This works for women because most prisoners are -willing, in turn, to respond with typically male role behaviors (e.g., being protective). These interactive patterns do not replace those of guard and inmate but are interwoven into them in a This content downloaded from 188.8.131.52 on Sun, 23 Aug 2015 16:11:42 UTCAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
424 GENDER &SOCIETY / December 1987 way that allows women guards to perform the basic requirements of the job and allows men prisoners to feel comfortable having women in official positions of authority over them.4 IMPACT OF WOMEN IN PRISONS AND ON THE JOB OF GUARDING Women have shown their ability to perform the job of guarding on a day-to-day basis while remaining less intimidating, less competitive, and less physical than most men guards, but there are some occasions in the prison when intimidation, confrontation, and physical force are needed. In even the best-run prison, fights between inmates are common, inmate attacks against guards occur, and there is always the potential for mass violence should a riot take place; it is guards who must bring these situations under control and, in doing so, may find it necessary to use force and violence themselves. Male administrators and male guards feel that the women working as guards are extremely reluctant to respond to situations in which physical force may be necessary and that they are inadequately prepared to perform this aspect of the job. In their eyes, the presence of women presents a danger to prison security. In actuality, there has been no reported decrease in prison security or internal order in the decade or more since women began working in men's prisons. Women, of course, do remain a small proportion of the staff in men's prisons, and it is impossible to predict the impact of many more women guards, but current levels do not appear to pose a security risk. An even greater proportion of women might be easily accommodated if prison administrators followed the suggestions of a 1981 American Correctional Association report that special tactical teams be trained and made available in all prisons for response to emergency situations. Rank-and-file men guards may, in fact, act too aggressively in such situations and produce an escalation of violence by those they are trying to control (Attica 1972; Stotland 1976; Toch 1977). The presence of women at the site of erupting violence might do more to reduce aggression by all parties than would any actual physical intervention by them. Several researchers have reported that women workers have a calming effect on men prisoners (Becker 1975; Biemer 1977; Cormier 1975; Flynn 1982; Graham 1981), perhaps because women are less likely to engage in competitive relationships with inmates and do not encourage the "ego-showdowns" that may, This content downloaded from 184.108.40.206 on Sun, 23 Aug 2015 16:11:42 UTCAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Zimmer / WOMEN PRISON GUARDS 425 themselves, set the stage for violence between inmates and guards.