The Pink Police Girl Power Commandos

Now, I’m all for a police unit that’s focused on violence against women, but this article is a bit silly:

They are woman commandos. Hear them roar anytime now against abusive spouses, hostage-takers and other threats to the safety of both men and women, young and old.

An all-female police unit has been created in the Philippines to specifically combat intimate partner violence and violence against children. Which would be great, if it wasn’t inexplicably dipped in sugar and spice.
President Gloria Arroyo initiated this all-female unit (perhaps in response to her crappy record addressing human and women’s rights in her country), saying in a speech, “We want to show that police girl power is not limited only to sisterly counseling. It also packs a mean punch.â€?She also ordered all the station desks to be painted in pastel “feminine” colors. What’s next?
On a more serious note, what do y’all think of an all-women police unit focused on violence against women and children? It was fairly successful in Liberia, where an all-female UN peacekeeping force was dispatched (in part due to past sexual assault allegations against peacekeepers).
Thanks to syndicalist702 for the link.

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20 Comments

  1. Thomas
    Posted February 8, 2008 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Fundamentally remedial. For use when women are not integrated into the force; when the men on the force do not and cannot be made to address the problems of violence against women; and when it is politically or practically impossible to change the makeup of the police so that the force is composed of officers who will do their jobs. This is a step to be take in a society that has failed even more than ours to get law enforcement to grapple with intimate partner violence.

  2. Thomas
    Posted February 8, 2008 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Re-reading that, it’s not clear it conveys what I intended.
    My take on it is, “is that really necessary? It’s better to either make the cops do their job, especially as an integrated force with men and women, and if the personnel in place can’t, then get better personnel.” I don’t know what the facts are on the ground there, or most places, and I would trust feminists on the ground there to know better that I can sitting here second-guessing. But if, say, White Plains, NY, decided to create an all-women unit to handle intimate partner violence, I would think that was a step back and a last resort to take after fixing or replacing the existing structure of the force as a whole.

  3. biancamarisa
    Posted February 8, 2008 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    I am all for a police force devoted to domestic violence issues, and if it happens to be all women, then great, but hopefully it is composed of folks who just freakin’ care.

  4. Marissa
    Posted February 8, 2008 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    This makes it sound like the police force doesn’t give a flying crap about domestic violence. It sounds like they have made it a back issue that they consider frivolous, hence the pastel color crap. But really, overall, I don’t think this is a good idea. The reason is that perps of domestic violence don’t think of women as respectable equals in the first place, and having these assholes deal only with women police officers isn’t the best choice in many cases. I am NOT saying having women police officers working in this area is a bad idea, but relegating this area as a woman-only problem to be dealt with only by women police is only further marginalizing the problem. So in sort, this is bullshit on a number of levels and I don’t think its an effective strategy to boot.

  5. Cici
    Posted February 8, 2008 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Truthfully, except for the pastel desks and bizarre public relations, I think there’s something to be said for the all-female task force. I work with dv and sexual assualt survivors– the vast majority of whom are women and children– and I can’t tell you how many times a client has opened up to me with information that she had simply refused to share with male police officers, former attorneys, etc. Look, ideally, yes, both men and women should be capable of acting with empathy and professionalism toward survivors. And there are in fact a lot of great male LEO’s, advocates, etc. But the bottom line is that the client comes first. I mean, really, are we going to tell someone who has survived a terrible assault that she is a bad feminist because she is uncomfortable sharing the details of her rape with a strange man? Of course not. Now, granted, it’s not an issue for some clients, but far more often than not, it is. In theory, you could have men and women acting in this capacity, and give women the option to *request* a female officer. However, many survivors are so overwhelmed and ashamed at the time that that puts a tremendous burden on them to even articulate this preference.

  6. Posted February 8, 2008 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    This sounds like something MRAs will get all agitated about. Unless, by creating special women-only units, police depts are discouraging women from serving in any other units. It’s a hard sell either way.
    Oh and pink? Ugh.

  7. Brinny
    Posted February 8, 2008 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    I think the idea is great. The execution however, is ridiculous. I’m guessing the name and the desk colours were put in place mostly to cutesy up the image of an all woman police unit so it isn’t too “scary”; which is completely condescending and insinuates that it would be impossible for women with authority to be taken seriously.
    Unfortunately, if the officials who start the unit can’t even take it seriously then there’s little hope for the public.

  8. triskelion
    Posted February 8, 2008 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    I will agree 100% that the execution of this program seems really silly and well, lame. But let’s remember this isn’t taking place in Suburbia, USA-it’s in a completely different culture. Anyone remember the story about misbehavin’ Thai cops having to wear Hello Kitty armbands? Obviously, ideals about feminism, womanhood and gender stereotypes differ greatly between cultures. I think that posters before me bring up great comments, but what often irks about feministing-ers’ responses to international stories is that people forgot how different shit is *here* from *there* (wherever there may be). To me, this seems like a completely ridiculous and distasteful step in the right direction of combating violence against women and just because it wouldn’t work in the United States doesn’t automatically mean it is doomed in Philippines.

  9. Posted February 8, 2008 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    I had a similar problem with the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.

