Criminology Feminist Theories
by
Claire M. Renzetti
  • LAST MODIFIED: 14 December 2009
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0013

Introduction

Feminist theories are a group of related theories that share several principles in common. First, feminist theories maintain that gender—the socially constructed expectations about the attitudes and behaviors of women and men that are typically referred to as femininity and masculinity, respectively—is a central organizing component of social life, including criminal offending, victimization, and criminal justice processing. Second, feminist theories hold that because of patriarchal sexism—that is, the valuing of men and masculinity over women and femininity—women and girls have been systematically excluded or marginalized in criminology, both as professionals and as subjects of study. Consequently, a core principle of feminist theories is to include female perspectives and experiences in all research and practice. Feminist theories, though, do not treat women or men as homogenous groups but rather recognize that gender privilege varies across different groups of women and men. Therefore, a third fundamental principle of feminist theories is to examine criminal offending, victimization, and criminal justice processing in the context of multiple intersecting social factors, including—in addition to gender, race, and ethnicity—social class, age, and sexual orientation. Fourth, feminist theories not only attempt to explain criminal offending, victimization, and criminal justice processing but also combine theory with practice so as to develop more equitable and just solutions to the crime problem. Although feminist theories share these four major principles, the theories themselves are diverse. Among the major feminist theories are liberal feminism, radical feminism, Marxist/socialist feminism, postmodern/poststructuralist feminism, and multiracial feminism.

General Overviews

Several recently published books, book chapters, and articles offer a general overview of feminist theories and their application to various subfields of criminology (e.g., the study of violent crime, gangs, drug offenses, policing, corrections). Belknap 2007 critiques traditional theories of crime, comparing them with feminist theories, and uses a feminist theoretical perspective to analyze offending, victimization, and the criminal justice professions. Morash 2006 provides a similar approach. Renzetti, et al. 2006 along with Reasons, et al. 2001 and Daly and Maher 1998 bring together the writings of several criminologists who take a feminist approach and also emphasize the intersection of gender inequality with other inequalities. Rafter and Heidensohn 1995 is a collection of essays written by feminist criminologists throughout the world who discuss the impact of feminism on criminology in their countries. Chesney-Lind and Faith 2001 reviews the central tenets of different types of feminist theories. These works join others that may be considered classics in introducing and establishing feminist theories in criminology, including Smart 1976 and Daly and Chesney-Lind 1988.

  • Belknap, Joanne. 2007. The invisible woman: Gender, crime, and justice, 3d ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

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    An overview of feminist theories in contrast to traditional theories and their application to female offending, female victims of male violence, and women working in the criminal legal system.

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  • Chesney-Lind, Meda and Karlene Faith. 2001. What about feminism? Engendering theory-making in criminology. In Explaining criminals and crime. Edited by Raymond Paternoster and Ronet Bachman, 287–302. Los Angeles: Roxbury.

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    A review of the major schools of feminist thought as well as the authors’ assessment of what criminology gains from feminist theory and the future of feminist criminology.

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  • Daly, Kathleen, and Meda Chesney-Lind. 1988. Feminism and criminology. Justice Quarterly 5:497–538.

    DOI: 10.1080/07418828800089871Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Two pioneers of feminist criminology critique the historical exclusion of women from criminological research and theorizing and show how a feminist perspective could be beneficial to the discipline.

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    • Daly, Kathleen, and Lisa Maher., eds. 1998. Criminology at the crossroads: Feminist readings in crime and justice. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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      An edited volume of fourteen chapters on gender, crime, and justice that addresses issues feminist criminologists struggle with, including the consequences of the intersections of gender, race, class, politics, and justice.

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    • Morash, Merry. 2006. Understanding gender, crime, and justice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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      A textbook treatment of the gendered nature of crime and criminal justice that provides a feminist alternative to traditional criminology texts for undergraduate courses.

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    • Rafter, Nicole Hahn, and Frances M. Heidensohn. eds. 1995. International feminist perspectives in criminology: Engendering a discipline. Berkshire, UK: Open Univ. Press.

