crimejusticegender04
Montclair State University  
 
April 7, 2004
Gender and Power  - Gender, Crime, and Justice –

Power - the ability to influence others and to resist being influenced.

There are both legitimate and illegitimate powers.

Legitimate power is authority, i.e. power that is recognized and accepted by the people who are being influenced. It is power legitimated by the group.

There are 3 types of legitimate power or authority according to Max Weber:

Traditional Authority – authority that rests in tradition and which is passed from one person to another. Example of traditional authority is the succession of authority from the King to his descendants.

Charismatic Authority – authority that exists because of the person’s personality and charisma. Example of this might be cult leader.

Legal Authority – the authority exists because of law. This is the type of authority of which we are most familiar in our society.

Political institutions and the military, including the police deal with legitimated power.  Therefore, these institutions have authority.

Certain institutions in our society have as their primary function the use of power - political institution deal with the use of power, has head role (the President). Other institutions deal with the enforcement of power - i.e. the military and the police.

There are also individuals and groups who use power to influence others - but this power is not legitimated by society, nor is it institutionalized. They exert power through the use of violence.

In both cases - whether the power/violence is legitimate or illegitimate - the power is gendered. Men hold both the legitimated positions of power in the political, legal and military (police) institutions. Moreover, they are most likely the perpetrators of illegal power/violence.

Illegitimate Power - Women and Men as Offenders. 
Men constitute 99 percent of all persons arrested for rape; 88% of those arrested for murder; 92% of those arrested for robbery; 87% for aggravated assault; 85% of other assaults; 83% of all family violence; 82% of disorderly conduct. Men are overwhelmingly more violent than women. Nearly 90% of all murder victims are killed by men, according to the United States Department of Justice’s Uniform Crime Reports.

There are 6.5 million adults under some sort of correctional supervision. (92% are men)

Theories to explain this;
Biological differences have been used as an explanation– androgens, male hormones, ex testosterone are what drive male aggression. Except that we have learned that the evidence is unconvincing. Although its is true that testosterone is highly correlated with aggressive behavior; ie that increased testosterone levels typically result in increased aggression. However, it does not cause aggression but only facilitates an aggressiveness that is already present. It does nothing for nonaggressive males. Nor does the causal arrow always point from hormone to behavior. Can be an issue of eminence. Nor does increased testosterone cause violence against those who are significantly higher on the dominance ladder. We also learned that middle class and older males are less violent,

Homosocial competition which regards male violence as the result of the evolutionary competition for sexual access to females. In some cultures, males are not in the least violent or competitive with each other.

Psychological theories – Psychodynamic – male violence is a way to prove successful masculinity.

Social and Cultural Theories Societies in which gender inequality is highest are those where masculinity and femininity are seen to be polar opposites. Themes that anthropologists have isolated as leading toward both interpersonal violence and intersocietal violence.

One of the most significant “causes” of male violence, then, is gender inequality.

America - A history of gender violence. Culturally - Violence has long been understood as the best way to ensure that others publicly recognize one's manhood. Male violence is a code that sees violence as the chief demarcating line between women and men.

The Gender of Crime –
Young American men are the most violent group of people in the industrialized world.

Arrest statistics - Vast majority are : 15-to-29 year-old non-whites

According to crime statistics, men are significantly more likely than women to be victimized by violent crime. It is estimated, in fact, that 89% of all males now twelve years old will be the victim of a violent crime at least once is their lifetime, compared with 73% of females.  Taking race into account, Native Americans and Black have the highest victimization rates.

Terry Kupers points out that victimization takes prison in prisons as well.  He discusses that rape is not an isolated event in men’s prisons. 9-20% of percent of prisoners become victims of sexual assault. But this might be seriously underestimated because the informal prison code is not to “snitch” to authorities.  For the victim of rape, reporting the assault to security staff may result in retaliation, physical or sexual abuse, or death.

The prison code permeates prison culture and consists of four structural elements.

First there is a hierarchy of domination wherein the toughest and the most dominant men rule those who are less dominant.

Second there is a sharp line between those at the top of the hierarchy and those at the bottom.

Third, the bottom is defined in terms of the feminine.  The message is clear” “I, the dominant man, have the right and the power to use you, the loser, sexually, as if you were a woman.”

Fourth , there is a narrowing of personal possibilities to survive in the system.  Some  conform to the rigid hypermasculine posturings of the prison culture, some by attaching themselves sexually to a dominant male, some by performing a service (other than sexual) that other inmates want (like being knowledgeable about the law), some work to isolate themselves.

