criminology established from Women’s Movement of the 1970s, this was in
response to the male dominance within mainstream criminology. There is a
significant debate over the impact of feminism on criminology and how it influences
society. It is commonly argued that feminism has had a substantial impact on
criminology and society, this is shown through time as female employment has
increased, women representing in parliament as well as the increase of women
performance through education. Despite these changes throughout history, it
could be held that women still experience substantially disadvantaged in terms
of pay, employment and leading positions within society. This essay will assess
the impact that feminism has had on criminology and will look at the strands of
feminist theory and how each one had an impact on criminology.

Liberal feminism
is based on the ideology that women are discriminated against due to their
gender; this did not allow them to access the same political, financial, career
and individual prospects as men. Theorist such as Freda Adler (1975) and Rita
Simon (1975) challenged sexist assertions made by a criminologist who follows
the Lombrosian theory. The two theorists argued that sociological factors best
explain women’s criminality rather than physiology. Female offending has
increased throughout time, Adler and Simon (1975) have suggested that this is
due to women becoming more men-like has society has proceeded. Both gave the
impression that the change in status in areas such as family, marriage, employment
and social position has allowed them to be more exposed to crime as are men.
According to this theory, women who started to work at the same time exposed
themselves to crimes. For example, doctors and lawyers had become burglars and
forgers, as we learn from Alder “In the same way that women are demanding equal
opportunity in fields of legitimate endeavour, a similar number of determined
women are forcing their way into the world of major crimes” (Adler 1975). This
shows us that women’s liberation which was argued to be good for society also
created new structural opportunities for women to commit a crime. Alder gave
embezzlement within the workplace as an example of this (Alder 1977). This
lacks empirical backing, this is because most crimes committed by women were
not related to an improved work-related situation. This strand was at its peak
in the 1960s, then up until now women primarily tend to commit petty property
crimes. This could be things such as shoplifting, welfare fraud and offences committed
due to poverty. Liberal feminism has been criticised by many feminists in the
areas of methodology, statistical analysis as well as the over-emphasis on the
liberation movement’s impact on female offenders. As we learn from Roberts and
Gramling “since the female offending rate is relatively low compared to the
overall rate of offending, minor variations can easily exaggerate the
percentage increase” (Roberts and Gramling 1993). The idea that women are
becoming more men-like as proposed by the liberation theory is uncertain.

Radical feminism
in contrast to liberal feminism focuses more clearly on men’s oppression
towards women rather than other social conditions which might result in women
subordination, the term `patriarchy` is commonly used to describe this
systematic oppression. Radical feminists see male power and privilege the root
cause of all social relation inequality and crime. The importance of radical
feminism on women’s oppression and control through their sexuality has had a
huge impact on criminology, this is mainly through victim surveys. Radical
feminism is more from a viewpoint that men tend to have the same power and
control over their own daily lives as they have over women. Historically, not
much attention was given towards crimes against women such as rape, sexual
assault and domestic violence. During the 1960s and after, there was a growth
in work in favour of women. This was mainly done through Women’s aid and other
research being conducted specifically on domestic violence as we learn from
(Dobash and Dobash 1979 cited from Newburn 2007). This instigated the ideology
of oppression towards women, this challenged many `malestream` ideas within
criminology (Hanmer 1989- Newburn 2007). Radical feminist believed that society
was dominated by males, and rightly so as men were seemed to be superior to
women throughout history. From Daly and Chesney-Lind we learn that sexual
violence towards women from men is not due to the need of sexual desires,
rather practising the power which men have over women (Daly and Chesney-Lind
1988). The impact which this theory has had on criminology on a whole could be
regarded as effective to a certain extent. This is mainly due to the way
society treated women as opposed to before, women entered the criminal justice
system and educated themselves. Women are now having equal opportunities as men
in the modern era as opposed to prior generations. The inequality between men
and women has been obvious as men dominated in all walks of life, however,
there has been significant improvement and development of gender-based
theories. This is of both male and female wrong doings mainly focusing on the
difference or separate social control systems.

campaigning has had an immense impact on criminology, campaigning is where the
gains of feminism are more obvious that the theory part of it. The women’s
movement was the leading movement in speaking about, gendered violence, rape
and domestic violence as well as general victims. Public and political
awareness of violent and sexual crime against women was raised by organisations
such as Women’s Aid. Organisations such as this campaigned and organised
refuges for sufferers of domestic violence. Another organisation named Rape
Crisis which campaigned to highlight the issues which surround sexual
victimisation. This impacted criminology as the general public was made aware
of the problems which surround women. This made gains in policing within
criminology in terms of domestic violence. Domestic violence is now seen to be
a real crime within society, if a complaint is made to the police about
domestic violence it is firmly at least formally followed up. This is
successful due to the campaigning and has had an impact on criminology as an
Act of Parliament names domestic violence, this is known as (Domestic Violence,
Crime and Victims (Amendment) Act 2012). This is a positive move which helps
and supports women within criminology.

Feminism has
impacted criminology in various ways mainly ways including theories, as well as
this it has also impacted the criminal justice system. More women are working
in the police force today than back in the 1970s. As we learn from the Home
office website “There were 35,471 female officers out of 129,956 officers in
the 43 forces of England and Wales including central service secondments,
representing 27.3% of the total, compared with 26.8% in March 2012. The
proportion of women in the more senior ranks of chief inspector and above was
18.0% up from 16.3%, compared with 29.7% of women at constable rank, up from
29.4%” (Home Office- Police force 2013). From these official statistics, we
learn that women have more opportunities within the criminal justice system,
the statistics show that women and men are now seen equal to a certain extent.
Although there is a highly significant amount of men women employees are
increasing each year.

In conclusion, it
is quite clear that feminism has had a major impact on criminology as a whole.
It is now impossible to disregard women criminals, a huge amount of work has
been done in order to minimise the victimisation of women. Criminology and the
criminal justice system has changed with time, mainly due to the recognisable
amount of women in a lot of areas, though it should be noted that this maybe
not be in more elite positions. The campaigning of the women’s movements has
had a major impact, but there are still problems that women as victims
experience. It is still a problem of overcoming fixed assumptions and obstacles
to overcome and achieve where a suspect, victim or offender is dealt with by
the criminal justice system without them being biased due to the gender of the
person. Nevertheless, inequality between men and women has changed
significantly compared to prior years, undoubtedly there is room for more work.

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