1st Edition

Gender and Justice

Edited By

Frances Heidensohn

ISBN 9781843921998
Published March 14, 2011 by Willan
328 Pages

USD $49.95

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Book Description

Questions about gender, justice and crime are constantly in the public arena, whether they focus on young women getting drunk or taking drugs, or the rising numbers of women going to prison or committing violent crimes, or reports of macho behaviour on the part of men in the military, law enforcement or professional sport.

This book provides a key text for students seeking to understand feminist and gendered perspectives on criminology and criminal justice, bringing together the most innovative research and work which has taken the study of the relationship between gender and justice into the twenty-first century. The book addresses many of the issues of concern to the established feminist agenda (such as the gender gap, equity in the criminal justice system, penal regimes and their impact on women), but also shows the ways in which these themes have been extended, reinterpreted and answered in new and distinctive ways.

Organised into sections on gender and offending behaviour, gender and the criminal justice system, and new concepts and approaches, Gender and Justice: new concepts and approaches will be essential reading for students taking courses in criminology and criminal justice, and anybody else wishing to understand the complex and changing relationship between gender and justice.

Table of Contents

1. New Perspectives and Established Views, Frances Heidensohn  Part One: Gender and Offending Behaviour  Brief Introduction, Frances Heidensohn  2. Drug Use and the Discovery of Gender, Mike Shiner  3. Gender Differences in Self-Reported Offending, Kirstine Hansen  4. Schoolbags at Dawn, Carrie Anne Myers  5. Regulating Prostitution: Controlling Women's Lives, Joanna Phoenix  6. Stigmatised Women: Relatives of Serious Offenders and the Broader Impact of Crime, Rachel Condry  Part Two: Gender and the Criminal Justice System  Brief Introduction, Frances Heidensohn  7. Gender Considerations in Remand Decision-Making, Kate Steward  8. 'Bad Girls' or 'Mad Girls' − The Coping Mechanisms of Female Young Offenders, Nicola Hutson and Carrie Anne Myers  9. A Gendered Irish Experiment − Grounds for Optimism? Barbara Mason  10. The Reforming Prison: A Canadian Tale, Stephanie Hayman  Part Three: New Concepts and Approaches  Brief introduction, Frances Heidensohn  11. Gender, Genes and Crime: An Evolving Feminist Agenda, Nicole Rafter  12. Gender and Crime: A Human Rights Perspective, Marisa Silvestri  13. Gender, Justice and Human Rights in Post-Colonial Zimbabwe and South Africa, Oliver Phillips  14. Another Look at Lady Bountiful: Reform, Gender and Organisations, Judith Rumgay

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Frances Heidensohn is Visiting Professor in the Sociology Department at London School of Economics, and Emeritus Professor of Social Policy at the University of London. She is also the General Editor of the British Journal of Sociology.


