Has Criminology Been Gender Blinded

Topics: Feminism, Criminology, Gender Pages: 6 (2255 words) Published: April 19, 2006
Criminology has been ‘Gender-blind' rather than ‘Gender neutral'. Discuss It has been argued that the gaze of criminology has been primarily focused on male offenders, Cain (1989) argues that criminology is in fact incapable of speaking in gender neutral terms (cited in Walklate 2001: 19). A reason for this includes that history has been prepared to offer universal explanations of crime achieved by the study of the male offender. Feminists such as (Naffine 1997: 18) believe that criminology has been ‘dominated by academic men studying criminal men'. A major concern for feminist writers on this subject is that for many the world is seen as a masculine one, despite facts clearly proving that it is made up of feminine and masculine attributes, they see this as a clear example of gender blindness (Walklate 2004: 22). This essay will discuss the historic assumptions of the female criminal, theories of gender blindness which look toward the feminist criminologist perspective on gender attempting to show studies where the female criminal has been studied, but to which degree, and finally does this present criminology as more of a sexist social science, gender blinded or possibly even gender biased discipline. It is important to understand if criminology could have became embedded with gender assumptions (Paul Rock 1986) believes so and that they were created through various theoretical and analytical approaches within criminology, (Gouldner 1968) also was of the same opinion explaining that these assumptions did exist and that they were indeed so deep in the foundations of the study that the were taken for ‘granted as given' (both cited in Walklate 2001: 17). A brief look at the history is now needed to understand more concerning these claims. Cesare Lombroso was responsible for many studies into the criminal, he published six editions of his notorious book ‘The Criminal Man' between 1876-1897 each edition published to combat criticisms from the last, Lombroso included criminality from various aspects including age, race, mental capability, climate and the epileptically insane. Only once did he mention women within these writings and this was regarding the phenomenon of prostitution, he saw this as the only deviant behaviour manifested by women and could not detect signs of criminal diversity within the women's body (http://www.museocriminologico.it/lombroso_3_uk.htm). Lombroso also published ‘The Female Offender' in which he espoused the belief that criminals possess an innate and ‘atavistic' predisposition towards crime. Lombroso and Ferraro (co-author) attributed that women's lower crime rate was a result of their maternity, want of passion, sexual coldness, weakness, and undeveloped intelligence. Women criminals, however, were more male than female and deficient in such typical feminine characteristics. Instead, they exhibited ‘strong passions and intensely erotic tendencies,' as well as high intelligence and physical strength. Although society believed that women criminals were capable only of a lower level of criminality because, as women, they lacked the blend of intellectual features required of more demanding crimes, such as murder and assault (http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?action=getPage&docId=5000298254). Therefore it can be said that this contributed to the existence of certain presumptions towards women within crime. From (Jones 1998: 287) it is found that Freud also considered the aspect of women and crime, he went beyond the biological explanations of Lombroso stating that anti-social behaviour is link to basic human instincts being uncontrollable at time. Also believing that female offenders are more male than female however he cited this as a result of their failure to conform to their nurturing role as women. This is still gender blind as it disregards sexual differences in offending behaviour. A contradiction of both of these authors comes from Dorie Klein (1973) claiming that in one instant women are...
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