Sulagna Misra’s previous work for The Toast can be found here.
First things first, let’s be realists: pretending to be a man and joining the army is no easy task. You will experience strife, fear, anxiety, enemy combatants, hell (which is what war is), and worst of all, character development. Tread carefully, and use this guide to direct you on your journey.
What is your reason for donning a uniform and heading out to war? You must have a mission with conviction if you’re going to have the mental strength to get away with this.
1. My father has been drafted and I’d rather have him around than put up with this “honor” business.
2. My brother was drafted and the army bloody lost him. That’s unacceptable to put it lightly, so I’m going out there and getting him.
3. My boyfriend or friend has been drafted and he’s just not going to last out there without me keeping a lookout for him.
4. My girlfriend has decided she’s going and we come as a set.
5. I have a religious calling to save this country and I will do whatever it takes to fulfill it, even dressing in menswear.
6. I have a patriotic duty to my country and these tits aren’t going to stop me from defending it. I’ll just bind them up, shall I?
7. I mean, the prophecy said “No man can kill him,” and I am no man.
How are you going to get there? Make sure you have a boy’s name at the ready!
1. I’ll cut off all my hair, steal some of my dad’s armor, and ride off into the sunrise with our farm horse.
2. I’ll cut off all my hair, steal some of my brother’s old clothes, stuff some socks in my trousers, and walk up to the conscription desk.
3. I’ll get a soldier drunk, steal his things, then cut off all my hair and use it to make a manly mustache before joining the nearest army base.
4. I’ll cut off all my hair, set fire to the madhouse they stuffed me in, rob some man on the street and wear his clothes before finding the nearest conscription desk.
5. I’ll cut off all my hair, ask the saints I speak to where to go, and make my way there.
6. I’ll put my hair in a stylish man bun, grab a uniform from the nearest dead soldier, and ask to join the army. Perhaps I’ll claim amnesia.
7. I don’t need to cut off my hair! Look, if I put them into a series of small braids, I can fit them into the helmet in such a way that they will spring forth in glorious triumph when I reveal myself and skewer my demonic enemy while yelling in righteous fervor.
How are you going to pass yourself off? “I see you have a sword! I have one too. They’re very manly and tough!” is not going to cut it.
1. Um — fix things, cook outdoors, deepen my voice, spit? Crap. It’s going to take a miracle to get me into the army. Can someone please send me a miracle?
2. Loosen my hips and work on my strut. And buy lots of back-up socks.
3. People don’t really notice, on the whole.
4. Glare at people long enough that they get so nervous and forget any kind of dissonance they might feel.
5. First I’ll fail at everything during training to lower everyone’s expectations. Then I’ll learn to kick ass and everyone will respect me for it.
6. Cultivate a sense of mystery by wrapping myself in charming mannerisms like glasses wearing or coffee drinking, to excuse any sort of oddness as eccentricities.
7. Keep my helmet on and communicate solely through gesture and constant deadpan.
What are the extra tools at your disposal, being in this unique position?
1. I am facing two threats: the uncertain death of being in the army and certain death upon recognition as a woman. This keeps me sharper than the average soldier.
2. My spying abilities, if needed, have double the potential. In fact, one could even say I’m a double agent, spying on men only in the company of other men. Hm, I’m going to have to write a paper on this when I get back.
3. If a man comes charging at me, I can use his weight against him by simply sidestepping the fool. Also, If born a woman, I have a lower center of gravity, which means my kicks have, shall we say, an extra ‘kick’ to them. No, we shan’t say that? Ahem. So sorry.
4. A woman’s intuition, cultivated from a lifetime of society forcing me to gather clues on the people around me to sort out threats to my person.
5. God is on my side.
6. Unlike men, I haven’t been brought up with the idea that violence is an effective solution and am more likely to use different means necessary to achieve my objectives, like shooting a rocket to cause an avalanche or using espionage to gather enemy information.
7. The element of surprise; no one expects a woman. Also, I can usually survive a kick to the nads.
What are some things to watch out for?
1. So, I definitely like that man and he definitely likes me but obviously nothing can come of it when I’m dressed like this. Maybe after I win the war….
2. Actually, guys in the army on the whole are really hot. I’ll be in my bunk.
3. I have male friends now! They’re actually pretty nice. Just have to work on slowly undoing their patriarchal ideas of women and relationships. Perhaps through song!
4. This captain is total chickenshit and clearly just bullying me because he’s a jerkface. Hopefully he runs away before we enter the battlefield.
5. Wait, other women might’ve had the same idea as me. And they may be in my unit. And we may be playing chicken to see who will reveal themselves first.
6. Apparently I’m really attractive to women as a man. Hijinks are ensuing!
7. Damn, my male friend’s here and he could totally tell I was up to something earlier. I’m just going to have to keep my helmet on.
Alright, why are you really doing this?
1. I wanted to look in the mirror and see something worthwhile.
2. Protecting my family and friends means more to me than my own safety. What do we have but each other?
3. I don’t trust men to finish this war.
4. I don’t trust men.
5. I’m on a mission from God.
6. God, I was just so sick of the patriarchal bullshit. I’m hoping combining cross-dressing with world-saving will cause traditional values to disintegrate.
7. I’m not made for sewing and marriage. I’m made for using complex military strategy to defeat the enemy and defend my people. Frankly, I’m made for greatness, and if it means killing the secret weapon demon of the enemy to get my name in the history books, then I am more than willing to do it.
Remember, if you’re a woman, you might actually win this war and save the nation/world/galaxy – you just might have to reveal your gender as a result. What are you going to do with your hard-won, newfound power?
1. I’ll become a national advisor to the ruler to work on efforts to rebuild infrastructure in my nation/world/galaxy.
2. The world is not ready. I’m fine keeping up the ruse in order to protect the women who are sure to covertly join the army after me.
3. I’ll work on better education efforts for both men and women, because the patriarchy hurts us all.
4. I’ll leverage my good deeds to become comfortable, with enough money to last me a lifetime and a home where I will feel safe and live well.
5. It was an honor simply to serve and save my people. I’ll probably just go home and get married.
6. I’ll act as a diplomatic envoy to other countries, unique in my ability to discuss both their military efforts and the improvement of the lives of women in their country.
7. I shall become queen, and reign with an iron fist and a gentle, knowing smile.
Sulagna Misra writes about the weird things that pop into her head when she's not paying attention. She's on Twitter so she can not pay attention more effectively.