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Lecture 8

CRIM 1650 Lecture 8: Gender and Crime (part 1)

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CRIM 1650
James Williams

Gender ad Crime (Part 1) – Crime and Social Status (Week 9 – Nov. 8) Linden ch. 6 + course kit – “The New Bad Girl” Last Week: Gender and Crime (Part 1): The Female Offender  Crimes committed by women and the unique reason they commit crime relative to men  Approximately 80% of all crime are committed by men  Objectives: the image, evidence (profiles), explaining female offending, female offending and violence against women The Image: Perceptions of Female Criminality  “Nasty” girls and “unruly” women o idea produced through the media o because it is uncommon is attracts media attention o portrayal of female aggression – nasty, unruly, bad  men are described as violent or aggressive o Importance of language being used to describe female offenders  Ex. Nasty – far from neutral, judgemental, deviation from accepted norms of stereotypical women  When acts of violence occur (by women) it is viewed as unnatural/ straying away from ideal/stereotypical women  public perceptions o rates of female crime are on the rise  women are becoming more violent and it is more common o women, specifically young girls, are becoming more violent and aggressive o equalization of opportunities and the disappearance of the “gender gap”  as women become more liberated and integrated into the economic mainstream = becoming equally criminal  disappearance of gender gaps, between men and women  ex. Entry of women into the workforce = access to opportunities to commit white collar crimes  gender gap (female vs male offending) o crime committed by women seems to receive more media coverage  Ex. “Girls Gone Violent” – “The New Bad Girl” The Evidence: Profiles of Female Offending  Increasing rates of criminal behaviour on the part of girls and women and a narrowing of the “gender gap” o Women are responsible for a greater % of crime compared to men (all crime types) o Disappearance of the gender gap o Despite greater %, men continue to perpetrate more o Violent crime (male- 84%)  However, majority of female crimes are non-violent o Property crime, drug possession, fraud (welfare), minor forms of assault  Where majority of female offending occurs o Rareness of serious violent crime presented by women (murder, aggravated assault, robbery) – represent a small portion of female crime – exceedingly rare  Has gone unchanged since the 1960’s (stable) o Relative to boys, not as much violent crime has been reported o Homicide charges are credibly rare amongst girls – they represent 4.5% of youth charged with homicide offences  Homicide offences in youth are already credibly rare o When girls commit murder, they are much more likely to kill family members and kill because of interpersonal or family conflict, rather than a criminal incident  Murder by girls emerges out of particular family/interpersonal conflict – almost like self defense against what is already a violent situation o Increase in arrest rates are linked with common assault*  The rate which men are charged, has decrease since early 1990’s, whereas the rates for women has doubled since the 1990’s  Narrows the gap between # of females charged with violent crimes vs. males  Is the reaction to female offending increasing or is it a genuine increase?  Evidence of re-labelling and the discovery of “new” offences” o Crimes have been re-labelled of crime  Worthy of a new label and arrest o Ex. Altercations within the school (girl vs. girl) seen as interpersonal conflict  More recently, teachers have been viewing these actions as violent crime and worthy of reporting  Increase the rates of female violence o Disputes of confrontation between parent and child  A child can be charged for physical abuse if they hit their parents*  Parents are encouraged to report their children when necessary  Changes the idea of crime- increases crime (re-labelling) o Discovery of new *  ex.  Because of this mandate, police charge both male and female in common assault, increasing crime rates o Suggests we need to be skeptical that violence by women is genuinely increasing  Using a critical lens, we need to appreciate the complex dynamics that contribute to the production of these cases  Women and the “War on Drugs” o Significant increase in arrest and charge for women involved with drugs / trade o Women often occupy a vulnerable position within drug trade hierarchy  Given the responsibility to be the mules – transport drugs (risky, illegal = charge of a crime/criminalized) o Gender inequality in the drug trade  Women as victims o Women who engage in serious forms of violence often have histories of abuse and prior episodes of being victims  There is a close connection between the status of women as offenders and victims o To understand the format, we need to appreciate and understand the latter Explaining Female Offending  Why do women engage in crime?  Very little attention to why women engage in crime o Strain theory, etc are able to explain this equal to men  Lombroso (1900): Masculinity Thesis o Theory of female offending o Women who committed crime were equally as masculine as males o Consists of three parts:  1. Fewer female criminal’s b/c women, by nature, are more primitive and less intelligent than men, believed to be naturally passive and conservative  2. If women did commit crime – reasoned that those actions are due to the fact that they possess masculine traits  biological makeup similar to men  3. Female criminals are masculine, b/c they are masculine, they are biologically abnormal – a departure from nature o suggests a form of female criminality that was inherently threatening and dangerous o (Lombroso cited in Heidensohn, 1996: 144) o (Lombroso, 1900: 151)  female criminals are viewed as unnatural therefore viewed as more dangerous than male offenders  Pollack (1961): The Criminality of Women o Developed two prong theory o 1. Addresses the causes of female offending  Pollack observes that women tend to commit specific types of crime  Ex. Fraud, forgery, embezzlement, prostitution  Reasoned: they all include some kind of deception and persuation  Therefore, these types of crime are best explained as the deceitful, cunning, manipulative personality traits of women (women, by nature, are deceitful and its reflected in these types of crime)  Then asserted that deceitfulness was a biological trait  Ability to fake orgasms? - manipulation  Further argued that menstruation, pregnancy were dangerous times for women b/c it makes them more prone to commit criminal acts  Biology plays a fundamental role in understanding female crime o 2. The failure of the criminal justice system to take female offending seriously  the chivalry thesis: acknowledging women committing various types of crime  reasoned that they weren’t being reported/charged/arrested b/c the chivalry of police, judges  willingness of authority to excuse female criminal behaviour – on the grounds that it was not completely criminal  female crime is much more common that what is recognized because it is not take seriously o sex rooted biologically vs. gender (social)  Adler and Simon (1975): Women’s L
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