Punishment by feminization

realmenwearpink.jpg
Because there’s nothing worse than being “girly,” a South Carolina prison has taken to punishing sexually active inmates by dressing them in pink.
Of course, the prison punishment isn’t the first to use feminization as a deterrent against “bad” behavior: Thai police officers who act up are forced to wear a pink Hello Kitty armband and let’s not forget about our Man Can friends. But this punishment being tied up with sexual behavior strikes me as particularly fucked.

State Corrections Department John Ozmint said the two-year-old punishment deters inmates and protects female officers.
…”We don’t believe the United States Constitution protects an inmate’s right to publicly gratify himself,” Ozmint said.

Uh yeah. How exactly is a pink prison jumpsuit going to protect women? But more to the point, feminization as a form of punishment is sexist and foul. Rant over, back to playing with the puppy.

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33 Comments

  1. Posted August 22, 2007 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    This is neither here nor there, but that picture of the puppy, a friend of mine pointed out, has the puppy sitting on a gender-neutral color blanket.
    I was showing the picture of the puppy to my friend and she said, “Hmmm, owner must be a feminist.” I didn’t realize yellow was gender neutral up until …yesterday.

  2. lmac09
    Posted August 22, 2007 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Joe Arpaio,”America’s Toughest Sheriff,” forces his inmates to wear pink underwear.
    He also sells his pink underwear at the infamous restaurant in Phoenix, The Pink Taco.

  3. UCLAbodyimage
    Posted August 22, 2007 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    This story reminds me of the University of Iowa locker room for the visiting team.
    It’s bright pink. It’s supposed to make the visiting team feel less comfortable and more girly, and thus perform worse.
    Interesting trade-off here in the prison punishment: A highly noxious punishment to macho men that they wish to avoid reduces crime, but strengthens the anti-feminity aspect of masculinity.
    Seems like if they want embarrassment to serve as a deterrent, they could find other embarrasing things to make the prisoners wear. Like beanies.

  4. Posted August 22, 2007 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    The rationale for protecting women is that those who get the pink jumpsuit are then isolated to areas where no women work. Of course it has nothing to do with the jumpsuit.
    The fact that they didn’t pick another color like white or neon green or some crazy shade of purple is further evidence that the shame of feminization is at the root of this punishment. That makes the ‘protect women’ part a total sham. A man who is made to feel small through feminization is likely to want to humiliate and hurt women all the more.

  5. Olphy
    Posted August 22, 2007 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    UCLAbodyimage-
    The locker room isn’t bright pink, it’s more of a pastel color. You’ve probably heard of the whole ruckus that caused.

  6. ShifterCat
    Posted August 22, 2007 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    “A man who is made to feel small through feminization is likely to want to humiliate and hurt women all the more.”
    Excellent point, 21stCenturyMom.

  7. Posted August 22, 2007 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Here’s something to ponder – at one time, it was pink for a boy and blue for a girl. Pink was seen as an ‘empowering colour’, giving more energy etc. (although a fixation on the colour beyond a certain age can apparently be a sign of insecurity). This was forgotten a while back when, in one prison, they decided that they would paint the cells of the most disruptive inamates pink, in an attempt to feminise them and calm them down. And it worked – for a short while. Then the violence levels went back up, and was worse than before.
    Does anyone else notice the problems here?

  8. Posted August 22, 2007 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    “I was showing the picture of the puppy to my friend and she said, ‘Hmmm, owner must be a feminist.’”

    Weird.
    I’m a feminist and my dog doesn’t wear yellow. He doesn’t look good in yellow; it washes him out. He wears red, blue, green, and black.
    But now I might have to make him a pink dog shirt that says “fuck misogyny” on it.

  9. Posted August 22, 2007 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    If it comes with a green alligator and a sweater tied around the neck, they could be one of the serenading country club extras in Trading Places.

  10. Dorion
    Posted August 22, 2007 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    The “protect female officers” refers more to inmates being punished for performing sex acts (in the presence of COs). Because [only] women need to be protected from, you know, people jerking off. Prison culture is already so fucked up… this can’t possibly help.

  11. Posted August 22, 2007 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    PUPPY! :)

  12. Mina
    Posted August 22, 2007 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    “UCLAbodyimage-
    The locker room isn’t bright pink, it’s more of a pastel color. You’ve probably heard of the whole ruckus that caused.”
    “This was forgotten a while back when, in one prison, they decided that they would paint the cells of the most disruptive inamates pink, in an attempt to feminise them and calm them down. And it worked – for a short while. Then the violence levels went back up, and was worse than before.”
    I once heard that mental hospitals have pale pink walls to help calm people there down (and that restaurants use extra red in their décor to make people there hungrier, and that schools with yellow walls have that to make people there more alert…).

