ArticlePDF Available

Hands Up At Home: Militarized Masculinity and Police Officers Who Commit Intimate Partner Abuse

Authors:

Abstract

The deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and the almost daily news stories about abusive and violent police conduct are currently prompting questions about the appropriate use of force by police officers. Moreover, the history of police brutality directed towards women is well documented. Most of that literature, however, captures the violence that police do in their public capacity, as officers of the state. This article examines the violence and abuse perpetrated by police in their private lives, against their intimate partners, although the public and private overlap significantly to the extent that the power and training provided to police officers by the state makes them significantly more dangerous as abusers. Intimate partner abuse by police officers is a systemic, structural issue created and fueled by the ways in which police officers are socialized and trained. Police officers are more likely than others to abuse their partners, and as a result of their training and their state imprimatur, police abuse of partners is more problematic and more potentially dangerous than abuse by civilians. Changing the behavior of abusive police officers may be nearly impossible given the interplay of policing and masculinity. Policing is a male profession; it encourages and rewards many of the same notions of masculinity that underscore intimate partner abuse. Feminist theories about how intimate partner abuse serves a means of asserting control over one’s partner may not explain officer-involved domestic violence; intimate partner abuse in law enforcement may be part of a larger pattern of violent behavior justified by problematic notions of masculinity. Moreover, the increasing militarization of police forces has given rise to a particularly pernicious type of masculinity, militarized masculinity, which is reflected in the attitudes and training of and methods used by police officers, both on the street and at home. Despite the high rates of intimate partner abuse by police officers, however, each incident is treated as an isolated event, rather than part of a systemic problem, and officers are largely able to act with impunity because of their centrality in the law and policy response to intimate partner abuse in the United States. The state has a serious stake in this conversation, not only because it trains and arms abusers, but because it depends upon these same abusers to enforce the very laws that they are violating in their own relationships. The U.S. response to intimate partner abuse relies heavily on the criminal justice system to enforce domestic violence laws; this article asks whether criminalization can succeed as a policy when police officers are disproportionately committing intimate partner abuse.
... But rates of sexual assault and intimate partner violence committed by police officers suggest that officers are in fact behaving in ways that are inconsistent with this mission. The media is replete with stories of police officers committing intimate partner violence and sexual assault (Goodmark 2015, Ritchie 2017. Some data suggest that police officers are two to four times more likely to commit intimate partner violence than the general population (Goodmark 2015), and although those data are dated, they raise real questions about the commitment of law enforcement to the mission of community-based antiviolence agencies. ...
... The media is replete with stories of police officers committing intimate partner violence and sexual assault (Goodmark 2015, Ritchie 2017. Some data suggest that police officers are two to four times more likely to commit intimate partner violence than the general population (Goodmark 2015), and although those data are dated, they raise real questions about the commitment of law enforcement to the mission of community-based antiviolence agencies. ...
Article
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has been hailed as the federal government's signature legislation responding to gender-based violence. VAWA, passed in 1994 and reauthorized three times since then, has created several new programs and protections for victims of gender-based violence. VAWA is, however, primarily a funding bill and what it primarily funds is the criminal legal system. But the criminal legal response to gender-based violence has not been effective in decreasing rates of gender-based violence or deterring violence. A VAWA that discontinued funding for the criminal legal system and instead focused on economics, prevention, and community-based resources—a noncarceral VAWA—could better meet the needs of victims of gender-based violence and target the underlying causes of that violence.
... Do not quote or cite without permission.forcible fondling, and 209 arrests for forcible sodomy-likely just the tip of the iceberg(Goodmark 2015;Lave 2019;McLaughlin 2018;Stinson 2020). Marginalized survivors-Black and brown women, immigrant women, disabled women, poor women, and LGBTQI individualsare disparately impacted by officer-involved gender violence because they are often not believed and have fewer resources(Goodmark 2009;Ritchie 2017). ...
Chapter
Full-text available
Gender-based violence (GBV) is a pandemic that is globally ubiquitous, despite decades of efforts to address it through public health, criminal justice, education, and social welfare sectors (Smith 2017).
... 126 Feminist scholars have demonstrated how prison guards and police officers are socialized into hyper-masculine roles which mirror the kinds of militaristic masculinities expected of soldiers in combat scenarios. 127 However, these militaristic masculinities are paradoxical in their gendered expectations: while men are required to create intimate bonds of comradery with each other (so that adherents can stand strong and united against threats), they are also forbidden any kind of closeness that would resemble homosexuality and compromise their claims to masculinity. 128 Because navigating these two conflicting expectations can be extremely difficult, disciplinary sodomy provides an "interactional and institutionalized ritual[]" through which men can publicly reaffirm their belonging and hetero-masculinity to their peers. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Forthcoming in the Cornell Law Review, September 2020 || This Note engages with critical legal scholarship about gender and race to reframe discussions about sodomy in American law. Instead of concentrating on the history and constitutionality of sodomy bans, I instead demonstrate how disciplinary sodomy remains an intrinsic part of the American carceral system. I detail several scenarios in which anal rape and the threat of anal rape have been used by prison staff and law enforcement agents to control male bodies in the American carceral system. I then identify the “audiences” of this violence, demonstrating how ideas of sexuality, gender, and race are weaponized against marginalized populations to reinforce power hierarchies in American society.
