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Women and Druglords and Gangs, oh my! April 21, 2007

Posted by lindamc in drugs, Female Power, feminism, gender, in the news, new york times, Set it off, women in gangs.
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In the NY times today, there was an interesting article about the increase of women in high power positions in Mexico drug gangs. The article discusses how there has been an increase in deaths of women in high gang positions, and how those women have “transfered” themselves from the police in order to make more money. The women were successful because they attracted more attractive female workers who got by checkers and because they are good buisness managers. Talking to experts, the article reports that the reasons for this shift is because of a rise in poverty and women are joining to get themselves and their children out of the gutter.  Another expert theorizes that this rise will decrease the violence of the industry and make it more buisness-like.

I found it very interesting that both of these experts gave such classically feminie identies to these women who are joining drug lords. They gave them roles as mothers, and practical caretakers, who are non-violent and sensible. When I first heard of these cops turned druglord women, I did not picture a stuggling mother who would soften the life of a drug smuggler, I pictured more of a rough and tumble women like Queen Laifah (Cleo) in Set it off or other more angry and agressive women. It was interesting to me that the article painted women as possibly improving the drug smuggling buisness, when the article also says they are getting killed off more and more frequently. Either this means that many more women are entering the buisness and the number of deaths is the same per capita, or it is saying that women are not really doing well in the buisness, as they are getting caught by other gangs and killed.

I was just wondering if anyone else had any opinions on how the Times drew this article, or on your own reaction to the women, and what that says about our culture, that I automatically picture a certain kind of women selling drugs, and don’t buy the NY Time’s picture of attractive mothers who are less violent? I wonder too, what women in the US are like in gangs?

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1. rachaelg - April 21, 2007

The line from the expert about women making drug-trafficking “less violent, more businesslike” seemed like a non-sequitor coming after the majority of the article. Up until that point, the article just described why women might be good at it (connections to attractive women who can get past guards/managing skills) and several gruesome ways they have been killed. I’m hesitant to say he’s just being blinded by female stereotypes since he’s “the expert,” but women’s recent position in drug-trafficking is a new element in his field; perhaps his prediction is misguided. At least this article seems to suggest that violence is not mediated by the presence of women, but more research would be helpful in making this assessment. My own guess as a layperson in the field would be that women would have to adapt to the pre-established, violent structure of drug-trafficking and not the other way around.


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