  13. jessica.m
    Posted August 22, 2007 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    First, a little solidarity for our sisters working as correctional officers. They are harrassed by their coworkers and the inmates.
    Second, using a stereotypically “girly” color to stigmatize inmates is problematic on many levels and will probably have a minimal effect of the behavior of inmates (because I think the overall embarrassment will eventually diminish), but while this isn’t the choice I would have gone with they need to do something to stop the harrasment of female officers and, in the florida case, nurses(which is pretty terrible if you’re at all familiar with it). Real solutions should be developed. Creating real deterrants has to happen to prevent an unsafe work environment. Correctional facilities have enacted effective deterrants to prison violence, they need to take a similar tack with this issue, instead of trying to shame prisoners. This allows the people at the top wash their hands of the problem because they’ve “done something about it”.

  14. Posted August 22, 2007 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    Jessica M.
    Maybe the problem is America sends way too many people to jail.
    We have 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s prisoners.
    And fully half of America’s prisoners are locked up for victimless “crimes” like selling drugs.
    Think about it, you’re a young unemployed Black man, and the only way you can make a living is small time drug sales.
    That works for a while, then you get picked up in a police sweep, and get several years in prison, during the prime years of your life.
    Among other court ordered deprivations, you’re cut off from having an active sex life (unless you want to have sex with other guys).
    Wouldn’t that make you resentful?
    And, wouldn’t that resentment come out in a sexuallized way against female CO’s, nurses and other DoC staff?
    Especially if those staffers were verbally or physically abusive? (
    And from what I’ve been told by folks (both male and female) who’ve been inside, DoC officers and staff of both genders are frequently quite abusive to inmates.
    THAT’S the real problem here.
    And I don’t feel an ounce of sympathy for the CO’s and other DoC staff who have problems with the inmates.
    After all, nobody held a gun to their heads and made them take a job in America’s gulag archipelago.
    They made their beds when they hired in with DoC – let them lie in it.

  15. Posted August 22, 2007 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    Jessica M.
    Maybe the problem is America sends way too many people to jail.
    We have 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s prisoners.
    And fully half of America’s prisoners are locked up for victimless “crimes” like selling drugs.
    Think about it, you’re a young unemployed Black man, and the only way you can make a living is small time drug sales.
    That works for a while, then you get picked up in a police sweep, and get several years in prison, during the prime years of your life.
    Among other court ordered deprivations, you’re cut off from having an active sex life (unless you want to have sex with other guys).
    Wouldn’t that make you resentful?
    And, wouldn’t that resentment come out in a sexuallized way against female CO’s, nurses and other DoC staff?
    Especially if those staffers were verbally or physically abusive? (
    And from what I’ve been told by folks (both male and female) who’ve been inside, DoC officers and staff of both genders are frequently quite abusive to inmates.
    THAT’S the real problem here.
    And I don’t feel an ounce of sympathy for the CO’s and other DoC staff who have problems with the inmates.
    After all, nobody held a gun to their heads and made them take a job in America’s gulag archipelago.
    They made their beds when they hired in with DoC – let them lie in it.

  16. jessica.m
    Posted August 22, 2007 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    Because, obviously, taking a job as a correctional officer makes you automatically complicit in the racist structure of our judicial system and thus asking for what you get when you’re sexually harrassed on the job?

  17. manda
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    So what if you’re an unemployed black man (or any person of color for that matter) and your options are sell drugs or take a job at the local jail?

  18. ShifterCat
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    “And fully half of America’s prisoners are locked up for victimless “crimes” like selling drugs.”
    Uh. Depends on the drug. Selling pot? Sure, I’ll agree that that’s a victimless crime. Selling crack or crystal meth? Hell no. That could be argued to be an indirect kind of murder.

  19. Doug S.
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    The origin of “Only real men wear pink”:
    http://www.dominic-deegan.com/view.php?date=2004-03-04
    Later comics would include color.

  20. Dave
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    Gregory, I can’t comment about the quality of DOC staff in your state, but it is most certainly not that bad everywhere. Try walking in the shoes of a Correctional Officer for one day. Try to keep your professionalism after an inmate tosses a “cocktail” of urine and feces onto you as you walk by the cell door.
    Still can’t muster any sympathy for DOC staff?

  21. kissmypineapple
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 1:07 am | Permalink

    Selling drugs is not a victimless crime.

