The Marine Corps
While military institutions in general are tied to masculinity, the Marine Corps in particular, with its emphasis on combat, has been seen as the force with the most macho and aggressive men. With the end of the draft, the Corps didn’t retreat from its association with masculinity but sought to emphasize it. Marine recruiting materials downplay benefits and emphasize challenge, elitism, and martial masculinity. Over the course of the all-volunteer force (AVF), there have been some minor shifts in the Marines’ approach, and the look of the ads has changed. Early in the AVF, ads were heavy on text, and some of them showed Marines at work, repairing equipment or working on an airplane’s ground crew. Marine Corps ads tried to differentiate the Marines from the other services. In the late 1970s, the work imagery disappeared, and throughout the 1980s, Marines are either on ceremonial display in their dress uniforms, often with a sword, or in a specifically martial context, like dangling out of a helicopter or crawling up a riverbank with their rifles. In a series of ads from the late 1990s and early 2000s, a shaved-headed recruit, his face contorted with pain and determination, engages in an arduous physical task or struggles through some portion of an obstacle course. Despite changes in imagery or shifts in emphasis, overall, Marine Corps advertising has remained remarkably consistent throughout the entire period of the AVF. The dominant message is that the Marines will demand that a recruit prove his worth, but once he’s met the challenge, he’ll be welcomed into a proud, exclusive warrior brotherhood. The Marines offer a rite of passage into manhood. Marine recruiting advertisements rarely show women and make no attempt to use gender-inclusive language. Marine ads talk specifically to and about men, and they offer them the chance to become warriors.