In analyzing crime statistics we need to keep in mind that we are counting only the behavior that gets processed through the criminal justice system.  Many of acts toward individuals never get processed.  For example, rape is considered vastly underreported.


Women - Despite the increases in crime rates for women over the past few decades, the base numbers are so small to begin with that any modest increase appears to be a larger percentage increase than among men.  However, the small numbers of women in prison is often cited as one of the reasons that women as offenders is not studied.  There are approximately 950,000 women in prison, jail or on probation.

There have been some increases in women’s property crime, especially fraud, forgery and embezzlement most of that increase has been in petty theft: shoplifting, credit card fraud, passing bad checks. So the emancipation or liberation theory of female crime is not supported by the statistics.  A lot of the crime committed by women seems more to be “survival options” by poor women.

Women’s violence remains dramatically different from men’s violence. For example, women’s violence tends to be defensive, while men are more often the initiators of violent acts.  Renzetti and Curran point out the women’s arrest rates for aggravated assault rose by more than 46% which may be a consequence of the enactment of mandatory arrest laws for domestic violence that are resulting in an increasing number of women being charged with assaulting intimate partners even though they may be acting in self-defense.

We have some evidence that the gender gap in violence is decreasing. But women constitute only 8% of the prison population.

Victimization rates for women:  There is a general concern that reported rates are significantly lower than the reality.  However, Joanne Belknap and Renzetti and Curran suggest part of the low rates is a product of ethnomethodology (how the numbers are counted).  Renzetti and Curran point out that it was not until 1989, that the National Crime Victimization Survey began to more accurately estimate the incidence of rape and violence perpetrated by intimates and other family households.  It does not include the victimization experiences of the homeless or those living in communal settings such as battered women’s shelters.  In addition, although women report more crimes to survey interviewers than to the police – it is estimated that less than half of all violent crimes and only a third of all property crimes are reported to the police – they have difficulty reporting certain crimes, such as rape, to anyone.  Consequently, analysts estimate that official victimization data represent only 10 to 30 percent of the rapes that actually occur.  Belknap reports that estimates can be as low as 5-16%.  Moreover, the rate of reporting declines the more intimate the victim-offender relationship (someone they know).

Women’s greater fear of crime stems both from their greater physical vulnerability and from the fact that their victimization s more likely to be hidden, overlooked or trivialized relative to men’s victimization.

Women are most likely to be victimized not by a stranger but by someone they know.  54% of the violent victimizations reported by women are perpetrated by someone they know compared with 44% of men reporting that they knew the perpetrator.

Women are often the victims of gender violence.

Men's violence against women can be studied as an issue of entitlement thwarted. And an issue of power.

Men learn that violence is an accepted form of communication between men and between women and men. Nearly one in five victims of violence treated in hospital emergency rooms was injured by a spouse, a former spouse or a current or former boyfriend of girlfriend.

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women in the nation between 30 and 40% of all women who are murdered are murdered by husband or boyfriends. Between 12% and 25% of all American women have experienced rape and another 12% to 20% have experienced attempted rape.

Rape is a crime that combines sex and violence, that makes sex the weapon in an act of violence. (See Kathryn Felty’s article).

It is less a crime of passion than a crime of power. Rape is used by men "to put women in their place," Rape is a way to get even, to exact revenge for rejection, to retaliate. Feelings of powerlessness couple with the sense of entitlement to women's bodies.

18% of women and 3% of men have experienced an attempted or completed rape.

The majority of women who have been raped were not adults. (22% were under the age of 12 at the time of the first rape, while 32% were between the ages of 12 and 17).
College - Nearly 44% of all women surveyed have experienced some forms of sexual activity when they didn't want to.

Women who are raped as children and adolescents are at much greater risk for subsequent sexual assault as adults. This repetition is likely due to the family and social environments in which these women live.

The reported rates of rape in one’s lifetime is similar for African American, White, and Latino women (19%, 18%, 15%).  34% for Native Americans (including Alaska). 

However, some researchers caution these statistics might not be accurate since pervasive racism results in severe underreporting of rape and other crimes by black victims.

Acquaintance rape – In 50% of all reported rapes, the victim knows or is familiar with her assailant. 

Prosecution is less likely to be pursued when the offender and victim are acquainted and convictions are more successfully obtained whey they are strangers.  Non-traditional gender behavior on the part of the victim (engaging in sexual activity, drinking alcohol, staying out late, etc) is an important predictor of the verdict.

