WDW 380: Crime and Gender
September 21, 2011
Organizational Crime, White Collar Crime and Gender
• Next week’s quiz will cover the readings for today (Sept. 21) and next week (Sept. 28), as well as “Tough
Guise” and “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room”. It will be given at the beginning of class.
-We were asked to make connections between Tough Guise and the lecture. A connection is that Jackson Kats made a
point about one of the ways in which dominance functions in a way that makes it appear invisible. Being white, male,
hetero, etc. is often not commented upon and is instead assumed. His point is that when boys are violent, it isn’t
mentioned. Its treated as so natural as to be unremarkable. We only comment on the sex of criminals when they are
women because criminality and femininity don’t go together. His point is that dominance becomes invisible in this way and
we reinforce the gender order in the function of not mentioning it, because it is natural and assumed. It is so natural that
we don’t need to comment on it.
-He uses a lot of data on violent crime but beware because:
- The data cited in the movie comes from the US and don’t necessarily represent patterns seen in Canada or
- The claim that men commit 90-95% of serious violence in intimate relationships is subject to much debate.
(More about this in 2 weeks). This issue is subject to debate and controversy.
- Katz states or implies that violent crime (e.g. Murder, rape robbery) was on the rise during the period in which
there were major changes in images of masculinity (e.g. When GI Joe and Star Wars figurines were bulking up).
However, in both Canada and in the US, serious violent crimes have generally declined since the early 1990’s.
-The fact that some of the data doesn’t support the arguments doesn’t mean we should disregard his message, but we
should be cautious about accepting all of his claims.
-Of all the readings assigned in this class, we will see many different perspectives on crime and gender (some
complimentary and some contradictory), but we shouldn’t take everything as truth because things are always subject to
-When doing the readings, think about the basic assumptions and claims, and the evidence they are calling on to support
Homicide Rates (per 100,000 Residents)
Canada and the United States, 1960- 2009
1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005
Readings for Today’s Class
Naffine: “The ‘man question’ of crime, criminology and criminal law”
Croall: “’Men’s business’? Some gender questions about white collar crime”
Messerschmidt: “Managing to kill: Masculinities and the space shuttle Challenger explosion”
This shows how the masculinities perspective can be applied to broader criminal behavior (not just young
Simpson & Ellis: “Theoretical perspectives on the corporate victimization of women”
Questions you should be able to answer after today’s class
What types of masculinities are important for understanding crime by high school males?
• How might a masculinity perspective contribute to our understanding of corporate crime?
Masculinities and Crime
-In Tough Guise, we were introduced to a masculinities perspective on crime. He focuses his attention of violent crime by
young males. This is common when people study masculinities on crime. This has been a criticism of this perspective.
-Males are usually the ones to do research on masculinities and crimes, and many don’t agree with each other. Here are
many of the assumptions.
Basic assumptions and themes of masculinity perspectives
1. Patterns of gender are social phenomena -By social, they mean the patterns of gender emerge among groups or within institutional arrangements and are thus not
individual. Thus gender is an attribute of groups and such.
2. The socially constructed nature of gender is the source of men’s privilege.
-Gender differences are not biologically determined. The relationship between sex and gender is not determined by
biology. It is based on a particular society at a particular time, etc, and thus not static.
-Thus it is the socially constructed nature of gender that is the source of men’s privilege. Men can claim more resources
and rewards in society, and this is not a biological function (more strong, more rational, etc as a sex), its because of the
socially constructed nature of gender. The gendered order that exists in society at a certain time values and rewards
behaviors associated with masculinity more than femininity.
3. The gender order produces particular social arrangements that seem ‘natural’.
-Thus, we don’t question these arrangements and assumptions because they seem obvious. The gender order hides this
socially constructed nature of inequality. These gender inequalities tend to be taken for granted as natural because of
innate sex differences.
-Ex. People think that women earn less because they leave to have kids, and thus they don’t have the opportunity to
make more money. However, masculinities perspectives that see gender as socially constructed would question why it is
that women take the time off to have kids in the first place.