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      A collection of essays written by feminist criminologists from the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and South Africa, who discuss how feminist theories have impacted traditional criminology in their countries and offered alternative analyses of various crimes, including crimes of violence against women.

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    • Reasons, Charles E., Darlene J. Conley, and Julius Debro., eds. 2001. Race, class, gender, and justice in the United States: A text-reader. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

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      A compilation of eighteen readings that examine the significance of not only gender, race, and class in criminology and criminal justice but also other social-locating factors, such as age and sexual orientation.

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    • Renzetti, Claire M., Lynne Goodstein, and Susan L. Miller. eds. 2006. Rethinking gender, crime, and justice: Feminist readings. Los Angeles: Roxbury.

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      An edited volume of eighteen original papers that introduce feminist theories and show their application to the study of various types of offending, victimization, criminal justice processing, and employment in the criminal justice system.

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    • Smart, Carol. 1976. Women, crime, and criminology: A feminist critique. London: Routledge.

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      One of the first feminist critiques of traditional criminology that simultaneously lays out a feminist theoretical framework.

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      Journals

      Three professional, refereed journals that publish original articles on feminist theories or research informed by feminist theoretical perspectives are Feminist Criminology, Women and Criminal Justice, and Violence against Women. Although these are certainly not the only journals in which feminist theorizing and research appear, these journals are widely considered the leading feminist criminology periodicals.

      Liberal Feminism

      Liberal feminism is a theoretical perspective that focuses on securing equal rights for women and men through legal reform, outlawing gender discriminatory policies and practices. In addition, liberal feminism sees gender socialization as critical for teaching males and females to behave more alike than different from one another. Adler 1975 and Simon 1975 independently developed an emancipation theory of female crime, which is based on liberal feminism. Emancipation theory maintains that female offending is an outgrowth of increasing gender equality, which gives women more opportunities to engage in illegitimate as well as legitimate activities previously reserved for men. Hagan’s power-control theory (Hagan 1989) is another manifestation of liberal feminism in that it posits differential gender socialization, mediated by a family’s social class, explains differences in female and male rates of offending. Pasko and Chesney-Lind 2004, Heidensohn 1996, Naffine 1987, and Steffensmeier and Streifel 1992 offer critiques of liberal feminist approaches.

      • Adler, Freda. 1975. Sisters in crime: The rise of the new female criminal. New York: McGraw Hill.

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        The book that arguably launched the feminist debates about the changing nature and frequency of female offending and the role of “women’s liberation” in bringing about these changes.

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      • Hagan, John. 1989. Structural criminology. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press.

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        The author presents his power-control theory to explain gender differences in offending, focusing on how these differences reflect the differential socialization experiences of girls and boys.

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      • Heidensohn, Frances. 1996. The life of the female offender, 2d ed. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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        In analyzing stereotyped images of deviant women, the role of the media in perpetuating these images, and the ways that social control is imposed on women, this book offers a strong critique of not only traditional criminological theory but also liberal feminist theories.

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      • Naffine, Ngaire. 1987. Female crime: The construction of women in criminology. Sydney, Australia: Allen and Unwin.

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        Although not solely a critique of emancipation theory and liberal feminism, this book clearly spells out the serious weaknesses of this approach to female offending.

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      • Pakso, Lisa, and Meda Chesney-Lind. 2004. The female offender: Girls, women, and crime. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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        A feminist analysis of various theoretical perspectives on gender and crime, with the empirical research presented offering an especially strong refutation of liberal feminist theories.

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      • Simon, Rita James. 1975. Women and crime. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

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        A version of emancipation theory maintaining that the women’s movement has lowered female violent crime by lessening women’s frustrations. But also claims that the movement has increased their rate of property crime, including white-collar crime, by giving them opportunities to hold jobs formerly held only by men.

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      • Steffensmeier, Darrell J., and Cathy Streifel. 1992. Time-series analysis of the female percentage of arrests for property crimes, 1960–1985: A test of alternative explanations. Justice Quarterly 9:77–104.

        DOI: 10.1080/07418829200091261Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        An analysis of the changes (or lack thereof) in female offending over a twenty-five-year period, which indicates that the premises of emancipation theory are largely incorrect.

