Feminism gender & crime


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Feminist perspectives of crime and deviance, to be used in conjunction with text book

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Feminism gender & crime

  1. 1. Women & Crime <ul><li>By Chris Thompson </li></ul><ul><li>Sociologytwynham.wordpress.com </li></ul>
  2. 2. Women & Crime <ul><li>Do women really commit fewer crimes than men or are the figure misleading? </li></ul><ul><li>Some sociologists’ argue that crimes committed by women are on the increase, is this so? </li></ul><ul><li>Why do women who break the law commit crimes? </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Official statistics that in every age group males are much more likely to commit crime </li></ul><ul><li>In 2000 475,000 people were found guilty of these 88,900 were women </li></ul><ul><li>Official statistics also suggest there are gender differences in the types of crimes committed ie violent crime men; shoplifting women </li></ul><ul><li>However official statistics indicate that female recidivism is on the increase </li></ul>
  4. 4. Feminism Gender & Crime <ul><li>“ Gender is on the agenda” wrote Francis Heidensohn (1989) </li></ul><ul><li>Feminist definition of crime “crime is politically informed and linked to particular interests” – of men </li></ul><ul><li>Before feminism, women were invisible in sociological research, this meant that explanations for female recidivism saw: </li></ul><ul><li>Female crime as a ‘special case’ resulting from sexual promiscuity and biological ‘deviance’ </li></ul><ul><li>Biological explanations for male criminality have lost credibility,( think of all the competing explanations of recidivism) yet feminist research argued that biological explanations (non-sociological) were used to ‘understand’ female crimes (think of the persecution of Maxine Carr) </li></ul>
  5. 5. Increase in Female Crime <ul><li>Official figures show an increase in female crime </li></ul><ul><li>In 1975 Adler argued it was due to the rise women’s liberation movement which has led to an increase in women doing ‘male’ crimes like robbery </li></ul><ul><li>Heidensohn accepts there has been an increase in female crime but it’s due to poverty and being socially marginalised </li></ul>
  6. 6. Feminism Gender & Crime <ul><li>Feminist sociologists argue the following: </li></ul><ul><li>Campbell and Carlen ethnographic studies have shown that women gang members are controlled by their male counterparts </li></ul><ul><li>Prisons are run are sexist lines that make women doubly deviant – criminal and unnatural </li></ul><ul><li>Heidenshon’s research has uncovered bias against women in the criminal justice system as certain female offenders receive tougher sentences i.e. prostitutes </li></ul>
  7. 7. Pat Carlen’s Research <ul><li>Pat Carlen researched female recidivism </li></ul><ul><li>She followed Oakley’s ethnographic approach to social research this includes observations, in-depth interviews etc </li></ul><ul><li>Methodology: Carlen’s study was of 39 working-class women, aged between 15-46, who had been convicted of one or more crimes </li></ul><ul><li>From this sample she found the following: </li></ul>
  8. 8. Pat Carlen’s Findings <ul><li>Par Carlen argues that women’s crimes are largely ‘the crimes of the powerless’ </li></ul><ul><li>Carlen’s in-depth interviews found their decision to commit offences was a rational choice </li></ul><ul><li>Unrewarded by the family and workplace and with little power to change their situation by legitimate means, they saw crime as a rational alternative </li></ul>
  9. 9. Heidensohn’s Argument <ul><li>Heidensohn argues women have fewer opportunities to commit crime therefore they’re absent from official figures as society controls women </li></ul><ul><li>She also argues how a patriarchal society controls women, through primary socialisation, as society gives women primary responsibility in the home, as carers and are controlled by wider society such as going out alone any deviance from this and they’re labelled as slags or bitches </li></ul>
  10. 10. A Biased Criminal Justice System? <ul><li>In rape trials Smart argues the judiciary celebrates notions of male sexual need and female sexual capriciousness’ </li></ul><ul><li>Walklate believes in rape trials it’s the female victim that ends up on trial rather than the male suspect </li></ul><ul><li>Walklate supports Smart’s view that rape trials continue to see things from a male viewpoint, which accepts men can’t restrain their sexual desires once women indicate they might be available for sex </li></ul>
  11. 11. A Biased Criminal Justice System? <ul><li>Several studies show women and men are treated differently by the justice system (not always to the detriment) </li></ul><ul><li>Heidensohn suggests that women are treated more harshly when they deviate from social norms of female sexuality </li></ul><ul><li>Allen found women are treated quite leniently for motoring offences </li></ul>
  12. 12. A Biased Criminal Justice System? <ul><li>Carlen’s qualitative research (she interviewed Scottish sheriffs – judges) found the sheriffs were unlikely to imprison women who were good mothers </li></ul><ul><li>But were inclined to punish childless women or women with children in care </li></ul><ul><li>Women who conform to the ideals of femininity held by judges were more likely to get lesser sentences </li></ul><ul><li>Heidensohn, Allen and Carlen argue the UK criminal justice system is highly gendered </li></ul>
  13. 13. Conclusions <ul><li>Can we answer our questions? </li></ul><ul><li>Female recidivism is on the increase with official figures </li></ul><ul><li>However this could be due to police emphasis on prostitution or shop lifting </li></ul><ul><li>Bias in the criminal justice system </li></ul><ul><li>Heidensohn points to ‘social control’ while Carlen focuses on class and rational choice </li></ul>
  14. 14. Women & Crime <ul><li>By Chris Thompson </li></ul><ul><li>sociologytwynham.wordpress.com </li></ul>