Females commit less crime than males
(a) Critically examine the evidence that females commit less crime than males, and different types of crime to males (50%)
In the past women have been ignored from crime statistics. Women's criminality was seen to be invisible as well as crimes of wealthy powerful men. The common criminal was normally perceived as being a white male of low intelligence and of a working class family. However, this has never been the case. There has always been crime and the people that commit it, have come from all walks of life, however, it only seems to be the people that are processed by the Criminal Justice system that seem to be labelled criminals. The Police could always blame males of a low intelligence or from a working class family as they were perceived as criminals.
“It so happens that criminological theory has been crime-led, and that the subjects around whom theorizing has been formed have been predominantly white, urban, lower-class, and usually adolescent males in advanced industrial capitalist societies”.
Since 1982 the British Crime survey has been reporting on crime and the effects of it on the British public. This seemed to highlight the fact that women commit more crimes than originally thought. The British crime survey found that in 2006, 1.42 million offenders were sentenced for criminal offences in England and Wales and 80% of these were male. This leaves the minority of offenders being female. This is evidence that females do commit crimes however, females still commit a lower percentage of crimes than males. As females were not seen to commit crimes in the past not many criminologists focused on why women commit crime but, why women do not commit crimes compared to males. For this reason there are not a lot of studies on why females do commit crimes, even though the crime survey proves that women do commit crimes.
In 2006 “women aged between 14 and 15 received the most cautions and the most common age to be convicted was 16”. This suggests that women offenders seem to be younger than male offenders. This may be an example to prove the theory that women grow out of crime, whereas men do not. Male offenders tend to be between the ages of eighteen and thirty. The statistics of the number of offenders found guilty of, or cautioned for indictable offences from the National Online Statistics (2006) show that women also commit different crimes than males.
Offenders found guilty of, or cautioned for, indictable offences, 2006
This chart above is from the National statistics online, shows that men commit more crimes than females and in different areas. Women commit crimes such as stealing more than any other offences. However, men still commit more crime than women. Women tend to have higher statistics in crime in areas such as prostitution and handling stolen goods. However, due to the nature of the survey certain crimes such as rape and domestic violence will always be under reported. This means that the exact figures cannot always be accurate due to under reporting.
Males tend to be more involved in violent crimes than women. There are more men in prison for murder than compared to the number of women who are in prison for murder. Women who kill tend to do it out of anger or spontaneous rage; however men tend to become serial killers.
“Figures from 2001 indicate that 42 percent of female homicide victims were killed by their current or former partner, as compared with only 4 percent of male victims”
This shows that males commit more violent offences than males. For example most notorious women serial killers cannot be mentioned without the men who influenced them. Myra Hindley is a well known female serial killer, but she cannot be mentioned without mentioning Ian Brady in the same breath. Even though “there are female serial killers (Scrapec, 1993) and female terrorists (MacDonald, 1991)”. However, this is very rare. This is alone proof that males tend to be more inclined to violence rather than women just by the sheer number of more males which are incarcerated for the crime of murder.
The old perception of women that kill tend to be one of a highly sophisticated plan of slow poisoning as women were seen to be sneaky and conniving. Men were boastful of the crimes that they have committed due to the male bravado, and the opinions of other males. This is why men are more involved in gangs and gang crime. Men tend to be involved in drug offences, wounding and robbery, which are normally tied in with violence. Whereas women who tend to be involved in gangs tend to be involved in menial tasks such as drug carriers and prostitutes.
However, gun crime has increased in the United Kingdom, and so has the gang mentality of youths. This means more and more young people are getting involved in gangs and therefore getting involved in crime. Statistics from the Youth Justice Annual workload data from 2007/8 says that:
“During 2007/08, the number of offences committed by young men fell by 6% when compared to 2004/05. However, over the same period, the number of offences committed by young women rose by 10%."
These statistics show that young female crime is on the increase, due to the gang mentality. The crimes that were committed which had custodial sentences given were robbery, violence against the person, breach of statutory orders (criminal) and domestic burglary. These are all types of crimes which are related to gangs. As the gang mentality continues to increase so will the involvement of girls within gangs.
Women may have been invisible to criminologists before but now they cannot be ignored with more and more young women being involved in crime, and in more dominant roles than before.
“Some theorists pointed out that female offenders, have more characteristics in common with male offenders than traditionally thought. Campbell (1986) argued that gangs composed of boys and girls do exist, and although less collective in nature, the girls were involved in more fighting than commonly assumed. Another example of this was Naffine's (1987) critique of control theories for making females too passive”
This shows that Women are more aggressive than first thought and commit similar types of crimes relating to violence, to men whilst in gangs. However, individual women who tend to commit individual crimes, commit crimes such as, theft, shoplifting, and less violent crimes.
To conclude women and men both commit crimes, however, there is significant evidence to prove that women commit a small percentage of crime compared to men. Also women and men commit different crimes. Men tend to commit violent crimes whereas women tend to commit less serious “white collar” crimes. As well as committing different types of crimes men and women commit crimes at different ages. Women tend to commit crime when they are younger. The most common age for women to commit crime is between fourteen to fifteen years of age. Therefore there must be a difference in the reasons why men and women commit crime, at different stages in their lives, and the difference in the types of crimes committed. In the future the difference between the gender gap will probably close and males and females percentages of crime will become closer as social standards change. It is more acceptable socially, for girls to become involved in gangs and commit crime today than it ever was before.
