Gender & Crime Booklet


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Gender & Crime Booklet

  1. 1. Gender and Crime Look at the photo. What do you think are the most common reasons for fighting amongst girls? If it had been two men fighting would you have had the same reaction? Why do you think that men are more likely than women to break the law? Gender and offending • Significantly more men than women commit crime. • Men are more likely to commit serious offences. • Men are more likely to re-offend.
  2. 2. The crimes that women are charged and sentenced for more than men are: theft and handling and fraud and forgery. Question Why do you think women are more likely to be involved in these crimes? Three major approaches to explaining the relationship between gender and offending are: Sex-role theory Biological explanations Transgression Sex role theory Sex role theory argues that boys and girls are socialised differently and, as a result, boys are more likely to become delinquent. Social control Females are less likely to commit crime because of closer social control they are subjected to at home in childhood. Edwin Sutherland According to Sutherland girls are more closely supervised and more strictly controlled than boys.
  3. 3. Also boys are encouraged to take risks and to be tough and aggressive. As a result boys are more likely to commit crime. Task Give examples of ways in which the behaviour of women is likely to be more subject to control than the behaviour of men. Socialisation The values that girls are brought up to hold are those that do not lead to crime. Talcott Parsons According to Parsons there are clearly defined gender roles in the modern nuclear family. While girls usually have a readily available female role model in their mothers, boys have less access to a male role model. Largely socialised by their mothers, they tend to reject any behaviour. Albert Cohen Says that socialisation can be a difficult process for boys. Without role models they can experience anxiety about their identity as young men. Being tough and taking risks can confirm identity but also lead to delinquency. There is an emphasis on toughness and aggression which can encourage anti-social behaviour
  4. 4. Task How do different agencies of socialisation help socially to construct gender differences? Lack of opportunities The narrower range of roles that women are allowed to have consequently limits their opportunities to commit crime. Evaluation Feminist writers criticise sex role theory for failing to consider gender differences in power. Particularly the power that men have over women. Biological explanations This theory starts from the belief that women are innately different from men, with a natural desire to be caring and nurturing- both which tend to be attributes linked to crime. Women are therefore less likely to commit crime.
  5. 5. Some writers such as Dalton (1964) have claimed that hormonal or menstrual factors can influence women to commit crimes in certain circumstances. Transgression The previous two approaches were not popular with feminist sociologists as they were not seen to be adequate explanations for female crime It was a response to the need for a feminist version of criminology that Carol Smart (1990) introduced the idea of transgressive criminology. Smarts’ idea was that that sociologists look at crime and deviance from a male perspective. She said the question people should be asking is: What can criminology offer feminists? We should be looking at activities that harm women and ask how these came about and how they can be changed. This lead to people looking more closely at things such as: why women stayed in a night for fear of
  6. 6. becoming victims, and how women were treated by the law in issues of rape and domestic violence. Feminist perspectives Female crime as rational Pat Carlen argues that female crimes are largely ‘the crimes of the powerless’. Many women who commit crimes are powerless in various ways. They often live in poverty with little chance to change their situation. They have often lived under the dominance of male partners Unrewarded in the family and in the workplace and with little power to change their situation by legitimate means, they see crime as a rational alternative. Conformity and control Frances Heidensohn argues that women have far more to lose than men if they deviate from societies norms. She says that in a male dominated society, the control of men by women makes it difficult for women to deviate from societies norms. Home and family
  7. 7. Women have been socialised to conform. Girls are given less freedom than boys and are expected to perform household duties. These controls carry on into adult life. Women who challenge their traditional roles are often brought back into line by men’s physical and financial power. Women’s lives are centred on the home and they have less freedom to go out. As a result they have less inclination and opportunity to commit crime. Beyond the home Outside the home, women’s opportunity to deviate from social norms and come and go as they please is limited in various ways. Women are less likely to out after dark in cities for fear of being raped. Women are also less likely to deviate from the norms and values for fear of being labelled ‘slag’ or ‘bitch’ etc. At work, men are more likely than women to be in positions of power and control. Surveys show that sexual harassment is common in the workplace. Both inside and outside the home there is pressure on women to conform. Pressure which is reinforced by male power.
  8. 8. Evaluation of feminist perspectives Critics say the theory describes women as passive, simply accepting their situation. Critics also say that Heidensohn makes sweeping generalisations about men and women. Explaining male crime: male roles and masculinity Normative masculinity= the socially approved idea of what masculinity is. Bob Connell an Australian sociologist, argued that normative masculinity is so prized that men struggle to live up to its expectations. He believes the idea of masculinity is not something natural, but is something that males achieve as an ‘accomplishment’ and is constantly being worked at. More powerful males will achieve their masculinity in different ways and contexts from less powerful males. The example is given of businessmen who express their power through control in the workplace and
  9. 9. less successful men who express power through violence at home or in the street. Katz: Seduction of crime Katz (1988) argues that most of criminology has ignored the importance that the pursuit of pleasure has on people committing crime. Katz argues that by understating the thrills that breaking the law provides, we can begin to understand why males commit crime. He uses the examples of armed robbery, football hooliganism and the use of drugs and alcohol to show this. Katz’s work was heavily influenced by the work of Matza who looked at the idea of delinquency and drift. (young men drift in and out of crime at certain parts of their lives).
  10. 10. Questions 1) Give three examples of sex-role theory 2) Explain ‘transgression theory’ AQA exam question With references to material drawn from any other part of the course, discuss two social influences that might lead women to become involved in criminal activity
  11. 11. Gender and Crime