedicures.. lol..
     
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  16. USAFA83GradWife

    USAFA83GradWife Member

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    During spring break, DD and her friends shopped for dresses, shoes, makeup, etc. We had facials & our hair done.

    She LOVES the reactions she gets when she puts on civvies at USAFA. Don't let anyone tell you that the young men aren't interested in the young women at USAFA.

    You don't give up your femininity because you decide to serve and protect your country.
     
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  17. USMCGrunt

    USMCGrunt Member

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    Great commentary here. Guys who can't get interested in a physically fit, confident and poised young lady are not the type to worry about.

    Your subject line was around "Military Girl Stereotypes" so I was giving that some thought...

    Perhaps the spectrum can be bracketed between Demi Moore in "A Few Good Men" and "GI Jane." Real life was closer to "A Few Good Men."
    Better yet, perhaps Meg Ryan's character in "Courage Under Fire" rather than Sigourney Weaver in "Alien."
    Or Dana Delany in "China Beach" rather than Goldie Hawn in "Private Benjamin."
     
  18. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    They're just more intense.... but so are the guys.

    You want to see something "dangerous"? Watch a hockey game between military teams or police teams. It's a powder keg. To survive a service full of alpha dogs, you have to get a little "alpha dog" in you too.

    I had a female classmates who set the female o-course record. She does Ironman competitions now, and places. She's an absolute beast and 100% female. I had female classmates who played violin or had the sweetest singing voice. Most of my female classmates liked to put on makeup and put on a dress during liberty to because wearing the uniform we had to wear didn't really allow them to show how lady-like they could be.

    I remember, as a swab, during swab summer, being lined up for drill and seeing a few of the Battalion Staff returning in civies, including the one especially good looking female (who was dressed like a lady) and we all turned our heads (and were yelled at for doing so).

    I think most people in the military had a little edge to them, male and female alike. Uniforms aren't flattering and the "image" is definitely favors the guy. But you'll still be a girl. You'll still date guys and wear dresses and pick flowers or go to dances or whatever else you want to do (when you aren't shooting guns, yelling and marching).

    So don't worry!
     
  19. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    :groupwave:And, for a straight, female at any service academy.... the odds are HIGHLY in your favor!
     
  20. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    The funny part is this weekend I went to get a pedicure and the only other person who was in there was a guy getting manicure in a USMA shirt... Hmmm... Got a good chuckle out of that. All jokes aside, I convinced half the Lts to get a pedicure after deployment and they all agreed it was the best thing ever for torn up boot feet after 10.5 months!

    Obviously he will need to replace that shirt with a Army West Point shirt!
     
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