Week 3

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University of Toronto St. George
Woodsworth College Courses
Rosemary Gartner

STREET GANGS AND ORGANIZED CRIME  Lecture Outline  A social constructionist perspective on women‟s involvement in crime: The female emancipation or liberation hypothesis  Prior to the 1960s, most theories of women‟s involvement in crime were essentialist in nature. The liberation hypothesis introduced a social constructionist perspective in contrast to the prevailing definitions of female crime that were essentialist in nature  Freda Adler and Sisters in Crime  Critiques of Adler‟s perspective  Connections between the ideas behind the female emancipation hypothesis and today‟s readings  Pizzini-Gambetta on gender and organized crime  Peterson & Panfil on gender and street gangs  Are girls in gangs who engage in violence performing gender?   Perspectives on Female Crime prior to 1960’s  Up until late 60s or 70s most of the people who studied crime an criminals ignored rimes by women  When they did pay attention to female crime they assumed that they did so little crime because of sex differences—located in the work of Ceasar Lombroso. Some would argue he was the first scientific criminologists  Women are less likely to commit crime than men because of innate biological and psychological differences from men  Lombroso and Ferrero said : women are naturally more conservative in nature ( do not take risk, more conforming, no competitive behaviour) and hence more law abiding than men  According to Lombroso “ The primary cause is to be sought in the immobility of the ovule compared with the zoosperm”. Women are solid, unmoving, undifferentiated, not adventurous, sperm on the other hand there are lots of them, all in competition to fertilize, they are active risk takers and adventurous and hughly differentiated  He saw women as inferior, the lack of crime meant that women were not as evolved as men are.  Some theorists said obviously some women do commit crime but even when women do commit crime,  they do so in ways consistent with innate female characteristics  Some theorists said women are so emotionally needy more so than men hence why their most popular crime is prostitution which is not even true  Some say that their crime is a performance of innate natural maternal instincts. i.e stealing food for kids.  Otto Pollak said women were more likely to be deceptive in their crimes. Women are better at deception and hiding their crimes because of sexual and reproductive differences from males. Women fake orgasms, men cant, so it teaches women to be deceptive sexually. Secondly women menstruate and most hide that every month so they are better at hiding things. Women‟s crimes reflect their deceptive nature. We shouldn‟t be surprised that women kill by using position, and they target victims who are les likely to report their victimization like their children and spouses. He believed women committed so much more crime than we known of they are just good at hiding it.  they do so because of sex-specific physiological or psychological disorders  they do so because of sex specific physiological or psychological disorders often linked to their sexuality  it was against their nature so there are abnormal but still in a very female way  i.e female castration anxiety and other pregenital anxieties push kleptomaniacs to steal in order to compensate for the loss of the penis  Eroomania is a primary cause of female terrorism according to one. The key to their terrorism is in their sexual natural.  they do so because they have abnormally masculine psyches and are rebelling against the female role  They do so because they have abnormally masculine psyches and are rebelling against the female role  Cowie and slater” marked masculinity traists in girls delinquents and the frequency of homosexual tendencies. Energy aggressiveness enterprise and the rebellious that drives them to break conformist habits are thought to be masculine. It is not social constructed but due to abnormal imbalances in the female itself.  In other words, the causes of female crime are linked to sex- specific characteristics and abnormalities  Essentialism   The Women’s Movement of the 1960s and the Critique of Essentialism  Essentialist perspectives were used to justify inequalities between the sexes because these inequalities were seen as natural and immutable  Introduction of the concept of gender as a socially constructed attribute was used to challenge this essentialist view.  A lot of the differences are really a function of social definitions of what is appropriate masculinity and appropriate femininity.  Freda Adler and Sisters in Crime  Adler was not the first criminologist to argue that sex differences in crime were a function of social constructed gender differences  She introduced liberation hypothesis in book sisters in crime  Sex differences in crime are a function of socially constructed gender differences not innate biological and psychological differences between females and males  Women commit less crime than men because of 3 reasons in her argument  differences in socialization: early sex differences in socialization led to gender differences in behaviour that are reinforced in society. Expectations develop out of this socialization that men will be risk takers and are encouraged to be so.  Differences in informal controls: girls are more supervised and seen as more in need of protection. Parents tend to know where and what the little girls are doing more than they know about little boys. They are more controlled and kept compliant with these controls  Differences in opportunities: as a consequence of the above. Cant hang out on the street and commit crime because they are forced to stay at home.  These conclusions are consistent with a lot of mainstream theories that are about crime but not gender specific. She wasn‟t arguing something brand new but taking existing ideas about men‟s crime and saying they could be argued in relation to feminine crime. So why was her work so controversial and why did it attract so much attention  It was controversial because she linked in to women‟s liberation and the second wave feminist movement  She argued that women‟s liberation would lead to equality in crime rates. Contraception is giving them more freedom, parents do not have to worry so much and other changes mean women are not so constrained anymore so we will see equality in economics finances and crime  Led to this huge scare of crazy women taking over and there were just enough high profile cases happening in the US to confirm this. She was essentially saying we can expect more of this stuff cause of women‟s liberation.  “Like her legitimate sister, the female criminal knows too much to return to her former role as a second-rate criminal confined to „feminine‟ crimes such as shoplifting or prostitution. She has had a taste of financial victory. In some cases she has had a taste of blood. Her appetite appears to be only whetted.”  Though she was liked by the public, criminologists did not support her and had a number of critiques aimed at Adler.  Reactions to Adler’s Liberation Hypothesis  Feminist criminologists criticized it
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