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        Radical Feminism

        Radical feminism maintains that gender inequality, or sexism, is the primary oppression in society and that gender oppression cuts across all racial and ethnic groups and social classes. Also maintains that patriarchy characterizes all social institutions, including the criminal justice system. Radical feminist criminology focuses largely on women as victims of crime (especially violent crimes perpetrated by men), which serves to shore up male dominance over women as well as compulsory heterosexuality. Brownmiller 1975 and Russell 1993 offer classic radical feminist analyses, the former of rape and the latter of pornography. MacKinnon 1989 provides a radical feminist analysis of law and the legal system. More recent radical feminist analyses are few, perhaps because other feminist scholars, such as Walby 1990, have identified several serious limitations in the theory, including that it overlooks the importance of other oppressions (e.g., racism, social class inequality) and places too much emphasis on women’s victimization.

        • Brownmiller, Susan. 1975. Against our will: Men, women and rape. New York: Simon and Schuster.

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          The first radical feminist analysis of rape, examining the crime, assailants, victims, and social and legal responses throughout history and across societies.

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        • MacKinnon, Catherine A. 1989. Toward a feminist theory of the state. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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          A critique of both liberal feminism and Marxism, in which the author develops what she calls “feminism unmodified,” a radical feminist analysis of gender, sexuality, and the law and the role of the liberal state in promoting women’s oppression.

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        • Russell, Diana E. H. ed. 1993. Making violence sexy. New York: Teachers College Press.

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          A collection of articles written from a radical feminist perspective, arguing that violent pornography is a means of asserting and preserving male privilege and enforcing female powerlessness.

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        • Walby, Sylvia. 1990. Theorizing patriarchy. Cambridge, UK: Basil Blackwell.

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          A careful critique of radical as well as other feminist perspectives that argues for a more nuanced analysis of the legal system that accounts for how racism and social class inequality intersect with sexism to disadvantage various groups of women and men.

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        Marxist/Socialist Feminism

        Marxist feminism maintains that social class inequality in capitalist society gives rise to other inequalities, including sexism. The types and frequency of crimes committed in capitalist societies reflect the exploitative class relations inherent in capitalism. If capitalism is overthrown and replaced by socialism or communism, which are more egalitarian modes of production, class inequality as well as other inequalities such as sexism will be remedied. Schwendinger and Schwendinger’s 1983 analysis of rape exemplifies this perspective. However, feminist criminologists who subscribe to a socialist feminist perspective argue that class inequality and sexism interact to shape criminal offending and victimization experiences. Messerschmidt 1986 clearly articulates the socialist feminist perspective, as does Jurik 1999, who also raises several criticisms of Marxist and socialist feminist theories. One particularly important criticism of socialist feminism found in Richie 1996 and Sudbury 2005 is its neglect of racism.

        • Jurik, Nancy C. 1999. Socialist feminist criminology and social justice. In Social justice, criminal justice: The maturation of critical theory in law, crime, and deviance. Edited by Bruce A. Arrigo, 30–50. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

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          Suitable for undergraduate students, this chapter provides an overview of the development of Marxist and socialist feminisms in criminology along with the theories’ major assumptions and principles, applications, and criticisms.

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        • Messerschmidt, James W. 1986. Capitalism, patriarchy, and crime. Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield.

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          Considered by some to be one of the most important contributions to the development of social feminist criminology, this book looks at the intersection of social class and gender to explain why women and men engage in different rates and types of offending.

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        • Richie, Beth E. 1996. Compelled to crime: The gender entrapment of battered black women. New York: Routledge.

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          This research highlights the importance of race in addition to class and gender for understanding the relationship between victimization and criminal offending as well as the responses of the criminal justice system, thus providing an important critique of Marxist and socialist feminisms.

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        • Schwendinger, Julia, and Herman Schwendinger. 1983. Rape and inequality. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

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          A Marxist feminist analysis of rape holding that the high rape rates found in contemporary capitalist societies are accounted for by male dominance, which breeds male violence, both of which are products of the exploitative relations inherent in capitalism.

