Lecture 7 20140405
The Gendering of Criminology: Feminist Theory
How do we argue patriarchy, post modernist, feminist point out that it is not just the social construction of
• Multiple forms of power relationships in society.
• Critique Marxism focuses too much on class relations rather than racial, sexual, ethnic equality seems
to be secondary to class relations.
Prefeminist Pioneers and Themes
• Theoretical and research attention directed toward determining the differences between criminal and
• Two classes of women:
1. Good women who were not criminal
2. Bad women who were criminal
3. 1 in 5 women are charged, and one quarter of rate amoung men when incarcerated
4. Usually bail violations and fraud
5. Early theories focused on whether one were criminal or not: good woman or bad woman.
Prefeminist Pioneers and Themes: Cesare Lombroso
• InThe Female Offender , female criminality was described as an inherent tendency of women who
had not developed properly into feminine women with moral refinement
• Criminal women were more masculine than feminine
1. Short, darkhaired women with moles and masculine cranial and facial features were good
candidates for crime
Prefeminist Pioneers and Themes: W.I. Thomas
• Sex and Society : Men and women were fundamentally different
• Focus primarily ophysiological issues. Men, for example, had more sexual energy than did women.
This allowed men to pursue women for sexual reasons and allowed women, in turn, to exchange sex for
• Focused on women and their sex roles primarily The Emergence of New Questions: Bringing Women In
• In 1961, Walter C. Reckless question whether any theory of delinquency would be accepted if a
criminologist attempted to apply it to women
• The first wave of feminism focused on extending rights to women (i.e., right to vote).
• Secondwave feminism denounced the domestic sphere as oppressive to women and sought to
achieve equality with men in the public sphere
1. People question gender inequality and how come social institutions are reproducing feminist
The Second Wave: From Women’s Emancipation and to Patriarchy: Women’s Emancipation and Crime
• In the 1960s and 1970s, women showed an increase participation in the workforce, and thus, new
explanations of female crime were developed
• Adler:Sisters in Crime argued lifting restrictions on women’s opportunities in the marketplace gave
them the chance to be greedy, violent, and crime prone as men
• The pervasiveness of male dominance in patriarchal society and its impact on crimes committed both
by men and women
• The emphasis on power differences between men and women led women into powerless types of
1. Most criminological theories were based on men, and most theories were just regurgitated from
mens theories onto women, they just claimed it to a lesser extent.
2. No further research was processed when making theories and policies for women.
Varieties of Feminist Thought: Early Feminist Perspectives
• Liberal Feminism : Gender socialization as the cause of crime
• Marxist Feminism : Class and gender division of labor combine to determine the social position of
women and men
• Radical Feminism : Crime is an expression of men’s need to control
• Socialist Feminism : Examines the connections between capitalism and patriarchy that leads men to
crime and women to subordination (attempts to merge Marxist and radical feminism)
The Intersection of Race, Class, and Gender
• Initial feminist perspectives tended to implicitly treat women as a monolithic or homogenous unit of
• Feminist scholars began to argue for the importance of theories and investigations that explore how
crime is shaped by the intersection of race, class, and gender 1. Different marginalized women have different circumstances compared to white, middle class
living in suburbia. Some scholars say that women from an underdeveloped country will likely