Outline and assess sociological explanations of gender difference in patterns of crime.



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Crime And Deviance
Outline and assess sociological explanations of gender difference in patterns of crime.
In this essay, I am going to assess the patterns of crime committed by males and females.
Many general theories tend to neglect gender as a factor influencing criminality. There is a
common assumption that males often commit more crime than women. The study of
criminology have tended to be dominated by males, therefore the studies are done by men
about men. The official statistics suggest that gender is perhaps the most significant single
factor in whether an individual is convicted of crime.
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.
Pollak (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. Many unreported crimes are committed by female domestic servants. Pollack accepted
official definitions of crime when he pointed out all the offences of prostitution that were not
reported. He also suggested that women 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. One other important factor, according to
Pollak, is that women are particularly adept at hiding their crimes due to their biological
make-up. Women are accustomed to deceiving men due to traditional taboos such hiding pain
during menstruating and misleading men during sex.
Pollak claims and assumptions were criticized by Heidensohn (1985) who pointed out that
researches indicates that much shoplifting is committed by men. He had failed to take account
of changes in the law against abortion in several of the countries he studied. She regards his
work as being based upon an unsubstantiated stereotypical image of women. However, Pollack
study was important for being the first to suggest that statistics greatly underestimate female
criminal activity.
Pollak's chivalry thesis which claims that women are left off relatively lightly by the
predominantly male police, judges, magistrates etc in the criminal justice system is supported

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Crime And Deviance
by the self report study in which individuals are asked about what crimes they committed. Some
self-report studies have implied that female offenders are more likely to escape conviction than
males. Graham and Bowling found that males were more likely to commit offences than
females; the differences were not as great as those shown in official statistics. The study found
that 55% cent of males and 31% of females admitted having committed an offence.…read more

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Crime And Deviance
Walklate (1998) believes that, in effect, it is the female victim rather than the male suspect
who ends up on trial. Women have to establish their respectability if their evidence is to be
believed. She quotes a study by Adler (1987) which found that women who were single
mothers. Had a criminal record, were punks, had children in care and live in a commune were all
regarded by courts as lacking in respectability and therefore credibility.…read more

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Crime And Deviance
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.
For example, being a housewife directly restricts women by limiting their opportunities for
criminality. Heidensohn describes domesticity as `a form of detention'. Hours spent on
housework and childbearing leaves little time for illegal activities and those who challenge such
traditional values run the risk of having them imposed.…read more

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Crime And Deviance
white-collar and corporate crimes are not simply a means for profiting the individual or the
organisation. They are also a means of accomplishing hegemonic masculinity as a successful
breadwinner and as an aggressive, risk-taking male.
Messerschmidt provides a sophisticated analysis of the relationship between masculinities, age,
class, ethnicity and crime. His focus on accomplishing masculinity is an original explanation of
the high level of male crime.…read more


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