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NYPD’s Sexy Problem

December 2, 2014

So now we know what it takes for a cop to get in trouble:  post selfies in uniform next to some stylin’ candids.  This is what six young attractive female NYPD cops are being disciplined for because of their contributions to the “Blueline Beauties” Instagram account.

The images are not pornographic. There are no sexy pictures of them in their uniform.   Rather, there are pictures of these women in uniform alongside candids of them looking, well, like attractive women look. There’s no breaking of the Internet here.  Just images of these ladies, for instance, dressed up for a night on the town or at the beach.  They look hot, are wearing heels and make-up.  So maybe there’s a duck-lip or two.

But why are women being singled out?  Why is there a crackdown only on Blueline Beauties and not the men of Blueline Beefcakes, an account that has since also been removed?  This reminds me of that stupid Oregon State University study indicting women who post sexy social media photos.  (The so-called “sexy” image in that study was a woman in a tacky red evening gown.)  Despite the inherent problems with that study, the conclusion was that women who sexualize themselves on social media are seen as less competent, intelligent and capable.  This bias may indeed exist against “sexy” attractive women. The solution needs to aim not at censoring voluntary digital expression, but at attacking the cultural response.

NYPD claims that the discipline is not because of the sexy pictures, but the juxtaposed images of the officers in uniform being on social media in the first place.  NYPD apparently has strict guidelines about posting images on social media.  The guidelines require prior authorization unless the pics are take during a department ceremony.

This is hogwash, though.  Not only does NYPD fail to enforce its social media policy uniformly across genders, but NYPD also violates its own policy. In fact when it established its Twitter account in April, NYPD asked the public to post candids of cops, using the hashtag #mynypd.  No pre-authorization for those images.  (Incidentally, that was a shortlived PR campaign since people posted images of police brutality and using unnecessary restraint.)

Clearly this Blueline Beauty bust reflects a gender bias.  Otherwise, Blueline Beefcake contributors would have been disciplined too at the exact same time.

You know what’s sexy, NYPD? Uniform uniformity discipline.