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Gender, Violence, Race, and Criminal Justice

Harris, Angela
June 4, 2015

Source: (2000) Standford Law Review. 52:777.

After recounting an incident of sexual brutality by a New York policeman against a Haitian immigrant inside a police station, Harris remarks that the racial meanings of incidents of police brutality have been well explore. Less well explored have been the gender relations among men that help to explain the manner of the aforementioned attack as well as the target of the attack. The particular incident Harris relates can be understood as both an act of racial violence and as a peculiarly male act of sexual violence. At the same time, the complicity by other male police officers in covering up the brutality demonstrated gender loyalty, a loyalty that in this instance temporarily transcended racial hostilities, according to Harris. Against this background, Harris argues that cultural structures of masculinity divide men along lines of race and class in complex ways with an constant undercurrent of possible violence. Harris refers to the kind of violence that occurs out of these complexities and tensions as “gender violence.â€? She further contends that traditional law enforcement practices incorporate or facilitate gender violence.


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