When Kaffee et al. initially meet Col. Jessup in A Few Good Men, Jessup makes a remark about how appealing it would be to have a relationship with a female who's more senior in rank (putting it nicely) and that he'll have to wait until a woman is elected President.

There are ranks higher than Colonel in the Marine Corps, so why did he say that?

2 Answers 2


This is a matter of using an extreme example to showcase the point he just made.

Jessup isn't literally implying that only the president ranks above him. He's stating that he wants a woman in a superior position, and to support his statement, he then uses the example of the most superior position to him.

This is a variation on Godwin's law, which essentially means that when someone talks about a bad action/person, they use the most extreme example of bad actions/people they can think of (the nazis/Hitler).
Similarly, Jessup is talking about superior positions and therefore uses the most extreme example of a superior position to him he can think of.

On an unrelated subjective level, you may read into this that Jessup is being sexist and indirectly excluding women from holding a miltary position superior to him. By elimination, that would mean a woman can only outrank him if she were an elected official, of which the President is the prime example. However, I can't find any explicit confirmation on Jessup's ideas on women in the military, or military high ranking positions.
It's just as possible that he simply referred to the office of the president as a matter of extreme example (the most superior position) without implying anything about women in military positions.

  • Your first few sentences in the "unrelated" section in italics is a great point and fits oh-so-nicely with the 'old-school' mentality they are trying to paint - so arrogant he can't imagine a woman holding a higher rank than him. Do you think there's a chance it's a movie goof? The movie really makes him out to be a top dog (something about chairing a committee or what not where he could doctor the flight logs), and during one of his earlier scenes with JT Walsh, he says "Get the president on the phone, we are surrendering our position in Cuba".
    – curious1
    Mar 5, 2019 at 1:19
  • @curious1: It's hard to separate objectively valid inferences from my own subjective ones. But I think Jessup very much embodies the "stick to what you know and deal with the world as it is" mentality, and I think his character is liable to perpetuate the general military anti-female attitude, regardless of whether he'd stick by that opinion if the world around him had been more pro-female in a military context.
    – Flater
    Mar 5, 2019 at 6:43

This is intended as a very revealing quote about Jessop.

As we see between his status and his later attitude he is in a key position and is full of his own importance.

His ego makes him unanswerable to anyone, except his one true boss, the commander in chief (the president). His later disrespect to the judge (a higher ranking officer) shows this.

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