The female criminality


“ Womans, undeniably, have been all but unseeable for much of criminology ‘s history. “ [ 1 ]

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Womans have ne’er been every bit outstanding as their male opposite numbers in criminology, so much so, they can be said to hold been ignored for many centuries and it was non until the bend of the twentieth century that adult females who committed offenses were truly included in criminological discourse. The coming of the women’s rightist motions throughout this clip get downing with the suffragettes to the current Fawcett committee established in 2003, has seen the realization of adult females ‘s rights and the battle for ‘equality ‘ purportedly at an terminal. But as we will see, non-feminist accounts for female criminalism still leave much to be desired of as most parts of criminology along with society appears to be wedded to the conventional and stereotyped positions of adult females, with the feminist accounts projecting a new position on how adult females ought to be studied within the field of criminology.

This paper aims to discourse and measure the assorted criminological accounts of adult females ‘s engagement in offense, and suggest possibilities that obviate the traditional logical thinking which passes female criminalism off as strictly biological. The treatment of the criminological accounts will take on two focal togss: why some adult females commit offense and why the bulk do non. Using authorities statistics from England and Wales, specifically those after the 2nd moving ridge of the feminist motion in the sixtiess and the present twenty-four hours, incidence, types and tendencies of female criminalism will be explored. After the issues and jobs within the statistics have been identified, I will so discourse whether criminologists can explicate once and for all the ground for these findings.

Do we necessitate to analyze female criminalism?

Criminology is the survey of offense which endeavours to explicate and happen solutions for aberrant behavior, yet there besides needs to be a ground why this certain behavior requires account.

The theory welcomed by the authorities is that offense is behavior which has been agreed as contrary to the norms of society. Deviant behavior is a job which needs to be resolved, and one time the jobs have been acknowledged, policy shapers can so do determinations and Torahs based on happening solutions to these jobs.

Smart notes that merely those subjects officially designated as societal jobs are studied, which she articulates is responsible for the regretful province of current cognition and work on female criminalism [ 2 ] ; adult females are non seen as a job, yet they live in the same universe as work forces but commit less offense. This creates a great chance for society ; happening implicit in grounds why adult females do non perpetrate as much offense as work forces could perchance be replicated to cut down the figure of work forces perpetrating offenses, or at least assistance in the general control of offense. However, harmonizing to the Youth Justice Board in 2009, ‘the comparatively lower figure of immature adult females engaged in offending has meant, nevertheless, that most research and expertness has been developed in response to male piquing [ 3 ] ‘ .

Gender is one of the most certain forecasters of piquing [ 4 ] , and adult females have ne’er been seen as a societal job because their aberrant Acts of the Apostless in relation to work forces are really low. But as is sometimes suggested, statistical measure entirely is non sufficient to explicate their deficiency of intervention. [ 5 ]

Equality to work forces was the impulsive factor for the Women ‘s Motions, but this instantly suggests that adult females are to be studied as a different entity, unduly sabotaging any common impression of equality from the beginning. Arguably nevertheless, this hypothesis is true on some degrees, but the equality adult females strive for is non equality of intervention, but equality of result.

There are assorted stereotyped accounts for adult females ‘s criminalism which throughout history have been dominated by internal grounds ; biological science and psychological science. However, what is interesting is how otherwise work forces are studied ; from the outside. Rather than saying a adult male has an unconditioned leaning for force and deviant behavior in his biological makeup, theoreticians use external grounds such as economical and category based outlooks to explicate behavior. Womans do non acquire the benefit of entirely non-biological fatalist logical thinking and it could be concluded that it is wholly their mistake for merely being born a adult female ( e.g. Lombroso ‘s female ‘born felons ‘ ) .

In add-on to this, female criminalism demands to be studied so equality in result can be achieved from a justness position. Sing the outlooks of adult females in a societal context, which will be discussed in deepness subsequently, if a adult female was to move as expected, they are likely to be looked upon as the stereotyped ‘weak and fragile ‘ being which needs protecting – and this can be used to their advantage. But so besides the antonym must non be ignored in that if they do non conform to the stereotyped female province so they will be twice condemned, which is inordinately unjust from a feminist position.

Substitution and the media

Hypothetically change by reversaling the place of work forces and adult females, performed throughout this paper, when contrasting the consideration and analyze given to both sexes, is a really utile tool to agitate out gender issues in criminalism.

The proliferation of the media besides works to the same consequence in that when 1 is to contrast coverage of offenses committed by work forces, they seem highly platitude and the public barely blink an oculus, but when the likes of Myra Hindley and Rosemary West committed possibly ‘masculine ‘ offenses, they were improbably newsworthy. This can be down to the uttermost daze that a adult female has committed a offense and this produces a dual aberrance theory. Even now we do non anticipate adult females to act in a condemnable and inappropriate manner, and the populace are absolutely shocked when we hear that a female parent – with the qualities of being stamp and caring – has shaken her babe to decease. Heidensohn concurs, ‘women involved in really serious offenses… seem to supply the media with some of their most compelling images of offense and aberrance. ‘ [ 6 ]


Despite their assorted defects, the methods for mensurating offense, such as constabularies recorded offense statistics published yearly by the Home Office and the British Crime Survey ( BCS ) , have been able to supply an indicant of offense tendencies in England and Wales. The statistics must be viewed with wary eyes because of the treatment that surrounds ‘unreported offense ‘ which leads to resources being allocated into bettering the bite of statistics ; it should non be ignored that this betterment could account for a huge addition in offense rates. In add-on to this, the Numberss for adult females are really low to get down with, so any little addition could take to a immense per centum addition which would skew the findings. Despite this, they will be used to demo the incidence and tendencies in adult females ‘s piquing from: overall gender comparing, adult females under and over 18, the types of offense adult females are perpetrating and eventually admonishing rates.

