The Bureaucratic Harassment of U.S. Servicewomen

  • Citation: Bonnes, Stephanie. “The Bureaucratic Harassment of U.S. Servicewomen.” Gender & Society 31, no. 6 (November 9, 2017): 804–29.
    • Topics:
    • Human Rights
    • Keywords:
    • gender
    • race
    • military
    • workplace harassment
    • bureaucratic harassment

Focusing on the U.S. military as a gendered and raced institution and using 33 in-depth interviews with U.S. servicewomen, this study identifies tactics and consequences of workplace harassment that occur through administrative channels, a phenomenon I label bureaucratic harassment. I identify bureaucratic harassment as a force by which some servicemen harass, intimidate, and control individual, as well as groups of, servicewomen through bureaucratic channels. Examples include issuing minor infractions with the intention of delaying or stopping promotions, threatening to withhold military benefits for reporting sexual abuse/harassment, and revoking servicewomen’s qualifications in order to remove them from positions or units. The manipulation of administrative rules and regulations is made possible by the interplay between a gendered and raced organizational climate and bureaucratic features such as discretion, hierarchy, and the blending of work and personal life. I show that bureaucratic harassment has both raced and gendered implications. Ultimately, harassment that is enacted through bureaucratic means is often overlooked but carries distinct consequences for the professional careers and workplace experiences of the victims.