My partner says I make everything about gender. If I’m honest, he’s probably right. As a women’s health and rights specialist, I tend to interpret the world around me through a gender lens. And, as the past year has elicited a painful amount of footage of police brutality, I’ve been applying it to the nature of American law enforcement more than I ever have before. It’s how I came to wonder if sexism gives police brutality its teeth.
Police in the United States have a toxic masculinity problem. I’m not saying that police don’t also have an institutional racism problem – that would be tone deaf, malicious and straight-up factually wrong – just that toxic, masculine conduct contributes to the problematic decisions and behaviors behind disproportionate arrests of people of color, racial profiling, excessive use of force and the reluctance to reform.