Biceps, Bitches and Borgs: Reading Jarhead’s Representation of the Construction of the (Masculine) Military Body
journal contributionposted on 16.05.2012, 15:10 by Richard Godfrey, Simon Lilley, Joanna Brewis
This paper explores the relationship between masculinity, the body and the military through a close reading of the film Jarhead. Drawing on a Foucauldian frame of analysis, we consider three performances of the masculine military body that form key aspects of the film’s representational economy: the disciplined body, an outcome of the processes of basic training; the gendered body, realized through deployment of metaphors of the feminine to strengthen the masculine conception of the military body; and the cyborgian body, the result of the man-machine interface which is rapidly developing in many militaries around the world, and which poses significant questions for performances of military masculinity. We conclude by suggesting that the film’s rendering of the material and discursive body reveals an unexpected tension between the expectations of military bodies and the lived experience of their labour. As well as augmenting empirical explorations of male-worker-bodies and analysing the occupation of soldier as requiring a unique kind of body work, our contribution to the body-organization literature turns upon the claim that docile military bodies are made fit for purpose, but may actually no longer have a purpose for which to be fit.