Gender and the women’s rightist motions

Although adult females gained more presence in society, the ballot, belongings rights and other societal victory in the first moving ridge of the women’s rightist motions at the terminal of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, it is truly merely during the 2nd moving ridge in the sixtiess and 1970s that there was a significant alteration in the general and condemnable behavior of adult females which would pull academic and critical remark. The condemnable statistics saw a immense encouragement in Numberss of adult females represented across the board: in 1958, the figure of adult females found guilty for all chargeable offenses was 17,380: in 1965 this increased to 31,011, and amidst the full swing of the 2nd moving ridge of the feminist motion, in 1975 the figure was at its highest at 60,356. In the 1960s, the ratio between work forces and adult females once more for being found guilty of all chargeable offenses went down somewhat besides ( from 7:1 to 6:1 ) . The undermentioned decennaries saw a gradual lessening in Numberss in the same regard, and in 2007 the Numberss were 267,000 work forces to 45,300 adult females for both sexes and the ratio still lies at 6:1. The tendency to be carried forward is that it remains consistent that adult females commit less offenses than work forces overall, and the highest addition in female offense was in the 1970s.


The estimated peak age of piquing is 15 for misss ( and 17 for male childs ) . Harmonizing to a Ministry of Justice publication ‘Statistics on Women and the Criminal Justice System [ 7 ] ‘ a higher proportion of all adult females arrested were aged between 10 and 17 than the proportion of work forces in that age group who were arrested, 25.7 per cent compared to 20.5 per cent. In add-on to this, a survey in 2009 by the Youth Justice Board [ 8 ] found that the offenses most often committed by adolescent misss are theft and managing stolen goods, and that there has been a proliferation in the sum of misss perpetrating force against the individual, particularly ‘if there is an bing relationship with the victim ‘ . It is besides noted that ‘recent usage of intoxicant is frequently linked to the offence/offending form. ‘

Home Office Statistics show the ratio of work forces to adult females found guilty or cautioned for all chargeable offenses is 3:1 for striplings and 4:1 for big adult females.

From this two distinguishable tendencies can be deduced ; there is what Worral describes as a ‘problem population ‘ of immature misss perpetrating more offense, particularly violent offense, than their older equivalent, and, that as a adult females gets older she is less likely to perpetrate offense ( desistence ) .

Types of Crime

As Smart notices, the proportion of adult females who engage in offense varies rather well harmonizing to the nature of the offense [ 9 ] . From the Home Office statistics for 2008/09 [ 10 ] it can be seen that there are big differences between adult females and work forces in footings of their engagement with the formal condemnable justness system, notably, and evidently, less adult females across all countries of offense. However, there appears to be a rise in larceny, particularly shoplifting which Smart footings a sex-related offense, a offense that has a preponderance to be committed by one sex more than the other. It follows so that this is the lone country where adult females make important part to the Numberss ; in 2007, 52,100 adult females were found guilty or cautioned for larceny, the ratio between work forces and adult females is a mere 2:1. Although the ratio for fraud and counterfeit is besides 2:1, the Numberss are smaller: 9,500 adult females being found guilty or cautioned.

By contrast, the highest ratio between work forces and adult females is that of burglary at 15:1 in 2007.

The most fecund offense seen in the statistics is that of force, but it appears to be low-level force, torment compared to work forces. Although it appears that it is more abundant for adolescent misss late, over the last few decennaries at that place has been a dramatic addition of force in adult females of all ages. For illustration, in 1965, 827 were found guilty of force against the individual: either slaying, manslaughter, decease by unsafe drive, assault or wounding. In 1975 this increased to 2,748 and so to 3,600 in 1985. In 1995 there was a little, but non important, lessening in ( both work forces and ) adult females perpetrating force against the individual and until 2007 the figure has steadily increased once more to 4,500, the ratio since 1995 going closer ( 10:1 to 8:1 severally ) .

There has been a preponderance of adult females perpetrating belongings offenses, particularly robbery as from the 1970s to show ; the incidence has more than quadrupled from 200 in 1978 to 900 in 2007.

Finally, harmonizing to the Women and the Criminal Justice System statistics [ 11 ] , the force that adult females commit is interfamily ; spouses and kids, and homicides appear to be committed against intimate spouses.

Cautioning rates

Womans are more likely to be cautioned than work forces. Overall in 2007, 56 % of adult females were cautioned alternatively of being officially processed by the tribunals for chargeable offenses compared to 36 % of work forces. It was the same about 10 old ages ago besides as in 1991, it was 54 % . Looking at the admonishing rate for larceny in 2007, out of 52,100 adult females, 26,000 were cautioned. In respects to violence against the individual, 12,700 were cautioned out of 17,200 adult females.