This thematic collection of essays edited by the leading feminist criminologist Frances Heidensohn, sets the agenda and parameters for the epistemological study of feminist criminology in the twenty-first century. It should therefore be compulsory reading on all criminology courses and of significant interest to criminal justice professionals. Heidensohn was instrumental in establishing the study of gender, crime and justice into mainstream criminology, forcing its masculine establishment to consider the effect and impact of law and the criminal justice process on women. She has continually challenged the invisibility and marginalization of women from a feminist perspective in both criminological theory and public policy railing against gender-blindness and leading to the shift in position today where women are now regarded in principle as a subject equally worthy of introspection. Despite such advances, disappointingly the evidence from some of the contributors is that in some areas nothing much has changed in the last 20 years – both theoretically and in terms of societal and penal responses. On a positive note, the authors offer opportunities and ideas to address this, suggesting ways forward, and confirming that so much more can be achieved where criminology and feminism work together as effective and complementary partners. The book is divided into three parts; one of its strengths is that all the chapters are well-structured, accessible and eminently readable – the hallmarks perhaps of a gendered approach? All are supported by empirical evidence, primarily qualitative rather than quantitative, again reinforcing the successful integration of feminist and criminological perspectives. Part One comprises five essays exploring gendered differences and similarities identified in specific criminal contexts. Mike Shiner argues that traditional research into drug culture has failed to identify and achieve this. He utilizes empirical research to show that it is the identification of these gender differences that are fundamental to understandings of drug culture.For example teenage females appear to grow out of drug use faster than males from age 17 onwards, prompting further inquiry. Kirstine Hansen challenges the longstanding assumption that in relation to crime offending there is a clear and stereotypical gender gap between males and females. Using analysis into self-reported offending, she argues that the traditional approach of predicting the likelihood of male/female offending based on gender stereotypifications should be replaced with research that focuses more on the fluctuations in certain groups (eg class, race, economy) within this schism, and the associated impact of family, educational and employment opportunities. Carrie Anne Myers focuses on the problem of school bullying, identifying differences and similarities inthe role of girls and boys as both victims and perpetrators suggesting that if female bullies are ‘double deviant’ then male victims are ‘double victims’. Her research revealed that female bullies use the same codes of silence and group dynamics as boys, albeit she seems somewhat surprised by the extent of male bullying and plight of male victimization uncovered. All three contributors agree that drawing comparisons across the genders, rather than within them, does not realise the full picture, though some might think it somewhat disconcerting that criminologists are only just starting to draw such conclusions. Joanna Phoenix tackles the issue of prostitution arguing that the current regulation of street prostitution is gender-biased resulting in the state control of a small and ‘invisible’ group of vulnerable women, mirroring Brooks-Gordon’s comprehensive review in The Price of Sex (2006) also published by Willan. The final chapter in this section by Rachel Condry provides some interesting insights into another area of gender invisibility; the stigmatization of the female relatives of violent and sexual offenders including mother-blaming, shaming and double deviance, while at the same time having to deal with increased familial responsibilities, emotional trauma and supporting their male partners and sons. Part Two adopts the themes of chivalry and equality in the context of female incarceration and penal strategies. Kate Steward examines how and why magistrates decide whether to remand women or grant bail and the importance of gender in that process. Analysing remand decisions from five magistrates’ courts she found that gender became more significant, and magistrates more predisposed to grant bail in ‘cusp’ cases, ie those falling between minor offences - where bail would be granted, and more serious offences - where remand is likely.Bail outcomes were even more likely where the defence offered mitigation that reflected gender roles. Hutson and Myers reinforce the continuing failure of prison authorities to understand and consider the needs of young women prisoners who are automatically offered medication for depression without any acknowledgement of their individual life experience.Their interviews reveal the mismatch between the provision of in-house counselling and its failure to effectively recognize and understand gendered self-control mechanisms such as eating disorders, self-harm and support networks suggesting that there is much that could be done if the political will was there. Barbara Mason confirms the inadequacy of penal strategies for women but heralds the positive outcomes of the innovative Dochas Centre in Ireland with its emphasis on humanity, rehabilitation and non-institutionalized detention as grounds for optimism. Constructed as houses rather than prison wings this is a rare model that encourages women to take greater responsibility for their lives through regime change, educational opportunities and development programmes. Stephanie Hayman also examines the introduction of a new prison model in Canada founded on maintaining respect and dignity and utilizing similar ideologies to those employed in Eire. Her conclusions are more negative despite the involvement of feminist viewpoints in the initial planning stages.She argues that the project was self-defeating as the feminist ideals proposed indirectly contributed to the failure of the programmes and a more oppressive regime. This was largely because practitioners and inmates had not been prepared for the innovative social work approaches introduced to replace the traditional correctional strategies they were used to. The final part of the book offers a selection of future avenues and opportunities for feminist criminological inquiry, the authors establish a range of embryonic theories which open up new challenges and discourses. Nicole Rafter’s short but lively chapter introduces the possibilities of biocriminology. She exhorts feminist criminologists to look again at Lombroso’s The Female Offender having discovered, from a retranslation, that his views on female sexual biology and their links to female criminality had previously been excised. She argues that the current erosion of clear distinctions between sex and gender make the interaction between genes and the environment, and culture and the body, more compelling as possible explanatory factors for criminality. Maria Silvestri opens up the human rights discourse and its influence in the context of penal feminist criminology. Citing a number of recent cases against the prison service, she illustrates the increasing impact of the ECHR post Human Rights Act 1998 in challenging prison conditions and penal policies that violate women’s right to life, freedom from inhumane and degrading treatment and their right to privacy and family life. This is the beginning of a long overdue development in feminist human rights discourse in penal policy and one that criminal justice professionals need to be fully aware of and engage with. Oliver Phillips presents something quite different in his comparison of the post-colonial legal protection afforded women in terms of gender equality and sexual agency through the respective constitutional provisions in Zimbabwe and South Africa. In both cultures women experience limitation over their sexual choices and freedoms but South Africa’s ‘innovative jurisprudence and clear principles’ founded in its Constitutional Equality Clause has at least provided a legal framework and binding principle which the Constitutional Court must respect. In contrast he demonstrates how the breakdown in relations between government, constitution and the courts in Zimbabwe has served to further exacerbate women’s inequality. Judith Rumgay’s final chapter highlights what can be achieved when a group of philanthropic women, the Griffins Society, founded a voluntary organization to provide rehabilitative services in London in the 1960s. The Griffins hostels offered difficult women offenders a form of philanthropic maternalism which seemed to work. Initially heralded as a success due to a combination ofdirect interaction between volunteers and residents, a bold desire to just ‘get on with it,’ and the exploitation of powerful male contacts in government; the society ultimately collapsed as tighter regulation and increasing bureaucracy took hold.The enterprise was unique in managing to bridge the divide ‘between social affluence and social disgrace,’ something that is missing from current criminal justice understandings. It is clear from this collection of essays that the future of feminist criminology is not only assured but is vibrant and challenging. Understandably, virtually all of the chapters start off by contesting the traditional position of criminology’s ignorance of gender and citing Heidensohn’s earlier work, and that of others, in support.However, it is evident from this volume that such prefaces and justifications are now redundant as the argument is clearly won. (Feminist) criminology has truly come of age and would not have done so but for Heidensohn’s enthusiasm and commitment which has clearly inspired others to follow in her footsteps. Kim Stevenson