Military Sex Scandals from Tailhook to the Present: The Cure Can Be Worse than the Disease

43 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2007 Last revised: 22 Oct 2007


Over three decades after the birth of the All-Volunteer Force and sexual integration of the service academies, and over a decade since some combat positions - including aviation and service on warships - were opened to women, sexual integration continues to be fraught with controversy. The subject of sex - that is, sexual relations - is an integral part of the story.

As harmful as the sexual behavior can sometimes be, the military's reaction to it and the ensuing scandals are often even more harmful. This reaction - often driven by political considerations operating on the military's civilian leadership and its congressional overseers - has been a repeated source of morale problems. A characteristic response to sexual issues has been to label men as sexual predators who require punishment and to label women as victims who require counseling (at most), irrespective of the willingness with which women participated in the challenged activities. These reactions create a substantial impediment to women's acceptance.

Keywords: women, military, gender, sex, scandals

JEL Classification: J28, J71, K33

Suggested Citation

Browne, Kingsley R., Military Sex Scandals from Tailhook to the Present: The Cure Can Be Worse than the Disease. Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy, Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 749-789, 2007, Wayne State University Law School Research Paper No. 07-33, Available at SSRN:

Kingsley R. Browne (Contact Author)

Wayne State University Law School ( email )

471 Palmer
Detroit, MI 48202
United States

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