Chivalry thesis essay (21 marks) - Crime and Deviance AQA Sociology

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Assess the value of `chivalry thesis' in understanding gender differences in
crime (21 marks)
The chivalry thesis has attempted to explain why gender differences occur in crime, but to
what extent, is the question that will be answered within this essay. This will be done by
also assessing the value of other theories and arguments in order to see how useful the
chivalry thesis is in understanding gender differences. The chivalry thesis suggests that
more sexism on the part of the criminal justice system, such as the male-dominated police
and courts, means that women are treated more leniently than men.
There is much evidence for the chivalry thesis, for example according to the Home Office,
women are consistently treated less severely by the law, with first offenders about half as
likely to be given a sentence of immediate imprisonment than males are. In addition,
female offenders are generally regarded by the police as a less serious threat than men,
and are therefore more likely to benefit from more informal approaches to their offences,
particularly for minor offences, such as cautions or warnings rather than being charged.
In addition, women do receive more cautions than men, but this is partly because they
commit relatively more minor offences like shoplifting, and they are more likely than men
to admit their offences, which is necessary before the police can issue a caution. As a
result, the criminal justice system will appreciate their honesty and let them off with
lighter punishments. Hence, showing how the chivalry thesis can be useful in explaining
gender differences in crime.
Furthermore, women offenders are more likely to be remanded in custody than men
awaiting trial for serious offences, but in three quarters of cases, women do not actually
receive a prison sentence when they come to trial. Hence, showing even though they're
more likely to be remanded in custody, when it comes to trial, they are much more likely
to be let off leniently. Police stereotyping means that women who commit crimes may
benefit from the police view, that they are less likely than men to be criminals, and so are
less likely to have their behaviour watched and less likely to get caught. Hence, showing
how they are treated more leniently and therefore shows how the chivalry thesis can be
explained through police stereotyping and therefore useful in explaining gender
differences in crime. The sex role theory suggests that women's traditional roles involve
caring for partners, children and dependent elderly relatives, and these are combined with
responsibility for housework and family management. These gender roles encourage
women to adopt feminine characteristics such as being more emotional, less competitive
and more averse to taking risks than men. Hence, as a result suggesting how when
females do commit crime, it's more likely to be seen as a slip-up or a regretful mistake. As
when males commit a crime, it's more likely to be seen as an act that was either planned
or desired to commit and therefore more likely to be convicted. The sex-role theory
accentuates how the chivalry thesis can be explained through males and females
conforming to their stereotypes and therefore become to be perceived in a certain way
which then shows how females are treated less severely than men.
Carlen suggested that women are encouraged to conform by what she calls the gender
deal. Gender deal refers to the rewards that arise from fulfilling their roles in the family

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Assess the value of `chivalry thesis' in understanding gender differences in
crime (21 marks)
and home with material and emotional support from a male breadwinner. Most women
accept and achieve these deals and the rewards and security arising from them, and
therefore conform. However, the rewards arising from the class or gender deals are not
available to some women, because of things like poverty, unemployment, lack of a family
through being brought up in care, or abusive partners.…read more

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Assess the value of `chivalry thesis' in understanding gender differences in
crime (21 marks)
Descombe (2001) found, there is much more of a masculinised `laddette' culture, where
young women are adopting behaviour traditionally associated with young men, as they
assert their identity through binge drinking, gang culture, risk-taking, being hard and in
control, and peer related violence.…read more

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