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        • Sudbury, Julia, ed. 2005. Global lockdown: Race, gender, and the prison-industrial complex. New York: Routledge.

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          A collection of essays that analyze how global factors (e.g., the expansions of multinational corporations), state actions (e.g., budget cuts for social welfare programs, “get tough on crime” policies), and the intersecting inequalities of gender, class, race, and nationality have contributed to the increasing criminalization of women and the dramatic growth in their imprisonment.

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        Postmodern Feminism

        Postmodern feminism challenges the notion of “truth” and instead emphasizes the importance of cultural constructions of concepts such as “crime” and “justice.” From this perspective, the powerful are those who create knowledge; and since knowledge is a cultural construction, it is not objective or neutral. The knowledge of the “subjugated” (e.g., women, people of color, the poor) presents alternative social realities grounded in their lived experiences. Wonders 1999 lays out the history and basic principles of postmodern feminism along with some of the major criticisms of the perspective. Young’s analysis of the cultural value of crime, criminal law, and justice (Young 1996) is a good example of postmodern feminism. Howe 1994 develops a postmodern feminist analysis of penality, and Lamb 1999 challenges popular cultural constructions of “victim” and “victimization.” Comack 1999 discusses some of the tensions between postmodern and other feminist criminological theories.

        • Comack, Elizabeth. 1999. Producing feminist knowledge: Lessons from women in trouble. Theoretical Criminology 3:287–306.

          DOI: 10.1177/1362480699003003002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          Summarizes the postmodern feminist critique of two other feminist perspectives (empirical feminism and standpoint feminism) and draws on research with women in prison to address issues raised by postmodern feminist criminologists.

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          • Howe, Adrian. 1994. Punish and critique: Towards a feminist analysis of penality. London: Taylor and Francis.

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            Critically evaluates masculinist analyses of punishment as well as feminist analyses of women’s imprisonment; explores the development of a feminist analysis of penality grounded in studies of women’s imprisonment and the differential impact of disciplinary power on women’s bodies.

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          • Lamb, Sharon. ed. 1999. New version of victims: Feminists struggle with the concept. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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            A collection of eight essays that challenges cultural constructions of the concepts of “victim” and “victimization” as they are popularly applied to women by the media and various writers, including some feminists.

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          • Wonders, Nancy A. 1999. Postmodern feminist criminology and social justice. In Social justice, criminal justice: The maturation of critical theory in law, crime, and deviance. Edited by Bruce A. Arrigo, 109–128. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

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            An introduction to postmodern feminism in criminology. Accessible to undergraduate students.

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          • Young, Allison. 1996. Imagining crime. London: Sage.

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            A postmodern feminist analysis of culturally constructed concepts such as “crime,” “criminal law,” and “justice,” with particular focus on language and the media.

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          Multiracial Feminism

          Critical of feminist criminology that derives from the mainstream (i.e., white, middle-class) feminist movement, multiracial feminism maintains that most feminist theories place gender at the center and other inequalities, such as race, at the periphery of analysis. For women and men of color, however, race and ethnicity as well as social class are central. Multiracial feminism rejects a monolithic conception of “womanhood” and argues for a multidimensional examination of offending, victimization, and experiences in the criminal justice system: one that takes into account the simultaneous effects of racism and sexism as well as other inequalities, such as social class inequality, heterosexism, and ageism. Crenshaw 1994 introduces the concept of “intersectionality.” Thompson 2002, though not specifically addressing criminology, traces the development of multiracial feminism, showing how it has largely been overlooked in recent histories of feminism. Dowd and Jacobs 2003 and Schram and Koons-Witt 2004 look at the effects of structural arrangements on women’s behavior and how race, gender, class and other social locating factors intersect in their experiences of victimization, offending, and encounters with the legal system. Potter 2006 has developed a black feminist criminological theory to explain battered black women’s experiences of intimate partner violence and the legal system’s response. Cain and Howe 2009 expands the multiracial feminist focus with analyses of the criminogenic and harmful effects of global economic policies and practices on women in developing countries. Burgess-Proctor 2006, however, argues that feminist criminology has still not fully integrated the intersectional framework into its theorizing and research. Hudson 2008 makes a similar argument and introduces the theory of cosmopolitanism to better address the realities of diversity and globalization.

