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.
Introduction: Society, Sexuality, and the U.S. Army in the Early Twentieth Century
1. "Conduct of a Nature to Bring Discredit upon the Military Service": Fort Riley, Kansas, 1898–1940
2. "Benevolent Assimilation" and the Dangers of the Tropics: The American Occupation of the Philippines, 1898–1918
3. "Come Back Clean": Camp Beauregard and the Commission on Training Camp Activities in Louisiana, 1917–1919
4. "Complete Continence Is Wholly Possible": The U.S. Army in France and Germany, 1917–1923
5. The "Racial (and Sexual) Maelstrom" in Hawaii, 1909–1940
Conclusion: Ongoing Concerns with Soldiers' Sexualities and Sexual Cultures
"Andrew Byers's mastery of sources—most particularly in the United States Army's courts-martial records—is rare. His book makes clear that the Army's attempts to regulate sex, and the contests over how, why, and when to regulate it, matter a great deal."
Beth Bailey, author of America's Army
"This is an excellent book, broad-ranging in scope and analysis, and eminently readable. Andrew Byers's unpacking of American martial masculinity in the context of overseas deployment—colliding as it did with tropical environments and racial miscegenation—is especially astute."
Bobby A. Wintermute, co-author of Race and Gender in Modern Western Warfare