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The Women of Full Metal Jacket.

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The Women of Full Metal Jacket.

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The Women of Full Metal Jacket

In Stanley Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket", it is difficult to determine the role that women play simply because of the glaring lack of female characters. In total, only three women actually appear in the movie, and two of those are prostitutes; the third isn't revealed as a woman until the final 10 minutes of the film, and none of them are given names. In fact, until the sniper's gender is revealed, women only play a role as objects for the soldiers' amusement. In all interactions between the genders, it is obvious that the male soldiers always hold complete power over the women, able to bargain their "services" down to a paltry five dollars per soldier. For one of the prostitutes, a soldier even effectively acts as her pimp, determining whom she services and for how much. In contrast, the role of the female sniper completely flips this gendered scheme of power-relations by using an intermediary, her rifle, to gain power over the male soldiers.

For these G.I.s, the idea that women don't exist on the battlefield is hammered into them from boot camp. This process starts when the drill instructor marches into the barracks and instructs his soldiers that they should give their gun a female name and sleep with it at night because it will be the only female company they will receive during their tour of duty. In this manner, the soldiers are directed to receive the same sort of pleasure from killing and battle that they would normally expect from a full relationship with a woman. On a more abstract level, giving the gun a female name also establishes a mindset that women are "tools" (another name the drill instructor frequently uses to describe the rifle) in order to achieve pleasure for the soldier. In the battlefield, the soldiers subscribe to this philosophy wholeheartedly; taking their gun with them everywhere while leaving their transitory relationships with behind. Similarly, the complete lack of female soldiers in the army...