Outline And Evaluate What You Take To Be The Achievements Of Feminist Criminology

1922 words - 8 pages

Criminology covers a whole multitude of approaches to the study of crime and deviance. Over the last 30 years feminist perspectives have challenged theories, concepts, and assumptions of much of the classical criminological work. They state that gender issues have been hidden in criminology. Feminists argue that men are the dominant group within society and have therefore constructed and enforced laws that disadvantage women. This essay will assess these criticisms, outline the different branches of feminist work and evaluate the achievements made by the feminist perspective.The importance of feminist criminology is the new perspective that it brings to the field of study. It is not the maleness of crime that is the subject of their attention, but the issue of women and crime. Feminist criminology has attempted to 'create a space for women's voices' (Gelsthorpe 2002). There are several branches of feminism present in current criminological study; liberal, radical, Marxist and socialist. Less renowned movements such as post modernist feminism and ecofeminism also figure.To analyse the contribution feminist criminology has made, a description of what came before it and made up the majority of the work is necessary. There was a near complete lack of a female presence in criminological literature. The problems which female crime did pose to theorising were usually ignored or simply shoe horned to fit male based accounts. This may now seem striking, but there are reasons for this that is conclusive with general common sense regarding crime. Firstly females are traditionally seen as law abiding, or at least comparatively so. 80% of serious crimes that result in a conviction are committed by a man. Only 3% of the current prison population is female. This is not merely an English phenomenon and has been recorded universally, making gender the best predictor of criminality. This 'striking truth' goes some way to explaining the legacy of the male dominance of criminology (Williams 2002).Feminism was a reaction against certain assumptions and ideals historically present in criminology. In this way it intended to defeat the 'classic masculine discourse' (Collins). The work that had preceded feminist thought had attempted to explain criminal behaviour in three ways, the biological, the psychological and the social. Feminists have challenged work in all three fields. These theories all had an effect on sentencing and the way in which criminals were treated.Lombroso and Ferrero (1885) were the first criminologists to study the biological appearance of female offenders. Lombroso was one of the pioneers of criminology and his work represents some of the first theorising that was made. The idea of atavism or social Darwinism was central to Lombroso who argued that females were born criminal, and that these women were genetic throwbacks. This was considered rather radical at the time; Darwin's work had only just appeared. Lombroso considered the white male to be...

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