30 Aug 2022


What is Feminist Criminology?

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The Basis of Feminist Criminology 

The origin of Feminist criminology is based on the realization that many people saw criminology as a male dominated affair. Focus was placed on the criminal activities that were regularly done by men. Although female criminal activities were largely analyzed in the 19 th century, the effects of such criminal activities on the public opinion were always overlooked. Criminologists who carried out research on crimes done by women brought a negative image of women as they employed a lot of stereotype ( Truman, 2011). Those women who never did any form of crime were considered passive and childlike. Research have shown that such perspective have remained in the criminal justice system despite new findings disapproving such views. This has led to unfair treatment of women hence, being highly discriminated. 

The criminal justice has, however come up with different approaches of handling women criminals. These approaches were formulated as a result of the increased law enforcement attempts, tight laws on medication sentencing, and limits of achieving post-conviction that were seen to highly influence the females. Although many people have come up with myriads of hypotheses in regard to feminist criminology, there are acceptable theories that explain it. The Liberal, Marxist, Communist, and Radical theories have been frequently used (Seigel, 2006) . Women who have come out to fight for women criminals have tried to convince the criminologists to take into account sexual orientation to avoid issues of women being rare criminals compared to their male counterparts. Liberal feminist criminology came up in the twentieth century and more focus was put on women discrimination. At the moment, it is working towards solving issues that affect women such as fighting for their rights, creating opportunities, and changing the role of women in the society. On the other hand, radical feminism brings a different perspective of women’s rights and tries to understand how women were placed in inferior position compared to men, the components of male dominance, and how alteration of social class can be done. Women activists who support the radical theory argue that all men grow with a mental set up of their superiority hence the observed determination for power. Marxist feminism just like liberal feminism viewed women as discriminated with division of labor as the key contributor. Transforming the society from a capitalist to a socialist was seen as the only way of liberating women from the power of men. 

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Causes of Criminal Behavior in Women 

The philosophy of feminism criminology has worked to ensure that women receive equal treatment in all sectors just like their men counterparts. Women had for a long time been victimized and through feminist criminology, stereotypes about abilities of women are eradicated. With all the freedom that comes with it, feminism has not contributed to the criminal behavior in women. Some people have argued that sociological factors rather than their physiology explain the criminal nature of women (Seigel, 2006). Although they believe that as women become more liberated, they tend to engage in criminal activities, clear analysis of crimes committed by women explains the contrary. Generally, women commit small crimes such as welfare fraud and shoplifting. Most of those found in these crimes are underpowered women who are in most cases living in extreme poverty. The number of violent crimes done by women is by far lower than those done by men. The society however, is unfair to women criminals. A woman who commits a crime is likely to be reported and arrested by police compared to a man. The number of women in prisons and other correctional facilities has increased but this trend cannot be attributed to feminist criminology. In the U.S for instance, there are more than a million women in custody of the criminal justice system with a quarter of them being held in federal and state jails. Cost and Effects of Victimization 

The rise of the victims’ rights movement was as a result of victims’ dissatisfaction and their passive role they played in minimizing the amount of effect from victimization. Some of the impacts of victimization are financial losses, physical injury and emotional impact, and property damage. Criminal victimization has been associated with a high chance of mental illness. Women who have been victimized are likely to suffer a mental sickness compared to one who has no record of victimization. Victimization poses both long-term and short-term effects on the victim’s life. The emotional effect that an individual suffers as a result of victimization many be in form of disbelief and shock ( Truman, 2011) . In most cases, victims find it difficult to accept the fact that they are victims of a crime. They initially get shocked and after sometime, other emotions such as anger, shame, guilt, frustration among others set in. people who get victimized may develop anger towards anybody around them or even God. 

Many people may not understand what the victim is going through and will always disapprove the victim hence, making him feel uncared for. Some develop fear especially if their lives are threatened. Fear will always make individuals develop panic attacks whenever the crime is mentioned. In some cases, the victims become overwhelmed and they should see their physician before the condition gets out of hand (Seigel, 2006). Cases of frustration and confusion have also been reported especially when victims do not get any support to regain their normal life status. Financial costs incurred as a result of victimization include the cost of medical attention that the victim seeks, insurance premiums, replacing possessions, criminal justice system expenses, and loss of income as a result of being unable to work. Victimization may destabilize a victim’s relationship with other people and this may result to both emotional and financial effects. 

Victimization Theories 

There are a number of victimization theories that include victim precipitation theory, deviant place theory, lifestyle theory, and routine activities theory. The lifestyle theory is more accurate in explaining victimization. This theory explains that people are victimized based in the kind of lifestyle they portray. The lifestyle will in most cases expose the victim to crime offender and areas where crimes are rampant ( Truman, 2011) . One of the lifestyle that may make a person victimized is being nocturnal. Although a person may enjoy going out to party at night with no ill intention, such a lifestyle makes him a suspect of crime. Criminals exhibit such character where they remain indoors most of the day time and go out at the fall of darkness. 

Another form of lifestyle that a victim of crime exhibits is living in areas where criminals are known to stay. Many people would fears living in areas associated with criminals and always distant themselves with such people. A person who always associates with known criminals and even lives in areas where crimes are rampant is likely to be victimized. Such victims are known to portray characters associated with thug such as smoking, use of drugs, and lack of self control among other bad habits (Seigel, 2006). Such people who may unknowingly show personality traits associated with criminals are always victimized and it becomes difficult for them to fight for their freedom. It is common to meet such people living miserable lives as a result of lacking support from the criminal justice system and people surrounding them once they become victims of crime victimization. 

In conclusion, feminist criminology has worked towards empowering women and giving them almost same platform as men. Although many people still view women as inferior, activist have tried hard to reduce female victimization rates. Victimization poses great effects and cost impacts to victims who end up changing their lifestyles if no help is provided to make them return to their normal lives. Many theories have been brought forward to explain crime victimization and how individuals find themselves victims of crime. 


Seigel, L. J. (2006). Criminology , 10th Edition. University of Massachusetts, Lowell. Thomson Wadsworth. 

Truman, J. (2011). Criminal Victimization 2010. U.S. Department of Justice: National Crime Victimization Survey. Retrieved from <http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv10.pdf/> 

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