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SOC 1500 Sept 29 2011 Lecture Note (F11)

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SOC 1500
Alexander Shvarts

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SOC 1500 Thursday, September 29, 2011 Women’s Issues and Their Relations to Crime and Feminist Theories Hackler Ch. 13, Schmalleger and Volk Ch. 10 The Need for a Feminist Perspective on Crime • Intellectual sexism in theories of female crime: emphasis on biological factors • Criminal justice system: characterized by institutionalized sexism > feminist parliament, most lawyers are men, all judges were men; laws produced by males and benefitted males • Traditional theories of crime pay little attention to gender and patriarchal power relationships. > women are ignored completely; did not talk about female crimes, and why men commit crimes against women • Criminology- male-centered enterprise: women rendered invisible in criminological inquiry > women did not report rape and sexual assault – as far as they were concerned, it wasn’t happening • Females: commit less serious offences, in smaller numbers, and with less frequency than males. As a result, criminologists have formulated their theories to account for only male crime and delinquency. Official statistics indicated rape infrequent. • Feminist theory developed: past two decades, growing awareness of women and crime as a result of women’s movement > are women committing crime? Yes. • Feminist theories: most victims of unreported crime are women victims of male violence, and law and criminal justice are used to contain women through control over their sexuality and procreation; exclusion of gender from theories of crime; study of crime has focused on male offenders. Studies largely use male subjects in their samples but then generalize from their findings to explain all criminal behavior, regardless of gender. • Feminist theorists: lives of criminalized women are located within a broader social context characterized by inequalities of class, race, and gender. > take into account class, race, gender, social power • Criminalized women: tend to be young, poor, undereducated, and unskilled - most likely to be involved in property crimes. • Johnson and Rodgers (1993, 98): rapid increase in female-headed households and the stresses associated with poverty, greater numbers of women are being charged with shoplifting, cheque forging, and welfare fraud. Women’s involvement in prostitution is a reflection of their subordinate social and economic position in society > women are experiencing much more stress, poverty; women committing crime in response to poverty – need $ • Women experiences of violence at the hands of men: manifestation of patriarchy > men commit rape against women because they want to control them; patriarchal control • Feminists core assumptions: gender, power, and social context Feminism and Law in Canada • Feminist criminologists: differ on the issue of whether criminal law should be extended or enlarged to take into account gender issues or whether this will further reinforce the law’s support for patriarchal relations. They also differ on the issue of whether arrested women are to be seen as criminals, offenders, or victims who have become criminalized. > how do you treat arrested abused her #2) should see women as victims of a patriarchal state, Ex. woman arrested for being a prostitute because of laws of patriarchal state. If she moves to another country, she would be seen as an employee; if a woman is arrested for murder, she should be seen as a man (equality rights) • Radical feminists: law and law enforcement practices have been used to strengthen male dominance. • Socialist feminists: law functions to preserve both capitalist and patriarchal relations. > rich men vs. poorer men, poorer women, women in general – rich men control law; ex. the way women who cheat on welfare are treated vs. men who commit white-collar crime Feminist Theories – Marxist Feminism • Historically, family, labor, and welfare laws let men control women • Gavigan (1986): law provides the medical profession with authority over women’s reproduction. > most women used to give birth at home; men decided that they will control medical institutions (only they can go to medical schools); men controlled pregnancy and birth Socialist Feminism (Chesney-Lind, Comack, Smart, Faith, Morris) • Women’s involvement in crime: function of their subordination under patriarchy and its connection to class and race inequalities. • State and legal system: organizing and reproducing a sexist, racist, and class-based social structure. > Ex. abortion – who decides whether or not you can have an abortion? – men made the law, changed the law, created the law; males created laws basically saying whether or not women can have an abortion • Women’s oppression in a patriarchal capitalist society: men exercise control over women and women’s sexuality, overtly, through such means as the medicalization of childbirth, objectification of women bodies in pornography, and violence against women in the form of rape and wife abuse. Male dominance is maintained not only by the family and economic system, but also by the state, media, and religious and educational systems. > women commit crime as a response to their oppression in a capitalist patriarchal system • Women offenders: tend to be young, poor, undereducated, and unskilled, victims of physical and sexual abuse, emotionally and financially dependent on abusive male partners. Women are typically involved in property crimes as a result of their position in a patriarchal capitalist society. > why do women assault or go as far as killing their husbands? Result of her being abused over a long period of time – can’t take it anymore • Johnson and Rodgers (1993): women’s participation in property offences is consistent with their traditional roles as consumers and, increasingly, as low income, semi-skilled, sole support providers for their families. Increases in women’s crime connected with the “feminization of poverty”. Prostitution thrives in a society which values women more for their sexuality than for their skilled labor, and which puts women in a class of commodity to be bought and sold. One of the major causes of prostitution is the economic plight of women, particularly young, poorly educated women who have limited legitimate employment records. Entry into prostitution is also typically characterized by escaping physical and sexual abuse. > women who live in poverty may have to commit things like shoplifting to provide for their children; women become prostitutes because they are oppressed economically… why prostitution? Women valued for their looks and body – use this to make $ • Messerschmidt (1986, 1991): men in all classes commit more crime than women because men have
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