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Feminist Criminology


Nearly all criminological works and studies, even up until the second half of the 20th century, concentrated on male criminals and how the criminal justice system dealt with them. The fact that males committed the majority of crimes and that this was supported by data meant that female offenders received less attention than their male counterparts. The rates of female incarceration, or being locked up, however, surged by the 20th century's conclusion, generating interest in the study and investigation of girls, women, crime, and the criminal justice system. The drug war and federal reforms served as additional impetuses for this research.

KEYWORDS: Feminism, criminology, liberal feminist theory, radical feminist theory, Marxist feminist theory, Criminologists, gender norms, women offenders, criminal justice system.


What does the term "criminology" mean? The phrase refers to the investigation of a crime, criminal behaviours, and the related criminal justice system. Although it is still problematic to define criminology solely in terms of its several disciplines, the discussion has resulted in 5 distinct definitions of the term "criminality." They are: Natural law explanations, Moralistic explanations, Labelling explanations, Social harm explanations, and Legalistic explanations.

The term "Feminist Criminology" refers to a broad and deep theoretical framework as well as the methodologies that shape the gender experiences at the centre of the study of criminology and criminal activity. Additionally, a wide range of topics are covered, including female offenders, female victims, how female offenders respond, and the unique needs of female convicts.


Feminist criminology addresses the flaws in the criminal justice system that prevent it from taking into account the significant differences between the ways that men and women commit crimes, the types of crimes they commit, the victims they inflict upon, and the punishments they receive. The study's foundations are male criminality and how the criminal justice system handles male criminals.

Researchers and students of criminology claim that historically, it has been thought that when investigating a general crime, it will be a study of male crime, and that a crime committed by a woman would be somewhat of an exception. This is how the practise was decried, and female criminology soon followed. The 'need' and 'importance' of studying feminist viewpoints within criminology should be understood before we learn in depth about the theories of feminist criminology, feminist explanation of female crime, impact and statistics, etc. This is due to the fact that women have received little attention from criminology and related academics. The creation, building, and transmission of criminological knowledge have all been dominated by men. Saying that women are not the only ones to be overlooked is hardly a gratifying or logically sound response, and the exclusion of females from the study raises several important issues regarding the suitability of the analyses that need to be addressed. Additionally, if criminologists discuss women as offenders, they do so in a highly stereotyped manner and believe that women offenders are odd. To put it another way, they have typically been portrayed according to their biological make-up and psychological condition. You could be thinking that all that's required to address this issue is a crash course on feminist criminology and women's research. The truth is, a variety of academics, professionals, organisations, and feminists themselves have previously done it and done it well. It is now time for feminist criminologists to conduct more research on women, but not merely by compiling data from surveys and other sources; rather, they should examine the theoretical underpinnings of feminist criminology outside of the context of solidarity.


Liberal Feminist Theory: The central claim of liberal feminism is that women experience discrimination and unfair treatment based on their gender. And the ‘motive' behind this might be to prevent women from having access to opportunities that are equivalent to those offered to men in all spheres of life, including politics, careers, and personal opportunities. Criminologists like Rita Simon and Freda Adler have proposed that societal issues, rather than physiological ones, should be used to explain why women commit crimes. The "liberal feminist theory" is one of the most well-known feminist theories, particularly in North America. The following issue that has to be discussed is: "What can be done to address this issue of gender inequality?" The answer, which is "rapid integration" of women into a world dominated by men, is largely non-debatable and quite rational. Giving women equal opportunity and assisting them in assuming positions of influence over national policy entails doing this. The Liberal Feminist Theory also bases itself on the idea that as women get greater freedom, we may see them participating in crimes similar to those perpetrated by men. However, it is now lacking some first-hand evidence. It is clear that women are only involved in minor offences at this point, such as shoplifting and minor frauds, and this is due to the feminization of poverty on an ever-increasing scale.

Radical Feminist Theory: For the first time, this theory criticized the claims made by "Liberal Feminist Theory" by characterizing it as overly simplistic. Additionally, it has shaped feminists' viewpoints on matters including the mistreatment of women. According to these feminists, one of the main factors contributing to gender inequality, poor social relations, and crime is male power and the privileges that have been accorded to them.

One of the most significant social structures that can be identified in society is patriarchy, which is manifested in how men dominate women's sexuality and the work force. All other ties (like class, for example), which derive from male-female relations in society, are secondary to this main relationship. Another crucial point that needs to be made in this context is that the major goal of feminism, regardless of its philosophy or ideology, is NOT to drive males out of society but rather to integrate women into it and into social relationships. All forms of gender discrimination will eventually be successfully eliminated as a result of this.

Marxist Feminist Theory: 'Marxist Feminist Theory' is a further feminist theory that merits discussion in this context. People who adhere to the political and economic views of Karl Marx and F. Engles are referred to as "Marxists." Marxist feminism first appeared in response to the Marxist social theory, which discussed the prevalence of masculine bias, in the late 1960s. According to proponents of the 'Marxist' feminist theory, the economic structure of society is the primary factor that determines how people interact with one another. It supports the liberal feminist idea, which contends that women don't have enough opportunity to engage in society since they live in a world dominated by males. The fundamental determinant of gender disparity and division in society is the form of an economy. The dominance of capital and men, say the Marxist feminists Julia and Herman Schwendinger, is the reason why the division of labor by class is frequently seen as a division of labor by gender. But what plan of action will transform this system? Well, it's the shift away from capitalism and towards a more democratic socialist society.


It is more than reasonable for everyone to grasp feminist criminology from a global viewpoint and taking into consideration the criminologists’ study from across the world on this subject before coming to any conclusions and talking about the issues which still persist in this domain.

Undoubtedly, a distinguishing feature that has been aggressively leveraged to draw attention to the issues on a global scale is the focus on violence against women. In addition, the emphasis areas serve as a foundation for the necessity to further study feminist criminology and women's victimization around the world. These include the mistreatment of women in Islamic nations and traditional practices against humanity such as female genital mutilation. The study of feminist criminology also makes a significant contribution to our understanding of how criminal justice systems all over the world frequently victimize women and even punish them for allegedly "violating" traditional gender norms, particularly in relation to their sexuality. For instance, women who have unfortunately experienced rape or other forms of sexual assault are frequently judged more like "offenders" than victims in several Islamic and Muslim-dominated nations. According to the philosophy, they had transgressed norms pertaining to women's sexuality.


Feminist criminology has changed and developed significantly throughout time. However, despite the fact that feminist scholarship has been published, it can be seen and inferred that it still suffers from numerous forms of marginalization. Even mainstream publications only publish a small amount of feminist study, and textbooks are no different—they pay very little attention to the theories of feminist criminology and their applicability.

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