Race and Domestic violence and the criminal- processing system. Belknap reports that African American, Latina, and homeless women and girls whose rape cases reached the prosecutor’s office were routinely researched to see if they had any criminal history (their white counterparts’ offending histories wee not researched) and 2 rape victims with histories of offending were unlikely to have their cases prosecuted. (Frohmann, 1991)

Punishment of rapists in any form is rare.  Studies: 6% of rapes reported to police went to trail. 1/3 of arrests for rape end in convictions.

Batterers are more likely than rapists to receive guilty verdicts.  But this may be due to the fat that batterers are more likely tan rapists to plead guilty. 

Social Characteristics of Rapists - Diana Scully found that rapists have higher levels of consensual sexual activity than other men, and are as likely to have significant relationships with women and are as likely to be fathers as other men.  Sex was often seen as a “male entitlement.”

Men arrested and convicted on rape charges are in their early thirties on average, white and married.  Rape and sexual assault offenders make up less than 5 percent of the total correctional population.

However, a significant number of men who have never had contact with the criminal justice system claim to have perpetrated some form of sexual aggression against women.

Many men and many women believe in myths about rape which color how our society views victims of sexual assault.  Felty defines rape myths as false beliefs about rape that hold the victim responsible for the rape at the same time that the effects on the victim are denied.  Common myths about rape include the following: that women enjoy forced sex, victims provoke rape and sexual assault, seductive clothing and behavior precipitate rape.

Males who hold more traditional attitudes toward women and women’s roles consider rape to be more justifiable than men who hold more egalitarian views. 

Although males more than females, more often believe there are circumstances of “justifiable” rape,  both felt that sexual coercion is more acceptable when it occurs between intimate partners.

The only circumstance in which males and females agreed that sexual coercion was unacceptable was when a female said no and reinforced the verbal communication by using physical force.

However, women’s traditional socialization often inhibits them from fighting back. Whereas traditional male socialization required that men become sexually active and be assertive in their expression.  Women, today, get a mixed message.  They should invoke sexual desirability but there are expected to limit sexual availability and control potential sexual encounters.

Looking at rape from the macro system, we know that certain cultures are rape-prone while others are rape-free. Rape occurs in societies where women and the environment are devalued and exploited and where violence is commonly used.   “The United States qualifies as a rape-prone society: gender inequality exists in all social institutions; the roles of women are devalued and the use of force and violence for proving manhood is prevalent and common.”

Looking at rape from the institutional level, we know rape as an expression of aggressive masculinity is most apparent in male-dominated subcultures within social institutions such as the military, sports teams and fraternities.

Domestic Violence
Domestic violence varies as the balance of power in the relationship shifts. Concentration of power in men's hands leads to higher rates of violence. Women and men do not commit acts of violence at the same rate, for the same reasons. Kersti Yllo argues that men tend to use domestic violence instrumentally for the specific purpose of striking fear and terror in their wives' hearts, to ensure compliance, obedience, and passive acceptance of the husband's rule in the home women tend to use violence expressively, to express frustration or immediate anger - or, defensively to prevent further injury.

The best predictor of the onset of domestic violence is unemployment. Racial and ethic differences disappear when social classes are similar.

Domestic violence is another way in which men exert power and control over women. And yet, like rape, domestic violence is most likely to occur not when the man feels most powerful, but when he feels relatively powerless. Violence is restorative; a means to reclaim the power that he believes is rightfully his.

July, 2000 National Institute of Justice, drawing on a population that was 99% heterosexual, found that 25% of women and 8% of men, were victims of an abusive relationship sometime in their lives.

Straus's findings suggested that far from being a one-sided attack, partner abuse is usually mutual abuse, an exchange of physical and psychological abuse between partners.

Some researchers have cited findings that appear to show that women assault their male partners as much as men assault women. Women do report using violence against their husbands or boyfriends at about the same or even a slightly or even a slightly higher rate than men report using violence against their wives or girlfriends.

Researchers who have identified equal amounts of battering used the "Conflict Tactics Scale" which doesn't discriminate between the intent of the act or the effect of the act. For example in the CTS, there is no difference between a slap that stings ands a punch that causes permanent injury. There is no difference between a woman pushing a man in self-defense to a man pushing a woman down the stairs. There is no difference between a violent who defends her daughter against the father.

