Some books are catalysts. Shake Hands with the Devil was one. For 2017, that book is Out Standing in the Field. In her memoir, Sandra Perron describes her experience of the Canadian Military - one of the most important institutions of our nation. What she has to say is exactly what the top brass has been paying lip-service to for years, and doing nothing to improve.
In 2016, the Auditor General's Report noted that the military had no strategy to recruit women, even though they are required to meet a target that 25% of the uniformed personnel be women. According to Statistics Canada, 1,000 members of our military say they have been sexually assaulted in the past year.
In her revealing and moving memoir, Sandra Perron, Canada's first female infantry officer and a member of the Royal 22e Régiment - the legendary "Van Doos" - describes her fight against a system of institutional sexism. Though repeatedly identified as top of her class throughout her training, she was subject to harassment by her male colleagues.
Her military experience, however, wasn't all negative. Through two deployments to Bosnia and Croatia, Perron forged lasting friendships with men and women, serving her country with courage and compassion, and her determination helped pave the way for women's inclusion in the Armed Forces.
Out Standing in the Field is the story of a soldier who refused to let her comrades or her country down, even while serving a military institution that failed her repeatedly. Beautifully written, Perron's memoir is a testament to her fortitude and patriotism, and serves as proof that the spirit of a true hero cannot be bent or broken.
“The Canadian Forces can only hope to repair, grow, and thrive if it embraces the incredible, diverse potential available to it among its entire population. Women like Ms. Perron not only have the necessary traditional skills to be great soldiers and officers, but bring hosts of new and essential skill sets. We continue to repel them at our own foolish peril.”
“A must-read indictment of the Canadian military. Captain Perron thought she was the problem because she wanted to be the first woman in the infantry, the first to wear the proud Van Doo patches. But outstanding talent, dedication and determination, which is how her superior officers described her, is not why she was left out, standing in the field. It was the culture of misogyny that still exists and still guides promotions in the ranks that ended the career of a woman the Chief of the Defence staff General Baril called 'an astronaut – one in a million.'”
“The author is a superb storyteller: she marshalls abundant details to create cinematic scenes.”
“[Perron] has written a revealing and moving memoir of her time fighting in the Canadian army – and fighting the Canadian army … Perron writes like a combat soldier – factual, direct and close to the ground, a style that is effective in getting her experience across without artifice.”
“Out Standing in the Field is a remarkable — and often confounding — testament to the Canadian Forces’ enduring misogyny and to Perron’s equally stubborn loyalty towards Canada’s military.”