Topic 5 - Gender, crime and justice


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Gender patterns in crime:
Most crime appears to be committed by males
Heidensohn - gender differences are perhaps the most significant feature of recorded crime - official
statistics show that 4/5 convicted offenders in England and Wales are male
Chivalry Thesis:
Pollak - men have a protective attitude towards women - CJS is thus more lenient with women - crimes
are less likely to end up on OS (creates an invalid picture of gender differences in offending)
Flood-Page et al - 1 in 11 self-reported offenders had been cautioned or prosecuted compared to 1 in 7
in male self-reported offenders
Hood - studied 3,000 defendants - women were 1/3rd less likely to be jailed in similar cases to men
Evidence against the chivalry thesis:
Farrington and Morris - studied sentencing of 408 offences of theft in magistrates court: women were
not sentenced more leniently
Bias against women:
Feminists argue that the CJS is bias against them
Heidensohn - courts treat females more harshly than males when they deviate from their gender norms
Adler - women who are deemed to lack respectability (e.g. single parent) find it difficult to have their
testimony believed in court
Explaining female crime:
Heidensohn: patriarchal control reduces women's opportunity to offend:
1. Control at home - domestic role imposes time and movement restrictions which reduces
opportunity to offend. Dobash and Dobash - many violent attacks result from men's dissatisfaction
with wives' performances of domestic duties
2. Control in public - threat or fear of male violence against them: Crime survey shows that 54% of
women avoided going out after dark fearing being victims of crime
3. Control at work - sexual harassment helps keep women 'in their place'
Carlen: w/c women are led to conform by the promise of 2 deals:
1. Class deal - women who work will be offered material rewards and decent standard of living
2. Gender deal - patriarchal ideologies promise material and emotional rewards from family life by
conforming to norms of conventional role
(If these rewards are not available or worth the effort, crime is more likely)
Class deal: women interviewed had failed to find legitimate way of earning decent living - hadn't gain
rewards from class deal so had nothing to lose by using crime to escape poverty
Gender deal: most didn't have opportunity to make deal or saw few rewards
Shows the failure of society to deliver promised deal
Sees women's behaviour as determined by external forces, which underplays importance of free will
in offending
Heidensohn shows the many patriarchal control that help prevent women from deviating
Liberation Thesis - Adler:
Women's liberation has led to a rise in female crime rates
Changes in structure of society has led to changes in women's offending - patriarchal controls and
discrimination have lessened = created more equal opportunity = can adopt traditionally 'male' roles in
legitimate and illegitimate activity (e.g. more women in senior roles at work - opportunity to commit
white collar crime)
Why do men commit crime?
Messerschmidt: Masculinity is an accomplishment. Hegemonic masculinity is the dominant and
prestigious form of masculinity - crime and deviance is a resource to accomplish masculinity

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White m/c youths - have to subordinate themselves to teaches in order to achieve m/c status
(accommodating masculinity in school). Outside of school, masculinity takes an oppositional form
(e.g. through drinking)
White w/c youths - less chance of educational success so masculinity is oppositional in and out of
school, constructed around sexists attitudes and being tough, opposing teachers (e.g.…read more


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