This paper elaborates on the problem of feminism and criminology. The paper addresses the chapter from the book by Lilly, Cullen, and Ball (2011) as the source material. Based on the provisions of the authors, it is possible to explore the history of the feminist movement. Primarily, this paper is focused on the discussion of the feminist perspectives on crime and deviance.
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For the purposes of this assignment, Chapter 10 from the book by Lilly, Cullen, and Ball (2011) was chosen to discuss and elaborate on. As the authors notice, theorizing about crime, as well as the discipline of criminology in general, underwent significant changes. In particular, it is mentioned that the feminist perspective in the context of criminology should be paid considerably more attention (Lilly et al., 2011). Thus, the purpose of this paper is to investigate the principal provisions of the chapter and to critically analyze them.
Development of the Discussion
First of all, it is noted by the authors that when the first edition of their book was published in 1989, the feminist perspectives on crime and deviance were only beginning to develop (Lilly et al., 2011). In over nearly three decades since the first edition of the book, feminist criminological theories became one of the most important aspects of contemporary crime studies. Particularly, the role of gendered rights as one of the determining factors of the victimization and punishment for females is given much attention. In general, it is possible to state that the feminist perspective on crime is highly influential as the problem of gender in the context of criminality became a significant challenge for contemporary scholars.
At the beginning of the chapter, the authors provide a concise and comprehensive background to the emergence of feminist criminology and the roots of feminism in general, which could be traced as far as the Roman Empire. However, the distinctive point in history when feminism was created as a strong social, political, and scientific movement was at the first women’s rights convention in New York, 1848 (Lilly et al., 2011). This emancipatory movement is known as the first wave of feminism. However, since the initial emergence, feminism and its approach to criminology have changed significantly.
Among the most widespread assumptions in the scientific world of criminology at the beginning of the 20th century, Cesare Lombroso can be mentioned, as he is largely considered to be one of the founders of modern criminology. According to Lombroso, female criminality was explained by the fact that a woman who commits a crime did not develop into a morally refined, “feminine” woman (Lilly et al., 2011). Additionally, it was supposed by Lombroso that women were characterized by physiological immobility, psychological passivity, and amorality featuring a cold and calculating predisposition (Lilly et al., 2011).
The second wave of feminism, which occurred in the late 1960s and early 1970s, had shifted the focus from the problem of women’s emancipation to a more actual and challenging issue. In particular, it is argued that the social structure of contemporary society is largely based on patriarchy. Accordingly, it is argued that the achievement of profound social and legal equality of men and women is aggravated by the prevalence of patriarchy, which is an inherent quality of the society, in the feminist perspective. Therefore, as the authors mention, second-wave feminists such as Adler and Simon failed to explain the causes of female criminality as they were focused solely on the aspects of equality and gender opportunities related to the public sphere.
In conclusion, it could be mentioned that this chapter reads as the large-scale investigation of the overall development of the feminist perspective in the context of criminology. The primary advantage of the chapter under consideration is that it offers a multifaceted interpretation of the history of feminism and crime, especially in the 20th century. It is possible to state with certainty that the feminist approach to the nature of crime and deviance has influenced contemporary criminology to a vast extent.
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Lilly, J. R., Cullen, F. T., & Ball, R. A. (2011). Criminological theory: Context and consequences (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.