‘The Hero Stuff’ and the ‘Softer Side of Things’: Exploring Masculinities in Gendered Police Reform in Timor-Leste
This thesis investigates how New Zealand and East Timorese police officers involved in United Nations’ police reform understand and conceptualise masculinities. It explores how these conceptualisations compare to how masculinities are defined and outlined in United Nations’ gender policies. The United Nations have increasingly attempted to address gender in their policing work; however, within these policies, gender has continued to be equated with women and women’s issues while men’s gender identities remain invisible. My research contributes to emerging discussions about how an understanding of masculinities could be better incorporated into gendered police reform. I explore this through the case of the New Zealand Police Community Policing Pilot Programme (CPPP), a capacity building programme carried out within the wider United Nations Police mission in Timor-Leste. By speaking to New Zealand and East Timorese police officers, this research articulates how police officers themselves conceptualise policing masculinities and interpret how masculinities are framed in gender policy. My research finds that within both the East Timorese Police and the New Zealand Police involved in the CPPP, there is evidence of a variety of policing masculinities. These findings highlight the fluidity of masculinity and the processes that police officers can go through in order to challenge problematic constructions of masculinity. This provides important theoretical and practical insights into how positive masculinities can be promoted through gendered approaches to police reform. By investigating the ways in which the police interpret the United Nations’ approach to gender, this research finds that the continued framing of gender as a women’s issue in policy acts as a barrier to the police seeing masculinities as part of gendered reform.