"We Don't Want the Loonies Taking Over": Examining Masculine Performatives by Private Security in a Hospital Setting

Title: "We Don't Want the Loonies Taking Over": Examining Masculine Performatives by Private Security in a Hospital Setting
Authors: Johnston, Matthew
Date: 2012
Abstract: After sixteen intensive months, I quit my employed position as a security guard at a local hospital. By drawing on my autoethnographic experiences in the form of “ethnographic fiction writing”, as well as eight interviews with my former male colleagues, I explore how the guards’ constructions of masculinity intersect with their security assessment and subsequent application of force, chemical incarceration, and other coercive security tactics on involuntarily-committed mental health patients. The narratives are framed by the available literature on gender and masculinity within the security, police, prison and military institutions, as well as the theoretical notions of gendered institutions (Acker), hegemonic masculinity (Connell & Messerschmidt), doing gender (West & Zimmerman), and Dave Holmes’s application of Foucauldian biopolitical power to forensic healthcare settings. These concepts are used in tandem with a creative methodological tool to reveal the “messy”, “bloody” and “gendered” ways in which hospital life unfolds between the guard, the nurse, and the patient prisoner. By escaping more traditional forms of academic writing, I am able to weave raw, sensitive and reflexive thoughts and emotions into the research design and analysis. The analysis is divided into two narratives: “Us” and “Them”. “Us” emphasizes the gendered ways in which the hospital guard learns, reproduces, resists, lives up, or fails to live up to the masculine codes of the profession. Here, the guard must confront cultural demands to demonstrate physical prowess, authority and heroism during a patient battle. “Them” explores how hegemonic masculinity shapes the hierarchical and coercive relations between the guard, the nurse, and the patient, and reinforces psychiatrized discourses that promote punishment, pain, bureaucracy and control. Overall, these findings call for the abolition of physical restraint, chemical incarceration and other coercive security measures within our healthcare institutions, and encourage future research to give voice to the lived experiences of women guards and security management teams.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/23196
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -