Crime & Media Week 6.docx

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General Education Studies
Danielle Tyson

Loving, Doting Dads versus Monstrous Mothers KEY TERMS Agency. The notion that individuals act independently out of a sense of moral choice and free will, as opposed to being „acted upon‟ by social forces and structures. Deviance. A social, and usually moral concept to describe rule-breaking behaviour. Difference. Concept often used in a negative sense to encapsulate cultural diversity, whereby patterns of behaviour of certain groups are identified as „differing‟ from some presumed norm. Essentialism. Belief that behaviour is determined/propelled by some underlying force or inherent essence. Informs many common sense views on crime and criminality. Familicide/family annihilation. Phenomenon whereby a man is driven by fear of failure to kill himself and his family. Feminism. Introduces theories from psychoanalysis and cultural studies into criminology. Filicide. Killing of a child by a parent/step-parent. Heteropatriarchy. A society in which the heterosexual male/masculine is assumed to be the norm, and anyone that differs is defined as „other‟ and is subject to censure or discrimination. Infanticide. Homicide of an infant under 12 months by its mother while she affected by pregnancy or lactation. Otherness. Denotes a symbolic entity located outside the self. Involves perception of the self as distinct from the not-self (subdivided according to learned differences). Psychosocial explanations. Perspectives that draw on psychoanalysis and sociological understandings, particularly in the pursuit of knowledge about gendered identities. Scopophilia. The pleasure of looking; desire to see. Spousal homicide. Unlawful killing of an individual by their spouse or partner. Unconscious. What is repressed from consciousness. Media misogyny - Psychoanalytic perspectives  When it comes to constructions of female offending, difference is readily constructed as deviance by causal association with crime. o Despite the fact that women rarely stalk, kill or murder – those who do are highly newsworthy because of their novelty.  Difference in a psychoanalytic interpretation: o Involves the denial of large parts of ourselves or the projection of those parts of ourselves, which make us feel vulnerable, onto others. E.g. Oedipal complex. o Child succumbs to a destructive unconscious solution in which he expels the part of himself that he finds intolerable (e.g. vulnerability and humiliation) and projects them onto his newly discovered „other‟. o Able to disown the harmful feelings that interfere with newly discovered sense of power and project them onto „woman‟, who is now defined as different and therefore bad. o Subsequently, women, femininity, or passivity may be deemed contemptible and feared because it represents a despised, castrated part of the self.  The interplay between unconscious fears and culturally reinforced prejudices defines who, at any given time, is designated the scapegoat other against whom we bolster our own individual sense of identity and the victimisation of feminised others goes beyond gendered relationships. o Understanding otherness helps to explain why identities are often characterised by polarisation and by the discursive marking of inclusion and exclusion within oppositional classificatory systems.  Insiders and outsiders.  Us and them.  Men and woman.  Deviant and normal. Feminist perspectives  1970s: to challenge the androcentrism of traditional criminology.  Applied to constructions of gender in studies of victimisation and seek to understand the conscious/unconscious that explain why some women fail to conform to cultural stereotypes of femininity and why legal and media discourses construct and reflect negative public emotions towards female offenders.  Issues: o Whether women are treated more harshly or leniently when they‟re in court. o Whether women who commit violent crimes in partnership with a man or in self-defence are passive victims of male oppression or active law- breakers acting out of choice and desire. o How women who kill and abuse are represented in the media.  Standard narratives used by the media to construct women who commit serious crimes are: o Sexuality and sexual deviance.  Categorised as either sexually promiscuous/deviant or sexually inexperienced/frigid.  Used to demonise them and justify their construction in the pages of the popular press as monsters. o Physical attractiveness (absence of).  Intense scrutiny regarding their physical appearance and attractiveness.  If conventionally attractive – presented as femmes fatales who ensnare their victims with their good looks, but are cold, detached and morally vacuous. o Bad wives.  When they don‟t conform to traditional gender roles where they put their husband and family first. o Bad mothers.  When they fail to measure up to the ideas of maternal care. o Mythical monsters.  To make them less woman.  Reinforce the notion of female killers as scapegoats for a phallocentric culture. o Mad cows.  Pathologies a woman‟s physiological and natural traits in order to construct them as artful deceivers. o Evil manipulators.  Suggests that women may have enjoyed their crimes. o Non-agents.  Avoid the ascription of „evil‟ – spousal homicide, where she either acts in self-defence against an abusive partner, and infanticide (viewed as a mixture of sad and mad). Women who kill  Ideas of femininity and masculinity are socially constructed.  Women seen as normally passive, good, law-abiding, nurturing, caring, etc. Everything men aren‟t.  Men seen as rational (whereas women irrational), not into feelings (the same way women are), more able bodied, etc.  Ideas translate into understanding crime and why women commit crimes.  Saying that when a woman commits a serious crime, our reaction is one in which she is seen as worse than a man.  Broken the law and also departed from the norms of her gender. o They get harsher treatment.  We fear this idea of a woman murderer.  We say she‟s stepped into a male action. o We see it as normal when a man commits a crime because we think it‟s part of being a man (able-bodied, resilience, etc.), but we are perplexed and freaked out when women do.  We struggle to understand that women commit crimes.  Public response – woman is seen as acting like a man or worse than a man when she commits a crime.  Because of this, there‟s a disjuncture between this construct of her acting like a male and what she is actually like.  Usually women aren‟t the fantasy people we see in popular culture – they‟re sad, etc. Women rarely kill – but when they do, their crimes are highly newsworthy  The news values of sex and violence means that there is a preference for certain sorts of victims.  This preference extends to female killers and violent offenders who are marginal and also sensationalised.  Women are categorised as either sexually promiscuous/deviant or sexually inexperienced/frigid, as virgins or vamps.  Newsworthy because their relatively rarity and because they can be further marginalised and can be told with reference to their sexuality.  If she fits the „happy wife supporting her man, etc.‟ image, then she will get sympathetic reporting, but if not, it‟s unsympathetic and she is treated harshly than a male. Why women kill and why  Scenario 1: women kill an intimate partner or family member. o There is a divergence between what is represented as interesting and what actually occurs. o Female killing often explained as revenge or madness. o It is usually a form of self-defence. o Problem - what would happen when a woman tried to kill a man and tried to rely on self-defence. o She‟s not equal in strength and size and doesn‟t usually have the same kind of weapon. o Women usually in an unequal relationship in that scenario. o The defence wasn't developed to recognise the situations in which women kill. o Literature tells us tha
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