(b) Are, and should, explanations of male crime be different to explanations of female crime? (50%)
As established male and females commit different types of crimes, and their criminal peaks are at different ages. This means that there should be different explanations of why males and females commit crime. There are not many criminologists that focused on why women commit crime but why women do not commit crime compared to males.
Males are seen to commit crime if they are of low-intelligence and of a lower-class. For this reason males are seen to follow their fathers if their fathers and criminal. Males of a lower-class are seen to want to get out of the restraints of a lower-class working family by working hard. However, when this is not possible they turn to crime and try to achieve money through illegal means.
Women do not seem to commit crime when they are older because they have the idealism of a family. When a woman is old enough to have children her motherly instincts seem to overtake. This means that most will not risk losing their family or lifestyle for profits that they can gain through illegal means.
“A survey of women in prison conducted in 1994 reports that having no money (54%); mixing with the wrong crowd (46%); need to support children (38%); drink and drugs (35%); family problems (33%); having no job (33%). (Respondents could give more than one reason). It may also be the case, however that male offenders engage in burglary and theft for some of these same reasons (see for example. Campbell, 1993)”
This shows that women who do commit crime feel the stress of taking care of a family and will do almost anything to support children or to achieve money to keep their lifestyle. This also shows that some men may have similar reasons to women in why they commit crime; however, the family will play a lesser role in the motives why males commit crime.
However, within the rise of women through society there are still roles in society that tend to be dominated by one sex or the other. For example teachers of young children, nurses and air hostesses tend to be women, whereas males tend to be labourers, race car drivers or mechanics. This sex role tends to still be in the home. The male is seen to be the main “bread winner” whereas the woman is seen to be the “home maker”. This could lead males into crime more than women as they are seen as the one to bring money into the house. The pressure of this may lead them to crime to be able to bring home the money they need to survive. This is known as strain theory
It has been suggested that males commit crime due to strain theory. This is the theory that because males are involved in mainstream society they are pressured into conforming to norms which they find very stressful and then commit crimes. Women were seen not to commit crimes because they did not have stresses such as the “rat race” and paying bills.
Some criminologists have tried to apply this to women. This theory suggests women are too busy with trivial things such as housekeeping, shopping, having lunch with friends and generally socialising that she cannot possibly be under any strain. However, this is not a true reflection of society as women have become more dominant in the work place due to equal opportunities. There are numerous women who are in full time employment, and are under a lot of strain however, these individuals do not all commit crime.
A reason given for this is the fear of harsher punishments that women would receive compared to males.
“Women clearly faced many disincentives to appropriate workplace materials, ranging from the physical and supervisory structures of the factory, to the deterrence of the punishments where were particularly severe for women - the loss of children and future employers preferred to use informal punishments [Godfrey 1999:147].”
Males tend to commit crime to either achieve recognition from other males or from his family. This suggests males tend to commit crime because they have large egos.
“... Researchers note that ‘men, and particularly young men, were mentioned as being more likely to react aggressively after drinking. The masculine culture and the need to defend their image in front of friends and girlfriends was thought to be the basis of this' (2003:48)”
This is a way for men to control their egos and get the respect that they want. Freud theorised that the reason women commit crime is because they have no control over their ego. When males are growing up they have their fear of their father and the fear of castration if they do anything wrong, women do not have this fear of castration. So to boost their ego they will strive for male attention as they want sex with their fathers, also it makes them grow-up revengeful and searching for the approval of males.
Women are seen more as the victims of crime rather than the perpetrators of crime.
“In a recent Home Office study of women who had been subject since the age of 16 to an act that met the test in the 1994 act for legally defined rape or attempted rape ... 24 percent of women and 5 percent of men had been subject to some form of sexual victimisation.”
Police would deal everyday with women being the victims of crimes, therefore when women do commit crimes they normally plead to lesser offences rather than go to trial and get prosecuted for an indictable offence. This is because the police officers relate to the women as they are normally the victims. Also women are more likely to be put into a women's prison if the crime goes to trial. This is because women who commit crime are normally seen to be defective and need to be punished. For example the ‘semi-penal institution' has “... ‘used...regulatory methods and disciplinary techniques ... to contain, supervise and control and ... to normalise deviant women back to an acceptable standard...”
This shows that women who are seen to commit crime will be punished more harshly than males who commit the same types of crimes. Women who offend in their young teens do not seem to repeat offend when their older for the risk of going to prison. Whereas males like the boost in ego they feel when someone mentions that they have been to prison.
Being a woman however could also keep you from not going to prison. This is the theory of chivalry. As all the High court judges in England and Wales are male and middle aged they seem to have an idealism of women and want to rescue them from the criminal justice system. The evidence on this though is thought to be inconclusive. “Proponents of the view that they were usually pointed to what they saw as ‘chivalry' of the male administrators of the system.” Even though the evidence is inconclusive it may give an insight into the statistics. This would mean that women commit less crime because they have been dismissed at trial or not given a prison sentence. Some statistics are only published on the number of males or females sent to prison for indictable offences which may skew the outcome of the statistics.
To conclude, Men and women both commit crimes. The reason that they commit crimes will always be under question; however males and females should have different reasons for committing crimes. This is because most material is written on males and is then twisted to fit females, for example strain theory, but as mentioned earlier this is not always the case. Males and females should have different reasons for committing crimes because they commit different types of crimes and at different stages in their lives. Females are also less likely to re-offend, meaning there must be a reason whether it be; life style they want to keep; or the threat of their children being taken away and placed into care. This leads criminologists to believe that there must be a significant difference between males and females and the reasons to why each commit crimes.