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Men Against Women by Laura Hart McKinny

Men Against Women by Laura Hart McKinny


The Los Angeles Police Department in the 1980s was notorious for misconduct, corruption, and overall bad behavior. Laura Hart McKinny was doing on-site research for a screenplay at the time, and was allowed access to the Police Academy and ride-a-longs to inform her understanding of the day-to-day happenings at the 77th precinct, in one of the most dangerous districts in L.A. This summer, some of McKinny’s most shocking observations will be found in her debut novel, MEN AGAINST WOMEN (Stone’s Throw Media; August 2015; $$).

Morgan is a tough-minded cop and single mom who has requested a transfer out of her sleepy suburban town to the gritty streets of Los Angeles and the 77th precinct. She has experienced some hard times, being a woman in a male-dominated profession, but what she finds downtown is a much more serious problem that could put her life in danger. At the 77th, there is a clear division between the men and the women on the force, and the animosity and insults create a sullen atmosphere that is hard to shake.

Soon after she arrives, the women fill Morgan in on the secret club the men attend after hours called Men Against Women (MAW) — where they vent their frustrations at having to share their jobs with women. There is also her partner, Moon, who does everything he can to point out how dissatisfied he is with a woman at his side. The list of problems goes on and on: the substandard, makeshift women’s locker room; the lack of back-up response to female officers’ calls; the incompetent women who are clearly there for the numbers and not for their skill; and the senior female officers who will do anything to weed out the male trouble-makers, even at the expense of one of their own. When Morgan is unceremoniously demoted to “report car” when she refuses to rat-out a fellow male officer, she discovers a cover-up that could bring down MAW and change the face of the 77th forever.

Today it seems that there is much greater equality and tolerance in law enforcement for women. But as McKinny notes in MEN AGAINST WOMEN, women may contribute a “difference” based on the way they solve problems that could be invaluable. At one point in the story, Morgan talks to Moon about “community policing” whereby the citizens living in a difficult area come together to encourage “good behavior”; to report to the police when there is something illegal going on; and in general to support and protect each other from the negative elements living among them. In the novel, this idea is immediately dismissed. But for McKinny it is an issue that shows how the differences between how men and women affect law enforcement should be exploited, not hidden behind political correctness and a modern day equality that may not really be equal after all.

MEN AGAINST WOMEN is a novel that uses the past to raise questions about how the police could be enforcing the law today. And, with strong female characters, McKinny also applauds the strength of generations of women who have endured abuse and humiliation in order to change things for the better.