Outline and assess feminist explanations for the relationship between gender and crime [50]

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Outline and assess feminist explanations for the relationship between gender and crime [50]

There is a very clear relationship between gender and crime in terms of official statistics. Men appear about six or seven times more likely to offend than women. In self-report studies the figures are closer but men are still in the majority. Even when we look at victims of crime it appears that men are more likely to be victims of crime than women. So what have feminists argued about these patterns?

The feminist Heidensohn believes that the patterns above have meant that women have been ignored by most criminology until recently. She accuses criminology of being ‘malestream’ for a number of reasons. The first is that the majority of offenders are male and therefore it is easy to study the majority rather than the minority. Secondly the majority of sociologists seem to be male and therefore their work may reflect a male and biased viewpoint. However this bias increases when you consider that the bulk of sociological research that is published concerns the lives of the exciting – young males. And finally Heidensohn describes most theories as ‘gender blind’ as the sociologists do not think about how their theory could be applied to females, ignoring the female viewpoint. However, over recent years feminists have become very influential in criminology and some of their views will now be discussed.

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Feminist explanations of the low crime rate of women often focus on the way women are socialised and socially controlled within a patriarchal society. Heidensohn argues that women are controlled in three main arenas and this control means that they are less likely to commit crimes than men. Firstly they are controlled in the home where they still take responsibility for housework and childcare, meaning that they are at home far more often than men. Secondly they are controlled in public because fear of crime makes them less likely to be out on the streets, particularly at night. Finally, ...

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