In the Name of Protection: The Policing of Women in the First World War

TitleIn the Name of Protection: The Policing of Women in the First World War
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication1985
AuthorsBland, Lucy
EditorBrophy, Julia, and Carol Smart
Book TitleWomen-in-Law: Explorations in Law, Family, and Sexuality
PublisherRoutledge & Kegan Paul

In this volume about feminist law reform in Britain, this chapter discusses a historical example of a purportedly beneficial reform that, in actuality, permitted the perpetuation of the traditional restriction of women and their sexuality: the "policing of women" by female police officers during World War I. The author narrates what she calls the "slippage" from the original goal of women protecting women into policing activity more akin to surveillance. So drastic was this transformation that female police officers ultimately were used to protect men from prostitutes, who were seen as representative of feminine vice, promiscuity and disease. Female police officers became the moral watchdogs of their sisters. The author points out that feminists were of two minds about whether the gains of women's recruitment into the police force outweighed the use of these women to control and oppress other women.

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