Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



Political Science

First Advisor

Lee, Martha,


Political Science, International Law and Relations.




This study analyzes the prevalent historic and contemporary images of American women in war. Evidence suggests that while men have been endowed with the responsibilities of the protector, women have been more comfortably considered as society's protected. Chapter One provides a review of the relevant literature. It assesses the construction, endurance and implications of gender images, as well as the protector-protected relationship, in the American Military. Chapters Two and Three analyze the images of women over the history of American conflicts. It reveals that the images and roles of women as protected are subject to a process of expansion and contraction. In Chapter Four, this framework is applied to the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Despite an expanded military role, women both on the homefront, and on the battle front, were portrayed by the media as the protected. This finding was reinforced by the case study of Gulf War POW, Melissa Rathbun-Nealy, which includes a content analysis and personal interview. The Persian Gulf War failed to yield significant changes in the role or perception of women in the military. It could be argued that this is the result of the endurance of the image of women as protected. Thus, the Gulf War conformed to the historical pattern set out in Chapters Two and Three in that after its conclusion there was a significant contraction in the role of women. Further, the image of women as protected reasserted itself in postwar discourse. This conclusion is a departure from many popular and scholarly assessments.Dept. of History, Philosophy, and Political Science. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis1995 .N36. Source: Masters Abstracts International, Volume: 34-06, page: 2230. Adviser: Martha Lee. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1996.