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Sociology Sex Differences Essay

2099 words - 9 pages

With reference to gender, discuss the possible relationship between offending, victimisation and treatment within the criminal justice system

“Sex differences in criminality are so sustained and so marked as to be, perhaps, the most significant feature of recorded crime” (Heidensohn, 1996, in Newburn, 2007, p.806). What Heidensohn (1996) means when saying this is that: when studying criminality, sex differences are the most compelling feature of recorded crime. This quote sums up why I chose to do my essay on the subject of gender and criminality.
The purpose of this essay is to discuss and raise questions about the links of gender in the context of offending, victimisation and ...view middle of the document...

This means, that we act in the way society wants us to act, which originally stems from our sexes but turns into our genders, as men are socially constructed to behave in a masculine fashion, whereas women are socially constructed to behave in a feminine fashion. Additionally men are socialised to be an aggressive, dominant, bread winner, whereas women are socialised to be a care-giving, nurturing motherly type of person. Consequently it doesn’t come as a surprise when we see in the official statistics that men commit more offences than women, as over history, crime has been more male associated than female. This is because “for many men, crime serves as a “resource” for doing gender” (Messerschmidt, 1993, in Treadwell, 2006, pp. 96-97).Basically, for men, crime is a way of showing off their power, showing off their masculinity to look like, quite simply, a man… to be dominant among their peers.
When looking at offending, it is important to look at the evidence behind such assumptions of gender and crime, i.e. official statistics. As I have already said, the statistics show that men are more likely to commit crime than women, and this is also true in the sense of different types of crime, as men are more likely to commit indictable offences (serious crimes) than women. However, women are more likely to commit certain summary offences than men are, for example, shop lifting or prostitution. This is supported by Coleman and Moynihan (1996), who suggest, in their tables, that for every 75 sexual offences committed by a male, 1 female will commit a sexual offence… whereas for every 1 female committing a prostitution offence, 0.01 males will commit the same offence (Coleman and Moynihan, 1996, pp. 95-96). So despite the stereotype of men behaving in the “masculine” way of committing crime to assert dominance, the statistics show that women are more likely to commit small, petty crimes that may not have a victim in the sense that a homicide committed by a man would. Be that as it may, we cannot take everything that is said in official statistics at face value, as this may not reflect certain individuals own experiences in offending. For example, some women have been known to escape that “feminine” role in society by committing serious, indictable offences that would be perceived as a more masculine crime. This is seen as double deviant, and is a term used when women have committed heinous crimes that go against (what is supposed to be) their very nature. Individual examples of this are child abuse/rape cases committed by Myra Hindley. This type of offence goes against the norm of how women are supposed to act in society; to commit an offence is bad enough, but against a child/children, the entities that women “should” be gentle and motherly towards, is seen as an abomination towards society. However, this theory towards gender, particularly female offending, can be argued against by saying that women are actually more able to “‘mask’ their...

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