3 B Are Men More Criminal Than Women

Crime and Deviance notes on gendered criminality for A2 Sociology

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  • Created on: 25-03-08 16:29
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Gender & Crime ­ Crime and Deviance Emma Rudd
3b Are Men More Criminal than Women?
Men's higher involvement in crime was not generally questioned, as crime was associated
with masculine traits such as aggressiveness, physical strength and also down to men's
greater participation in the public sphere. When women did commit crime they were seen
as `doubly deviant' as they were not only `criminal' they were `women' and by committing
they were seen as `unfeminine'.
Official statistics show a significant difference in the rates of offending, but
self-report studies show that girls offend more than conventional rates would suggest.
Heidensohn found that in self-report studies, women were admitting to less serious
crimes than men, so that official statistics remain valid in their representation of men as
the more criminal sex.
Pollack has argued that women commit more crime than official statistics suggest but
their crime is masked. He believed that men who are attacked or defrauded by women
would be too embarrassed to reveal their victimisation. He also said that it was the
female role in domestic duties that created many opportunities for committing and
concealing crime.
The Chivalry Factor
Another reason why women may feature less in crime statistics is states as the `chivalry'
factor in which it is assumed that women's crime might be less likely to be reported by
victims and that suspected female offenders are treated more sympathetically by police
(Heidensohn). However this is little evidence to provide support for this. In fact some
research shows women are more stringently dealt with by the police and courts.
Gelsthorpe found that young women were more likely to be referred to court because
police may be more protective and more concerned about their moral welfare.
Official records show an overwhelming predominance of males compared to females
committing crime and even self-report studies show a noticeable difference between
the offending levels of men and women. Given this then there has to be something in the
different construction of femininity and masculinity which results / explains these
Explaining Female Crime: Women's Roles
Three major approaches to explaining the relationship between women and offending
Biological/Psychological approaches
Sex role theory
Biological Explanations
It starts with the belief that women are innately different from men. They have a
natural desire to be caring and nurturing, which are two values that go against criminal
activities and therefore `normal' women are less likely to commit crime. However Dalton
claimed that hormonal or menstrual factors can influence a majority of women to
commit crime under certain circumstances.

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Gender & Crime ­ Crime and Deviance Emma Rudd
Sex Role Theory
Sex role theory argues that women are less likely to commit crime than men because
there are core elements of the female role, which limits their ability and opportunity to
do so.
According to this approach, girls are socialised differently to boys. The values which
girls are brought up to hold are those that do not lead them to crime.…read more

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Gender & Crime ­ Crime and Deviance Emma Rudd
Different crimes provide different thrills, which can vary from the 'sneaky thrills' of
shoplifting, to the 'righteous slaughter' of murder. Katz argues that by understanding
the emotional thrills which transgression provides, we can understand why males commit
Katz's work is clearly influenced by the earlier work of Matza, who argued that
constructing a male identity in a contemporary society is difficult.…read more


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