Since 2001 punishment notices for upset ( PND ) can be issued for & A ; lb ; 50 or & A ; lb ; 80 depending on the badness of the offense. Inclusive of all ages, the Statistics on Women and the CJS found that in 2008/09 the top three grounds for publishing a punishment notice of upset ( PND ) to adult females were: ‘theft ( retail under & A ; lb ; 200 ) – 20,453 ( 49 % ) ; doing torment dismay or hurt – 8,051 ( 20 % ) ; and being rummy and disorderly – 7,520 ( 18 % ) ‘ notably all of these looking to necessitate no physical strength. Although the sum of PNDs being issued has decreased from 207,544 in 2007 to 176,164 in 2008, there was a smaller lessening for the sum issued to adult females than to work forces. Harmonizing to the Ministry of Justice, ‘PNDs were designed to be a simpler and fleet manner for the condemnable justness system to cover with low degree condemnable behavior ‘ .

Criminological EXPLANATIONS

Classical Criminology

Early on or ‘classical ‘ criminologists accounted for female criminalism on biological evidences ; depicting the psychological, physiological and hormonal features of female felons, or underscoring that their offenses were sexually based. Biological determinism is possibly historically the most common yet developing account for female criminalism, and has dominated discourse for a awfully long clip, even entwining itself into modern and modern-day theories despite mass unfavorable judgment. Women being studied biologically can be instantly contrasted with the survey of male criminalism which, as Morris suggests [ 12 ] , has about ever used specifically socio-economic accounts such as ‘subculture or labelling theory ‘ .

Cesare Lombroso was the chief projector of biological determinism, but this construct can be seen in the early plant of W. I. Thomas and Otto Pollak in general, particularly in respects to sexual delinquency. Thomas ‘ work was written in what Smart describes as the ‘transitional period ‘ where criminology became more broad. Pollak, although his work was carried out a long clip after Lombroso ‘s, is classed along with Lombroso and Thomas as a ‘classical ‘ criminologist in that they all shared the same conventional positions of adult females as Heidensohn summarises compactly,

Their position of adult females is to a great extent stereotyped. Womans are defined harmonizing to domestic and sexual functions ; they are dominated by biological jussive moods ; they are emotional and irrational. [ 13 ]

Modern biological accounts have been exampled in this paper to foreground that biological theories remain to this twenty-four hours and when read in visible radiation of societal theories, biological accounts every bit far as they go to explicate female criminalism, state us more about society ‘s perceptual experience of adult females than anything else.


One can non read any text edition related to theories of female criminalism without meeting at least a brief reference of the criminological innovator Cesare Lombroso, whose work, in peculiar ‘The Female Offender ‘ [ 14 ] , made specific reference of female felons for possibly the first clip. Although wholly discredited now, the mere fact that adult females became a subject of survey was a phenomenal effort for criminology.

With his son-in-law Ferrero and the aid of others, along with the accent on ‘scientific based survey ‘ , Lombroso looked ab initio at 26 skulls and 5 skeletons of female wrongdoers, viz. prostitutes, 60 condemnable topics who died in prison and 17 others along with analyzing photo-portraits. The offenses they were said to hold committed were those such as infanticide, complicity in colza, incendiarism, larceny, homicide, abortion and toxic condition. One of the surveies within this work regarded the skull capacity and size. They were measured on history of each offense, and such decisions were made for illustration, that ‘fallen adult females have the smaller cranial capacity of all… [ offering ] more analogy to the mentally afflicted than the sane. ‘ Basically, Lombroso was explicating that adult females commit offense because of physical defects, and they were from the beginning ‘born felons ‘ because of this. Harmonizing to Newburn ‘s sum-up, Lombroso ‘s female born felon would ‘specialise in non merely one but several types of offense ‘ and ‘surpasses her male opposite number in the refined, devilish inhuman treatment in which she commits her offenses ‘ and therefore a female felon is a ‘true monster ‘ . Besides, Lombroso ‘s theory possibly edged towards the ulterior thought of ‘double aberrance ‘ , in that ‘the female felon was double exceeding… because felons are exclusions among civilized people and adult females are exclusions among felons [ 15 ] ‘ .

On the other manus, in explicating why adult females did non perpetrate as much offense as work forces, he argued that foremost ‘there were far fewer female Born felons than males ‘ and secondly and more violative to read presents, he suggested condemnable adult females were throwback ; a manifestation of the thought that adult females were non to the full evolved, had underdeveloped intelligence and ‘had less range for devolution. ‘ Criminality therefore was defined as a mental unwellness, because adult females ‘s ‘normal ‘ psychological science was piousness and failing which meant the normal adult female would non hold the sensitivity to perpetrate offenses due to miss of intelligence, and were non affected by environmental issues as work forces would be.

Measuring this theory with modern eyes, the unfavorable judgments of this survey are obvious, but one can non lose context of the clip in which it was carried out. It was, despite its failure, ‘an doubtless sincere effort to warrant certain beliefs and theories. [ 16 ] ‘ However, it was wholly ignored that the beliefs were founded on premises so naive. Besides, the theory suggests that there should be more adult females perpetrating offenses, but harmonizing to the statistics this is non true. Of class, the survey is antediluvian and did non truly progress apprehension of female criminalism, as Heidensohn points out, the observations made of the exposure are ‘as nonsubjective as an adjudicator in a beauty competition ‘ . However, it does state us about the perceptual experiences of adult females in that clip and that worked as a starting point for ulterior theoreticians to utilize as a point of comparing and review.


