The arrival of women in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in the mid-1970s disrupted the masculine image of a police force that was intimately connected to idealized Canadian manhood and the formation of the nation. Yet, women have been noticeably absent from the historical record of the RCMP, allowing the figure of the heroic male Mountie to continue his dominance in official, academic, and popular histories. Central to these discourses has been the male police body which has been positioned as the only body capable of enforcing the law in Canada. In contrast, this history argues that between 1974 and 1990, female Mounties renegotiated and resisted the gendered interpretation of the police officer as masculine. In the process, the female police body emerged as a disruptive force that challenged the carefully crafted and longstanding masculine image of the RCMP. Oral narratives reveal how female Mounties rejected male standards of policing that stripped them of their power and positioned them as inferior, rather than equal, figures of civic authority. Instead, female Mounties actively worked to define themselves as equal members of the RCMP on their own terms, challenging ideas about women as the subordinate sex. The alternative policing methods they brought to the occupation contradicted conventional understandings that equated brawn and physical strength with effective policing. In response, men of the RCMP who were opposed to women in the force engaged in a number of harassing tactics in an attempt to reassert their power and control over both female Mounties and the masculine image of the police force.
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Thesis advisor: Keough, Willeen
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