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December 23, 2006

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Jim Glennon Surviving the Streets
with Jim Glennon

Gender generalities and officer safety, Part 1

By. Lt. Jim Glennon
Instructor: Street Survival Seminar for Women

Few topics create more angst for the politically correct pundits than the topic of gender differences. Especially through the 70s, 80s, and early 90s, anyone daring to question whether there were innate differences between the sexes was met with downright condemnation.

The “enlightened elite” would bellow hysterically as they chastised those attempting to open the debate about natural and biological deviations. Their general mantra went something like,

    “Those believing that nature has created us differently are Neanderthalic in their thinking. We are the same, we men and women. We’re only different on the outside which is merely nature’s way to help us distinguish each other for the purpose of procreation. Other than that, we’re the same beings in slightly different packages.

    We are equals with the same thoughts, needs, desires, intellectual abilities and perspectives. Nurture is what dictates behavior. Societies and culture create the differences. For if you give a little boy a hula hoop he will learn to move his hips rhythmically and perhaps become the next Nureyev. Give a little girl a G.I. Joe and a gun and she will be an aggressive ‘Tom-Boy’. Its how we are raised that matters. For nature created us as empty, yet equal vessels, designed to absorb the information that eventually will create the being that we were destined to become.”

The problem with that point of view is that both studies and common sense prove that this theory doesn’t hold water. Let’s look at that proverbial, “nurture vs. nature” arguments of give a boy a hula hoop and give a girl a gun.

In reality, minutes after boys tire of gyrating their hips in an attempt to keep the hoop in a hula-like state they will most likely begin to throw that hula hoop for distance or slam it against walls and trees to check out its durability.

After that, odds are they will probably use the cylindrical object as a makeshift weapon, capturing and manhandling other delighted little boys who are waiting their turn with the exciting new instrument of torture.

When it comes to little girls and the G.I. Joe, prepare yourself for disappointment if you think Zena the Princess Warrior will suddenly materialize. It’s more likely that the young ladies will cuddle with the introduced Army Icon and begin nesting with it. As for the gun, they will most likely ignore it or tuck it away never to be seen again. Until of course a little boy tired of the hula hoop finds it and begins stalking the neighbor’s cat as though it’s an African lion.

In addition, research shows that little boys who were never allowed to play with toy guns or swords, by the age of three will find most any object and use it as a play weapon. And they can be very creative in this endeavor. Objects known to be used as weapons include, but are not limited to; blocks, hotdogs, popsicle sticks, Nerf balls, toilet paper tubes, crayons, rulers, sticks, and even Barbie dolls (most often used as hand grenades after the head has been pulled off).

But, the enlightened will maintain that those studies are biased even if the children studied are only days out of the womb.

Some of their arguments on bias include, overt societal messages, subliminal messages from testosterone filled fathers, subliminal messages from estrogen wired mothers, and subliminal messages from gender biased Teddy Bears.

The truth is we are naturally different, especially when it comes to the organization of our brains, the accompanying hormonal chemistry issues, our perspectives and views about life, and especially in the way we communicate. And as blasphemous as that may sound to many, my experiences find that almost everyone agrees with this assessment of gender differences.

I’ve been talking about these anomalies for over ten years in seminar after seminar and I have yet to have one female attendee come up to me and tell me that my observations and comments about the gender differences were out of whack with reality. In fact, they are enthusiastically in agreement with how the male and female of the species are described.

Before we go any further with this issue let us get the ridiculousness out of the way. Whether you believe these studies or not, the truth is that whatever your naturally assigned gender, it absolutely doesn’t limit you as an individual from growing and learning and overcoming and adapting.

And legally, as well as morally, we are all equal. Just ask the Supreme Court. They have ruled that gender bias can not be tolerated and that is how it should be. There are leaders, scientists, and heroes of both sexes. And in law enforcement females have been an integral part of our profession for over one hundred years. They are Chiefs, detectives, undercover agents, administrators, line supervisors, and some of the best patrol officers in the business. They have sacrificed their lives and put their lives on the line in order to do their duty.

Last year, Parade Magazine’s Police Officer of the Year was an Orange County Florida Deputy Sheriff named Jennifer Fulford. In May, 2004 this female Crime Fighter ran into a garage to save three children from three men who invaded their home. She was shot 10 times but that didn’t stop her from returning fire in a close combat situation and shooting two of the assailants.

She saved the lives of those children at the risk of her own. She knew the risks but being a trained and dedicated crime fighter she had the confidence and skill to win that encounter.

The purpose of these articles is not to give credence to any arguments about who is better suited for police work. Without question each person is an individual with unique tendencies and abilities. The purpose of these articles is to bring to light some natural shortcomings that may have, to this point, gone unnoticed. At least consciously unnoticed.

So let’s look at some of the documented general differences.

Who are generally taller, men or women? Men of course.

Who are generally heavier? Again, men.

“Not fair, those are merely physical examples; it doesn’t address the organization and activity of the respective brains.”

Ok, how about the following…

Studies and observations show us that at a few hours old girls are significantly more sensitive than boys to touch. When it comes to sound, infant females are much less tolerant of loud noises. Studies of adults show women have better hearing than men while men have better eyesight than women with greater depth perception though they tend to have a narrow field of vision. Women on the other hand have better night vision and literally take in more information with wider peripheral picture.

Immediately after birth girl babies show a greater interest in communicating with other people. At only 2-4 days old they spend almost twice as long maintaining eye contact with an adult than boys.

Boys show bias towards what they can see, rather than what they can hear. From the outset of life baby girls like to interact with humans by making gurgling sounds. Most boys are just as verbally active but that activity tends to be the same whether the object they are focusing on is real or inanimate.

Boys are more active and alert than girls which may prove that the male brain is wired for more activity. At four months, most baby girls can distinguish photographs of people they know from photographs of strangers; baby boys cannot.

Boys tend to explore more and have greater muscle mass. When encountering a barrier that separates mother and child, girls tend to stand at the center of the barrier and cry; the boys make excursions to the edge of the obstacle to see if there is a way round it or they will attempt to ram their way through it.

One of the areas where the biggest differences have been found lies in what scientists call "spacial ability", which is the ability to picture things, their proportion, shape, position, and geography in the mind's eye. While the male brain gives men the edge in creating three dimensional objects out of drawings, reading maps, and finding their way around a neighborhood, the female brain tends to be organized in order to respond more sensitively to all sensory stimuli.

Women do better than men on tests of verbal skills. Females are equipped to receive a wider range of sensory information, tend to be more observant, place greater importance on personal relationships, and in general communicate more efficiently than men.

The list goes on and on as do the controversy and emotions. But why does this issue beg to be addressed in a law enforcement forum? It’s simple, officer safety.

Read Part 2

About the author

Lt. Jim Glennon, the third generation in a family of law enforcement officers, was with the Lombard, Ill. Police Department since 1980. Finishing his career as a Commander Jim held positions as a patrol officer, detective, sergeant, and Commander of the Investigations Unit. In 1998 he was selected as the first Commander of Investigations for the newly formed DuPage County Major Crimes (Homicide) Task Force. Jim instructs various courses for both law enforcement and private industry. He specializes in teaching courses in two fields: Communication (Arresting Communication), and Leadership (Finding the Leader in You: The More Courageous Path).

He is the author of the book: ARRESTING COMMUNICATION: Essential Interaction Skills for Law Enforcement published by PoliceOne and Calibre Press, and available for purchase from PoliceOne Books.

Contact Jim Glennon





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