  22. raginfem
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 2:17 am | Permalink

    Hmm…so to make men stop humiliating women…we symbolically turn them into women. Interesting. Somehow that doesn’t make me feel better…

  23. Fenriswolf
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 4:59 am | Permalink

    You know Gregory, I was semi- with you until the part about corrections officers (all of them, not just the abusive ones) deserving what they get.
    WTF? OK… So the fact that it’s disproportionally female corrections officers being assaulted doesn’t bother you?
    And by your logic, if some/most of the prison population is dodgy, the rest are complicit anyway and deserve what they get
    Come on man

  24. Posted August 23, 2007 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Actually, if you go to cafepress.com and search for “real men,” you’ll find a few shirts that say, “Real men wear pink,” with the support breast cancer logo on it. The proceeds go to the Susan G. Koman foundation …but somehow, I am still bothered by the whole “real men” and what the sexes are supposed to be like.

  25. Dorion
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    My mother was a psych nurse in a medium security prison. There is no doubt that the female staff get harassed — but she was just as harassed when she worked for the Department of Public Works (before finishing college) by her male COWORKERS. Her “complicity” was daring to work in a male-dominated workspace.

  26. Roxie
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Ok, so I posted this on a forum I visit (outpostnine) and this what I got as a reply…this is in the sexism thread btw…

    Basically: Who the fuck cares? It’s pink jumpsuits. Wearing pink makes guys feel uncomfortable and unmanly, just like a lot of women would feel uncomfortable in clothing and dress styles typically considered manly. It’s hardly “feminization” or “sexist”, for christ’s sake. Feminization isn’t even a real word. Punishing inmates for jerking off is a whole nother issue, but getting offended over the pink jumpsuits is just fucking retarded.

    What can I say to that?!

  27. Posted August 23, 2007 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    I think the person who posted what you copied and pasted to us deserves a swift kick in the ass.
    I’ve always violence should always go hand-in-hand with feminism. Sitting there and explaining theory to them won’t do a damned thing sometimes. But beat the shit out of them and I promise you they’ll get the message.
    Violence is only wrong if it’s used incorrectly.

  28. SarahMC
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Roxie: Maybe post some of the things said in comments here?

  29. Peepers
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    It’s hard to argue effectively with the willfully ignorant. If you want to pursue it, you might start with a link to “feminize” on any given online dictionary. In my opinion, though, to give a rational response to the above quote would be badgering the witless.

  30. scue
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    “Actually, if you go to cafepress.com and search for ‘real men,’ you’ll find a few shirts that say, ‘Real men wear pink,’ with the support breast cancer logo on it. The proceeds go to the Susan G. Koman foundation …but somehow, I am still bothered by the whole ‘real men’ and what the sexes are supposed to be like.”
    I too am bothered by “Real men…” statements, along with “Real women…” ones as well, e.g. the “Real Women Wear Red” t-shirt available from Rutgers athletics.
    I also dislike statements such as:
    “Be a man!”
    “Man up!”
    “Are you man enough?”
    So forcing men to wear pink is only making things worse.

  31. Posted August 23, 2007 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Punishing people by forcing them to wear colours that are associated with the ‘opposite’ gender? Hmmm…happens to transgendered people from day one. Um…remind us bipolar gender regime; just what crime did we commit, again?
    PS: Does anyone on Feministing know where I can get those pink ‘Hello Kitty’ armbands?

  32. Peepers
    Posted August 26, 2007 at 1:03 am | Permalink

    Isn’t this thing supposed to spit out nickels when I get 5 trolls in a row?

  33. Voila
    Posted August 26, 2007 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    David, I don’t think you understand the issue. Yes, it’s offensive that being female is used to insult males or that wearing pink supposedly emasculates men enough to behave. The message there is clear that female = bad and that’s wrong. But the real problem most of us have with this issue is that by forcing something “feminine” on these inmates will cause them to resent females more, thus possibly escalating the harassment and/or violence toward women. In other words, maybe this is a short term solution so some officials can look good, but long term, this is not solving problems and may actually lead to more.
    On a related note, there was a women’s prison show on Oxygen the other day, that I only watched about 5 minutes of. The women in that prison were color coded. New inmates wore blue shirts. Older inmates that were considered harmless wore neon green shirts. Inmates that had misbehaved wore another color (I want to say yellow or orange) and inmates that were considered dangerous wore pink. They didn’t say anything about trying to feminizing the inmates, and since they were all women, I don’t think that would have been the point.

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