Oct 27, 2014
Sand Queen was written by Helen Benedict, a journalist who interviewed many female soldiers about sexual abuse in the U.S. military and testified twice before Congress to expose the issue. The novel follows Kate Brady, daughter of a small-town cop. Kate doesn't want to stay the same submissive, obedient person she was raised to be, volunteering at church bazaars and obeying her father but never asserting herself. The only way out she sees is to join the army. And in boot camp she learns to fight physically.
Early during her deployment at a base in the Iraqi desert, an officer tries to rape her, but Kate fights back. Then her command punishes her by reassigning her to increasingly dangerous jobs. The male soldiers continuously address her as a sex object and not a fellow human being. A female soldier tells her not to fight the abuse, to go along with it – and then she confesses the same officer also assaulted her.
By the end of the novel, Kate has taken brutal action against an Iraqi prisoner. She has become someone she did not want to be.
The novel was written to oppose military sexual abuse. In doing so it shows how destructive the U.S. military intervention is for everyone involved.