Thomas ‘ early work ‘Sex and Society [ 17 ] ‘was more kindred to the plants of Lombroso in that it studied adult females in respects to their physiological ‘energy ‘ , proposing that adult females were wholly less ‘creative ‘ than work forces and therefore were non destined to perpetrate offense. It was critically missing in its pertinence to all adult females, as it focussed on immigrants and peasant adult females – already seen as a lower species in that clip, and once more based thoughts on damaging social positions of adult females.

His ulterior work, ‘The Unadjusted Girl, [ 18 ] nevertheless, was a first glimpse at the societal grounds why adult females could perpetrate offense, viz. that adult females were more cognizant of their want in society in his clip of authorship and hence likely to be frustrated, taking to ‘the disorganization of [ their ] life and potentially to sexual delinquency ‘ [ 19 ] . Society transformed whilst Thomas was composing and that because of the ‘breakdown of traditional restraints on adult females ‘ they are more likely to be ‘unadjusted ‘ . Here, alternatively of appreciating the advancement, he displays disdain for the ideological alteration in society and therefore promotes repression. He theorised that adult females from the start were seeking to happen the legitimate function of the good married woman, female parent and duteous girl and in failure of this they acquired the illicit function, that is to state the degenerative felon or more normally the sexual delinquent. The ‘legitimate function ‘ was simply a mark of the times dictated by the middle-class norm, non an equal account.


In his work, The Criminality of Women in 1961, Pollak ‘s statement was that adult females commit merely every bit much offense as work forces but it is hidden, partially because of the societal order in which adult females live, but besides because of a adult females ‘s physiology peculiarly in respects to sex. He agreed with Lombroso and Thomas in that the most likely ‘degeneration ‘ of adult females was to harlotry, which was true at that clip, but has no bearing on harlotry now. Prostitutes now, harmonizing to the Home Office website [ 20 ] are non at that place voluntarily and are normally forced into it. He explained that adult females were through empirical observation fallacious and manipulative in their nature because they conceal their menses every month, and that their inactive nature during sexual intercourse enables adult females to ‘discover and get assurance in their ability to lead on work forces in all respects. ‘ [ 21 ] Obviously Pollak could non acquire off from his evident enragement that it was work forces ‘on show ‘ with their hard-on, and adult females could conceal how they truly felt. Here Pollak has taken this thought and translated it into the premise that all adult females are vindictive, manipulative and barbarous fallacious existences, non truly traveling on from the perceptual experiences of adult females in Lombroso ‘s clip.

Sing the statistics, Pollak was possibly right when he argued that adult females are likely to perpetrate offenses against household members ; such as poisoning their hubbies, sexually mistreating or killing their kids. And besides that individuals are less likely to describe a offense committed to them by a adult female, as Smart notes the victims are normally kids and are unable to describe the offenses of their parents. [ 22 ] But his footing for this decision is flawed as he overlooks offenses committed by work forces towards their household, makes opinions wholly based on the sex favoritism in society at the clip and once more wholly ignores that this is the instance. Because of this, he would likely be surprised by, and would non suit in with his decisions, the sum of concealed married woman banging and domestic maltreatment committed by work forces that has come to light late if he were composing today.

He besides suggests that because of their nature, their Acts of the Apostless are cunning and vindictive ( seting toxicant into their hubby ‘s nutrient ) explained because their retribution is a merchandise of their monthly reminder of their inferior position to work forces and they are the individuals closely related to the domestic undertaking of nutrient readying, once more resolutely based on the perceived domestic function of adult females at the clip. His survey does match with the current statistics in that adult females are likely commit offenses within the place, but his original survey was non based on any existent grounds but on social premises and prepossessions about the behavior of work forces and adult females, which at the clip he was unmindful to the fact that the power and social place of work forces and adult females was wholly imbalanced.

Chivalry Theory

Pollak, sing the really low figure of female felons, besides proposed that work forces, particularly those in the CJS, had an unconditioned gallantry towards adult females. He argued that they have the same ( he would reason misconceived ) constructs of adult females as his societal opposite numbers do ; that adult females are weak and delicate, but they have deceived themselves into believing this and non realised the true nature of adult females. They are hence are ‘less likely to describe, charge and convict adult females for the offenses they engage in. ‘ [ 23 ] In all facets of life, Pollak has described that adult females are treated less badly than work forces to their advantage and this favoritism is to work forces ‘s disadvantage. However, as Smart notes, although recognizing ‘a darker side of gallantry ‘ he has non mentioned the disadvantages of this favoritism towards adult females, and does non knock the dual criterions for work forces and adult females ; he treats it as the norm.

However, it could be suggested that this theory is equal because it is really much in consequence today. The CJS presently appears to deploy this ‘innate gallantry ‘ that protects adult females from the full cogency of the jurisprudence, which could explicate why a great trade more adult females are cautioned than work forces. Chivalry additions its acceptance because it is how one would anticipate adult females to be treated in a society which stereotypically views them as delicate and in demand of protection. Interestingly, the gallant nature of the jurisprudence can be seen in pattern as with respect to infanticide in peculiar, where the Home Office stated in rejecting the proposal to get rid of this offense:

That a female parent can be charged with infanticide on the footing of the ingredients for manslaughter is in maintaining with the desire to handle such instances with compassion, in peculiar the desire non to coerce a female parent to be brought face to face with the admittance of whether or non she intended to kill her kid. [ 24 ] ( Emphasis added )

However, despite of this grave offense, it is chiefly true today for possibly junior-grade offenses, where the statistics suggest that adult females are more likely to be cautioned than exhaustively processed in the CJS. But this could besides be explained, non by gallantry, but because there is a strong urgency for ‘diversion ‘ in the CJS, costs are ever a precedence, as is police clip and resources. However, Pollak ‘s theory generalises the leniency that adult females get, although it is relevant on some degrees, it pays no attentiveness to the fact that after due procedure, female liquidators and those who commit really serious offenses will travel to prison.

