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Gender and Crime
Define, Decode, Signpost
Criminal behaviour is an act which breaks a formal law, such as murder, whereas deviant behaviour is
that which breaks a norm. Definitions of crime and deviance are socially constructed their definitions
are culturally determined. Gender is the most significant factor in determining crime and official
statistics show striking gender patterns, for example females commit fewer and different crimes
than males. When debating (DECODE). It is also important to consider that traditional male dominated
criminology tended to ignore female crime as it was seen as less of a threat until the 1960's with the
influence of feminism. In this essay I will discuss (DECODE).
Gender patterns of crime
o Most crime appears to be committed by males and females only make up 6% of the prison
o 80% of all convicted offenders are males; more females are convicted of violent and sexual
Do women commit less crime?
o We must consider accuracy of OS, many argue they underestimate the levels of female crime
possibly due to typical female crime e.g. shop lifting being less reported/detected.
o Some argue females are treated leniently chivalry factor.
o This means police and judges are socialised to conform to chivalry, so CJS is more lenient.
o Pollack- men are protective and hate to accuse women.
o Campbell women were much more likely to receive a caution rather than n prosecution.
o Some evidence opposes chivalry Farrington studied the sentences of 408 cases of theft
and found no evidence of leniency.
o If women are treated more leniently it may be because offences are less serious.
Evidence that women are treated more harshly
o Feminists law operates against women and treats them harsher.
Smart: Rape trials
o Judges quotes in the 80s, "Women who say no, do not always mean no, if she doesn't want
to, she only has to keep her legs shut" demonstrates sexism within the law, smart claims
that the law celebrates male sexual need and condemns female promiscuity.
o Also the courts are more sympathetic to male offenders than their female victims which are
seen in the case of domestic violence.
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o Lambroso female criminals are born so.
o More recent explanations look at hormones e.g. testosterone. Although sociologists often
dismiss biological factors.
o A functionalist theory socialisation of males and females.
o Boys are encouraged to be tough, risk-taking aggressive all of which lead to crime. Females
are socialised to be expressive, passive and gentle.
o Also females are encouraged to socialised giving girls access to role models.…read more