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 Notes Bibliography Index
Andrew Byers researches the history of the regulation of the human body and the intersection of science, sexuality, and law in civilian and military contexts.
The book is a fascinating look into turn-of-the-century military culture.
Working confidently across military history and the history of sexuality, Byers digs deeply into files from courts-martial and other sources from the National Archives to explore the centrality of managing sexuality to the successful operation of a modern military. The Sexual Economy of War should be read by anyone interested in apprehending the history of sexuality specific to the US Army.
~Journal of Military History
Andrew Byers presents a comprehensive study of how the U.S. Army perceived and sought to regulate its soldiers' sexuality and sexual experiences in the early half of the twentieth century. [A] provocative book.
~The Journal of American History
Through his wide scope and careful research, Byers presents an argument that will capture the attention of military historians and historians of US foreign relations. [The book's] case studies and conclusions provide a fruitful perspective on the military's complicated relationship to human sexuality.
~The US Army War College Quarterly
One of the strengths of the book is Byers's work in grounding his analysis within the social, political, economic, cultural, and moral attitudes of the periods he examines. The breadth of his sources and source analysis also aids in the quality of his work. An admirable aspect of his source analysis is his open acknowledgment of their limitations, errors, or even biases. The Sexual Economy of War provides a new and insightful view into how the army saw itself on an international stage and regulated soldiers' sexuality in response to its new place in the world.
The Sexual Economy of War provides a new and insightful view into how the army saw itself on an international stage and regulated soldiers' sexuality in response to its new place in the world.