Modern Biological Determinism

Hormonal and Mental Imbalance

Although Lombroso ‘s work is said to hold continued to exercise influence long after it was written [ 25 ] , Edwards states that excessively much accent is sometimes placed on Lombroso as ‘godfather ‘ of biological criminology, reasoning that medical professionals, such as Icard, Krafft-Ebing and Krugelsten walked the terrain far earlier Lombroso.

Despite the unfavorable judgments of biological positivism, it can non be ignored that all adult females have ‘undeniable phases in their development rhythm [ 26 ] ‘ viz. in menses, climacteric and after giving birth.

The common theory in this regard, for why adult females do perpetrate offense, is that hormonal instability dictates their aberrant behavior, peculiarly force. Even Lombroso found this nexus in his work after happening that 72 out of 80 adult females arrested for defying public functionaries were flowing at the clip [ 27 ] . Contemporary criminologists such as McClean, Wood, Devlin and Mercier have besides claimed the physiological differences between work forces and adult females as a ground for criminalism, but have non given significant grounds as to why the remainder of the female population have non committed offenses whilst traveling through the same ‘crisis periods. ‘ [ 28 ] Freud lends a suggestion here as he believed people are born with anti-social condemnable qualities, but the better amongst them larn to command this. His theory suggests adult females do non hold the fright of emasculation ( as do work forces baring the Oedipus composite ) which would be used to command their urges, but suggests their passiveness and privation of fondness controls them.

It is normally known that adult females experience mood swings, tenseness, H2O keeping and concerns, nevertheless, 19th century theory exaggerates the ‘mood swings ‘ into unexplainable force and unbearable immorality and inhuman treatment.

The plants of the late Dr Dalton whom coined the term ‘PMS ‘ to depict the ‘changes ‘ adult females experience in these times, and it is accepted by the jurisprudence that there can be uncontrolled aggression at certain times of the month, and PMS has the possibility to be a mitigating factor in the sentencing of female felons under lessened duty in the jurisprudence of grounds in England. For illustration, in a instance in 1981, Christine English killed her fellow by driving into him. After pleading guilty to manslaughter on evidences of lessened duty due to pre-menstrual syndrome she was conditionally discharged.

Furthermore, biological theory has manifested itself into the jurisprudence of infanticide in that the Infanticide Act 1938 s.1 ( 1 ) provinces:

‘..where a adult female by any willful act or skip causes the decease of her kid being a kid under the age of 12 months, but at the clip of her act or skip the balance of her head was disturbed by ground of her non holding to the full recovered from the consequence of giving birth to the kid or by ground of the consequence of lactation. ‘

However it is funny to observe that the medical profession refuses to accept this, in its definition, symptomatology, interventions or rates of manifestation [ 29 ] . Crimes such as infanticide can merely be committed by a adult female. Naturally, criminologists can non in any manner attempt to suit this offense into gender-neutral theories ; at that place has to be something peculiar about adult females. On the other manus, ‘infanticide ‘ still remains, harmonizing to the Law Commission in a Home Office Consultation Paper in 2008, a piece of statute law which is a ‘practicable legal solution to a peculiar set of fortunes, ‘ which gives something to see if there was no offense of infanticide.

Accepting PMS and infanticide in the jurisprudence gets varied responses, normally either indignation that a adult female could literally acquire away with slaying, or that acknowledgment of biological occurrences that every adult female has is a positive measure, nevertheless the deep frozen intensions are far more complex. Some might see it as positive that adult females are acquiring acknowledgment, whereas others would see retrograde sarcasm in drama ; adult females want to derive equality, but they excessively are immersed in the privation for allowances to be made for them, and besides that ‘PMS concepts adult females ‘s normal experience and behavior as unnatural ‘ [ 30 ] . Furthermore, the maleness of jurisprudence does non understand adult females ‘s ‘problems ‘ , so it is easier to accept mental instability than dispute the norms of society, and so an history of PMS, as Raitt and Zeedyk suggest,

‘ … is striking merely because societal norms dictate a peculiar baseline for adult females ‘s behavior and when they fail to run into that outlook, unwellness provides a convenient account [ 31 ] ‘

Consequently, Smart notes that, ‘in rule, the jurisprudence should be held to be every bit applicable to all regardless of sex, ( observing besides, race, category and other differentiations ) ‘ but in world this does non go on. There are at all times a figure of social intensions or stereotypes, such as the gallant nature of work forces, and the stereotyped manner adult females are perceived which overshadow what should be go oning, and find what does go on in respect to the survey of offense, and although this should non be the instance, it does uncover the underlying, prejudiced positions towards adult females that would better be abandoned for the interest of the quality of accounts for criminalism.

Finally, it would be interesting to utilize permutation here. First if adult females were in power in society, there would be no accounts for aberrant behaviors down to PMS, as holding PMS at certain times or sing the effects of childbearing and lactation would be the norm. There would likely be accounts for why work forces behave they do, for illustration neuroticism because they can non hold kids.

