When 17-year-old Annie McGee visits a Marine Corps recruiting office, she learns little about opportunities for women in the Corps, but recruiters show her that she can drink on base and that smoking dope is okay, too.
She joins the Marines to leave her large Catholic family in Seattle, find her identity as a young woman, serve her country, and learn skills for a job. In this coming of age novel set in the late 1970s and early 80s, McGee and the other female recruits find the true enemy: a misogynist Marine Corps. Besides being required to wear “Hooker Red” lipstick and girdles, they face peers, superiors, and prurient intelligence officers who want them to “prove” their heterosexuality, give sexual favors for advancement, and believe that they, as women Marines, are the cause of the hostility and sexual violence they face.
Written during the era of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” but set in the era when homosexuals were banned from serving in the military, this novel offers a rare look into the lives of women—and men —who served.