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Women in the Barracks: The VMI Case and Equal Rights Paperback – April 24, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0700613366 ISBN-10: 0700613366 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Cultureamerica
  • Paperback: 428 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas; 1 edition (April 24, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700613366
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700613366
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #997,379 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


A compelling, beautifully written, and sweeping legal history, replete with wonderful insights . . . A very significant contribution. -- Journal of American History

A fascinating book. -- Virginia Quarterly Review

An epic story about the legal battle for gender equality in the United States. . . . Highly recommended at all levels. -- Choice

From the Back Cover

"Fascinating and beautifully written, Women in the Barracks is far more than a case study of a lawsuit. It offers unique insights into the evolution of gender roles in modern and postmodern America."--Linda Grant De Pauw, author of Battle Cries and Lullabies: Women in War from Prehistory to the Present

"An 'inside story' full of rich detail that illuminates both VMI's institutional history and one important strand in the modern women's movement."--Kenneth L. Karst, author of Law's Promise, Law's Expression: Visions of Power in the Politics of Race, Gender, and Religion

"A generous-spirited, thoughtful, and thorough book that helps us think about the meanings of military traditions and the military choices we make in our own time."--Linda K. Kerber, author of No Constitutional Right to Be Ladies: Women and the Obligations of Citizenship

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Andrew S. Rogers VINE VOICE on July 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Philippa Strum's sympathies clearly lie with those who argued for admitting women to the Virginia Military Institute. However, they haven't prevented her from giving us a comprehensive and fairly balanced look at the VMI case from start to ... if not finish, at least to the graduation of the first women to begin the school in the rat line.
One area where Strum's analysis is particularly strong is in tracing the history of anti-discrimination and equal rights law in the United States. She shows the jurisprudential evolution of the idea that, rather than women requiring special protection, all people are entitled to the rights and benefits of equal citizenship, regardless of sex. Indeed, following the trend of relevant Supreme Court cases as the author lays it out for us, it's hard to see how VMI's defenders could have believed the Court would ever do anything *but* order the publicly-funded military academy to admit women on an equal basis.
But believe it they did, and Strum shows how the two sides in the case were arguing fundamentally different points: VMI, that tax-funded single-sex education served a public good, and the Justice Department that, whether single-sex education is good or not, public funding of it (VMI being a government school) is unacceptable under the 14th Amendment. Neither side seemed fully to understand the other, and Strum does a thorough job of showing how the two sides in many ways failed to confront one another's arguments head-on.
Strum frames VMI as a defender of outmoded stereotypes and anachronistic ways of thinking (notably the 'women-as-lady' myth, as she calls it).
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By LillyDale on August 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
As a girl, I very much wanted to attend VMI to study history, but was told that women were not accepted. Period. There was no understanding, no appeal, only horrified faces from parents, teachers, local politicians, and worst of all, other girls my age.

Thirty-five years later, this book revealed the whys. The patrician Virginia old-boy network thought that its grip on societal mores would last forever. I am happy to report that it has not. Through no fault of my own I was raised there, and having left thirty years ago, I have no plan to return. This book helped me come to terms with my feelings about my adolescence and the differences between educational choices for women today and the non-choices offered to women in the past.

Even better, I passed this book along to my father, who really sank his teeth into it, and challenged himself to look at his daughter's dreams and the goals of all women differently. When he finished it, I shipped it to my brother, a veteran of the U. S. Army. He loved it, too, from a historical standpoint and as raising awareness of gender bias. It resides now in his military history book collection, and I am happy that it will be there when his two sons are old enough to discover it.

This book needed to be written, but the best news is how well-written it is. It covers all aspects - legal, emotional, academic and societal. It is not to be missed.
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