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WDW101Y1 Lecture Notes - Middle White, Essentialism, Spermatozoon

Woodsworth College Courses
Course Code
Sandra Bucerius

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W3 WDW380H
The kinds of crimes women engage in are different then men
In what way was Adler’s liberation hypothetic a feminist perspective of crime?
Some important terms:
Essentialist perspective (see slide)
Social constructionists (see slide)
A social construction perspective on women’s involvement in crime: The female
emancipation or liberation hypothesis
The women’s movement was about challenging claims/ they critiqued
essentialist views/ a lot of the inequalities tend to be viewed as a function of
sex difference/ so say that no! Gender is social construction
Adler: not first to argue that sex difference in crime is influenced in crime.
She developed argument that sex differences in crime are a function of
socially constructed gender difference not innate biological and
psychological differences between females and males
o Women commit less crime then men because od differences in
socialization, in informal controls (girls tend to be more supervised
and control by families and more controlled and kept compliant),
differences in opportunities (women have fewer opportunities to
commit crime)
o Why was her work controversial? She linked it to women liberation
female emancipation This would lead to a decreased and eliminate a
different between women and men in crime
o Criminologist did not fully embrace her ideas (didn’t challenge the
difference) they challenged that lessening gender inequality, would
women crime would become more like men. Main stream
criminologist critiqued her on empirical and logical grounds
o Feminist criminology: she may encourage a hold back and linked a
negative side, if women become more like men/ how much gender
equality change did we see? /women were not liberated they saw a
double burden put on them/ Adler is missing a critical point, what
kind of women are benefiting (not black women), it was middle white
liberation for the women, not everyone and affecting the kind of
women who were least inclined to commit crime
o Adler was assuming that male behavior were human behavior, and
not gendered being, the lives that fully human beings lived (male are
taken as the standards) and ignored the fact that males are gendered
Adler thesis was largely rejected, but the reasoning behind it still had appeal.
Her work is still important (she moved theorist away from essentialist
Prior to the 1960, most theories of women’s involvement in crime were essentialist
in nature
Most who studied crime and criminal, they ignored crimes by women/ when
they did pay attention to female crime, they assumed the reason they commit
less crime but because of sex, not gender difference (innate biological and
physical differences for man)
Lombroso & Ferrero: first to pay attention to female crime/ women
committed less crime, because fundamentally females were more
conservative in nature/ women are like the ovule et man like spermatozoid,
reflected in the nature of the human/ thought women were inferior to
But still why do women commit crime at all? Within the realm of
essentialist models/ when they commit crime and the way they commit
them, they reflect natural female characteristics
o Women more needy then men, so when they get involved in crime the
most common crime is prostitution
o Crime a function of innate maternal instinct (stealing)
o Pollak: motivation for women is not just sex specific, but the way they
commit the crime is sexed. Women are better at deception and hiding
their crimes (women learn to deceive people sexually fake orgasm/
women have to menstruate better at hiding things
o Against their nature to commit crime, if they commit it it’s because of
sex specific and psychological disorders (abnormal in a specific female
o They are abnormal but in a sense that they are more masculine then
Most argued that women engaged less then man because of abnormal, and
the causes were distinctive then the reason men commit crime
Connection with reading
Chapter by Pizzini: its not female emancipation influencing the involvement
of female sin organized crime. Links women involvement with things such as
market, gender
Peterson & Panfil: sex balance gangs, males will be the most violent (the
presence of female is a threat to man)/
o Violence is not typically seen as a way to be feminine/ man who are in
gangs and street crime, are those who cannot achieve hegemonic
masculinity, they engage in oppositional masculinity, they exaggerate
they aspect they can control
o Normative femininity (behavior and characterizes considered
appropriate for females in a time and place/ usually what masculinity
is not)/ the girl who joins gangs do not have the opportunity to do
normative femininity (they live in a dangerous context and cant
embraced the passive sweet femininity
o Oppositional femininity: girls who join gang/ to survive the world
they live in they need to be confident, assertive/ but doesn’t mean
they reject all aspect of normative femininity/ gang girl engage in
exaggerate display of physical femininity (dressing, physical
appearance becomes important)/ they are not embracing masculinity,
but the characteristics of femininity they can
o What girls in gangs fight over, are very traditional feminine traits/ or
female sexuality/ violence occurs but in a very gendered way and
holds strong trait of femininity gang girls are still engaging in
Organized crime and gang crime are not equal opportunity employment/ the
gender inequality in society are reflect and enforce in criminal groups and
sexual double standards
No female trader, all young males
Huge value on risk taking/ cooperate risk taking can have potential downside
Masculinity is about performing it/ who’s going to be the biggest and worst
Not just about money, its about performing masculinity with the people
around you