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'Feminist theorising and research on crime within the family has transformed fundamentally criminological understanding of the problem of crime' Discuss.

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Introduction

Seminar Leader: Keith Hayward Natalie Norwood 'Feminist theorising and research on crime within the family has transformed fundamentally criminological understanding of the problem of crime' Discuss. The Sage Dictionary of Criminology1 defines family Crime as a "generic term which draws attention to the extent and range of violence and abuse in 'private' domestic life". Family crime or domestic violence has been a hidden crime for many decades. The woman's movement in the 1970's broke the silence on issues which related to the victimisation of women in the private sphere. These issues included childhood abuse, incest, rape and domestic violence. Since that movement, women's experiences began to be discussed and noted. Feminist criminology started to become a noticeable part of criminology around the early 90's. Criminologists with the feminist perspective aim to increase female visibility within criminological knowledge. As well as this, they aim to understand crime as a male dominated activity produced not only as a result of sex differences but also as a product of gender differences. They question whether sex/gender have a place in crime, justice and criminological and justice theories. ...read more.

Middle

Kelly and Radford (1987)4 claim that "a future free of the threat and reality of sexual violence requires nothing less than the total transformation of patriarchal relations". Although this is a difficult goal to reach, especially in the short term, until then their aim is to have violence by men to be taken more seriously. Radical feminist criminologists have made many attempts to raise more awareness to male violence and improve the authority's response to women. However, it has been argued by Susan Edwards5 that although this seems a good approach in theory, some 'feminist idealists' have claimed that these authorities, such as the police and the law are all part of this patriarchal society. Therefore "legal change serves only to perpetuate the basic conditions of patriarchy". It is suggested by Mackinnon (1989)6 than instead of changing man-made law, it would be much more beneficial to introduce a feminist jurisprudence based largely on women's own experiences. Radical feminism has made an impact on the way that crime in the family is viewed as a problem of crime but what they are suggesting, "the transformation of patriarchal relations", would require such a vast change for the society that it does not seem like it's achievable. ...read more.

Conclusion

Feminist Theories Feminist Research into domestic violence Messerschmidt Mr J. Messerschmidt (1993)9, a strong supporter of feminist views, believed that other more conventional theories of criminology did not provide a strong enough understanding of criminal behaviour because sex/gender was not included in their analysis. He also analyses patriarchal theories, claiming that although they do not avoid the gender issue, they do tend to categorise woman as the good party and men as the "bad, plain and simple", rendering these theories incomplete. CONCLUSION Feminist contributions, based on research and theories around crimes of the family, towards the understanding of crime can be divided into two parts. Firstly, feminist criminology criticises other criminological theories of considering gender differences or for stereotyping women in sexist ways. Secondly, the term 'women' was always seen as a unified category 1 McLaughlin E. and Muncie J. The Sage Dictionary of Criminology, p 117 2 Mooney J., Gender, Violence and The Social Order, p88 3 As above 4 Mooney, J., Gender, Violence and the Social Order, p102 5 As above, p103 6 As above, p103 7 pdf - results 8 sheet 1 9 Lilly J.R., Cullen F.T. and Ball R.A., Criminological Theory, p 172 ...read more.

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