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SOC 2700
C Yule

March 21 , 2013—Gender Based Theories Sex-specific patterns of offending -males outnumber females as offenders in all societies and time period for which records are available -the more serious the crime, the more males outnumber females -although female and male offenders engage in somewhat different types of crime and commit crimes in distinctive ways, they have much in common -their early lives, personal characteristics, and motivations appear to be more similar than different -the social environments that increase their risks of offending are similar Pre-Feminist Themes -historically, offending by women was: -neglected -tendency was to not say anything -focused on men, data of men, by men, etc. -deemed to be unnatural, odd, unfeminine -caused by women’s sexuality, biology, or individual pathology -psyche, mental illness, possession -social factors were ignored -how do we explain these themes? -low rates of offending -early theorists were men who had little understanding of the social worlds of women and girls Why do women tend to be the “forgotten offenders”? -women commit fewer crimes than men -less serious offences, etc. -female criminality tends to be less serious than male criminality -historically, women have tended more often than men to be “excluded” from the justice system, by lenient treatment -people were less likely to press criminal charges, or call the police in comparison to if a man committed the same offence -women constitute a small proportion of the correctional population (6%) -popular social attitude tends to put all females in a subservient position Early Gender Based Questions -two main questions drove early theorizing about why women commit crime -awakening from an androcentric slumber (1) are traditional theories generalizable to female offending? -ex. control theory -why don’t women commit as much crime as men? -ex. differential association theory -could these theories that are intended to apply to men extend to explain female offending -many people say yes, these theories are generalizable (2) can traditional theories account for the gender-ratio in offending? -why do women commit less crime than men? -the debate over the size of the gender gap is ongoing -moral panic over the rise of violent female offending -the gender gap may decrease if: -female and male crime rates both decrease, but the latter decreases more -this is a good thing, not a cause of concern, overall crime is decreasing -female rates increase while male rates decrease or remain stable -male and female rates both increase, but the former increases more -this is a cause for concern -gender gap is based on… -official statistics -represent behaviour of men and women, but also dependent on what we police Shortcomings of Traditional Theories -according to critics, traditional theories cannot adequately answer the following -why are serious crimes against property and against persons so much less a feature of female offending? -why are female offenders less likely to participate in or lead criminal groups? -offending with other people -women are often solo perpetrators, or part of relatively small, non- permanent crime groups -why does female offending often involve relational concerns? -familial things Early Gender Based Perspectives -criminologists disagree as to whether or not gender neutral (traditional theories) vs. gender specific theories -liberation or emancipation hypothesis: -one of the by-products of women’s liberation will be a high proportion of women who commit crime -concerned about the transformation of gender roles in society -Adler -the rise of the new female criminal -in the same way women were demanding equal legitimate opportunities, a small number would be forcing their way into the world of crime -hypothesis was critical because it brought women into the criminological discourse, prompted sustain interest in research on female offenders -criticisms of the liberation thesis: (1) women commit traditionally “female” offenses (2) crime more common among women who did not achieve equality -if we could find true equality, maybe there would be a reduction in women’s offending (3) fails to account for how
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