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Elaine Donnelly (writer)

Elaine Donnelly is an American conservative activist and anti-feminist principally concerned with preserving the traditional culture of the U.S. military. She is a contributing editor at Human Events magazine.[1] She is the founder of the Center for Military Readiness.

Elaine Chenevert Donnelly attended Schoolcraft College and the University of Detroit. She lives in Livonia, Michigan, with her husband, Terry, and is the mother of two grown daughters.[2]

She spent several years as an activist in opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment as National Media Chair of Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum and then founded the Michigan Stop-ERA Committee.[3] She was active in Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign. She told an interviewer that her political engagement began with concern that initiatives to extend the rights of women would result in drafting women like her own daughter into the military and developed to the broader issue of women's participation in the military.[4]

In 1984, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger appointed her to a three-year term on the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services.[5]

In 1992, she served as a member of the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces, a presidential commission that considered whether women should be allowed to fly combat missions, and joined the 8 to 7 majority that opposed such an expanded role in combat for women.[6] In 2009, she maintained that opposition when the roles available to women were expanding during combat in Afghanistan and Iraq.[7]

A 2004 study of the culture of the U.S. military says:[8]

Elaine Donnelly, a protege of Phyllis Schlafly's, organized a concerted effort to inhibit women's advancement into nontraditional roles. Through her Center for Military Readiness, Donnelly staunchly fought any progress in this area and singled out for special attack the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services ...

Donnelly cited as evidence that the military was applying a "double standard" to men and women in the military the case of Lamar S. Owens Jr., a United States Naval Academy student expelled in 2007 for conducting unbecoming an officer after being found innocent of rape while his female accuser was not punished.[9] She has said that "The concept of equality does not fit in combat environments.... Women in combat units endanger male morale and military performance."[10] She has objected to allowing women to serve on submarines because the air quality poses "a high-risk cause of birth defects in unborn children—particularly in the early weeks of gestation when a woman may not even know she is pregnant". She said Admiral Mike Mullen was "thoughtlessly pushing for co-ed submarines, apparently to please military and civilian feminists".[11] In 2006, when the Department of Defense considered addressing sexual harassment and violence in the military by creating an Office of the Victim Advocate in the Pentagon, Donnelly wrote that it would serve as "an 'Office of Male Bashing,' which nuclearizes the war between the sexes."[12]

Donnelly opposes allowing gays and lesbians to openly serve in the military.[13] In 2006, she called the growing effort to repeal the U.S. military's "Don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) policy that prohibited service by open gays and lesbians, "a big P.R. campaign". She said that "The law is there to protect good order and discipline in the military, and it's not going to change."[14] In March 2009, Donnelly gathered the signatures of more than a thousand retired military officers in opposition to the repeal of DADT, a letter cited by Sen. John McCain in Senate hearings.[15]

The Palm Center's Aaron Belkin, who opposes Donnelly's positions on military personnel issues, has written that she "runs the brilliantly named Center for Military Readiness out of her living room in Livonia, Michigan."[16] He called her "the most prominent purveyor of the politics of paranoia" and an "archconservative who has spent years vilifying both gays and women in the military."[17]

Donnelly has deposited some of her papers at the University of Michigan's Bentley Historical Library.[3]

Select works

  • "Constructing the Co-Ed Military," Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy, vol. 14 (May 2007), available online, accessed September 27, 2012
  • "Defending the Culture of the Military," in Attitudes Aren't Free: Thinking Deeply about Diversity in the US Armed Forces, Defense Department Social Policy Perspectives 2010 (Air University Press, 2010), ISBN 978-0982018521


  1. ^ National Review: Elaine Donnelly’s Bio & Archive, accessed February 19, 2012
  2. ^ Center for Military Readiness: Elaine Donnelly's Bio, accessed February 19, 2012
  3. ^ a b Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan: Elaine Chenevert Donnelly Papers, 1973-2003 1985-2001, accessed February 19, 2012
  4. ^ Deborah G. Douglas and Amy E. Foster, American Women and Flight Since 1940 (University Press of Kentucky, 2004), p. 302, available online, accessed March 26, 2012
  5. ^ Elaine Donnelly, "Constructing the Co-Ed Military," Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy, vol. 14 (May 2007), available online, accessed February 19, 2012
  6. ^ New York Times: "Ships, Yes. Planes, No.; Panel Rejects Major Role For Women in Combat," November 8, 1992, accessed February 19, 2012
  7. ^ New York Times: Lizette Alvarez, "G.I. Jane Breaks the Combat Barrier," August 115, 2009, accessed February 19, 2012
  8. ^ Carol Burke, Camp All-American, Hanoi Jane, and the High-and-tight: Gender, Folklore, and Changing Military Culture (Beacon Press, 2004), 128, available online, accessed February 19, 2012
  9. ^ Holly Yeager, "Soldiering Ahead," The Wilson Quarterly, vol. 31, no. 3 (Summer, 2007), 62
  10. ^ Hilary Neroni, The Violent Woman: Femininity, Narrative, and Violence in Contemporary American Cinema (State University of New York Press, 2005), 135, available online, accessed April 5, 2012
  11. ^ US News and World Report: Paul Bedard, "Group Cites Dangers of Submarine Air to Pregnant Women," September 28, 2009, accessed April 5, 2012
  12. ^ Washington Times: Elaine Donnelly, "Pentagon anti-male room?," February 1, 2006, accessed April 5, 2012
  13. ^ New York Times: Elaine Donnelly, "Military Life is Difficult Enough," May 3, 2009, accessed February 19, 2012
  14. ^ New York Times: John Files, "Advocates Hope Supreme Court Ruling Can Renew Attention to 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'," March 13, 2006, accessed February 19, 2012
  15. ^ The Guardian: ",Retired military officers: keep ban on gays" March 31, 2009, accessed February 19, 2012
  16. ^ Aaron Belkin, How We Won: Progressive Lessons from the Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (Kindle Edition, 2011), location 312
  17. ^ Belkin, How We Won, location 910

External links

  • Sorry We Asked, Sorry You Told - Dana Milbank, op-ed column in the Washington Post
  • Elaine Donnelly, "Gays in the Military: A Losing Cause", National Review, November 4, 2010]
  • Elaine Donnelly and Aaron Belkin Debate DADT at Maxwell Air Force Base, summer 2010
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