Basic assumptions/themes of masculinity perspectives (continued)
4. The ways the gender order privileges men depend on the particular social, cultural, and economic
-The ways in which a particular gender order in a particular society privileges men depends on that context. Men are
privileged but not always in the same ways in all societies at the same time. Thus, masculinity itself is flexible and doesn’t
mean the same things in all societies and places. Thus, there is a specificity in terms of the ways in which the gender
order is ran.
5. Men’s power isn’t primarily exercised in their relations with women, but in their relations with other
6. Gender is an on-going social practice.
• “Masculinity must be proved, and no sooner is it proved than it is again questioned and
must be proved again –Constant, relentless, unachievable” (Kimmel)
• Sports as an illustration of assumptions/themes #5 and #6
-To masculinity theorists, gender isn’t a stable attribute that one claims and then always has it. Gender is instead an
ongoing social practice, performance, or activity. We do gender continually in all interactions and in all daily life.
Masculinity is fragile and vulnerable, more so than femininity. Thus, all it takes are one or two slip-up’s as a male to
fundamentally undermine their claims to a particular tye of masculinity. Masculinity is subject to much pressure to perform.
Masculinity can make claims to certain privileges, and in order to justify those claims to privileges, they have to constantly
perform their masculinity.
“Sports provides an important context in which traditional conceptions of masculine superiority are shored up. As a 32-
year old, white, professional class man said of one of the most skilled professional hockey players today: “A woman can
do the same job I can do – maybe even be my boss. But I’ll be damned if she can go out on the rink and take a hit from
Jarome Inginla.” (Paraphrased from Michael Messner)
-Sports is very important to masculinity. The above quote is essentially saying that there is always something that men
can do better that illustrates their superiority and that it sports. That’s how they distinguish the femininity. Thus sport is an
organizing institution for the embodiment of masculinity. It is a major cultural site where idealized images of masculinity
are constructed and promoted.
-When men engage in sports, their competing for status with other men. Their competing more than their trying to
demonstrate their superiority over other women. The goal is to best another man. Their power over women is more
assumed, thus they really need to be proving their power to other men.
-Sports is a social practice. Practice implies that you never fully achieve. Sports is a social practice n that it demands
other people and you need others to observe the sport in order for it to serve its function of performing masculinity.
-The performance is important in the sense that you cant just talk about being tough or masculine. That’s why men who
talk the talk but don’t back it up with their actions are made fun of. Thus, masculinity must be performed, particularly in the
company of other men.
-There are various types of masculinity and there is also a hierarchy, thus, we should be talking about masculinities, not
Masculinities, not masculinity (continued)
a. Hegemonic Masculinity
“The idealized form of masculinity in a given historical setting. In contemporary western industrial
societies, it emphasizes authority, control, competitiveness, independence, emotional neutrality,
assertiveness, discipline, self-reliance, and physical strength.” (Connell)
-It is rarely achieved or maintained.
-Important to note that violence isn’t included in this list. Violence isn’t typically seen as an important characteristic of
hegemonic masculinity. They are talking about control, discipline, etc. Many of the characteristics they are describing
would be in conflict with notions of violence. The hegemonic masculinity is always in control, and doesn’t need violence to
show his masculinity.
-Another important component of hegemonic masculinity is normative heterosexuality. Men who are able to enact
hegemonic masculinity also enact normative heterosexuality. The ide is that the man would be as different in terms of his
characteristics from a woman as possible. Part of this notion is that these types of males desire very feminine women and
they are the dominant sexual partner in their sexual relationship. Normative heterosexuality implies that you see
heterosexuality as the normative sexual expression and all others are seen as deviations from the norm. These notions go
together to make up hegemonic masculinity in contemporary masculine society. If man achieves these qualities, he will
acquire more power, authority, and respect. This notion, however, is something that is rarely achieved. This is thus why we see the existence of other types of masculinity.
b. Subordinate masculinities
-Least likely to endorse ideology of male dominance.
-Seen as least powerful by other masculinities.
-E.g. Gay males, emo’s
-These types tend to be seen by both women and men as the least powerful types of masculinity.
c. Marginalized and Oppositional Masculinities
-Endorse ideology of male dominance but lack man