Feminist Theories 12/21/2012 9:54:00 AM
Gender based theories
Only look at boys or girls in passing
Gender is the most strong and consistent correlate to crime and
o Males are much more likely to offend than females
o Gender is strongly positively correlated with crime, with more
males, higher the crime rate
Females in the criminal just system
Feminist school of thought
To what extent can theories be generalized to women's offenses
Feminist criminology as branch of critical criminology
Focus on power relations and sources of power rellations
o Patriarchal system
Women at the centre of inquiry
o Women were ill served by traditional theories
o Fail to account that women who were treated for sexual
crimes were treated more harshly than men, but treated
lighter than men for violent crimes
Women as offenders, women as victims, women in the criminal
Stereotypes used in explanations
Female offenders treated as at an earlier stage of development than
o Females were still "developing" distorted image of deviance
Ignored what actually produces delinquency,
o Every theory before was inadequate, no gender differences
between men and women. Much of policy and attitudes towards female criminals assumed
neurosis, irrationality, compulsive behaviour, secondary to men.
o Women were more likely to be institutionalized than men
Female deviance studies focus on sexual deviance
o Bad women, who were sexual or lack sexual guilt, specific
traits for women.
o Sexual characteristics helped deem criminal women from
o Sexual related crimes, women were always in the centre even
if she was the victim.
o The nasty girl
Cultural assumptions of women being institutionalized
based on sexual matters
o Violent girl
Now all girls are violent, have violent tendencies,
statistics lead to new treatment in the criminal justice
What do we know so far
Traditional theories focus on boys
When women were mentioned it was stereotypical and distorted
Some theories claimed gender neutrality.
Ignores social construction of gender
Freda Adler - Sisters in Crime
Took into account women's liberal movement
Women were aggressive, competitive when leaving private sphere.
o No longer confined to house and family.
o Public is competitive and economic.
Women begin to take on masculine qualities.
o Taking challenges and roles that men take on
Women had more access to guns etc. making them selves known as
full human beings.
o Became just as capable of violence as any man
Leaving home, joining public sphere Rita Simon, Women and Crime
Still focused on social changes, leaving private sphere
Different application of crime and deviance,
When women leave private sphere
o Women had more opportunities for crime
not because they become more like men
Did not see violence or aggression
o Saw more economic related crimes
Women getting closer to people of power
Difference between Adler and Simon
Simon did not see women with masculine traits
Adler crime was more violent, Simons crime was more economic
More support for Simons theory
Review of traditional theories
o Stereotypical Claims
o Error on relying on institutionalized sample of girls as
All theories lacked
Called for feminist criminology
Never layed a structure for feminist criminology
The study of gender relations,
Including how women are discriminated against certain forms of
Put women in the center, generalize women
Initial writings classified as liberal feminism
o Correcting distorted images
o Operates in existing social structure Still traditional criminology
o Correcting those theories ,
o Questioning and critical of old theories
Strand of critical feminism
Central concept is patriarchy.
Patriarchy is established and maintained through sex role
socialization and core gender identities
First part of critical feminism...radical feminism
o Male dominance is the real problem in society
o Socialized sex roles,
o Domination over women,
Public and private sphere
Patriarchy is heart of the problem
o Completely change society to eliminate it
Strand of critical feminism.
Combine radical arguments with traditional Marxism.
o Male dominance is a problem,
o Root of their dominance is their ownership and control over
means of production,
o Control rests with men, interests become rules and societal