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Reviewed by Stefan Vucak for Readers' Favorite
Reading Zhanna Hamilton’s Becoming a Female Marine brought back memories of my own training in the Army Reserve, although not as extensive. For those who watch war or military related films, many aspects of Hamilton’s booklet will not come as a surprise. From the first step off the bus into boot camp and drill instructors raging at you, to graduation day where there is blessed relief at having passed through what seems hell, Hamilton covers life as a recruit well.
Her advice about thinking carefully before signing up, preparing yourself mentally and physically before joining, is sound and practical. A woman in the Marine Corps will face special challenges simply for being a woman, and still be expected to perform like a male, although her duties will not involve actual combat. Understandably, boot training focuses on physical training, weapons handling, teamwork, and Corps history. Every day this is going on, the drill instructors will seek to eliminate the weak by playing mental games, sometimes very humiliating for the individual recruit. A degree of mental strength is required, realizing that there is nothing personal in this process, the aim being to mold the recruit into a fighting machine who can operate within a team structure. This is somewhat incongruous, as female Marines are not allowed into combat, but are still required to undergo boot training designed for men.
What comes across clearly in Hamilton’s writing is the process the Marine Corps uses to strip away a person’s individuality, transforming her into a human weapon; her only loyalty is to the Corps, and her reason for being. I enjoyed reading this informative booklet. My only regret is that Hamilton did not touch more on the human and emotional side of a female recruit, which I am sure would have helped some handle boot camp better. Semper Fi.