Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Unbecoming A Memoir Of Disobedience

Go To

Being an ex-Marine gave me some cover when talking about things like sexual violence in the military, or, in this case, integrating women into combat arms jobs. It meant that my trolls had refrained thus far from sending me rape and and death threats, the kind usually sent to my civilian women counterparts when they spoke their minds. Still, what I did receive was unnerving, and sometimes terrifying. Women were not supposed to say what I'd been saying for years now. It was unruly. It was unbecoming.

Unbecoming: A Memoir of Disobedience is the 2019 memoir of veteran US Marine officer Anuradha Bhagwati, in which she chronicles her life, from her childhood as an obedient daughter of Indian immigrants, her time as a U.S. Marine Corps officer, and her work as a anti-sexual-abuse activist.

This work contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: The author's parents were emotionally abusive. Her father criticized her appearance and chipped away at her self-esteem. Her mother gaslit her about a confession she had made to her. Both reacted very poorly when they discovered that their daughter was romantically interested in another girl.
  • Attempted Rape: This and much worse is rampant in the military. The author describes an incident when a drunken Marine stumbled his way into the bedroom she was sharing with several other female Marines and climbed into the bed of a pretty, popular woman, who calmly negotiated with him and convinced him not to rape her. Afterwards, she gently led him out of the room, and never mentioned the incident again. Anuradha is disturbed by all of this.
  • Advertisement:
  • Badass Bookworm: The author is a Yale graduate and a US Marine veteran.
  • Band of Brothers: Averted with the female Marines. Anuradha leaves her rifle in the care of several female Marines to run an errand, and when she returns she realizes that the women Marines left the area, abandoning her rifle there. Gear accountability is extremely important in the military, and leaving one's rifle unattended can draw very harsh punishment. Anuradha said that she never trusted her fellow female Marines after that.
    • The trope can be applied to the male Marines, who tend to stick together through thick and thin, even covering each other's transgressions (often at the expense of the enlisted women). They unfortunately do not tend to extend the same devotion to the female Marines.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Anuradha finds two servicemen who were looking at bestiality videos. She is repulsed not only by the material, but also by the way the two men looked while watching it.
  • Education Mama: Both of Anuradha's parents pressured her into studying hard, to the point where she went to Yale with very little enthusiasm.
  • Hypocrite: When Anuradha's superior tries to lecture her because she had slept with another woman while stationed in Thailand, she replies that almost all of the Marines had cheated on their wives and girlfriends with Thai prostitutes and didn't really had the moral ground there. The threat of being exposed proves too much for the guy, and he backs down.
  • Advertisement:
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: When an extremely creepy, predatory Marine ends up being killed in combat, the author notes that he was hailed and mourned as a hero, all his past sexual transgressions forgotten.
  • No Woman's Land: The Marine Corps tried to keep women out of combat roles, and the author mentions that it was a point of pride for them.
  • Semper Fi: Many of the characters in the book are Marines. The author desperately wanted to belong, but found the virulent misogyny of the Corps to be soul-draining.
  • The Sociopath: Several Marines of questionable morality are described as such by the author, although whether this really is the case is up for discussion.
  • Shout-Out: The blonde, blue eyed young recon and infantry officer she criticizes for his Mighty Whitey comments is implied to be Nathaniel Fick.
  • Tomboy: Anuradha was this growing up.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: