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In this article, Professor Frank Rudy Cooper examines how masculinity contests specifically, and masculinities studies generally, affect policing. He reviews the hegemonic masculinities school of thought and identifies the following background principles of the hegemonic pattern of masculinities in the United States: (1) men's concern with the opinions of other men; (2) anxiety over whether one has proved one's manhood; (3) a competitiveness reflected in a need to dominate other men and a general aggressiveness; and (4) a denigration of contrast figures reflected in a repudiation of femininity and homosexuality as well as subordination of racial minorities. Then he identifies two important aspects of the pattern of police officer masculinity that is hegemonic in the U.S.: (1) the predominance of command presence as a paradigm for police officer behavior and (2) the unofficial rule that police officers must punish disrespect. All of those aspects of masculinity come together to create and enhance the risk that policemen will enact command presence in order to stage masculinity contests with male civilians. Professor Cooper then shows the applicability of masculinities studies to Terry stop and frisks, and proposes a reform for police training.

Publication Citation

18 Colum. J. Gender & L. 671 (2009).