          • Burgess-Proctor, Amanda. 2006. Intersection of race, class, gender, and crime: Future directions for feminist criminology. Feminist Criminology 1:27–47.

            DOI: 10.1177/1557085105282899Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

            Makes the case for using an intersectional theoretical framework informed by multiracial feminism to advance the understanding of gender, crime, and justice.

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            • Cain, Maureen, and Adrian Howe. eds. 2009. Women, crime and social harm: Towards a criminology for the global age. Oxford, UK: Hart.

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              The eleven chapters in this book examine the harmful and criminogenic effects of various global processes on women (particularly women in developing countries) and take up the issue of human rights from the perspectives of indigenous women, minority women, and refugee women.

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            • Crenshaw, Kimberle W. 1994. Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color. In The public nature of private violence: The discovery of domestic abuse. Edited by Martha Albertson Fineman and Roxanne Mykitiuk, 93–118. New York: Routledge.

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              An analysis of violence against women of color that demonstrates how theories that neglect the intersection of race, gender, class, and other inequalities cannot adequately explain the experiences of diverse groups of women.

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            • Dowd, Nancy, and Michelle S. Jacobs. eds. 2003. Feminist legal theory: An anti-essentialist reader. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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              As the title implies, the essays that make up this book, authored by nonwhite, nonmainstream writers, debunk the notion of monolithic “womanhood” and argue that differences among groups of women are essential to feminist analyses of women’s experiences with social institutions, including the legal system.

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            • Hudson, Barbara. 2008. Difference, diversity and criminology: The cosmopolitan vision. Theoretical Criminology 12:275–292.

              DOI: 10.1177/1362480608093609Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              An introduction to the emerging theory of cosmopolitanism in an effort to move criminological theory toward an integration of true diversity, rather than continuing to theorize gender, race, and class as a “series of different ‘others.’”

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              • Potter, Hillary. 2006. An argument for black feminist criminology: Understanding African American women’s experiences with intimate partner abuse using an integrated approach. Feminist Criminology 1:106–124.

                DOI: 10.1177/1557085106286547Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                Through an analysis of the victimization experiences of African American women, this article integrates black feminist theory and critical race feminist theory to expand feminist criminology so that it better explains the experiences of women of color.

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                • Schram, Pamela J., and Barbara Koons-Witt. eds. 2004. Gendered (in)justice: Theory and practice in feminist criminology. Long Grove, IL: Waveland.

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                  A collection of fifteen papers that examine how structural arrangements affect the behavior and experiences of diverse groups of women who encounter the criminal justice system as victims, offenders, and professionals.

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                  • Thompson, Becky. 2002. Multiracial feminism: Recasting the chronology of second wave feminism. Feminist Studies 28:337–360.

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                    The author points out that histories of second wave feminism (i.e., feminism since the 1960s) portray the movement as led by white women and simultaneously marginalize the activisms and perspectives of women of color and white antiracist feminists. In tracing the development of multiracial feminism, the author demonstrates the importance of including class and race along with gender in social analyses and discusses alternative (and often competing) visions of social change and liberation.

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                    Masculinities and Crime

                    A central principle of feminist criminology is that criminal offending and victimization are gendered. Although a primary goal of feminist theories is to bring women into the study of crime because historically they have been ignored or excluded, feminist theories have not left the social construction of masculinity unanalyzed. Drawing on the “doing gender” model of West (West and Fenstermaker 1995), Messerschmidt 1993 and Messerschmidt 2002 articulate a theory of structured action maintaining that gender, race, and class intersect within social structures (e.g., education, work) and social relations (e.g., power, sexuality) with the result that most crime is committed by economically disadvantaged young men of color. Crime, from this perspective, is a way of “doing” masculinity. Miller 2002 discusses the limits of structured action theory for understanding girls’ offending. Laidler and Hunt 2001 also offers a critique of structured action theory. Connell 1995, while not drawing on the “doing gender” model as Messerschmidt does, uses the concept of hegemonic masculinity to explain why men are more violent than women. Perry 2001 applies the concept of situated accomplishment and hegemonic masculinity in an analysis of hate crime, and the essays in Newburn and Stanko 1995 illustrate the importance of analyzing the role of masculinity in explaining various types of criminal offending and victimization.

