An interesting programme on women in the (British) police force has just aired this evening on BBC Radio 4; it focuses on those women who started out in the ’80’s and ’90’s, and it’s worth a listen (regardless of where you may stand on ‘law and order’/’criminal justice’ issues).
What I want to talk about here is how male officers used pornography to harass and intimidate female officers. One woman had ‘dominatrix porn’ magazines pushed through her letter box in the middle of the night, and another woman was told to go and lock herself in the ladies toilet, because the men had been watching pornography and she was the only woman in the building.
In the latter account it’s easy to understand what was going on, but the former needs a bit of analysis, as it’s obvious that she was not being complimented by the comparison to a dominatrix.
The pornography was meant to humiliate her, the use of ‘dominatrix porn’ was to let her know what they (the male officers) thought of her, that she was a ‘ball breaker’, a ‘bad woman’ who didn’t know her place – that is the most superficial analysis, and (I’m willing to bet) what was going through those men’s heads when they chose that particular pornography.
So then, does this ‘prove’ in some way that BDSM is empowering for women blah blah blah? No, it was sexually explicit material, which was meant to offend because it was never supposed to be consumed by a woman. Also, on the less obvious, surface level, they were telling her that she has no place in the real world, that ‘powerful’ women only belong in men’s sexual fantasies – in other words, fully under male control.
In the real world, no man is really afraid of or intimidated by a dominatrix, if they are not a source of arousal, they are a dirty joke that leaves the real (male) power, in the real (male dominated) world, completely unaffected.
One obvious thing to point out is that this isn’t really about the police at all; I could probably write an identical article about women in engineering, building, mining, truck driving, any male dominated industry/field.
[…] and male-centered power, but even these women get sexualised and degraded by men. Female cops get dominatrix jokes and harassment regularly, and female politicians are anything but safe from sexualisation […]