... Further to this embedded male-gendered culture in policing, problems of militarisation and brutality within law enforcement are related to the historical and long-standing subcultures of maleness and masculinity within the profession (Goodmark 2015;Crank 2014;Kraska and Kappeler 1997;Via 2010). Chan, Doran and Marel (2010: 426-427) attributed the reason for this to be linked to anthropologist Pierre Bourdieau's notion of the sexual division of labour, which involves cultural scripts that trap both men and women into the constraints of specific masculinities and femininities: in this case, masculine crime fighting in the external world as a contrast to the feminine 'safe' inside work. ...
Article
Full-text available
In regard to the United Nations’ (UN) framework for promoting gender equality in policing, including women in national police forces remains a global challenge. Even countries possessing a stable history of women’s involvement reveal that women are significantly under-represented in policing when compared to other professions—even though prior research has strongly suggested that women are important actors in establishing post-conflict democratic order. This article outlines the political, social and institutional challenges that are faced to achieve significant gender representation in national police forces. It also recommends countering these challenges by using a ‘women-oriented’ approach. Such an approach does not merely fulfil the aspirational UN goals of achieving greater gender balance, it also yields many practical advantages for improving policing, including 1) leveraging the unique skills that women offer in policing, 2) making better use of force decisions, 3) combatting police corruption and 4) increasing the gender responsiveness of police. Finally, several operational strategies for promoting more women into policing are suggested.
Chapter
When considering the connections between suicide/suicidal thoughts and relationships, it has become apparent that there is a multitude of factors and complexities that need to be considered. When law enforcement officers can better understand the relationships, they can better navigate their social connections inside and outside of work. Gaining an awareness of the importance that relationships play in both domains (home and work) can assist officers in being proactive and engaging in healthy social relationships that can either “make or break” life-altering decisions and experiences.
Article
This research reviews police officers' practices and responses to domestic abuse, which since the mid-1980s has been a central topic of debate amongst scholars, campaigners and policymakers. The last four decades have seen a growing body of research and government inquiries that focus specifically on officers' procedures and perception of gender-based crimes, such as domestic abuse. Nevertheless, many questions remain unanswered, or at least contested, including the extent to which police officers can influence how domestic abuse incidents are reported and recorded. In this context, studies in the field have revealed that many different factors can impact officers' behaviours, including lack of knowledge of the dynamics of the crime, misogynistic views, cultural beliefs and gender stereotypes, which are deep-rooted in social norms. These attitudes and traditional gender views are extremely concerning when they are held by some male officers, as males are over-represented in the police force and they play a pivotal role in the fight against domestic abuse.
Article
Full-text available
Men's relationships to gender‐based violence (GBV) have long been an area of sociological inquiry, but until recently men have primarily been framed as perpetrators of violence against women. More recently, research on men and GBV has broadened to include studying men as victims/survivors, as investigators and law enforcement officers, as passive or active bystanders, and as allies in working to address this social problem. We review this research in an effort to bridge these divergent bodies of work; we identify methodological trends and gaps in existing research, make recommendations for improved theoretical and methodological robustness, and suggest that research perspectives on men and GBV have shifted over time as wider understandings of gender and masculinities become more hopeful and more inclusive. While we see optimism and promise in new directions of GBV research, we urge ongoing research to retain the wisdoms and critical perspectives that marked the beginnings of GBV inquiry.
Article
For most of United States history, the police did not intervene in domestic violence. To redress for this history, police departments began implementing mandatory arrest policies in the 1980s. These policies require police to arrest in cases of domestic violence when injuries are present, regardless of victim consent. Drawing on two years of ethnographic research conducted in central Pennsylvania, including participant observation in a domestic violence unit of a police department and interviews with police officers, this paper examines how mandatory arrest policies extend the spatial reach of the state into private space and intimate relationships. Specifically, I argue that the policing of domestic violence positions police officers as neoliberal subjects responsible for mediating abusive relationships on behalf of the state. This paper contributes to geographic research on policing in the private sphere, while also offering a detailed accounting of the mechanics of police practice.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.