Female Criminality and Female Victimology

Examine the process by which the concepts of Femininity, Female Sexuality, Female Criminality and Female Victimology, influence the Judicial Process. The British Judicial system faces many strains as a result of criminal activity, and this therefore resulting in an increasing amount of legal cases being brought to court. As a result of this the system has adjusted its day to day, and overall operations to accommodate for the changes that have occurred whether these be social or biological.

The Judicial system has also in the 20th century had to allow for the enfranchisement of women and the changes in criminal activity as a result of this in terms of society and cultural aspects. It has been argued that within the judicial system women are not equally treated, this may be in both terms of arresting and also sentencing. A key theory, of this in equal treatment, being that of femininity. Femininity raises many issues as well as the nature versus nurture argument as to why this in-equal treatment within the judicial system occurs.

Obviously between the male and female genders there are both biological differences and socially acquired differences. The idea of femininity influencing the judicial system as in the view of such as system, which is male dominated, women are seen as gentle, soft and innocent creatures that would never dream of committing a criminal offence. Examples of this would be a single mother up in front of the court for theft as it would likely been seen by the system that she was struggling and just trying to provide for her loved ones. Therefore the Judicial would be very unlikely to convict and send the offender to prison.

However there are exceptions to this and these are women that are seen by the system not conforming to the 'normal' old school, traditional male perspectives of women. Examples of this would be women with a shaved head who shows no remorse in the crime committed. Therefore this can be shown in terms of power as follows: Powerful = those women of traditional values Oppressed = those women resistant to femininity The Judicial system has also been affected due to increasing female criminality. This is shown as more women are now being charged and convicted with criminal offences, therefore going through the judicial system.

However though this may be the case, there is a difference between the genders in terms of sentencing, again being the result of the theories within femininity. Female criminality has been classified within the following theories: The functional theory believes that female crime is inherited through the genetic structure but also women may have committed crime as away of challenging and changing social views, and in the early 20th criminal law and government acts within parliament. Hence the law breaking in early history has taken place as a result against female oppression.

However some sociologists would claim that this is in-fact the poor, lower working class fighting against capitalism. Those that support the inter-actionist theory would claim that the increase of crime and therefore the effect of this caused on the judicial system are a direct result of cultural deviance, and therefore socially constructed. They would also claim that the legal and Judicial system define and control the laws and sentencing in favour of the needs of the wealthy, powerful groups that they are supporting, hence the increase in female crime and therefore females being oppressed through the Judicial system.

Those sociologists supporting the structuration theory would claim that it is the poor and oppressed who are victims of crime, such as women, and therefore would no be the offenders. However they would also claim that criminal activity would be a result of social influences. As a result of this theory the judicial system is unfair as it is generally the wealthier, educated classes working within and carrying out the sentences and therefore do no understand or have experience of the realism of crime.

It has been stated that in criminal statistics released by the judicial system that women are hugely under-represented, and this is likely to be a result of their femininity. This may therefore be influencing the system as this may then result in the statistics being male gender based and therefore prison statistics would be supporting this. Criminal activity committed by women generally occurs between t he ages of 14 – 17 yrs, this includes men as well.

After several studies into why this occurs it has been suggested that possible reasons for this may be: Biological and physical changes that are taking place amongst this age group as well as the social changes. Obviously the biological changes are likely to be a result of puberty as hormonal in-balances occur. This, in turn, may influence any social changes or experiences. The social changes that may be taking place may be that of more freedom as this age group are experimenting with going out socially outside of family life and also may be taking up employment opportunities.

Social changes such as this could result in experimentation through either peer pressure or sheer curiosity. As a result of the biological and physical changes that may be occurring, the judicial system may be influenced ion their sentencing and conviction decisions as a result of gender perspectives. This may be influenced in this way as women are more likely to have a one of arrest or conviction and therefore unlikely to re-offend, whilst men from this age group are more likely, according to history to re-offend and follow a life of crime.

In result of this gender perspective, the judicial system may be influenced, as male offenders are more likely to be more harshly treated by the system. This may happen in an attempt to deter males re-offending. As a direct result of this women are likely to be treated with more leniency and this is also emphasised by the femininity theory. The theory of gender perspectives and specification could also be linked to theories of Victimology. They may be associated and therefore linked as men are actually more likely to be victims of crime as well as offenders, and again the age group that are generally victims are young males.

As a result of this, men committing these crimes are more likely to be harshly treated as they are challenging the traditional views regarding gender and how women are meant to be victims not peoples own gender. Therefore, resulting in an effect on the judicial system, in the sense of reinforcing gender specification. Female Victimology is very closely linked to the theories and core ideas of femininity. This may be because when crimes are committed against women, such as rape, women are seen as weak and innocent. Therefore they are easily targeted as a result of their biological gender differences in comparison to men.

This can also occur socially. Biologically it may be seen because 'men are the natural predators' (S. Browmillar) and therefore women their prey. This may have an effect on the judicial system again in the form of gender ideology and perspectives. However, an offender's defence team is likely to use patriarchal theories to build there case in suggesting that the female victim asked to be raped. This is done by questioning the victim's sexual history, the type of clothing they wear and their social background. (Sue Lees).