The extent of the violence - these studies take a single year rather than a looking over time.

Underreporting of the extent of the violence perpetrated by men. When both partners are interviewed independently, there is great discrepancy. Men tend to underreport and minimize the extent of the violence.

Other criticism The surveys exclude incidents of violence that occur after separation and divorce, yet these account for 75.9% of spouse-on-spouse assaults, with a male perpetrator 93% of the time.

The CTS does not include sexual assault as a category although more women are raped by their husbands than beaten only.

Police and court records persistently indicate that women are 90 to 95 percent of the victims of reported assaults.

There is a myth that men don't report the abuse because of shame, etc. But the U.S. National Crime Surveys shows that men who are assaulted by their spouses actually call the police more often than women who were assaulted by their spouses.

87% of men murdered in the U.S. are killed by other men. 3% of male homicide victims are killed by wives, ex-wives or girlfriends. About one third of female homicide victims are killed by husbands, ex-husbands, or boyfriends.

Joanne Belknap –
1) The overlap between females’ victimizations and offending
2) The sexist society and criminal-processing system that female victims and offenders face
3) How race, class and sexuality intersect with gender to explain the occurrence of and the responses to female victimization and offending.


The link between female victimization and female offending.  Girls who are victims of incest are more likely to become delinquents and adult offenders than their nonabused counterparts.  There are gender-unique pathways to crime for women who are abused.  They are abused, they run away from the abuse and then are processed by the courts for “running away” (a status offense).  The alternative is surviving on the streets through selling drugs or prostituting or both.  There is an increased risk of using drugs to “self-medicate” which then increases the likelihood of girls entering the criminal-processing system.

In addition to youthful victimizations being related to being at risk for offending, research ha shown ways in which battered women are at risk of becoming offenders. 

Belknap says regardless of whether a woman or girl is victim or offender, she is likely to face extreme sexism.  Female victims and female offenders encounter a gendered social system that provides them with fewer resources and support than their male counterparts.  Moreover, in both society and the legal system, sexism frequently intersects with racism and classism in significant ways.

How criminals are processed through the criminal justice system.
Process moves from arrest, to arraignment at which a plea is entered by the defendant, the trial (either by judge or jury) and sentencing.

82.4 percent of criminal conviction in U.S. District Courts in 1999 were the result of guilty pleas and 91% of felony convictions in state courts in 1996. Poor people and racial and ethnic minorities experience greater pressure to enter a guilty pleas because the public defenders assigned to them wish to dispose of as many cases as possible.

Research shows that policies such as mandatory life sentence following a third felony conviction have resulted in an increase in the number of racial and ethnic minorities sentenced to prison, but the most dramatic increase has been for Black women. (278% increase).

48% of the inmates of women’s prisons are African-American, 33% white, and 15% Latina.

Sentencing disparity – Factors such as an offenders’ sex, race, ethnicity, as, marital status and a host of other non-legal factors influence the imposition of different sentences on offenders convicted of similar crimes.

Early studies of sentencing disparities between male and female offenders reported that women were given preferential treatment by the courts and were less likely than men to receive prison sentences for their crimes. (Chivalry or paternalism hypothesis).  Other researchers argued that this research did not control for the less serious nature of most women’s crimes. 

Most studies suggest that the perceived respectability of the offender – male or female – in terms of conformity to traditional gender norms influences sentencing.   Women who conform to a tradition model of femininity – for instance, economic dependence on a man, no evidence of drug or alcohol use, no evidence of sexual deviance – may receive lighter sentences than women deemed less “respectable “ by the courts.  (Familial-based justice). Daly suggested that the protection of families and children, not the protection of women influences much judicial decision making.  However, judges are not inclined to give female drug offenders a “break.”

Race plays a part.  Not only are non-white women more likely to be sentenced to prison, but the actual time served is longer for non-white women than for white women. Mann reported that although the white women in her study actually received longer sentences than the African-American women, they actually served less time. 

Gender and juvenile offenders – Girls are more likely than boys to be charged with status offenses, that is, behavior which if engaged in by an adult would not be considered a violation of the law, e.g. running away from home, incorrigibility, truancy, being a “juvenile in need of supervision, and being in danger of becoming “morally depraved.”   Females charged with status offenses are more harshly treated at every step of criminal justice processing and are more likely than males to be institutionalized for status offenses.  Race again plays a factor.  White girls are significantly more likely to be recommended for “treatment” whereas girls of color are more likely to be recommended for a “detention-oriented” placement.