                    • Connell, Robert W. 1995. Masculinities. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

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                      An analysis of masculinities with a focus on how hegemonic masculinity contributes to the propensity of men to engage in violence.

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                    • Laidler, Karen Joe, and Geoffrey Hunt. 2001. Accomplishing femininity among girls in the gang. British Journal of Criminology 41:656–678.

                      DOI: 10.1093/bjc/41.4.656Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                      A test of structured action theory looking at how girl gang members “do femininity.”

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                      • Messerschmidt, James W. 1993. Masculinities and crime. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

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                        The author’s formulation of structured action theory, which incorporates the “doing gender” model to show how “doing masculinity” leads certain groups of young men— specifically, lower class and poor young men of color—to “do crime” in specific situations.

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                      • Messerschmidt, James W. 2002. On gang girls, gender, and a structured action theory: A reply to Miller. Theoretical Criminology 6:461–475.

                        DOI: 10.1177/136248060200600404Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        A response to criticisms of structured action theory, which have cast it as too rigidly constructing gender and failing to recognize the fluidity of gender identities and how “doing gender” may vary by context.

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                        • Miller, Jody. 2002. The strengths and limits of “doing gender” for understanding street crime. Theoretical Criminology 6:433–460.

                          DOI: 10.1177/136248060200600403Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                          A critique of structured action theory that calls into question the construction of gender as dualistic (i.e., either male or female) and instead sees gender and the enactment of masculinity and femininity as more fluid in response to both the opportunities and constraints—be they structural, institutional, or intersubjective—that social actors experience with regard to their behavior. (See also Miller’s reply to Messerschmidt in this same issue on pp. 477–480.)

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                          • Newburn, Tim, and Elizabeth A. Stanko. eds. 1995. Just boys doing business? Men, masculinities and crime. London: Taylor and Francis.

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                            A collection of thirteen chapters, including essays on white collar crime, men as victims, and youth crime, written by criminologists from various countries. Emphasizes the importance of masculinity for understanding criminal offending.

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                          • Perry, Barbara. 2001. In the name of hate: Understanding hate crime. New York: Routledge.

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                            An analysis of hate crime that explains this type of offending as a means to accomplish hegemonic masculinity defined here as white, Christian, able-bodied, heterosexual masculinity.

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                          • West, Candance, and Sarah Fenstermaker. 1995. Doing difference. Gender & Society 9:8–37.

                            DOI: 10.1177/089124395009001002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                            Although not specific to criminology, this article elaborates on the original articulation of the “doing gender” model first made in 1987 and provides the framework for subsequent theories of masculinities that have applied the “doing gender” model to criminal offending.

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                            Gendered Pathways

                            The feminist pathways model considers events over the life course that may lead or contribute to particular outcomes, including criminal offending. Feminist research such as Richie 1996, Raphael 2004, DeHart 2008, and Wilson and Belknap 2008 has been instrumental in connecting women’s childhood victimization experiences with their criminal offending in adolescence and adulthood. Kaukinen, et al. 2006 draws on life-course research to show not only the strong relationship between victimization and offending for women and girls but also how age-graded pathways to offending and victimization differ by gender. Similarly, Widom and Maxfield 2001 reports that girls who were neglected and abused are more likely than girls not victimized to later be arrested for a violent crime, but this relationship does not hold for boys.

                            • DeHart, Dana D. 2008. Pathways to prison: Impact of victimization in the lives of incarcerated women. Violence against Women 14:1362–1381.

                              DOI: 10.1177/1077801208327018Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                              Based on interviews with sixty women incarcerated in a maximum-security prison, this study shows a strong relationship between multiple traumas in the women’s lives and their criminal offending.

