Chicago PD is back after an entire month on hiatus. And it wastes no time in getting straight to the drama. This episode starts us off with the interrogation of Kelly Severide a Lieutenant at Firehouse 51. It appears that this storyline was setup in Chicago Fire as we begin the night with Kelly already in custody and awaiting questioning. The crime he is suspected of is a hit and run. Which is made even worse as it not only appears that Kelly was under the influence while he was driving, but the car that he hit was a mini van carrying a mother and her ten year old daughter, who later dies of her injuries. It is quite a dramatic storyline; save for the fact that you know Kelly didn’t do it. Perhaps if he had been found guilty I would have been more interested, however since it was a predictable storyline I was more interested in a the topic of sexism that was broached.
The topic of sexism in the police force has been brought up multiple times. Each time Chicago PD has merely presented the facts and left it up to the audience to make any conclusions. This show is very real in the respect that very often in life you never get an explanation for anything, especially the way people act. So it is fitting that Chicago PD does not explain or provide closure to certain storylines such as the ones involving sexism and sexual harassment. There has been no closure in society, no solution made as of yet, and therefore the show reflects that as well. However Platt does come a little bit closer to talking about the issue when she warns Burgess about a bias that Al might have against her. He was on the job in 1974 when female officers were first allowed to serve. She says that many male officers were not happy having a woman in the squad car with them and although Al may have come a long way in some respects, some things she says, are still hardwired.
From the moment Kim gets assigned to be his partner it is clear that Olinsky isn’t happy about it. But the reason why is still up to our interpretation, until he explains his motives in his request to Voight. It is not until Platt warns Kim about the aversion Alvin might have to her riding with him, that the audience views Al’s request as possibly a sexist issue. For all we know there could be a multitude of reasons why Olinsky wouldn’t want to be partnered to Burgess, and at first he makes is appear that his problem with her is that he fears for her mental well being. Although he says this is his reason why, the audience is made to question his motives after Trudy warns Kim of his possible sexism.
Later he calls Burgess a ‘badge bunny’ and says that he isn’t sure she is tough enough to make it in Intelligence. Is he saying this because he is sexist and assumes a woman is not as tough as a man? Or is he trying to toughen her up and protect her, making sure she is ready for the responsibilities and hardship of this job. If the latter is the case then is it sexist to want to protect her? I suppose if his only reason of wanting to protect her were that she is a woman, it would be sexist. However Al seems like the type of guy to want to protect all the ‘kids’ that make their way into Intelligence. He has put all the newbies through his fair share of trials and tribulations. He did is with Ruzek and even with Atwater. I don’t remember him coming right out and saying it like he is with Burgess, but that could be because she was asking for it. Literally asking for criticism.
An alternative reason to Alvin questioning Burgess’ position could be the relationship he has with her personally. Perhaps he views her specifically as being too emotional for the job and the fact that she is a woman does not come in to play at all. Merely her personality has shown that she is an empathetic individual that has a tendency to bring her work home with her. As can be shown with her multiple ‘office romances’. Clearly Kim has trouble separating business and pleasure. Al knows how difficult this job is and as he said to Voight “this job is going to rip her heart out and I don’t want a front row seat”. Perhaps Olinsky knows what type of person Burgess is and he fears for her sanity.
As a woman I find the topic of sexism a very interesting one. It is my opinion that there is a subtle undercurrent of sexism in most pop culture. In the way that women are portrayed in general. And Chicago PD is no different. Just look at the two main female characters. Erin is the empathetic cop who always gets emotionally invested in the cases whereas Kim is shown to be mostly concerned with her love life over her career. Erin is still a tough and capable cop however she is still the one shown to get the most emotionally effected and involved in any given case. Because being emotional is seen as a female trait. Men are thought to be tough and unflinching in the face of adversity. Pair that with the fact that the other main female character is the one who is a love sick puppy falling for multiple male officers and you have the stereotypical boy crazy girl. No one questions Ruzek about his relationship with Kim. If it will affect his job performance or that a romance at work will be detrimental to his career. However these are all things that Kim must take into consideration and that she gets told multiple times. Alvin even calls her a ‘badge bunny’ implying that she just likes to hook up with officers. The same would not be said if she were a man.
Whether we like to admit it or not people like to work in stereotypes, especially when telling stories. Therefore pop culture relies on the preconceived notions of certain groups of people to create their characters and their stories. So a certain level of racism and sexism seeps in to the storylines. At least Chicago PD is willing to point this out occasionally so that the audience can be made aware of it and confront the issue themselves.