Hello Kitty, Goodbye Masculinity

The New York Times reported last month on the unusual new disciplinary tactic of the Bangkok police force:

It is the pink armband of shame for wayward police officers, as cute as can be with a Hello Kitty face and a pair of linked hearts.

No matter how many ribbons for valor a Thai officer may wear, if he parks in the wrong place, or shows up late for work, or is seen dropping a bit of litter on the sidewalk, he can be ordered to wear the insignia.

“Simple warnings no longer work,” said Pongpat Chayaphan, acting chief of the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok, who instituted the new humiliation this week.

“This new twist is expected to make them feel guilt and shame and prevent them from repeating the offense, no matter how minor,” he said. “Kitty is a cute icon for young girls. It’s not something macho police officers want covering their biceps.”

Fortunately we Westerners are largely immune to this sort of humiliation, since we've long since dispensed with most artifacts of gender identity.  Perhaps someday Bangkok's Finest will join us in jettisoning such arbitrary distinctions as male and female, and learn to embrace the freedom of sexual ambiguity.

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Derek White