Brain Function

Although genuinely biological theories seem to hold disappeared from criminology [ 32 ] , Lansdell, in a survey of lateralization of verbal intelligence in the encephalon in 1962 [ 33 ] noticed that when males and females had shots or leukotomies, their recovery procedures were different even though the hurt was the same: adult females recovered better because they found that their encephalon hemispheres are more affiliated, enabling the female encephalon to perchance absorb all kinds of information that male encephalons would maintain separate. How this would go an account for female criminalism would be rather complex and I would profess that it would see criminologists utilizing these findings to simply back up the well known stereotype that adult females can ‘multitask ‘ . However, it could be suggested that adult females have less opportunity of being caught as they could be after the offense exhaustively, or be able to comprehend the effects of their actions before they can execute an act which would render them condemnable, but these would amount to immense generalizations, and would non once and for all explicate why adult females do or make non perpetrate offense.

Although it is arguable that as with any ‘disease ‘ of the organic structure and head, as Williams notes, biological factors ‘all suggest traits that are capable of being cured based upon accommodations to the single [ 34 ] ‘ but in world it is questionable how far could that be taken. [ 35 ] In add-on to this, there is an built-in job with biological surveies ; you can non rehabilitate person if you believe the criminalism is biological, whereas you could if the grounds for offense are societal.

Contemporary Theories

“ Women ‘s behavior seems eccentric when it does non fit their gender function ” [ 36 ]

The classical and biological accounts for female criminalism must be given recognition as they recognise that adult females are by and big really different. For a start adult females do non by and large fit the physical strength of work forces and through medico-legal research it is shown that they negotiate the universe otherwise. However, the fact that adult females are wholly less condemnable agencies that they were non seen as worthy of being studied and that they are non presenting such a great job for society and so traditionally, adult females have been unseeable, irrelevant and their behaviors passed off as ‘mental instability ‘ with no farther probe. This underdevelopment of the survey of female criminalism in comparing with work forces seems to be ‘a effect of the pervasiveness of the belief that adult females are unessential ‘ [ 37 ] , and urged feminist authors to dispute them.

This stems from the paradigm that the male policy shapers, do Torahs to regulate the behavior of work forces, and therefore it flows that criminological theories are thought by work forces, to explicate non-adherence to the jurisprudence in respects to work forces. So the bulk of theories throughout criminological schools of idea would non suit snugly when adult females are put into them, and adult females end up being an embarrassment for male criminalism because they are notably so much more jurisprudence abiding.

Social Role Theory

Diminuitive social positions of adult females and their nature from the nineteenth century became natural or common sense positions, and these carried on long after the likes of Lombroso and Pollak, unquestioned. Thomas ‘ legitimate function theory touched on the societal facets that could perchance impact female criminalism but was unequal because it was partly based on misconceived biological premises, and there is no account for where the prepossessions came from.

Nowadays we are still shocked that a adult female has committed a offense, peculiarly a serious or violent offense, which shows that the common sense construct of adult females has permeated through feminist victory and persisted through clip. It is a daze in the first case because female offense is a relatively rare happening, as the statistics suggest, but likely more significantly because they have non adhered to their core ‘role ‘ in society.

Social control and socialization

The first account which endeavours to explicate adult females ‘s low degree engagement in offense sing societal function is that of the difference between male and female societal control. This takes the signifiers of either internal or external control, and besides a theory normally described as ‘socialisation ‘ .

Internalised control is a otherwise conditioned, behavioral response to certain actions. For illustration, it is impressed upon misss that ‘punch-ups ‘ are incorrect, whereas male childs would be actively encouraged to be adventuresome and stand up for themselves, or face being pilloried for being ‘effeminate ‘ . Succinctly, misbehavior is accepted more readily for male childs and they are taught as such. It is suggested by Heidensohn, that in the western universe, work forces are praised for taking a more single and aggressive function, whereas adult females are expected to be inactive, bare an antipathy to force and are so committed to keeping the household construction – as their function would propose – that they do non hold the clip to pique.

External control takes on two signifiers, formal and informal. It is suggested that misss have more informal control, that is to state closer supervising and limitations of freedom at a younger age in comparing to boys, whose freedom means they have more formal control in the signifiers of the constabulary and CJS. It is equated as the more informal control there is, the less formal control is required, which attempts to explicate the lower degree of piquing by adult females. Such a theory, nevertheless, despite the virtues of flinging biological determinism, can non be conclusive because it is society that influences what behavior is seen as condemnable, so if simply non conforming to the feminine function is dubbed condemnable, without farther account of why the function exists, it can non be converting.

Double aberrance

As discussed, adult females are non ‘supposed ‘ to be violent so when they are it leads to a two path disapprobation ; the offense that they have committed and besides for non accomplishing the criterions of a adult female. Double aberrance theory transportations into courtroom state of affairss and to the constabulary, hence impacting determinations made about adult females. The fact that adult females have non lived up to their function, leads to higher sentences ; it is non unusual for adult females to be sentenced for a few months longer holding committed the same offense as work forces. However, this theory can be criticised by looking at the CJS procedure. Although sentencers do non acquire gender consciousness preparation, the sentence might merely be based on whether they are set abouting a offense control hindrance method or a reformatory attack.

