Gender – Crime and Deviance

Lesson objectiveTo explore gender in crime
Lesson outcomes• Assess the gap between males and females
• Evaluate sociological contributions
• Explain what official statistics show

The facts

Official statistics highlight that globally, males commit far more crimes than women. This creates a gender gap, which if you read the stretch and challenge, shows is minimising. Below are some key facts you need to know.

In England and Wales (2014):

  • Men made up 95% of all prisoners for serious offences.
  • Men made up 85% of the prison population.
  • Men are convicted for about six known indictable offences for every one committed by a woman.
  • Men are more likely to be repeat offenders. Ages 17 to 20 is around 10 times higher than the women’s rate for convicted individuals.
  • Men are more likely to be found guilty of offending e.g:
    • Six times more likely for sex offences,
    • Fourteen time for robberies,
    • Thirteen times for possession of a weapon,
    • Ten times for public order offences,
    • Eight times more likely for violence against a person,
    • Severn times for criminal damage,
    • Four times for theft.

Why do females appear to commit fewer crimes than men?

Less detectable offences

  • Women commit less offences that are categorised than men and so they appear less in official statistics e.g. shoplifting.
  • The amount of women in prison increases for lower classed crimes e.g. theft. This signifies women tend to steal smaller items.

Sex-role theory and gender socialisation (Functionalism and New Right)

  • Women are socialised based on collaboration rather than competition. This means that women are usually less aggressive.
  • The burdens of housework (dual burden, triple shift) do not provide women enough time to commit crime.

Control Theory and Rational Choice and opportunity in patriarchal society

  • Carlen (1988) and Heidensohn (1996) take a feminist approach and highlight the gap between male and female.
    • Carlen states that women have to ‘deals’ that effect them. (Class deal = material rewards that’s gained from employment and the gender deal = rewards gained from fulfilling their roles at home).
    • If either deal presents a blocked opportunity then women make a rational choice to commit crime.
      • Heidensohn suggests women conform more because:
        • Tighter social controls forcing women to conform and not deviate.
        • More shame is attributed to women in crime.
        • If women commit crime, they are not only deviant, but also unfeminine creating two negative outcomes.
      • Heidensohn also suggests there are two spheres supporting patriarchal ideas.
        • The public sphere (most crime takes place here and it is dominated by men, hindering women from commiting crime).
        • The private sphere (women have to act femine at home e.g. cooking and cleaning = little time for work).

Chivalry thesis

This concept was created by Pollak stating that women are treated more leniently by the CJS than men.

Evaluation of the chivalry thesis.

(Good) – First female offenders are half as likely to be given a sentence resulting in imprisonment than male.

(Good) – Women are less likely to be taken into custody.

(Good) – Women are more likely to be given alternative forms of sentences e.g. fines, warning, rather than imprisonment.

(Good) – Women on average receive shorter prison sentences.

(Bad) – It could be argued that women are given more lenient sentences because they do, as statistics show, commit lesser crimes.

(Bad) – When taking a look at CJS evidence, they highlight that women get more lenient sentences because they have moremitigating factors – factors that reduce sentences whereas males have more aggravating (factors that increase sentences).

(Bad) – Heidensohn’s theory that “If women commit crime, they are not only deviant, but also unfeminine creating two negative outcomes.” doesn’t really make any sense since if women were on trial for two offences, their sentences would be harsher than men’s.

(Bad) – It is known in rape cases that women have to prove their claim with substantial evidence before being allowed to take it to court showing they are not taken seriously.

Growing female criminality

Liberation Thesis

Adler’s Liberation Thesis highlights:

  • Women have more opportunity to commit crime since due to the rise in feminism, more equality between the genders is emerging. Women are no longer constrained by the dual burden/ triple shift to the same extent and therefore have greater opportunity to commit crime.
  • Societal control of women is now weakening and they now have more commit crime as they are judged less. E.g.Cat Woman is seen positively in the Dark Knight rises.
  • In a postmodern society, women can now adopt a more masclune culture e.g.ladette to lady.

Evidence against this concept:

  • Heidensohn and Silvestri suggest that the CJS is now attempting to focus on providing equality in the system e.g. providing women with harsher sentences. Therefore, the gap is closing between males and females.
  • Women still commit less significant crimes than men resulting in lesser sentences.

Why do males commit more crime than women?

Masculinity thesis

The Masculinity Thesis attempts to highlight why men commit more crime and highlights:

  • Male crime is inseparable from Connell’s hegemonic masculinity whereby males act tough, aggressive and competitive. These characteristics are not so present in women.
  • Messerschmidt suggests that when males cannot achieve masculinity they turn to crime. Women being unable to achieve feminist qualities do not return to crime….

Evaluation of the masculinity thesis

(Good) – It provides an alternative argument why men commit crimes rather than focusing on women.

(Bad) – It tends to generalise by referring to all men e.g. some men who do not have blocked opportunities still commit crime.

(Bad) – Not all crimes committed by males are because of masculine traits.

Social Action theorists

  • Labelling theorists believe that women’s crimes go under the radar and they are not caught. Because women are labelled as being more innocent, they are not targeted by police and are let off more, this results in them committing crimes, but not getting caught. Thus the assumption that men commit more crimes, cannot be proven.
  • They agree that men dominate the public sphere where most crime is committed and so naturally there is more opportunity.
  • If men go to prison they are rewarded with being masculine, if women are sentenced, they are not feminine, thus there is double punishment. Men therefore have less to risk.
  • Men have more independence than women and thus greater opportunity.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: