Posted by: mensab | January 26, 2008

Losing Femininity in Military Training: G.I. Jane review

GI Jane          The film G.I. Jane follows the story of the first woman who is selected to undergo a “test case” in the rigorous Navy Seal training. Her name is Lt. Jordan O’Neil (Demi Moore), a Navy Intelligence officer. As a test case, she is not expected to finish the whole training which is physically and mentally demanding for both a woman and man. In the history of the training program, only 40% of the applicants make it to the end and become full-pledged Navy Seals. Against all odds including the suspicion on her sexual orientation as a lesbian which is a ground for expulsion in the training, Lt. O’Neil surprises everyone especially the skeptics. She becomes a member of the elite force of Navy Seals.


Did Lt. O’Neil lose her femininity during the training? Did she become one of the boys on the way of becoming a Navy Seal? These two questions cause me to revisit various scenes to answer the questions. I would argue that she lost her femininity during the training and that she became one of the boys.


 Prior to her entry to the training, Lt. O’Neil had a boyfriend. They had a misunderstanding when she decided to undergo the training. Upon arrival to the training site and meeting the superior, she was obviously different among the rest. She was a woman in a wrong and man’s place. And Lt. O’Neil felt and complained about having a double standard just because she was there with the rest. She asked and pleaded for one standard for all. To stress her point, she shaved her hair to look like the rest. Without her hair and in uniform, there was no trace of her being a woman in the training.


However, one man knew that there was a woman inside Lt. O’Neil during the training. It was the Master Chief. From the beginning, he gave gender-norming to her. According to Rooks (2000), “gender-norming is the process of adjusting (male) standards to accommodate the entry of women in the armed forces” (p. 1). When he was trying to physically subdue Lt. O’Neil to confess, he tried to pull down her pants from behind. This was a manifestation that Lt. O’Neil was a woman in the eyes of the master Chief because it would never be done by the Master Chief with any applicants except to a woman. But Lt. O’Neil dismissed the act and challenged the Master Chief and said, “suck my dick.” For me, this is the ultimate demonstration that Lt. O’Neil lost her femininity. Another instance where the Master Chief saw Lt. O’Neil as a woman when he shot an enemy closing to Lt. O’Neil. It was a scene of a knight shining armor saving a maiden. But Lt. O’Neil returned the favor when she carried and saved the Master Chief from a hostile ground to a safe ground. Again, she was a knight too.


            I believe that the Master Chief acted splendidly and outperformed the rest. There was a scene after his fistfight with Lt. O’Neil that struck me. Recognizing that there was a woman in the training, the Master Chief admitted to his teammate that there was something wrong in them. Another scene near the end which is one of my favorite moments in the film was when Lt. O’Neil received a little book written by D.H Lawrence. The book was marked by a medal and a poem on self-pity which was the opening salvo of the Master Chief during the training. Walking out of a door and smiling wryly, the Master Chief realized that he was wrong and sorry for treating and seeing Lt. O’Neil as a woman; thus,


I never saw a wild thing
sorry for itself
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself.

       Did Lt. O’Neil regain her femininity? There was no scene that would suggest that she did.


Lawrence, D.H. (1929). “Self-Pity.” Retrieved January 20, 2007, from

 Rooks, S. (2000). “Looking at GI Jane through the lenses of Gender.” American

Communication Journal. Retrieved January 20, 2008, from




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