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                              • Kaukinen, Catherine, Angela R. Gover, and Stephanie A. Hays. 2006. Age-graded pathways to victimization and offending among women and girls. In Rethinking gender, crime and justice: Feminist readings. Edited by Claire M. Renzettim, Lynne Goodstein, and Susan L. Miller, 57–75. Los Angeles: Roxbury.

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                                Reviews research showing the long-term consequences of early violent victimization experiences, particularly with regard to later criminal offending by those victimized, and how these impacts differ by gender.

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                              • Raphael, Jody. 2004. Listening to Olivia: Violence, poverty, and prostitution. Boston: Northeastern Univ. Press.

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                                The study of one woman’s pathway from multiple early childhood victimization experiences to adult offending, framed by current research on the relationships of gender, race, and class to violent victimization and criminal offending.

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                              • Richie, Beth E. 1996. Compelled to crime: The gender entrapment of battered black women. New York: Routledge.

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                                A pathways analysis of the experiences of imprisoned black women who were also victims of intimate-partner violence.

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                              • Widom, Cathy S., and Michael G. Maxfield. 2001. An update on the “cycle of violence.” Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice.

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                                A research report comparing gender differences in the relationship between childhood abuse and neglect and subsequent arrests for violent crime perpetration.

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                                • Wilson, Cathy McDaniels, and Joanne Belknap. 2008 The extensive sexual violation and sexual abuse histories of incarcerated women. Violence against Women 14:1090–1127.

                                  DOI: 10.1177/1077801208323160Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                  A study of 391 incarcerated women detailing their sexual abuse histories, the age of occurrence, and their relationship to the perpetrator(s) with findings offering support for the pathways model.

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                                  Feminist Methodologies

                                  Not only do feminist theories offer explanations of criminal offending, victimization, and criminal justice processing and employment, they also suggest various methods for collecting data, emphasizing the inclusion of women in research and the importance of giving women “voice”—that is, allowing women to express their feelings, attitudes, and beliefs and to recount their lived experiences. In other words, in feminist research, gender is not simply included as a control variable. By including women in criminological research, feminists have shown that previously what we knew about criminality, victimization, and the criminal justice system was actually knowledge about male criminality, men as victims, and men’s experiences in the criminal justice system. Reinharz 1992 may be considered the definitive text on feminist research methods, although it is not focused on criminology specifically. Naples 2003 also provides an overview of feminist methodology. Feminist researchers frequently use qualitative methods or mixed methods to allow research participants to express their feelings and speak for themselves. Feminist researchers often take an empathic stance toward research participants, rejecting the notion that total objectivity in research is possible or desirable. In studying particularly sensitive topics such as sexual assault (SA) and intimate partner violence (IPV), feminist research such as Campbell, et al. 2009 and Logan, et al. 2008 have involved SA and IPV survivors directly in developing and evaluating research methodologies and instruments. Fisher 2009 has demonstrated the importance of question wording and other methodological issues on eliciting disclosures of traumatic events such as rape.

                                  • Campbell, Rebecca, Adrienne E. Adams, Sharon M. Wasco, Courtney E. Ahrens, and Tracy Sefl. 2009. Training interviewers for research on sexual violence: A qualitative study of rape survivors’ recommendations for interview practice. Violence against Women 15:595–617.

                                    DOI: 10.1177/1077801208331248Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                    Feedback from sexual assault survivors participating in research studies demonstrates the importance of researchers taking an empathic stance toward study participants and allowing participants to exercise some choice and control during data collection.

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                                    • Fisher, Bonnie S. 2009. The effects of survey question wording on rape estimates: Evidence from a quasi-experimental design. Violence against Women 15:133–147.

                                      DOI: 10.1177/1077801208329391Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                      A comparison of two survey instruments designed to measure sexual assault victimization experiences in two nationally representative studies of college women.

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                                      • Logan, T. K., Robert Walker, Lisa Shannon, and Jennifer Cole. 2008. Combining ethical considerations with recruitment and follow-up strategies for partner violence victimization research. Violence against Women 14:1226–1251.

                                        DOI: 10.1177/1077801208323976Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                        A mixed-methods study showing that consideration of research ethics in studies with vulnerable populations such as victims of violence may enhance recruitment and follow-up, resulting in richer, more complete data.

