which creates the image of female offenders as pathologically ill Jan 30 , 2013 SOC313 Lecture 4
- The traditional female roles, sexuality role critical
- Different kinds of labels applied to women: unmarried, single, divorced … etc all
different kinds that label women /All different kinds that classify women’s appearance..
- Fine line between what is acceptable or what is not acceptable for women/ All kinds of
norms have social control implications for females.
- Occupational norms: women are still concentrated in certain kinds of jobs.
- Another important category in terms of deviant roles is what is considered appropriate
deviant behaviours for women; any crime committed by women is considered deviant.
- A lot of studies on women’s crime have been tended to focus on women’s biology.
- Biological approach to female offending by Lombroso and Ferrero:
Interested in physiology/ do female offenders look different than normal people?
Biological explanation for female crimes: biological determinism to explain female
Three factors: 1) how do we identify female offenders? 2) How can we explain
the lower rate of female relative to male offending? 3) How do we explain the
fact that women, when they are deviant, tend to be concentrated in certain
offense categories? i.e. prostitution, welfare fraud, shoplifting etc…
With regard to the identification of the female offenders, L&F believed that by
comparison to the “normal” women, they have masculine characteristics. L
attributed this to the fact that women display fewer physical anomaly than men
which is indicative of their closeness to lower/less differentiated forms of life.
Women have fewer variations in their mental capacity, limited range of cognitive
facilities which explains the concentration of female offence categories.
How was his work discredited? He analyzed those who were convicted, not wide
rages of individuals.
- But, the connections he drew between women and physiology and the nature instincts
of crimes have been a recurring theme overtime. i.e. a lot of studies on hormones of
female offenders such as PMS. A serious problem of establishing cause & effect
relationships: i.e. “PMS causing crime” notion can be silly when the causal direction can
- Sigmund Freud:
He was far more concerned with the question of how we become a social being: he
argued that we start out as ID, and then we develop Ego, and Superego (conscious).
He believed that we are born as an anti-social being. Various forms of social
In his article in 1925 on some of the psychological consequences of anatomical
distinction between sexes and in 1931, an article on female sexuality.
According to Freud, the castration complex (complex about not having a penus) was
the main reason for females’ deviant behaviours. Women normally adjust to this
complex (i.e. become a wife or a mother) which is the appropriate response.
Furthermore, virtually all scholarships assume that female criminality represents a
departure from thrived sexual behaviours
This approach did not die out with Freud.
DMS (diagnostic manual statistics) done by American Psychic Associations
defines sociopath and psychopaths, all kinds of disorders around criminal
One of the new categories proposed were 1) self-defeating personality disorder
(women who put others needs ahead of their own), 2) late luteal phase
disphoric disorder (women with severe stress as an aspect of menstruation)
When these work were proposed, a sociologist responded by suggesting other
disorder: Delusional dominating personality disorder characterized by an
inability to drive the pleasure from doing things for others and a tendency to feel
threatened by women who failed to disguise their intelligence.
Self-defeating personality disorder was never added to DMS.
- These show a clear tendency to pathologize female offending
- What do we know about female crime?
When look at homicide rate, the sex ratio is 90 percent of males which has been
remained constant over time. Do they differ in who they kill? Women are more likely to
kill their partners. Men are most likely to kill acquaintances and then strangers whereas
women are most likely to kill their partners (35 percent) and then children (10 percent).
It is unusual for women to kill/harm strangers. Outside of the states, other countries
show very similar patterns.
- Non-lethal violence: sex difference in non-lethal violence is not as large as they are in
homicide rate but males are still predominant. How do we explain this? Why are
women less involved in violence?
It is part of being masculine to be violent for women.
Our expectation toward behaviour that influence the developmental outcomes.
Women being less involved in violence often times considered as being “normal”