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Feminism and criminology

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  1. Introduction
    1. Women as offenders
  2. Neglecting women's violence
    1. Increased focus on men's violence
  3. Nature of women's crimes
    1. Women's crime in the past
    2. Increasing crime by women
  4. The criminal justice system towards women-offenders
  5. Explanations of women's violent behavior
    1. Evolution of the theories
    2. Individual, sociological and economical explanations
  6. Conclusion

The application of feminism to the field of criminology can be quite uncommon; indeed, in criminology it is men who supply the essential ?standard case?. Until recently, criminology has been primarily focused on men and crime with little reference to women.

Feminist criminology developed in the late 1960's and into the 1970's, was closely associated with the emergence of the second Wave of Feminism at this time.
In other words, the facts about crime tend to be based on the sex of the offender and not the crime itself.
The ?maleness? of crime is true of the United States of America, Great Britain, Australia, all western and eastern countries etc?indeed, we must admit that men are the vast majority of violent and non-violent offenders (according to statistics).

Ngaire Naffine, the author of the book: Feminism and criminology explains that ?crime is also something that men are expected to do because they are men and women are expected not to do because they are women?.
Crime, men and masculinity have a relationship but we may wonder if the stereotypes of the women as deviant and law-abiding sex are not going to be faded. Indeed, crimes are going against their natural biology such as passivity and purity; women are seen as weak and in need of protection while being judged as having uncontrollable behavior or sexuality.

It raises the following questions: why, women, with increased status and power begin to commit criminal offences that have traditionally been committed by men? What makes women commit fewer crimes than men? What is the treatment of female offenders by the criminal justice system?

The impact of femininity on criminal behavior and criminology's world view can be developed and explained through two parties: the women as offenders (I) and the explanations of the violent behavior of women (II).

[...] Feminist criminology developed in the late 1960's and into the 1970's, was closely associated with the emergence of the second Wave of Feminism at this time. In other words, the facts about crime tend to be based on the sex of the offender and not the crime itself. The ?maleness? of crime is true of the United States of America, Great Britain, Australia, all western and eastern countries etc indeed, we must admit that men are the vast majority of violent and non-violent offenders (according to statistics). [...]


[...] While still a relatively small proportion of all offences, violence has increased at a faster rate than crime against property and other offences. The increase has been slightly greater among women than men, largely because the numbers of women committing violent offences is proportionately so small. While there has been an increase in violent crimes by women, the numbers of women convicted of violence remains still well below that of men, and the majority involves minor assaults Twenty years ago, Freda Adler (1975) argued that the women's liberation movement would result in greater equality between the sexes and predicted an increase in aggressive criminal behaviour by women. [...]


[...] Indeed, it reflects the fact that men have been, and still are, primarily responsible for most violence. But it has also stemmed from the very legitimate focus on violence against women, and the need to sensitize society to its extent and seriousness. For feminists in particular, the issue of women's violence has been difficult to come to terms with. Much of the discourse and literature about women's use of violence over the past 15 years has been concerned with women in abusive relationships who kill their abuser. [...]

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