Why Would Feminists Trust the Police?: A Tangled History of Resistance and Complicity

Regular price $ 24.95

by Leah Cowan

Verso Press

6/11/2024, paperback

SKU: 9781804293034


A tangled history of feminism's complicity and resistance

Every week it seems there is a fresh scandal involving abhorrent, racist, misogynist behavior by police officers. Yet these are the very people women are supposed to approach for help when faced with violence. And many feminists, hoping to use the criminal justice system to protect women, fight for stronger laws and longer sentences for those who harm them.

Why Would Feminists Trust the Police? traces the history of British feminism's alliances and struggles with the law and its enforcers. Drawing on the legacy of Black British feminism, Leah Cowan reminds us of the vibrant and creative alternatives envisioned by those who have long known the truth: the police aren't feminist, and the law does not keep women safe.


"Confidently expounds the fundamental antagonism between the armed wing of the state and gender freedom for all. Here is a beautiful voice, guaranteed to recruit many" -- Sophie Lewis, author of Abolish the Family

"Why Would Feminists Trust the Police? meticulously deconstructs much feminist common sense about safety, opening the way to brilliant abolitionist horizons that might genuinely give the word meaning." -- Gracie Mae Bradley, co-author of Against Borders

"An urgent call to dismantle carceral feminism rooted in a powerful historical analysis that centers the lived experiences and movements of those left out of mainstream feminism." -- Alex Vitale, author of The End of Policing

About the Author:

Leah Cowan is a writer and editor. She is the former Politics Editor at gal-dem, an online magazine and media platform run by women and non-binary people of colour. Leah also works at Project 17, an advice centre for migrant families who have No Recourse to Public Funds and are facing homelessness and destitution. Leah has written for publications including Vice UKHuckDOPE magazine, and the Guardian and in 2018 delivered a TEDxTalk presenting an intersectional analysis of emotional labour. Leah speaks and lectures, including for UN Women, in the House of Commons, at the Trades Union Congress, and at Queen Mary University of London. Her first book, Border Nation, breaking down the borders of migration, was published in 2021.