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                                        • Naples, Nancy. 2003. Feminism and method. New York: Routledge.

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                                          A textbook most suitable for advanced undergraduate and graduate students. Covers various feminist methodological issues as well as the specific methods of ethnography, discursive analysis, and activist research.

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                                        • Reinharz, Shulamit. 1992. Feminist methods in social research. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                          A comprehensive textbook for undergraduate and graduate students covering principles of feminist research methods as well as specific data collection techniques.

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                                        Social Policy

                                        Feminism is more than a set of theoretical perspectives; it is also a social movement. Feminist theorists intend their work to not only explain social phenomena such as crime but also to suggest strategies for social change and public policy that will reduce inequality and promote equity. Caringella 2009 shows the limits of legislative reform for improving the treatment of rape victims in the criminal justice system and holding offenders accountable. J. Miller 2008 explores the policy implications of a study of gendered violence of urban African-American adolescent girls. S. Miller 1998 looks at the feminist implications of various crime-control policies, while Bosworth and Flavin 2007 examines the intersections of race and gender with regard to social control and punishment, historically and in contemporary societies. Flavin 2008 focuses specifically on women’s reproductive rights and how various laws and social policies, such as drug laws and child welfare policies, have disproportionate and negative effects on poor women, incarcerated women, and women of color (groups that are not mutually exclusive). Immarigeon 2006 offers a comprehensive exploration of criminal justice policies and practices with regard to women and girls. Barak, et al. 2006 examines how race, class, and gender separately and jointly affect individuals’ experiences with the criminal justice system and analyzes several legal reforms for reducing crime and responding to offenders.

                                        • Barak, Gregg, Jeanne Flavin, and Paul Leighton. 2006. Class, race, gender, and crime: The social realities of justice in America, 2d ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

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                                          An analysis of criminal offending and social control that examines the effects of class, race, and gender, singularly and intersectionally, on the social construction of crime and justice, policing, criminal justice processing, and punishment, along with a discussion of different conceptions of justice (equal justice, restorative justice, and social justice). The authors also critically analyze crime reduction and control reforms.

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                                          • Bosworth, Mary, and Jeanne Flavin. eds. 2007. Race, gender, and punishment: From colonialism to the War on Terror. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press.

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                                            A collection of twelve essays that situate contemporary responses to crime in historical context. Demonstrates how colonialism, slavery, immigration, and globalization have influenced punishment and crime control, resulting in discriminatory treatment of people of color and, consequently, their overrepresentation in the criminal justice system.

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                                          • Caringella, Susan. 2009. Addressing rape reform in law and practice. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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                                            An exhaustive analysis of the disparity between rape reform legislation resulting from feminist activism and its implementation, as well as a discussion of the changes that are still needed to improve the treatment of rape victims and hold offenders accountable.

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                                          • Flavin, Jeanne. 2008. Our bodies, our crimes: The policing of women’s reproduction in America. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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                                            A feminist analysis of the structural barriers created by various laws and policies, including laws regulating abortion and family planning, the parental rights of incarcerated women, drug laws, and child welfare policies that negatively affect women: especially poor women and women of color.

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                                          • Immarigeon, Russell, ed. 2006. Women and girls in the criminal justice system: Policy issues and practice strategies. Kingston, NJ: Civic Research Institute.

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                                            A collection of fifty-two chapters, many written by prominent feminist criminologists, covering issues ranging from women’s prisons to how women are affected by the war on drugs as well as juvenile justice concerns, risk assessment, and parenting concerns.

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                                          • Miller, Jody. 2008. Getting played: African American girls, urban inequality, and gendered violence. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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                                            Based on an ethnography of adolescents in an economically disadvantaged St. Louis neighborhood, this book discusses the social policies needed to reduce the dramatically high rates of violent victimization experienced by young African-American women in such communities.

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                                          • Miller, Susan L. ed. 1998. Crime control and women: Feminist implications of criminal justice policy. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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                                            A collection of ten essays that examine how “get tough” crime control policies have negatively affected women and children. Miller suggests alternative crime control strategies that focus on prevention, education, treatment, and rehabilitation.

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