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Home  >  Topics  >  Women Officers

May 17, 2011
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Roy Bedard Learning from the Experience
with Roy Bedard

Women in law enforcement: The spirit of the female warrior

The female warrior is often more cautious than her male counterpart, spending more time planning, recognizing that brute strength cannot often compensate for poor tactical decision-making

To say that women think differently than men is not completely accurate. It should be put more precisely: Women think about things differently than men do. Though the thought process of men and women may be quite similar in respect to reasoning, a women’s brain is capable of addressing issues in a more complex way, with her thoughts affected by considerably more variables than men, whose minds act in a more linear manner.

As an example, in a modern use-of-force scenario, a man might perceive aggression and think, “Should I pepper-spray this subject?”

A women’s response would likely register the same question, but the emphasis would be dramatically different: “Should I pepper-spray this subject?”

It is easy to see then why the genders, which think very much alike — produce different solutions to similar problems.

Where men tend to focus on the most immediate problem facing them, in this case aggression, they often look to solve their problems in the most expedient way. They naturally tend to resolve issues with scant regard for the metastability of the larger situation and rarely take time to consider the unintended consequences of their actions.

Men think linearly using “if/then” variables. If more problems arise, then men are optimally prepared to manage them as they develop. Pepper spray, for example, causes pain, discomfort, disorientation, involuntary closing of the eyes, respiratory effects, and a profuse burning sensation on the skin. This is what it is designed to do. These effects are helpful in diminishing the subject’s ability to fight and this is the male objective. Where a male officer realizes that he cannot suddenly become stronger, his male mind quickly reverses the equation and realizes that it is possible to suddenly make someone weaker. His thoughts jump to his resources and he begins to choose the best choice for weakening his opponent. He may settle on the pepper-spray. Identifying the problem and matching it with a solution is generally the limitation of a man’s reasoning.

Women tend to see a larger picture and consider the collective effects that their decisions bring. Their objective is to resolve to the situation, to create a lasting equilibrium so that the end product is equal to or greater than when they first arrived. They want to understand why the person is aggressive and what factors are influencing the moment. If they can eliminate the cause of aggression, they reason that the aggression will stop.

Women will often adjust their demeanor and focus on their communications as aggression becomes more intense. This is a survival instinct of the gender whose success is not reliant upon physical strength. Women are more apt to listen to the subject and help that person reason through the problem. Women are calming, utilizing highly complex and sophisticated psychological techniques, some of which are so subtly built into the feminine nature that the women herself may not even be aware of them.

In our scenario, a female police officer will likely also have considered pepper-spray as a solution to this impending problem but in the same moment she will have the ability to consider other variables. For instance, recognizing that pepper spray can not only help to diminish the physical ability of an aggressive subject, it can also cause greater aggression, more intense anger, and a degree of pain that lasts long beyond a subject’s non-compliance.

Using pepper-spray complicates the scene by contaminating not only the subject, but also the arresting officer and others in the immediate area. If the subject is brought to jail or the hospital, the pepper-spray may also affect other service workers who will be forced to come in contact with the chemical. These are all unintended consequences, but because they are connected as potential variables, they may naturally play into her decision.

For women it is nonsensical to create new problems by solving old ones.

The spirit of the female warrior
The archetype for women police officers remains under construction. It is an archetype that requires constructs of the mentor, the nurturer, the educator, the sage -- and the warrior — who has been so grossly misunderstood and rallied against that she has faded in importance.

The female warrior must be revived.

Warriors protect the innocent, the weak, and the vulnerable through a variety of techniques and strategies. They are keenly aware of their assets and their limitations. The female warrior is equipped to use violence if necessary when the talking is over. She cannot be deluded in this critical moment by modeling male behavior. She has her own attributes and she must be made to understand them and apply them to her own dilemmas.

The warrior construct rallies for more training. It understands that life is fragile and recognizes the importance in being vigilant and prepared. The female warrior is often more cautious than her male counterpart, spending more time planning, recognizing that brute strength cannot often compensate for poor tactical decision-making. She does not rush into violence, foolhardy proof of modeling male behavior. The female warrior is not afraid to die, but she finds no glory in it as male warriors often do. If her life is to be given, it will be in pursuit of protecting others and she must recognize that her feminine protective nature is the source of all of her warrior strength. If she pretends her strength from some other source she will discover in battle the error of her illusion.

Her spirit is driven by the need to protect and this accounts for her nurturing and mentoring personality. A woman’s warrior spirit supports her other constructs, props them up and allows them to function in pursuit of larger objectives like protecting communities and preserving cultures. The feminine instinct for protection provides a limitless source of inner strength. It does not turn off after the battle, after the adrenalin has exited her system. It remains on, always, vigilant against unknown and unseen threats.

The female warrior is naturally aware of the complex ways in which events are connected and her problem solving skills are finely tuned to the larger picture. She is a master at orchestrating and manipulating the psychology of battle to provide openings and opportunities for victory.

The female warrior is not to be feared, she is waiting to be discovered and understood. The evolving police profession presents great opportunity for the female warrior to once again emerge in the archetype of the ideal and more complete woman police officer in order to reclaim her legacy as the protector of culture and harbinger of feminine virtues.


About the author

Roy Bedard is the President of RRB Systems International, a law enforcement product and training company in Tallahassee, Fla. Bedard travels throughout the United States and abroad training police, corrections and military professionals in close quarter and field tactics. Roy is a Consulting Producer for the A&E series Rookies and Biography Channel’s FEMALE FORCES, starring PoliceOne Columnist Betsy Brantner-Smith and the women of Naperville Police Department. Bedard’s latest project, Operation Wild, is a six episode season focusing on the officers of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Check out his websites at www.roybedard.com and www.rrbsystems.com.





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