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York University
CRIM 2650
Anita Lam

Feminist criminology, part I Lecture Overview 1. Brief recap 2. ‘Malestream’ criminology 3. Second-wave feminism 4. Feminist contributions to criminology 5. Current/new directions in feminist criminology 1. Brief Recap  Postmodern criminology: linguistic conditions –how might we know the world and crime differently? By using different methods. Language controls and determines our thoughts and the way we can organize our thoughts. Language shapes our reality. Language can be oppressive and violence and silence the voices of marginalized people. Chaos theory: order comes from disorder. There are small causes that can have a large effect over time. We cannot simply predict the outcome. Example of the crossing guard. The small actions of an individual can have a profound effect on offenders. Feminist criminology  As conflict theory –conflict is inevitable especially in patriarchy  Patriarchy—social system characterized by sexual hierarchy in which men generally have power over women. System of male domination. A society that values the masculine over the feminine.  Is critical of mainstream criminology  Malestream criminology—most mainstream explanations of crime developed since the 1950s reflect a male view of the world and a biased towards male experiences. Assumption that women tend to commit crimes under different circumstances and different reasons than men. This can be due to their economic and social powerlessness in society. 2. ‘Malestream’ criminology  Theorizing the female offender  Weak, submissive and dependent individuals – these offenders were seen as a need for protection and that being male protection.  Uncontrollably sexual— rejection of the prescribed feminine roles  Lombroso: the female criminal (biologically determined)  Women are assumed to be less evolved than men— they were already assumed to be primitive. So atavism was he norm an therefore not an anomaly.  2 explanations for why women commit less crime:  Lack of female criminality  Few outward signs of atavism – their criminality was harder for criminal anthropologists to detect and this made it harder for thee experts to differentiate between normal and criminal women.  Naturally more passive – they are more oval (ovaries) thus less likely to commit crime.  Female criminals are more wicked than male criminals— even though they were rarely criminal, they were cruel. Sex vs. gender  Sex: physiological and physical categories of male and female  Gender: socially created and socially constructed categories of masculine and feminine  Sex/gender—not separable concepts Essentialism: idea that there is an essence that characterizes a form. That essence is eternal, permanent, universal true and not dependent on a context. Assumes that these differences are fixed between men and women. In contrast, feminist theories have challenged this idea of a fixed difference through the concept of GENDER. One is not born a man or woman; one becomes a man or woman. One gets socialized into a gender. 3. second-wave feminism—Emancipation/Liberation of women would be connected to women’s achievement of political social legal and economic equality with men in the public sphere. Essentially, men and women would have equal rights in the rule of the law.  Emancipation hypothesis (ex. Of liberal feminist perspective) (Adler, Simon) –assumed that women were committing more crime bc they were becoming more like men. This hypothesis is rooted in gender roles.  Explains rise in female crime between 1959 and 1970 in the U.S –why is it that more women are participating more in crime? Because of the women’s movement  Women’s movement led to changes in women’s social and economic opportunities  women behave more like men –increased their opportunity to commit crime  Challenged on two grounds  Fails to challenge cultural standards— This hypothesis Fails to challenge the cultural standards of masculinity and femininity. Assumes that liberated women actually want to act in similar ways as men, and that men are going to be unaffected by the behaviour of liberated women.  Lacks strong evidentiary support to this hypothesis—in looking that the crime trends between in59 and 1970, it looks like women are coming more crime but it can be better explained through the notions of continued economic marginalization of women. Even though there were more social opportunities for women, not all women had access to those opportunities. Women were commit property crimes. It was due to their economic marginalization, not the women’s movement. 4 Different feminist perspectives Perspective Cause of crime Strategies for social change 1. Liberal feminist Gender socialization Remove obstacles to women’s access to For ex. Male education, paid subordination is a employment, political reflection of how each activity, etc. gender is taught to behave socially. Each For ex. men and women gender will commit crime should have equal in consistent ways with opportunities to gender role expectations. participate in the public When women and men sphere become equal, the type of crime wil appear increasingly similar 2. Marxist feminist Capitalism Creation of socialist For ex. Class relations aresociety a primary relation for Necessary if we want to analysis. They stem from eradicate working class mode of production. In a subordination. cap society, the class division of labour is gendered so that the cap class tends to be dominated by men. Women are only part of the working class proletariat. Womens work in the home will create
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