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SOCB51H3 Lecture Notes - Truancy, Physical Attractiveness, Hymen

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Joe Hermer

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Appearance and Deliquency: Jill Leslie Rosenbaum and Meda Chesney-Lind
Women are judged by culturally derived standards of attractiveness
o Research has shown that perception of physical appearance can have a significant impact
on an individual’s success in a variety of endeavors. These endeavors include dating
opportunities, the initiation of relationships, teachers’ evaluations of students and
corporate success
Role of appearance in judgements of criminal responsibility and the punishment of behavior
o Physical attractiveness influences judgements of wrongdoing
o Dion found adult judgements of children’s transgressions were affected by the
attractiveness of the child, same with transgressions that were mild or severe, and also
antisocial behavior
o Sentences given to the offender are conditioned by the appearance of the offender such as
burglary in which attractive females receive greater leniency than unattractive offenders
o However when offenses were attractive related attractive offenders receive harsher
sentences than their unattractive counterparts
o Also indicates that when a female offender uses her attractiveness to assist in the
commission of a crime attractive individuals were more likely to be found guilty
Studies of appearance also demonstrate that society has higher expectations for attractive
individuals; some of these expectations pertain to women exclusively.
o For example attractive women are assumed to be more feminine and have a more socially
desirable personality and as a result they are assumed to have greater overall happiness in
their personal social and professional lives
Although the lives of attractive women are assumed to be far superior to those of less attractive
women it is assumed attractive women have less integrity and managerial opportunities for them
may be hindered
o In fact Heilman and Sarawatari concluded that women with more masculine
characteristics are believed to have greater ability than women with feminine
o Thus although attractive women are thought to be more feminine they are also thought to
be less well suited for nontraditional female roles
o Thus although attractive women are thought to be more feminine they are also thought to
be less well-suited for nontraditional female roles.
Judges interested in appearance before the court
o Judge’s interest in a runaway girl was whether they were clean when they were away
from home and if so may be engaging in prostitution and appearance was taken to be
considered as sexual morality or immorality and sexual moral activities were noted more
for girls than boys
Attractiveness double edged
More complex for women in the criminal justice system for offences directly/indirectly related to
their sexuality
There has been ongoing interest by judges and other court workers in the sexual activity of girls
o Clear bias against girls deemed sexually active and a harsh official response to
o ½ of the female delinquents and 1/5 of the male delinquents were sent to reformatories
o In Honolulu during 1929-1930 over half of the girls referred to court were charged with
immorality which meant evidence (or inferences drawn) of sexual intercourse
o Other evidence of exposure was gynecological examinations and doctors who understood
the examinations would note the condition of the hymen
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