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Feminist Perspectives’ Contribution to Criminology


Feminism entails a constructive understanding of how gender differences amount to inequalities in various environments. Historically, societies embodied gender roles as a fundamental variable in defining the norms and culture of a people. Women have, for so long, been victims of gender biases and participatory contexts, especially criminal offenses. However, over the years, feminist theorists have endured studies to assert the position of women in all facets of life, including criminology studies. Under this purview, theorists postulate that females have a fundamental role in shaping every aspect of criminology. The theorists ascertain that it is important to include women in research and intellectual empowerment to create a befitting and just society for everyone. The concept of feminist theory was developed as a standpoint of women defining diverse aspects of social life, humanity, and relations in unrelated settings (Van Gundy, 2013, p. 1; Andraszczyk, 2017). The principles of gender inclusivity, equality, and cultural implications bear fundamental roles in the development of criminology perspectives as epitomized in the phases of the feminist movement and legal frameworks, which have revolutionized over to establish binding laws worldwide.

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Concurrently, this paper seeks to understand how the perspectives of feminism and developing principles contribute to the development of different aspects of criminology and related studies. According to Heidensohn (1968), deviance in women has been a major aspect of society since time immemorial (p 162). The ancient population portrayed a male-dominant society where women could contribute to immeasurable accounts of crimes against their rights without their knowledge. Heinsohn further alludes to Kathleen Daly’s assertions that there has been a massive investment in feminist scholarships and movements against gender deviance to ensure sustainable inclusivity among the sexual categories (p 497). Notably, there were myriad conceptual developments that saw the inceptions of gender-based research perspectives.

The Background of Feminism Dimensions in Criminology

Contextually, feminism defines a broad spectrum of ideas, including the advocacy for women’s rights to establish equality among the sexes. The perspectives involve social beliefs and economic and political equality across sexes. Initially, the wave of such perceptions began in the West. Today, the concept manifests globally as a means to liberate and empower women in different fields. The founding theorists held a comprehensive notion of feminism’s value as a major factor in social dynamism (Millman, 1975; Leonard, 1982). During the ancient times in Europe, women were conserved in the domestic sphere whereas public life and event participation was fundamentally men’s affair. Such conceptions derailed the inclusion of women in different fragments of life for a long time. Consequently, feminism ensued as a rebuttal to discrimination against women as other theorists started to advocate for inclusion in various developments within studies (Stojkovska-Stefanovska, 2018). Feminist theory is a pivotal aspect of social construction that seeks to ensure progressive development and empowerment of the female gender for equality in societies.

Further developments have occurred over the years to help understand the value of feminist criminology. The concept of feminist criminology is shrouded by myriad definitions, including cultural struggles, social norms, and exposures alongside the racial struggles for liberation. As a result, black feminists, for example, contributed to the promulgation of gender rules in legal executions. Over the last 35 years, the notion of feminism as an approach in criminology has evolved progressively to involve emerging issues and new findings, depending on the extent of research and routine practices. Such scenarios gave rise to different waves of the feminist movement within the scope of criminology.

Contribution of First Wave Feminist Movement to Criminology

This wave started in the late 19th to the early 20th centuries, involving an early liberalization quest to create a just society that recognizes women as having equal rights as men. Different theorists stamped their desire to promote individual freedom for everyone in criminology and related studies. These feminist philosophers such as Mary Wollstonecraft began a movement wave of critical advocacy for women’s inclusion in politics, economic development, and social duties. During this era, the quest for women economic empowerment experienced an extensive paradigm shift, with females beginning to understand their fundamental rights in communities and leadership. Primarily, people were engaged in sexual conservation, considering women as sex objects rather than a segment of a population who could be identified as middle class or leaders (Magarey, 2001 p 3). The first contribution was about the principle and aspects of patriarchy, which defines situations where men dominated the society (Carol Smart 2013, p 8). Therefore, the reference to gender structure became vital in shaping the rise of feminist criminology as a social stratification concept. Seemingly, the legal frameworks in place during this era may not recognize females as critical members of communities.

Conventionally, the women began to understand aspects of stints in jail and could express themselves in different scenarios, including the call for fair trials in jails. In essence, patriarchy was a gender structure stratifying men as dominant over women in societies. The women started campaigning for political and civil equality rights for all genders. They initiated a paradigm shift in approaching sexual relationships to allow women to participate in all social, economic, and political activities like men. Traditionally, men could violate women’s rights and use them as sex objects to satisfy their interests. However, the first feminist movement sought to enlighten the victims of human rights and the opportunity to prosecute those who perpetuated such barbaric acts in societies (Henne, 2017). In countries like Australia, there were vibrant movements to advocate for gender-based equality in societies (Magarey, 2001 p 4). Their music and art streamlined the movements and initiated the desire to ensure the sustainability of the new wave. Gelsthorpe and Morris (1988) further examined the onset of such activities, asserting that majority of these conquest were replications of the social injustice and patriarchy to define new statutes in criminal law (p 95). The key content of the first wave was to awake the female gender to take their position and understand that they are not only sexually valuable to men but could also contribute to their growth in other functions like leadership and economic growth. This era marked the first phase of education about proportional gender aspects in criminology. Thus, women began to realize that it was an offense to allow me to exploit them without their consent.

Contributions of Second Wave of Feminist Movement to Criminology

This era was an epitome of eventful theoretical changes with diversified concentrations on the consciousness and position of women in economic classes, and ethnic norms alongside their sexuality. It earmarked the era of pragmatic liberalism targeting issues around domestic labor, equality in the employment sector, and a clear understanding of what could entail one’s sexuality as an aspect of criminology. This era prompted the rise of different theorists, including patriarchy, who believed in radical feminism, socialists, also known as Marxists, whose belief was anchored on capitalistic utilization of women in different fields, and black feminism (Rafter and Heidensohn, 1995). Each fragment of these movements portrayed distinctive attributes in understanding the developments of the notion of feminism as part of criminology and affairs of social justice.

