A former United States Marine Captain describes her unlikely journey from dutiful daughter of Indian economists to wide-eyed military recruit to radical activist dedicated to effecting historic policy reform against the Marines' culture of misogyny and sexual violence.
Bhagwati’s memoir, Unbecoming, offers a distinctive lens on the Marines: She is South Asian, bisexual and a forceful, frank writer ... Bhagwati writes beautifully about the body, describing everything from the pleasures of the basketball court to martial arts training in the Marine Corps with brutal clarity ... This book also has some of the best descriptions I’ve read of what it is like to be the only woman of color in a roomful of white men ... But Bhagwati’s book stands out most as a chronicle of overcoming psychological trauma. She assesses the authorities with a matter-of-factness that excludes neither the emotional pain of discrimination nor the persistent pull of those in power ... She offers critiques of politicians, the military, her fellow veterans and the media. But she does not lapse into self-righteousness because she does not spare herself. The book is at its most powerful when she writes about who she became in response to the violence the military trained her to commit. Ultimately, Unbecoming is a chronicle of letting that violence go.
In her memoir Unbecoming, Marine veteran Anuradha Bhagwati owns everything that happened to her and she’s willing to share it, unsparingly dissecting her service in the Marine Corps—and how she recovered from it ... it’s often a wry, witty, honest and profane voice ... But it’s also a powerful and angry voice, which is perfectly pitched for speaking about the way the Corps repeatedly betrays its female Marines ... Every person interested in how the military should recruit, train and retain women must read Unbecoming. And every leader in the armed forces should pick up a copy to better understand how misogyny, sexual harassment and sexual assault hurt the all-volunteer force. Men and women who have fallen victim to these scourges will find echoes of their own stories in Bhagwati’s well-written and thoughtful memoir.
... a raw, powerful reckoning ... Bhagwati presents a unique, unvarnished exploration of the racism and homophobia that some military women endure ... probe[s] the complex truths of [her] individual military experience...shows us how the challenges [she] confronted during [her] service helped [her] discover a fresh purpose after deployment ... As our veterans rebuild their lives in a society that often glosses over their experience, Unbecoming capture[s] their humanity as contemplative, concerned Americans — not just as heroes or victims.