Â Full text to order
Men and Masculinities, Vol. 8, No. 4, 470-492 (2006)
Â© 2006 SAGE Publications
Men and Women’s Experiences with Hazing in a Male-Dominated Elite Military Institution
Jana L. Pershing San Diego State University
Numerous studies have documented the prevalence of hazing rituals and other rites of initiation in predominantly male organizations, including the military. However, little is known about how gender is related to hazing, specifically in male-dominated institutions where women are a relatively newpopulation. This case study draws on survey and interview data to examine both differences and similarities in men and women’s experiences with hazing in an elite military institution: the U.S. Naval Academy, which is the U.S. Department of Defense’s service academy for training Naval and Marine Corps officers. Although women have attended the Naval Academy since 1976, they comprise only 10% of the student population. Despite attempts to eradicate hazing, findings reveal that not only is hazing pervasive but that men and women are equally likely to experience it during their first year at the Academy. This suggests that one’s status as a plebe (freshman) overrides one’s gendered status. Men and women’s attitudes about hazing, however, vary on some issues. Men are more likely than women to agree that certain types of hazing should be allowed at the Academy and are less likely to perceive negative consequences of reporting hazing. In contrast, men and women are equally likely to agree that the rigors of plebe year should be used to eliminate students who are not committed to the military. In addition to calling for an expansion of hazing research to include an examination of gender, a primary implication of the findings presented here is that future studies take into account the impact of men and women’s shared experiences as initiates or new members of formal institutions.
Key Words: hazing â€¢ U.S. Naval Academy â€¢ gender differences â€¢ gender similarities â€¢ military training â€¢ military socialization â€¢ total institution