History, Department of


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Locke, Brandon T. “The Military-Masculinity Complex: Hegemonic Masculinity and the United States Armed Forces, 1940-1963.” Dissertations, Theses, & Student Research, Department of History (August, 2013).


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: History, Under the Supervision of Professor Patrick D. Jones. Lincoln, Nebraska: August 2013

Copyright (c) 2013 Brandon Thomas Locke

The digital version is the original form. It is the preferred method for reading.

Creative Commons License - CC BY 3.0 US


The military-industrial complex grew rapidly in the build up to the Second World War and continued to expand in the decades that followed. The military was not only much larger, but had also changed their relationship with American citizens, impacting their lives in new and complex ways. The defensive needs of World War Two and the Cold War made the military an imperative and prestigious institution in the United States, and the Selective Service Draft, beginning in 1940 and running continuously until 1973, gave the military unfettered access to the young men of the nation.

During the same time, government propaganda spread to new forms of media, and created more in-depth narratives than ever before. A deep analysis of these deeper texts, created and distributed for mass audiences, provides a glimpse into the ways the military represented itself, and the expectations it had for the nation. The military consistently depicted its men as white, straight, cissexual, physically well-built, and emblematic of white, middle class norms and values. This corpus of propaganda drew heavily upon hegemonic masculinity, and illustrated all four of the dimensions of masculinity as outlined by Deborah S. David and Robert Brannon, in The Forty-Nine Percent Majority: The Male Sex Role. By drawing so heavily and completely upon these dimensions, the US military created an unproblematized image of the military, and also solidified and reified the existing masculine power dynamics.

Adviser: Patrick D. Jones

This thesis is also available in its original digital form in DigitalCommons@University of Nebraska-Lincoln and elsewhere on the web.