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MISOGYNY: Commissioner Paulson……break ranks, spell it, define it, and take action!!!

Nov 12

G’day all!! D’ya think he could do it? There exists much debate on the question, let alone the leadership (or lack thereof, that he has shown with regard to the well accepted fact that it is ever present). I’m sure you are aware that Ms. Janet Merlo representing (approximately) 400 female members (both serving and retired), along with their counsel will enter the Supreme Court of British Columbia on or about the 25, 26, and 27 of November 2015 to allege that they were sexually harassed by supervisors and peers while in the employ of the RCMP. Are you aware that even though over 100 years of women in policing has passed, your female colleagues are still faced with issues of discrimination and harassment. The perpetrators of these acts are most often their male colleagues.

Moreover, it is commonly accepted that they encounter the “brass ceiling” more often than their male counterparts. That is, they are promoted less often for nothing more than being female. The females in most law enforcement organizations from “munies to mounties”, from fisheries to forestry, and from sheriffs to border services learn to overlook and/or minimize discrimination merely to survive.

An interesting body of research suggests that not only are they the victims of discrimination and harassment at work, but they are more likely to receive similar treatment from their domestic partner if that person is male and a police person as well.

Numbers from a major statistical study completed in 2009, using data from 35 different countries around the world, suggests that 77% of police women have been victims of male expectations ranging from “let’s you and I jump in the backseat of the police car” to those that they will act like men (e.g. swear, drink, “be tough”), while at the same time “be feminine” and not out perform their male colleagues. Females are also subjected to greater mobility, being more likely to be moved from one unit to another. In addition, they are more likely to rotate through assignments, less likely to be promoted, and more likely to remain in patrol for their entire careers.

Some recent Canadian data strongly suggests that females are significantly behind their male counterparts in almost all categories from entrance to advancement into Senior Management positions. Considering the extreme cases, 20% of police members across the country are female. Quebec and British Columbia were high at 24 and 22 % respectively. Some of the lowest rates were found in the North West Territories (12-14 %), Manitoba (15%), and New Brunswick (16%). Data collected in 2013 put the total of female commissioned officers at 10 % of the population in question. An unexplained anomaly was Newfoundland at 24%.

Some of the challenges of attracting females to policing, noted in the research, included the perception that policepersons must be “big and strong”, agile, and aggressive. There however appears to be a lack of convincing evidence that these factors predict success on the job.

Recruitment and retention practices emerge as areas of concern that prevent higher levels of participation by females in policing. The existing practices are more often geared toward males and without appeal to females, who bring a different set of strengths and skills to the job.

Retention problems have long been known to have deep and stubborn roots. As noted earlier there exists a “brass ceiling” (for females) based upon very little other than stereotyping and an “old boys network”. In addition, women who have or would like to start a family, find the working arrangements (shifts, overtime, etc.) to be awkward and inflexible.

Finally, violence and harassment issues remain the ugly “skeletons in the closet”. Female police members have been and continue to be subjected to these “skeletons” and it has been well documented in Canadian media reports (e.g. the present 400+ RCMP females alleging harassment on the job) and the academic literature. Policies put in place by seemingly concerned employers have been largely impotent and without substantive effect.


The debate continues as to how best to deal with the plight of female police members without alienating the entire (male?) membership? The traditional solutions (e.g. education, policy changes, civilian lead external units) don’t seem to have put much of a dent in the problem. Prospective female employees (and presently serving females) have changed their perceptions of their safety and security within the organization very little. The answer to the above posed question is slowly but surely moving toward a “do something different” approach; something entirely unpredictable! This suggestion refers back to the old adage, “if you keep applying the same solutions, you’ll continue to get the same results”……..and this is the definition of what???? I’ll give you one suggestion before I shut down, as I am getting somewhat “wordy” here. (Right m’lady?)

Think of solutions to the problem as lying along a continuum from “0” (more of the same) to “10” (an entirely unpredictable solution that is the exact opposite of what has been done and takes the offender by surprise). So just as a “spitball” exercise this could cover anything (up in the “8-10” range) from castration (just kidding….but you get the idea) to firing outright!!! Go ahead let’s hear from you. You know you’ve always believed you could do “his” job better than “he” can. Let’s hear from you?

Oh yah, the females could use your support!! I’ll see you there and you can buy me that drink you welched on at the AGM!!!


Dr. Mike Webster
Reg’d Psych.


From → Other

  1. Anonymous permalink

    I will be attending those hearings, and as a male, this is to show solidarity with the women in the RCMP. I was harassed and force out, now I will continue to stand by and fight this Commissioner and organization to clean up its act. With a new Government in place, we are now seeing sweeping changes, and one of those must be that the RCMP cleans its house. Totally. Get rid of the Misogyny and other harassment. Good for Ralph Goodale may he strike hear into the perpetrators ‘black hearts’.

  2. thewolfinsheeps permalink

    Misogyny is alive and well in the RCMP. I hear of new examples on close to a daily basis. I’ll start my comment with one…

    On a medium to large sized specialized unit, there are two female Constables and roughly 15 males. Both of the female members are quite established, are skilled investigators, have no performance issues etc. that would preclude them from being considered for the “acting” Corporal role within the unit. So, not so unexpectedly, since we are talking about the RCMP, what happens when there are Cpl. vacancies on each of the respective teams within the larger unit?

    The female on one of the teams is told that she will not be given any acting time because there are two other members, that the i/c says he “has to take care of their development.” Not so coincidentally they are both males. One, has comparable service to the female, the other has less than half her service. As part of his justification to the female member, the i/c offers that the female has less time on this particular unit than the male with half her service. An interesting measuring stick, but ok.

    Simultaneously on the other team, the second female is also not offered any acting experience, again in favour of male counterparts. However one of the males in this example is marginally senior to her but has been on the unit a shorter duration that the female in the first example. This female member is told that the male has more overall seniority, so that trumps time on the unit. Ummm?

    The problem that the RCMP faces is that there are far too many managers/supervisors out there that think this is normal, or ok, or actually don’t even understand what they’re doing. All of the rhetoric that the RCMP spews about making things better for female members is just that, rhetoric. Even if they had the good intentions of actually wanting things to change they are up against it because the misogynist mentality is perpetuated within the RCMP. All of the male members that watch this stuff happen every day in the RCMP with no repercussions to the offenders, learn that this is acceptable, and invariably repeat the pattern. To infinity.

    This is just one small facet of what is wrong in the RCMP, and if they want to change things, they need to change the way they identify and select leaders from within the ranks. Notice I said leaders, and not supervisors, or managers. We have a lot of those already, and the majority do not understand how to truly lead. The RCMP has to figure out how to identify the qualities in their leaders that represent the overall philosophy and culture it wants to promote within the organization.There is nothing that exists within the NCO promotion process that helps identify the moral character of the people the RCMP is promoting, and certainly less within the OCDP. It’s all about how you can manage, how you can supervise, how you “count beans” and where you put your policing x’s and o’s. The process is impersonal and as long as you can darken the “right” circles on the exam and draft a document about your accomplishments, you’re on your way.

    So, misogyny begets more misogyny, there is willful blindness toward it and no will within the organization to find the leaders out there with the will to change things. The change has to come from within, but it won’t happen without proper leadership. No change in leadership thinking, no change. The right people are out there, it just takes some willingness to find them.


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