Richard B. Felson
This essay suggests that activist rhetoric and imprecise language should be discarded when studying gender and violence. Violence against women should be compared to violence against men and not studied in isolation. It should be studied primarily as violence not sexism, based on well-established principles from the social psychology of aggression. Such an approach emphasizes the violent actor’s point of view and the role of interpersonal conflict, self-presentation, grievance, and retribution. Power and control may play a role in violence against men and women, but other motives are also important. In addition, theorizing should consider well-known sex differences in physical size, sexuality, and emotion. Men’s stronger bodies and sexual interests, and women’s greater tendency to get angry, have important implications. Finally, chivalry should be an important element in any discussion of violence against women. Violence against women occurs despite (not because of) societal norms.
Kerry Carrington and Jodi Death
This essay provides an overview of the contribution of feminist criminologies to an intersectional analysis of sex, gender, and crime. Dozens of scholars have participated in these debates over the past four decades. This essay draws on interviews with ten internationally distinguished scholars to reflect upon the distinctive contributions of feminism to our knowledge about sex, gender, and crime. The essay concludes that feminist work within criminology continues to face a number of lingering challenges in a world where concerns about gender inequality are marginalized; where tensions around the best strategies for change remain contentious; where hard questions about the female capacity to commit violence are avoided; and where a backlash, antifeminist politics distorts the responsibility of feminism for female violence. This essay critically reviews these lingering challenges—locating feminist approaches at the center and not the periphery of advancing knowledge about gender, sex, and crime.
Stacy De Coster, Karen Heimer, and Samantha R. Cumley
Females are less likely than males to violate the law, a statement that has become a criminological truism and might help explain why the major theoretical paradigms in criminology tend to focus more on male offending than on female delinquency. Although females are less likely to engage in illegal behavior, they do so nonetheless. This article looks at the major criminological paradigms—control, strain, and learning—and the extent to which they have addressed female delinquency as well as the gender gap in delinquency. While it is true that the most prominent theories in each paradigm pay little attention to gender, some have suggested that these theories can explain delinquency in both males and females. In other words, the theories are believed to be gender-neutral. Indeed, there is empirical evidence to support the argument that the major social-psychological processes and variables in these theories—social bonds, self-control, strain, and learning—influence male and female delinquency.
Jean Marie McGloin and Stephanie DiPietro
One of the controversial issues in criminology is the notion that females are less likely than males to commit a crime. Although scholars have hotly debated the changing magnitude of the gender gap in recent years, they have not devoted so much attention to whether females exhibit disproportionately lower rates of crime—particularly violent crime—than males. Given the persistence of the gender gap in offending, it is not surprising then that research on criminal behavior has relegated females to an ancillary role. This article explores the relationship between gender and offending as it pertains to the peer group, specifically friends. It argues that deviant peer influence is a strong and important predictor of both male and female offending. It examines this risk for female offenders and explains why certain peers—namely those of the opposite sex—may exert a particularly powerful influence over females.
S.J. Creek and Jennifer Dunn
This essay explores intersectionality as a paradigm and attends to its application to the study of crime. This interdisciplinary and critical theoretical approach emphasizes the imperative that scholars consider the multiplicative (rather than simply additive) effects of varying systems of oppression in the lives of both victims and offenders. Sections in this essay address intersectional insights into criminological discourses and research on intimate-partner violence, victimization, offending, and criminal justice processes. By reviewing literature that deconstructs and blurs binary categories of identity and social action, the essay provides many examples of “what difference our difference made” (Crenshaw 2005, p. 312).