This book is set in basic naval training camp for women in the U.S. Williams herself went through such a camp. I wanted to compare it with the basic training for infantry in one of Heinlein’s novels, to see once again the perception of ‘shaping up’ from the inside. Of course, Heinlein’s story was about tough combat training; this was more for stamina, precision, and drill. I was surprised to learn that the navy required its female personnel to wear lipstick as part of the uniform. They were also forbidden to converse except inside the barracks. Williams’ story contained more about interpersonal relationships, the anti-gay bias of the navy, and subtle racial prejudice. It includes one lovely speech by a recruit about the navy telling her whom she can love.
One insight reminded me that the Navy SEALS team never did well in the Eco-Challenge (an all-terrain team race lasting 8 – 10 days). Williams remarks on how the navy rules isolated the trainees, making them unable to reach out for help when they need it–and that was always the problem with the SEALS team. Interesting.