Explaining Female Crime

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  • Explaining Female Crime
    • Functionalist Sex Role Theory
      • Parsons traces differences in crime and deviance to the gender roles in the conventional nuclear family.
        • Men take the instrumental, breadwinner role and women perform the expressive role where they take the responsibility of socialising the children.
      • This expressive role the females play gives girls a role model but not the boys.
        • These boys reject the feminine models and are more likely to turn to an all-male street gangs as a source of masculine identity.
      • New Right theorists argue that the absense of a male role model in matrifocal lone parent families leads to boys turning to criminal street gangs as a source of status and identity.
    • Heidensohn: Patriarchal Control
      • Heidensohn argues that women's behaviour is very conformist, they commit fewer and less serious crimes than men
        • In her view, this is because patriarchal society imposes greater control over women and this reduces their opportunities to offend.
      • Control at Home: women domestic role imposes sever restrictions on their time and movement and confines them to the house, reducing the opportunities to offend.
        • Daughters are subject to patriarchal control, girls are less likely to be allowed to come and go as they please or to stay out late.
        • Girls are also require to do more housework than boys, they have less opportunity to engage in deviant behaviour on the streets
      • Dobash and Dobash show, that many violent attacks result from men's dissatisfaction with their wives' performance of domestic duties.
        • Men also exercise control through their financial power, for example by denying women sufficient funds for leisure activities
      • Control in Public: women are controlled in public places by the threat or fear of male violence against them, especially violence.
        • Lees notes than in schools, boys maintain control through sexualised verbal abuse, for example labelling girls as 'slags' if they fail to conform to gender role expectations.
      • Control at Work: women's behaviour at work is controlled by male supervisors an managers, sexual harassment is widespread and keeps women 'in their place'
      • These patriarchal restrictions on women's lies means they have fewer opportunities for crime.
    • Carlen: Class and Gender Deals
      • A study Carlen conducted in which she recognised that there are some middle-class female offenders, she argues that most convicted serious female criminals are working-class
      • Carlen uses a version of Hirschi's control theory to explain female crime, Hirchi argues that humans act rationally and are controlled by being offered a 'deal'm of rewards in return for conforming.
      • Carlen argues that working-class women are generally led to conform through the promise of two types of rewards of 'deals'
        • The Class Deal: women who work will be offered material rewards, with a decent standard of living and leisure opportunities.
        • The Gender Deal: patriarchal ideology promises women material and emotional rewards from family life by conforming to the norms of a conventional domestic gender role.
        • If these rewards are not available or worth the effort, crime becomes more likely.
    • The Liberation Thesis
      • Adler argues that, as women become liberated from patriarchy, their crimes will become as frequent and as serious as men's
      • Adler argues that changes in the structure of society have led to changes in women's offending behaviour
        • As opportunities in education and work have become more equal, women have begun to adopt traditionally 'male' roles in both legitimate and illegitimate activity.
      • This increase in serious crimes is because of women;s greater self-confidence and assertiveness, and the fact that they now have greater opportunities in the legitimate structure.
    • Criticisms of the Liberation Thesis
      • The female rate began rising in the 1950s, long before the women's liberation movement.
      • Most female criminals are working-class, the group least likely to be influenced by women's liberation.
      • The biggest link ebtween women and 'male; offences such as drugs was mainly because of prostitution, which is not a liberating offence.
    • Gender and Victimisation
      • Large scale national victim surveys show gender differences in the level and types of victimisation, and in the relationship between the victim and offenders.
      • Homicide Victims: about 70% are male, female victims are more likely to know their killer and in 60% of cases it is a partner or ex-partner.
      • Victims of Violence: fewer women than men are victims of violence
      • Mismatch Between Fear and Riisk: wpmen have a greater fear of crime but are at less risk of victimisation
        • However, some victim surveys have found that women are in fact at a greater risk than men.


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