Outline and Assess Feminist Explanations for Crime and Deviance, Refer to Links Between Crime and Gender [50 Marks]

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Outline and Assess Feminist Explanations of Crime and Deviance,
Include Links Between Gender and Crime [50 Marks]
Pease (1994) said, `Crime comprises those actions which are deemed so damaging to the
interest of the community that the state determines that it must take a direct role in
identifying and acting against the criminal.' Downes and Rock (1998) said `Deviance may
be considered as banned or controlled behaviour which is likely to attract punishment or
disproval.' In short, `Deviance' is a asocial construct that can change across time and place
and `Crime' is an action that breaks the law.
Within Feminism itself there are many different approaches to crime and deviance
including Liberalism, Radicalism, Socialism and Post Modernism. However, recently
Feminist writers have brought a great deal of insight into the relationship between
crime and gender due to a number of suggestions they have put forward. These policies
tend to be difficult to categorize as different feminists have different policies.
The official statistics often comply with the common assumption that men commit
more crimes then women. According to official statistics, in 2005, 1.8 million offenders
were guilty in which 79% were male and 7% of these were aged fewer than 18. The ratio
of male offenders to female offenders is four to one. The highest rates of offending for
the most serious crimes were 17 year olds for males and 15 year olds for females.
Pollack (1950) argued that official statistics on gender and crime were highly
misleading. He claimed that statistics underestimated the extent of female criminality.
Pollack claimed to have identified crimes that are usually committed by women but
which are likely to go unreported. According to him, nearly all offences of shoplifting and
all criminal abortion were carried out by women. Female domestic servants commit many
unreported crimes. Pollack accepted official definitions of crime when he pointed out all
the offences of prostitution that were not reported. He also suggested that women

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domestic roles gave them the opportunity to hide crimes such as poisoning relatives and
sexually abusing their children.
Pollak argued that the reason why females are often underrepresented in
statistics could relate to a concept known as chivalry. Police, magistrates and other law
enforcers tend to be men who are bought up to be chivalrous ­ they are usually more
lenient with female offenders meaning that fewer women appear in the statistics.…read more

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However she also found that women were more likely than men to be put on probation
for some offences.
However, Box (1981) who reviewed the data from self-report studies in Britain
and USA questions the validity of the chivalry thesis. He concluded that `the weight of
evidence on women committing serious offences does not give clear support to the view
that they receive differential and more favourable treatment'.…read more

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live in a commune were all regarded by courts as lacking in respectability and therefore
credibility. Walklate agrees with Smart that rape trials continue to see things from the
male point of view, which accepts that men become unable to restrain their sexual
desires once women give them any indication.
Furthermore, Alder (1975) was the first to suggest that women's liberation was
resulting in increasing levels of female criminality and creating new and more serious
types of female criminal.…read more

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the view that criminal behaviour becomes more likely when society's mechanisms of
social control break down.
Like Carlen, Heidensohn (1985) uses control theory as the basis to her
explanation of why women do commit fewer crimes than men. She argues that male
dominated patriarchal societies control women more effectively than they do men,
making it more difficult for women to break the law. Control operates at home, in public
and at work.…read more

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masculinity. Men's position in society provides differential access to power and
resources, which leads to different constructions and expressions of masculinity, which
also leads to different types of crime.
Messerschmitt refers to the dominant form of masculinity as hegemonic
masculinity. It is the idealised form, which is defined through work in the paid-labour
market, the subordination of women, heterosexism and the driven and uncontrollable
sexuality of men. This is the form of masculinity that most men seek to accomplish.…read more

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reject the statistics and give explanations as to why female criminality is
under-represented. Yet, all these theories are becoming out-dated, as the equality
between men and women has been rising rapidly in recent years and so it may be that
the gender differences in rates of offending, punishment and victimisation are becoming
diminished.…read more


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