Sex-role theory and Opportunity theory

These theories explain why adult females are perpetrating certain types of offenses, non others. Smart professes that sex-related offenses such as shrinkage, harlotry, kid maltreatment and larceny from employer are ‘role-expressive ‘ [ 38 ] . Theft is most likely to be points of vesture or nutrient ; both linked to the ‘feminine function ‘ in that adult females will steal apparels that they like, but can non afford, to derive attending from work forces, and nutrient because they are more likely to hold the domestic function ( and therefore chance ) to shop for it. The Home Office statistics on larceny do non distinguish between expensive or inexpensive points, but the PNDs given out for shoplifting for points under & A ; lb ; 200 suggest that it is these smaller points being stolen. Larceny from the workplace shows chance theory ; adult females are employed as store helpers or domestic aid, and seeing that ‘none of these offenses require peculiarly ‘masculine ‘ properties [ 39 ] ‘ such as strength, they are likely to be committed with easiness with the purpose of carry throughing the female function. Besides, repression of adult females has made fraud gain itself at a lower rate than work forces because adult females until now have ne’er had the ‘big money ‘ callings so they were less likely to acquire involved. The fraud that they tend to acquire involved in presents is societal benefit fraud, most likely to pay for the upbringing of kids, and kid maltreatment happens more often as harmonizing to the theory their life style is based around the place, and defeat with individual parentage.

There are two significant restrictions to the societal function theories. The first, as noted by Smart, there is a failure to locate the treatment of sex functions within structural accounts of the societal beginnings of these ‘roles ‘ . As a effect, they do non dispute the beliefs of the biological determinism ; therefore they have non advanced in the hunt for a conclusive account.


Konopka offered a different account ; alternatively of sing delinquent adult females with contempt, she wrote as if they were the victims of personal maladjustment and could be cured with intervention. Although cognizant of socio-economic factors, her work related to the personal quandary of the single instance histories of the adult females she studied, viz. poorness and opprobrious backgrounds. This is apparently more in line with current research in that a survey of 18 grownup wrongdoers ( male and female ) by Byrne and Trew in 2005 reported that ‘the adult females would give mostly matter-of-fact histories of their piquing behaviors ‘taking topographic point in the context of negative force per unit areas, demands and personal jobs ‘ [ 40 ] and is supported by a survey by Rutter et Al. in 1998 reasoning that:

It may be that misss are going more violent because they are progressively exposed to societal contextual influences where force is a hazard, instead than because misss, in some general sense, are going more violent. [ 41 ]

Therefore those who study the position of many adult females in society and the hazard factors explicating their behavior, exceling ( but non disregarding wholly ) any biological sensitivity for offense, would be explicating female criminalism in the same manner that work forces are evaluated, and would see such things as individual parentage and poorness. This accordingly becomes a more equal account because foremost it is non prejudiced, and secondly accepts that adult females are susceptible to socio-economic factors besides.

Emancipation of adult females

In the 2nd stage of the adult females ‘s motion in the 1970s, as the statistics can demo, there was a high addition in the figure of adult females perpetrating offenses. The controversial account for this expounded by Freda Adler in 1975 is the release thesis which rests on three chief premises. First, that adult females have been freed from paternalism, where they became free from legal, societal, political, rational and moral restraint, hence unfastened to more chance to perpetrate offense. However, Smart criticises this premise because she has treated emancipation as an stray factor, outside of any socio-economic factor, and in bend has remained in the confines of the construction of early criminology which was non productive. Second, emancipation let adult females free to move like work forces, commit ‘masculine ‘ offenses, be sexually liberated and acquire powerful callings. It is emulated in the statistics that this may be true – there is more force, which is perceived as a masculine offense. However, Carlen [ 42 ] criticises this premise in that it created a self-contradictory and dry construct of what appears to be a masculine adult female, and alternatively of disputing the old positions on adult females, she has really entrenched them. Smart concurs, and at the same time criticises the sex-role theory besides, ‘if we expect adult females to be inactive… when they are perceived by others to neglect to populate up to the stereotype, their actions will look all the more lurid or endangering ‘ , once more exemplifying of social influence and constructs that determine how adult females are viewed.

The concluding portion is based on the premise that the nexus is proved by the lifting tide of recorded offense. At first glimpse the statistics do supply us with the nexus, but the undependability of the statistics makes Adler ‘s claim inadequate as male offense went up besides it was arguably proportionate. [ 43 ]

Transgression – the feminist review of criminology

The whole country of criminology seemed locked in a clip warp up until women’s rightists decided to expose criminology for what it was – written by work forces, to understand the aberrance of work forces. It is in these accounts, particularly the work of Smart, which it could be suggested still do non reply why adult females commit offenses, but negate any recognition given to theories which base themselves on the stereotyped constructs of adult females and conclude that something must alter.


The inquiry of to what extent criminology has provided equal accounts for female criminalism desired a critical analysis of the theories professed throughout history, and from this it can be seen that classical criminology seems to miss any relevancy presents except supplying an history of the manner adult females were viewed so. Even modern-day theories can non abjure wholly from consisting of the same misconstrued and chauvinist givens of adult females that lie beneath their logical thinking. The feminist motions took adult females out of what was a male hegemonic society which necessarily dictated how adult females were studied in criminology, yet although adult females have progressed ; it is merely the individuals that can see through society ‘s building of adult females that have any existent base in attesting a ‘real ‘ account for female criminalism.

