Brotherhood: Homosociality, Totality and Military Subjectivity

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    In April 2011 a group of young male Australian Defence Force Academy Cadets conspired to prey upon an unsuspecting female colleague. Their plan was to broadcast one of their mates having consensual sex with an unsuspecting female cadet colleague for their viewing pleasure and fratriarchal bonding. The incident generated a strong and heated public debate about military culture and the ways soldiers behave. But it also marked a long end enduring history of such scandals that have developed into a reputation for the Australian Defence Forces (ADF) as obdurate and resistant to reform. Indeed, the ADF has consistently neutralised their responsibility for such practices by naming bad behaviour as merely the practices of a few bad apples. This paper unpacks the technologies of camouflage that the ADF and its military subjects' use to justify the role and place of militarism in contemporary Australian cultural relations. The paper focuses on the ideal of brotherhood and the way in which the Skype men, and the ADF as an institution, engage in forms of homosociality to naturalise the inherently violent disposition of the military. The practices and forms of fratriarchal bonding are implicated in the desire to generate and sustain a totalising masculinist economy that seeks wholeness and certainty at the expense of difference and otherness. These concerns are explored through the investigation of the sexual predation of six cadets and the manner in which the ADF accounts for its cultural practices.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)212-235
    Number of pages24
    JournalAustralian Feminist Studies
    Issue number76
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


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