Correctional facilities – Special problems faced by incarcerated women.  For example, women’s educational and vocational programs are grossly underfunded.  Research indicates that women are more responsive to prison programs than men are, but women still have fewer opportunities to participate in such programs.  These programs typically train female inmates for traditional (and lower paying) jobs.
Also inadequate in women’s prisons are medical care and treatment programs. 

Few institutions offer programs that effectively address the problems associated with physical and sexual abuse, despite the fact that almost 50% of women in prison report having been previously physically or sexually abuse; about 10% of men in prison report abuse.

Despite the fact that the number of female correctional officers has been increasing, most female inmates continue to be guarded by men and some of these men use their authority to sexually exploit women prisoners. 

The separation of female inmates from their families presents acute problems for women.  About 55 percent of male inmates have children less than eighteen years old, and more than 65% of female inmates have children under eighteen years old.  Among male inmates with children under eighteen, 43.8 % report having lived with them before being incarcerated.  In contrast, 64.3% of female inmates with children under eighteen lived with them before going to prison. If a man with children is sent to prison, it is likely that the mother of th children will retain custody of them and provide them with care; 89.6% of imprisoned men with children under eighteen report that the children are living with their mother.  When a woman with children is sent to prison, it is more likely that the children live with a grandparent (52.9%); other relative (25.7%) or placed in foster or institutional care (10%).  Because 62% of state inmates and 84% of federal inmates regardless of sex are imprisoned more than 100 miles from their home, making visits difficult for many family members.  Most prisons allow visiting once a week, some as infrequent as once or twice a month.  Many of the prisons are ill-equipped to deal with visitation by children.


<BWho administers the Criminal Justice System
Although the number of women in the police and criminal justice system has increased, the numbers remain small.

Approximately 16%in local Police Departments
Correctional officers – 30%
(Adult state systems)
Juvenile State Systems (37%)
Correctional Officers in Federal Prisons (13%)
State prisons (24%)
Attorneys and Judges - Women will represent 50% of lawyers; however they represent 9.3% of judges in state courts, 8.$5 state appleate courts, 4.4% of judges in state courts with general or limited jurisdiction.

The 1972 amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 allowed women equal opportunity to law enforcement. Many police departments removed discriminatory hiring and deployment practices.

Although women have constituted an increasing number of police recruits since the 1970s, they continue to be marginalized in training at many police academies. Instructor frequently use sexist humor to "liven up: the classes. They also commonly refer to female recruits as "girls" and "gals" while the male recruits are "men" and "guys."
The belief in male superiority, for instance, is still strong within police departments.

There are also double standards of behavior for women and men. When a female officer makes a mistake, for example, the consequences may be exaggerated. Department member also continue to make references to women’s physical size and strength and to question the impact of these physical qualities on the effectiveness of female officers.
Martin reports, however, that the physical appearance and conditioning of male officers receive considerably less attention from coworkers and supervisors. Although Martin notes that most male officers no longer engage in blanket stereotypes or rejection of women in police work, they continue to view women’s routine competence as exceptional. Moreover, female officers face a double bind: if they conform to the men’s conceptions of "good" women, they will be viewed as too weak to do a competent job, but if they behave like the men, they will be labeled "bitches" and "dykes."

This point raises one final way that male officers attempt to assert their superiority: by sexualizing the workplace. Sexual teasing, jokes, and innuendo are routine in police departments, and female officers typically joining in this behavior. Sexual harassment, however, remains a serious problem, and it occurs not only in local and state departments but also in federal agencies.

Despite the prevalent stereotypes about female police officers, there is little evidence that they differ from their male colleagues in their attitudes toward police work and toward citizens. Experience, measured in years spent of the force, appears to be more important than an officer’s sex in affecting her or his attitudes.

Research indicated that female correctional officers have experiences similar to those of women in police work. Women make up about 13% of correctional officers at men’s prisons; nevertheless the increased presence of women in corrections has not led to their full integration in the workplace.

Similar to police officers, female and male correctional officers show few differences in their attitude toward their work and toward inmates.

Gender Model vs. Situational Model
Empirical research suggests that the role officers play is more important than their gender or race in determining how they perform their work.
Alisa Politz Worden found that women and men officers had similar attitudes on a range of subjects concerning policing. Female officers do report lower levels of self-confidence than male officers do but this is hardly surprising since hostile environments contribute to lower self-confidence.
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