  10. Shells
    Posted February 8, 2008 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    I’m with Cici and triskelion on this one. I grew up in the Philippines, and no, the police force doesn’t care about domestic violence. Just to put this in context, we’re talking about a police force that has to be paid by family members to investigate kidnappings and often is in league with the kidnappers themselves. While it’s easy for Western feminists to sit here and debate the nuances of the way this plan was executed (yes, distasteful, I agree) you have to realize that in this context, having a domestic violence task force at all is a really, really big deal. Also, the cultural connections between color and gender operate a little differently in the Philippines than they do in the Western world, so we’re in less of a position to criticize than we would be if this were happening in the West. Personally, I’m less concerned with the paint choices and just glad that the Philippina women are having someone stand up for their safety.

  11. Erica B
    Posted February 8, 2008 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    I’m in favor of it, for reasons along the same lines as Cici’s, triskelion’s, and Shells’. In a society that’s rigidly patriarchal, women are going to be more likely to take action in cases of abuse of women or children. So good on the government for empowering them.

  12. Momo
    Posted February 8, 2008 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    I always kind of pictured a league of feminist superheroes (high heel boots optional) that would take care of the stuff that the cops, inadvertently or not, let slip through their radar. Think we could raise funds for a super secret training center?

  13. Skoochie
    Posted February 8, 2008 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    I don’t have a problem with an all-female task force in this context. As others have noticed, it’s in a country that is not in the same mindset regarding domestic violence as the US (and ours is… not great). Female victims might respond more openly to other women if they’re accustomed to being beaten up by men. And finally having a hopefully highly visible force of women packing mean punches against injustice might help people see women less as punching bags and more as a force to be reckoned with.
    Hopefully the silly pastel desks won’t interfere with that…

  14. Posted February 8, 2008 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    Specific police unit for domestic violence: awesome.
    Using women for it because the male cops don’t give a crap: not horrible, but it should only be temporary. Male cops should be trained to take domestic violence seriously and it should be a sex integrated unit, mainly because perps of domestic violence probably won’t take the female cops seriously. Until they kick their asses, that is.
    Pink desks and blatant use of “girl power”: gag me.

  15. Posted February 8, 2008 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    I should probably ad “hear them roar” into the “gag me” column.

  16. Medical Student29
    Posted February 8, 2008 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    My ideal police force would be about 75% male and 25% female. I think an all-female force is just as bad as an all-male force.
    If male officers wont take domestic abuse seriously, then fire their ass. Oh no we cant do that, because the stupid ass police union will sue to block any attempt to fire one of their own.
    I dont think an all-female police force is a good idea to respond to a domestic scene with violent husbands/boyfriends. I much prefer a tag-team female/male team. Being a male does bring certain advantages to the scene in terms of controlling violent males physically, just as female officers bring dividends in terms of communicating with victims. We need both, not one or the other.

  17. dananddanica
    Posted February 8, 2008 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    med student,
    an all female task force might not work here in the states but it might do very well in the phillipines.
    also saying male cops have an advantage in controlling violent males and female cops pays dividends in communication does a disservice to male cops i think. why continue the stereotype? there is absolutely no reason a male cap cannot have the inherent or trained ability to communicate just as well as a female cop. perhaps for specific situations a female cop would be better but you just said victims. as a very large male id much rather have male cops try and subdue me if i was freaking out as they are statistically less likely to use weapons or deadly force. i guess in that instance the male advantage you cited comes into play.
    liza,
    i dont know about where you live but in my home state, maine, cops are trained very vigorously for DV and feminists develop parts of the curriculum they are trained with. that has actually caused some problems as far as the who to arrest scenario when they show up to a dv call.

  18. Posted February 8, 2008 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    I think any task force that’s being billed as “all female” is bad news. I think that stereotyping women police and putting them in the women’s unit is the wrong message. I think that men too need to be able to learn how to deal with the needs of women who are in abuse or assault situations. I am against any kind of gender-division in the workplace.

  19. Posted February 9, 2008 at 12:24 am | Permalink

    dananddanica, I live in New York City.
    But when I was in high school in Buffalo I went on a ride-along for a class that answered a DV call. It was a male cop and he answered because he was closest. And when I was little and my aunt had an abusive husband, it was the same. The cops that answered were whoever was closest. To me that implies that the whole force was trained for DV calls. Which is as it should be.
    But obviously they should be trained to be objective. Meaning, not automatically pegging one party as guilty before hearing the story. I can imagine responders to a DV call generally assume it’s the man hitting the woman, and that’s not always the case (even if it is more prevalent).
    I was referring to the force in the Phillipines that the post was about. I don’t think an all female DV force will work well, because male perps obviously DON’T have respect for women or they wouldn’t be abusing their wives/gfs in the first place. There’s also the factor that some of these men may be physically able to overpower the cops. Sucks, but it’s true. Especially if they’re on something. The police here need to teach their male cops as well as female to take DV seriously and there should be a mixed-gender force responding.
    I mean, answering a DV call is scary and dangerous, I don’t care who you are. If you don’t believe me (I doubt anyone here wouldn’t), I can tell you about seeing my aunt show up at my house in tears or how my dad had to go to her house to fend off the husband. Or the recording I heard of one of their fights during the divorce proceedings. There should always be plenty of backup for cops who answer a DV. No matter what gender.

  20. Mina
    Posted February 10, 2008 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    “But obviously they should be trained to be objective. Meaning, not automatically pegging one party as guilty before hearing the story. I can imagine responders to a DV call generally assume it’s the man hitting the woman, and that’s not always the case (even if it is more prevalent).”
    I’ve also heard of some cops automatically arresting both partners when it’s a same-sex case.

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