The issue of gender equality is an urgent topic that has become especially rushed in recent years, and, in Faludi’s “The Naked Citadel,” the controversial environments and identities are discussed through the prism of military education. On the one hand, there is a world where cadets have to complete their major functions and fulfill their responsibilities as guardians of society. On the other hand, “The Naked Citadel” becomes the subject of a heated debate on the violation of gender equality and prejudiced obligations. According to Faludi, the chosen environment is “an escape hatch from the social burdens of traditional masculinity” (81). The Citadel becomes the environment that strengthens the image of an ideal man, addressing the social burdens of masculinity like leadership or decision-making. The lack of opportunities for women to enter and for men to escape the same environment becomes the reason for a social equality discourse. Thereby, the cadets created two worlds, one inside the Citadel and the other outside it, where they, as Lownie said, “don’t have to be a breadwinner” (qtd. in Faludi 81). The world within was a sanctuary for men, a place to build masculinity and strength. The rules revered by the cadets were the laws of life, with the help of which one can raise courageous and strong men. The second world, namely the world outside the Citadel, was full of temptations and injustices. Citadel was a place where one could hide from the wrong things that filled the world outside. Speaking about what types of identities cadets were trying to create in these two worlds, one may see that they were similar to the features of the worlds. In other words, the underlying factors within the Citadel were masculinity, strength, and the ability to manifest oneself through strength and toughness. However, sometimes this display of strength brought suffering to other people, which is not beyond the scope of morality for cadets.
The identity outside the Citadel formed injustices and temptations, just as the world outside was filled with it. In addition, a great strictness in everything, including clothing, was a special symbol of the cadet’s identity. The cadet personified iron discipline and order to cultivate masculinity and strength but never forgot to “act like human beings in the safety of the daily domestic life” (Faludi 81). Moreover, the identities that the cadets form at the Citadel need protection, and Faludi calls them to defend the walls and distinguish between outer brutality and inner humanity (81). The cadet’s true enemy was not Shannon Faulker, the first female to be admitted to the cadet corps, but their personal fears and doubts. The relationship between the weak and strong identities of the cadets is complex because the weaker one reveals the negative aspects of the stronger one. It should be noted that two identities are also a symbol of two worlds, the Citadel and the ordinary world. Namely, the world inside the Citadel was shielded from the negative aspects of the outside. It was believed that only strict order and strength could be decisive aspects of life. The Citadel protected the cadets from the norms of society outside the college that the cadets did not accept. These norms were the limits for the cadets, which prevented them from living a full life. Finally, the relationship between two identities is formulated by connecting the two worlds. Namely, the fact that the principles of cadet life inside the Citadel, such as violence, are explained by the fact that these factors were instilled in cadets outside the college. In other words, the Citadel (strong identity, inner world) reveals the problems of the outside world (weak personality).
Faludi, Susan. “The Naked Citadel.” The New Yorker, 1994, pp. 62-81.