gender issues and offending

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  • Created by: Chloe
  • Created on: 04-01-15 17:36

Crime and deviance has a noticeable focus on male offending. Although the majority of offenders are male (around 80% of crime) it is still surprising that there is not as much focus on female offenders. Heidensohn (1989) has criticised the male dominance of the subject and has suggested four reasons why it is so:

  • Male dominance of offenders - as the majority of offenders are male, it is seemed as appropriate to study them rather than the minority of female offenders
  • Male dominance of sociology - the majority of academics are male and so sociological topics of investigation reflect a male view and male interests
  • Vicarious identification - men study what interests them, and applied to crime, this includes the lives of the marginal and the exciting. It is the thrill of putting themselves in the place of another person.
  • Sociological theorising - male sociologists created their theories without considering how they can be applied to females. Most traditional theories are 'gender blind'.

There are three major approaches to explaining the relationship between women and offending...

Biological Explanations:

Holds the belief that women are innately different to men with a natural desire to be caring and nurturing, neither of which supports crime. 'Normal' women are therefore less likely to commit crime. However, Dalton (1964) claimed that hormonal or menstrual factors can influence a minority of women to commit crimes.

Sex-Role Theory:

Argues that women are less likely to commit crime than men because there are core elements of the female role that limit their ability and opportunity to do so...

  • Socialisation-  girls are socialised differently to boys and are taught values that do not naturally lead to crime. Parsons (1937) argues that as most childrearing is carried out by mothers, girls have a clear role model to follow who emphasises caring and support. Furthermore, Farrington and Painter (2004) found in their longitudinal study that female offenders are more likely to have come from harsh or erratic parenting and to have had little support or praise from their parents.
  • Social Control- less likely to commit crime because of the closer levels of supervision that they experienced at home during childhood. This control continues throughout their lives with women being more constrained than men. Heidonsohn (1996) points out a wide range of informal sanctions to discourage…


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