Marine Corps / Cpl. Joseph Jacob.

Pfc. Michael Dowling is one of the first Marines to go through “Phase 4” of boot camp, during which drill instructors spend the last two weeks of boot camp mentoring new Marines.

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Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

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And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Stegall

The Marine Corps is asking tough questions of itself after the death of a Muslim recruit sparked an investigation that could lead to administrative or legal action against up to 20 enlisted and officer personnel. But any dialogue about how recruits are made into Marines must also include a frank discussion about the segregated training of men and women in boot camp. Boot camp is meant to be a place of extremes, but it is also a place where negative attitudes about gender are imprinted on new recruits. The segregation of men and women at this most foundational level of indoctrination reinforces negative stereotypes about the abilities of women, breeds distrust, creates a negative impact on mental health for military women in and beyond the service.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. MaryAnn Hill

“Get off my bus right now!”

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Damany S. Coleman

When I was the commanding officer of the 4th Recruit Training Battalion at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, I repeatedly raised concerns to my chain of command about the gender bias and sexism my female Marines, recruits, and I faced. The recently relieved commander of 3rd Battalion was well known for making derogatory comments about women, going so far as to call my recruits “distractions” on hikes and telling the regimental commander he saw “no value” in integrating training events. My drill instructors and recruits repeatedly heard male drill instructors and senior enlisted depot staff insulting women, calling our battalion the “4th Dimension.” It was all too common for male drill instructors to tell the slower male recruits that they ran like “girls” or were “pussies.” Worse, recruit graduation data demonstrated that female recruits had been allowed to underperform for decades compared to their male counterparts. As women, they were simply expected not to excel or be able to compete with their male peers.

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