Criminology being dictated by and on history of social positions is inevitable, as Heidensohn concludes ‘crime itself is a societal concept [ 44 ] ‘ and so committing offenses hence must non be to make with the physiology of work forces or adult females, but personal, societal and economic factors. However, the modern construct of Dr Daltons PMS and the jurisprudence ‘s conformity with it may hold some foundation if the medical profession finally accepts it, to agree that aggression and emotions are flared during these times.

Work force and adult females do perpetrate the same types of offense, merely less of it. But as the position and societal function of adult females continues to be work forces, although it has non done so merely yet, the statistics are certain to meet at some point ( taking the of all time increasing force for illustration ) . The gallantry of CJS is deceasing out as adult females are deriving acceptance, position and power exponentially in all countries of society. It will be improbably hard to take societal political orientations about adult females, but if they were, gallantry and lenience towards adult females may even snuff out for good and be replaced by intelligent cognition that adult females are different. The differentiation between ‘different ‘ now and ‘different ‘ so, is different now is merely a province of being, non a bantam term as it was. Both sexes ‘ demands and cardinal differences will necessitate to be addressed to guarantee equality of result, and in no manner does that bias or dainty adult females laxly, it will be simple fact. Hopefully in the future adult females will hold become a merchandise of their clip whereby they are equal to work forces in criminology, or even that equality of survey will go an irrelevant construct because no 1 will cognize that adult females and work forces were of all time ‘unequal ‘ .

Possibly the times and prepossessions of adult females are altering for good, adult females will be studied jointly with work forces, without any sense of gender favoritism. This would make a thorough and across-the-board criminology, non merely an unworthy battle to suit adult females into obvious surveies of work forces.

  1. T Newburn Criminology ( Willan Publishing, Devon 2007 ) P 300
  2. C. Smart Women, Crime and Criminology: A Feminist review ( Routledge & A ; Kegan Paul Ltd, London, 1976 )
  3. YJB Study 2009 ‘Girls and piquing – forms, perceptual experiences and intercessions ‘accessed 31 March
  4. A Worral, ‘Twisted Sisters, Ladettes and the New Penology: The Social Construction of Violent Girls ‘ in C Adler and A Worrall ( erectile dysfunction ) , Girl ‘s Violence: Myths and Realities ( State University of New York Press, USA 2004 ) p.41
  5. Smart n 2 P 2
  6. F Heidensohn, Women and Crime ( 2nd Ed, Macmillan Press, London 1996 ) P 86
  7. Home Office: Statisticss on Women and the Criminal Justice System, published January 2010 for 2008/09accessed 31 March 2010
  8. YJB Study 2009 n 3
  9. Smart n 2
  10. Home Office Statistics n 7
  11. see n 7
  12. A Morris Women, Crime and Criminal Justice ( Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1987 ) P 41
  13. Heidensohn n 6 P 115
  14. C Lombroso, G Ferrero The Female Offender ( Fred B Rothman Publications, USA, 1895 )
  15. Newburn n 1 P 301
  16. Heidensohn n 6 P 114
  17. W. I. Thomas Sex and society: Surveies in the societal psychological science of sex. ( Unwin, London, 1907 )
  18. W I Thomas The Unadjusted Girl. With instances and point of view for behavior analysis. ( Small, Brown, USA 1967 )
  19. Newburn n 1 P 302
  20. hypertext transfer protocol: //
  21. Smart n 2 P 48
  22. Smart n 2 P 49
  23. Smart n 2 P 49
  24. Home Office Consultation Paper, Murder, manslaughter and infanticide: proposals for reform of the jurisprudence CP19/08 & lt ; hypertext transfer protocol: // & gt ; accessed 19th April 2010
  25. Newburn n 1 P 301
  26. Edwards n 14 P 80
  27. Edwards n 14
  28. S. Edwards ‘Medico-legal conumdrums – The legal organisation of Psychological differences ‘ ch 3 in ‘Women on Trial ‘ ( Manchester University Press, 1986 ) P 82
  29. F Raitt, M Zeedyk, The inexplicit relation of psychological science and the jurisprudence ( Routledge, London, 2000 ) ch 6
  30. Raitt and Zeedyk n 29
  31. Raitt and Zeedyk n 29
  32. Newburn n 1 P 302
  33. H Lansdell ‘Laterality of verbal intelligence in the encephalon ‘ ( 1962 ) Science 135 922-923
  34. K Williams Textbook on Criminology ( 6th Ed, Oxford University Press, US, 2008 ) P 503
  35. It is interesting to inquire what the biological theoreticians would do of transexuals who commit offense, particularly after individuals can now to the full ( and lawfully ) alteration gender after turn outing medically that they are the other sex in organic structure and head ( as per the Gender Recognition Act 2004 ) .
  36. Raitt, Zeedyk n 29
  37. Smart n 2
  38. Smart n 2 P 11
  39. Smart n 2 p15
  40. YJB Study 2009 n 3
  41. Worral, n 4 Ps 42
  42. P. Carlen, Criminal Women and Criminal Justice, the Limits to and the Potential of, Feminist and Left Realist Perspectives in Matthews, R. , and Young, J ( Ed ) Issues in Realist Criminology. ( Sage, London, 1992 )
  43. Smart n 2 P 72
  44. Heidensohn n 6 P 197

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