"Aspiring Female Traffickers Lack Role Models," Notes Expert
HANOVER, NH -- A new study reveals that while women have made gains in the controlled substances industry, they still comprise only 14.6% of all drug dealers. Even more disturbing, a "glass ceiling" shuts women out of the top rungs of the profession. "You always hear about 'Drug Lords' and 'Cocaine Kingpins,' but where are the 'Drug Ladies,' and 'Cocaine Queenpins?'" demands Clarissa Spode, Professor of Sociology at Dartmouth, and author of the groundbreaking report, "Cracking Through: Diversity, Dignity and Drugs."
Dr. Spode faulted the media for purveying stereotypes that discourage women from entering this fast growing and lucrative occupation. For example, "Miami Vice" depicted in total only 127 female "drug industry workers" compared to 1,711 men. "Even worse, 103 of the women (81.1%) were portrayed as forsaking their careers after sleeping with Sonny and/or Rico."
Other experts concur. "Gangster films in general have always been virulently phallocentric," observes Reed College Film Professor Charles Womyndaughter. His screenplay for a non-sexist mob movie -- "The Godparent" -- was treated with callous disregard by Hollywood. "They said some quite insensitive things about it," he recalls.
Another authority, Dr. Arthur Cruttwell-Clamp, finds that American women are socialized away from traits valuable in this demanding occupation. "Too few women in our society have been taught how to laugh while zapping a deadbeat customer with an electric cattle prod." He calls on toymakers to introduce young females to a wider range of career options. "Instead of 'My Little Pony,' your toddler should be playing with 'My Little Uzi.'" Dr. Cruttwell-Clamp recommends that parents combat traditional gender-typing by having their daughters pull the wings off butterflies and burn ants with magnifying glasses for 30 minutes each day, then advance to tying stray dogs to the bumpers of cars idling at stop lights.
All the experts indignantly dismiss biological conjectures purporting to explain why males seem more violent than females. "Then why are the Nuzwangdees of Guyana -- or is it the Wangduzees of New Guinea? Well, anyway, I heard there's some tribe somewhere where more women than men are into GrecoRoman wrestling, or is it Australian football?" retorts Dr. Womyndaughter.
Media stereotypes victimize men as well. "Tragically, male dealers internalize the media's image of them," muses Dr. Spode. "The one man I talked to while preparing our report was hyper-masculine: aggressive, dominating, reckless, ruthless, muscular ... and, yet, strangely intriguing."
The researchers found chauvinism widespread within the drug industry. "We originally expected gender equality in such a nontraditional, multicultural business," recalls Dr. Spode. "As the evidence of male domination mounted, however, we began searching for the Old Boys Network that locked women out. But with a median life expectancy of 24, we couldn't find many Old Boys. Fortunately, we came up with a crucial conceptual breakthrough: the Young Boys Network." Dr. Spode adds that females are seldom invited along on important male-bonding rites of passage, like drive-by shootings.
Linda M., a spunky New Yorker, recounts how sexual harassment cut short her promising career: "I started out in retail, on a corner in the Lower East Side, but the other vendors were very crude, very 'macho.' Whenever I walked by they made these weird sucking noises. So, I went into wholesale to find a higher class of professional peer, maybe even a mentor who could show me the 'ropes.' But my fellow distributors claimed I was on their 'turf' and kept disrespecting me by dangling me out windows by my ankles. So, I went home to Bensonhurst and opened a 'crack house.' But my family and neighbors were not at all supportive of my 'un-ladylike' ambitions, so they formed a 'vigilante' mob and 'torched' my house. I think they were trying to undermine my self-esteem."
Activists denounce the lack of government programs to meet the special needs of mothers who are also drug dealers. "The very term 'Day Care' reflects institutional insensitivity to those who work mostly between midnight and dawn," points out Dr. Spode. "One mother told me she would never deal drugs because she couldn't bear to think what would happen to her children if she were killed or imprisoned." Dr. Spode blames this inequity on Reagan administration cutbacks.
A spokesperson for the Drug Entrepreneurs of America League denies charges of discrimination, noting, for example, that Miami billionaire Francisco Fajita alone employs 57 young women as personal assistants. The spokesperson admits, though, that older Drug Lords may not always fully grasp the career aspirations of female dealers, but she claims the rising generation is committed to equality in drug dealing. "Frankly, the industry's elder statespersons were not as receptive to our sensitivity training seminars as we had hoped, so now we're relying more on our rather high rate of attrition." She stresses DEAL's new affirmative action campaign, which aims to increase female employment to 40% of "mules" and 25% of "goons." She concedes, though, that "Our goal of a 50-50 male-female split among "molls" is running into resistance."
But to critics, DEAL's steps are "too little, too late." They call for "really enormous" government grants to study such problems further. Dr. Spode wants to next focus on gender apartheid within the mugging, streetwalking and pornography industries. She predicts, "I expect to be shocked by the discrimination I'll find."