The questions I have been asking are:
1) Are more crimes committed by men than women? If so, why?
2) Are crimes committed by men more violent than those committed by women? Is violent crime gendered? If so, why?
3) How does gender affect specific types of criminality (eg rape, domestic violence, theft)?
Is it just my perception or have females always committed less crime than men? Do gender roles impact on the difference in crime rates between males and females?
Can certain characteristics like aggressiveness, physical strength and competitiveness be closely aligned with masculinity and criminal behaviour?
A few responses to my questions from various sources raised the following issues:
• Traditional female roles have been closely linked to submissiveness, weakness and passivity. This can be seen as contradictory to male behaviour and can also be seen as being incompatible with the qualities required for criminal behaviour, which makes it more difficult for women to gain access to criminal behaviour.
• What about other factors such as opportunity to commit crime, social controls and differential associations – can this be used to explain why females commit less crime than men?
• Do boys have more opportunities than men because they are allowed more autonomy and freedom to make choices for themselves which increases their preference for risk i.e. they are subjected to more informal social control growing up and because women are rejected access to the public sphere more than males?
• What about the fact that girls experience more social control from the family than boys do, and have stronger familial bonds. These familial bonds create stronger informal social controls which decreases the risk to commit crime. Girls are kept busy inside the home ie. They have to help with housework, cooking and taking care of siblings, which leaves them with less time in the day to even think of committing crime.
So, do boys/men commit more crime purely because they have more time available to them and don’t have as many social controls placed on them?
Do men commit crime as a means of constructing their masculinity to express to others and to themselves?
What about women in prostitution – are they there because they choose to be there or because they are compelled by circumstances?
How can we explain why females engage in crime?
• Females have always committed less crime than men – research has shown that gender roles have some impact on the disparity in crime rates between males and females.
• The gender gap is greatest for serious crime and at least for other petty forms of crime
• Several types of crime may lead to females committing crime under the proper circumstances
• Female crime is usually explained in terms of oppression
Gender differences and criminal thinking
Research done to date on gender and criminal thinking errors indicates that there are differences between men and women. As this is a very recent area of research, results are still emerging. This is what we know so far:
1. Risky interpersonal relationships are often connected with criminal behaviour for women. Social relationships shape women’s thinking patterns and influence their behaviour (Havens, et al 2009)
2. Incarcerated women may develop distorted thinking about behaviour that puts them at increased risk for entering risky relationships (Havens, et al 2009)
3. Women tend to have more psychological distress, depression and anxiety when compared with men, as well as self-reported lower self-esteem and lower confidence in decision-making (Staton-Tindall, et al 2007)
4. Co-occuring disorders such as substance abuse and mental health issues are also common for women in the criminal justice system ((Staton-Tindall et al 2007)
5. Females have been shown to score higher than males on problem avoidance on the PICTS (Critical Thinking Test) (Staton-Tindall, et al 2007)
6. Males have been shown to score more highly for cold heartedness than females (Staton-Tindall, et al 2007)
Source: NICRO Participant Manual 2013©: Criminal Behaviour Foundations: Understanding Criminal Thinking
What do you think about all this information? Do share your views/comments. I look forward to hearing what you have to say regarding these questions.