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Gender and Policing: Sex, Power and Police Culture

NCJ Number
Louise Westmarland
Date Published
213 pages
This book explores connections between police culture and the significance of gendered bodies on the street and throughout various specialist departments.
Extensive ethnographic data are provided that illustrate the way force and strength are used as officers “contract in” with their bodies, or choose to withdraw from certain encounters. This study analyses two interdependent areas of contention, the first of which is the debate surrounding differential deployment and gender. A second area of contention is the way men and women experience their bodies in a gendered social order, under the constant critical surveillance of others. Supplementary material was gained through interviews, focus groups, and statistical analysis. Chapter 1 describes the methodology and purpose of the studies. Chapter 2 explores the significance of gender and the natural skills women possess, and the tension between discrimination and difference. Two questions are posed: the extent to which women are working in certain specialist departments consistent with their gender; and to what extent does the existence of “macho cop” culture have an effect upon these career choices. Chapter 3 analyzes the way sexual offenses are processed and the way child sex abuse is regarded as an area of expertise in which women are “natural experts.” Chapter 4 is concerned about the way uniformed patrol is carried out on a daily basis, and explores the status of certain tasks in general policing activities. Chapter 5 focuses on gender and the study of the problematic nature of masculinities through an examination of certain specialist posts that are occupied by men, such as those concerned with cars, guns, and horses. Chapter 6 reflects on the way gendered bodies are regarded as being so significant in policing, and compares theoretical approaches with the “lived experience” of the study participants. 5 tables, bibliography, index