Assessing The Feminist View That Conventional Malestream Theories Are Inadequate For An Understanding Of Women In Society
Feminism is divided into several different versions. However, they all
share several common assumptions. They view society as patriarchal,
that is, dominated by men. They see men as the most important source
of women's oppression in society. For example, feminists see men as
having the most power in the family. They have higher paid jobs and
they monopolize the media and politics.
The ultimate aim of all branches of feminism is to end male
domination. To awaken society to the oppression of women and to
eventually rid society of the exploitation of women.
Furthermore, feminists' agree that until the late 1970's sociology has
neglected to study women's issues and roles in society. Until recently
men dominated sociology. The studies were conducted on men by men. The
results were then generalised to the whole of society. Feminist felt
this generalisation was inadequate in the representation of women.
They called this male dominated sociology "malestream", a detrimental
term, as opposed to mainstream. Inadequate representations include the
role of gender in crime, inadequate research methods and a patriarchal
view that biology determines the division of labour. This essay will
focus on the analysis of these areas.
According to Durkheim (1938) and the functionalist perspective crime
is an inevitable by-product of a healthy society. He argued that crime
and punishment serves a function to society. Social change stems from
deviance therefore it is necessary for the advancement of society.
Albert Cohen (1966) and Robert Merton (1968) further developed
Durkheim's views. Criminological theories have been developed by men
and validated by men. It has been assumed that theories and studies
into crime would include women. Feminists argue that they have
completely ignored women.
Carol Smart (1977) pointed out the inadequacies of the studies into
crime and deviancy. "Although there are massive documentation on all
aspects of male delinquency and criminality, work carried out on the
area of women and crime is extremely limited" (Haralambos, Themes And
Perspectives, Fifth Edition, P408) Her reason for this disregard is
that women were less likely to commit crime so they were viewed as a
less problem for society.
Heidensohn (1996) has also offered reasons why women are invisible in
crime. Male crime is often more violent. Therefore, women's crime is
largely ignored because it is seen as no real social threat. In
addition, official figures show a marked difference between male and
female crime. Because women's crime figures are significantly lower
than men's they are often ignored. Heidensohn has suggested that
although female crime is recognised today. It is often...