Breaking Out: VMI and the Coming of Women

Breaking Out VMI and the Coming of Women On July the United States Supreme Court nullified the single sex admissions policy of the Virginia Military Institute the last all male military college in America Capturing the voices of f

  • Title: Breaking Out: VMI and the Coming of Women
  • Author: Laura Brodie
  • ISBN: 9780375705816
  • Page: 124
  • Format: Paperback
  • On July 26, 1996, the United States Supreme Court nullified the single sex admissions policy of the Virginia Military Institute, the last all male military college in America Capturing the voices of female and male cadets, administrators, faculty, and alumni, Laura Brodie tells the story of the Institute s intense planning for the inclusion of women and the problems and tOn July 26, 1996, the United States Supreme Court nullified the single sex admissions policy of the Virginia Military Institute, the last all male military college in America Capturing the voices of female and male cadets, administrators, faculty, and alumni, Laura Brodie tells the story of the Institute s intense planning for the inclusion of women and the problems and triumphs of the first year of coeducation Brodie takes us into the meetings where every aspect of life at VMI was analyzed from the per spective of a woman s presence housing, clothing, haircuts, dating, and the infamous Ratline the months of physical exertion, minimal sleep, and verbal harassment to which entering cadets are subjected Throughout the process the administration s aim was to integrate women successfully without making adjustments to VMI s physical standards or giving up its tradition of education under extreme stress No other military college had done so much to prepare But would it work With everyone on the Post, we hold our breath as Brodie takes us through Hell Night, the unrelenting months of the Ratline, the fraternization, hazing, and authority issues that arose, the furtive sexual encounters, the resentments and, for the women, the daily difficulties of maintaining a feminine identity in a predominantly male world Despite the challenges, we see the women ultimately making a place for themselves Though new problems continue to arise, Brodie s lively and inspiring account makes it clear that VMI s story is an important and timely one of institutional transformation.

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    About “Laura Brodie”

    1. Laura Brodie

      I was born in Columbus, Ohio, with the name Laura Ann Fairchild My earliest memories come from Seattle, Washington, where my family lived in the Magnolia neighborhood near the Puget Sound I loved the deep, rainy colors of Seattle one of my dreams is to buy a summer house on the Olympic peninsula.At age eight, my family moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, where I stayed through high school, spending most of my time writing poetry, playing tennis, and earning money as an amateur violinist After graduating from Broughton High School in 1982, I went to college at Harvard, and lived in Cabot House with a group of eight talented and diverse women who inspire me to this day Hello to all my roommates My favorite class was a poetry workshop with Seamus Heaney, and I graduated with a degree in English in 1986 While at Harvard, I played violin with the Harvard Radcliffe Orchestra, touring in Russia, Europe and Asia On an orchestra tour I met my future husband, trumpeter John Brodie We married after my graduation, and lived in Washington, DC, where I worked on campaign finance reform for Common Cause.In 1988 we moved to Lexington, VA, so that John could take a job as band director at the Virginia Military Institute I commuted to Charlottesville to work on a PhD at the University of Virginia, and with the help of a dissertation fellowship from the American Association of University Women and a Woodrow Wilson Women s Studies Grant, I wrote a dissertation focused on widows in English literature Since that time, all of my writing has been tied to women s studies My favorite chapter from that dissertation was on husbands who fake their deaths in order to spy on their wives, and that inspired my recent novel, The Widow s Season.My eldest daughter, Julia, was born just as I was finishing graduate school From there, I began part time teaching at various local colleges, and I started my first book, Breaking Out VMI and the Coming of Women The book covered the transition to coeducation at America s last all male military college I served on VMI s executive committee for coeducation, and taught a few courses for VMI s English department while researching the book, which gave me an insider s view of the Institute s unique culture The book was published by Pantheon 2000 and Vintage 2001 and was featured on NPR s The Diane Rehm Show.During the three years while the book was in progress, I welcomed two daughters into the world, Rachel and Kathryn, and I began teaching steadily at Washington and Lee University My next book, The Widow s Season, won the Pirate s Alley Faulkner Society s 2005 prize for Best Novel in Progress On June 2, 2009, that novel will be published by Berkley Books, a Penguin imprint.My latest project is a memoir of one year that I spent homeschooling my oldest daughter, Julia, when she was ten I wrote about the ups and downs of our year in the cover article for the March 2007 issue of Brain,Child magazine That article led to my third book, Love in a Time of Homeschooling A Mother and Daughter s Uncommon Year Look for it from Harper in April, 2010.

    717 thoughts on “Breaking Out: VMI and the Coming of Women”

    1. The Virginia Military Institute was one of the last hold outs for admitting women. They vigorously fought the coming of women in court for several years but all the while prepared for their arrival. They were determined to not water down or change any of their traditions and standards of physical fitness or to dishonor themselves by having a rash of sexual harrassment incidents as had occurred at other military institutions. Although I've had a negative opinion of VMI for many years, after readi [...]


    2. Having graduated from VMI in 1977 we did not have the issue with women being enrolled at the Institute. However at one point in the late 1990's I was involved with assisting in arranging the financing for the group looking to start an all-male alternative military college, as mentioned in the book. This fact, and the idea that I did not know all of the background information on the Justice Departments lawsuit and subsequent Supreme Court decision made me purchase the book. I was not disappointed [...]


    3. I was pretty resistant against the author at first, but it became rather interesting especially in the chapters where they were actually planning minute details about the female cadets' arrival (down to the language) and the actual cadets' experiences. It is important to keep in mind that, as the author acknowledges herself, she may have a certain bias due to her ties with VMI, but by the end, she did win me over a tad and I saw the immense value of a VMI education.


    4. Not everybody will be interested in this topice first women at VMI. I am, because I grew up in the Army, my husband was a cadet at Va Tech and my son graduated from The Citadel. A very interesting read for me.


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