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Radical Feminists

The philosophy of the radical feminist movement was coined on the premise that females were exploited in all aspects of human existence, including the political space, economic functionality as well as in social responsibilities. Some of the traits promoting this movement were the dominance of men in all critical decisions and the oppression of women at all levels. In essence, these theorists began to distinguish the fact that patriarchy originated at family levels where women were to stay home and do all chores without a single pay because that is where they were considered to belong (Gelsthorpe, 2003). Such backgrounds accounted for private patriarchy, which also included sexual abuse and domestic violence against women. Primarily, this marked the foundation of much of feminist criminology. At the same time, women suffered a lot of injustice in public spaces being used as human resources without pay at various cadres.

Marxists Concepts

Socialists considered the interconnection between capitalistic exploitation and patriarchy as a way of understanding how men benefited from the struggles of women without payment. In essence, capitalism included all duties assigned to all genders, which also involved domestic labor. Based on this approach, women were considered as service providers who could care for the family and remain dependent on the men as breadwinners of the social units. Nonetheless, they would conduct family duties bearing and raising children, who would later become pivotal workforce in developing the economy, yet nobody paid women. The women of that time satisfied the sexual needs of men at the desire of their spouses. These factors would amount to a gross violation of human rights against females (Carrington, 2018). The notion of radical feminists consequently became a significant foundation in raising awareness among the victims.

Black Feminists

The perpetuation of racial discrimination was a fundamental concept that seemed to affect the freedom of black people in all spheres. Social philosophers considered such circumstances as key contributing factors in the purview of feminist criminology (Henne, 2017). Consequently, the founders constituted a movement to nurture a new wave of approaching gender parity in different sectors. Combined with the milestones achieved by the first wave, there were critical legal frameworks instituted to protect women from further social ills.

Third Wave Feminist and Fourth Wave/ Modern Perspectives of Feminism

The third wave emerged in the wake of the 1990s, formulated by those born in the 1960s and 1970s in the developed world. During this age, society had begun to be marred with media saturation, including cultural and social diversities taking shape. Primarily, Generation X scholars made the realization of this wave propelled by the expanded economic and professional powers executed by women in the aftermath of the second wave. They began to work towards justice based on gender, racial, economic, and social fragments. The Third Wave Foundation, founded by Rebecca Walker, became a major driving force in shaping the movement into a major global perspective through support groups that fought against inequalities in societies (Brunell and Burkett, 2021). Primarily, it was borrowed from the second-wave theorists such as Alice Walker, who was Rebecca’s mother and manifested by different artists around the globe. Some of the key barriers fought by this wave were sexism, and racism alongside classism in societies which barred many women from becoming successful. Their key approach was to create awareness and ensure an effective transition from one generation to the next. Gender aspects became pivotal in criminology as some legal contributions started to gel, including the definition of gender rights.

The perspectives of racism and gender gaps have emerged to become fundamental facets of female criminology. Modern feminist movements tend to focus on recognition as a vital component of criminal law (Lacey, 2018). The current era of movement has the opportunity to improve the ideas of the previous feminist movements to harmonize such segments in criminology. Accordingly, Gelsthorpe (2020) assumes myriad factors amounting to a criminal offense against women as the key determinants in the growth of feminist criminology. The variance and emergence of different values and norms may become vital in shaping the legal frameworks in countries and social settings.

Progressively, the aspects of women, crime, and social norms were vital in shaping criminology practices. During these feminist movement eras, the rule of gender-based justice was initiated and became part of national and universal constitutions for criminology. Lacey (2018) argues that culture and indigenous knowledge have had considerable consequences on criminalization procedures worldwide (p. 133). Similarly, prison statistics portray disproportionate figures, which raises a concern about how a gender-lensed approach to criminology affects different accounts of justice in societies. Lacey (2018) further claims that the proportion of women in prison dropped during the 20th century alongside the crime rates, which could potentially indicate the rise in the search for justice and execution of human rights in criminology. Such values portray the outcome of feminist struggles to align the legal systems to the inclusion of a gender-sensitive mechanism.

Contributions of Feminist Perspectives in Criminology and Social Constructs

Over the recent years, there has been a tremendous surge in criminology research and the emergence of a stronger movement to advocate for equality in gender perspectives in societies and criminal justice. According to Harding (2017), there is a close relationship between these developments in the research agenda, with an accumulation of grants on streamlining criminal justice systems to avert the historical experiences of gender biases and inequality (p 106). Therefore, male resistance is a primary strategy used in responding to the social challenges against women.

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The feminists’ perspectives have had a tremendous impact on accumulating literature on female offenders alongside helping highlight the institutionalization of sexism in the purview of criminology. These waves of feminism provide a conceptualized approach to understanding criminology theories, policies, and practices as envisioned in the legal frameworks (Prando, 2019). Understanding the history of female struggles with patriarchy and the value of cultural gender roles helps to create dynamic thoughts on this concept. Loraine Gelsthorpe examines the contribution of feminists in the development of legal fragments asserting that alongside other achievements, feminists’ theories contributed to masculinity principles (Gelsthorpe, 2003 p 8). At the same time, the work of feminists has progressively developed from time to time to harmonize the criminal concerns over gender biases. One of the major achievements realized is the inclusion of women in research and social constructs in criminology developments.

Moreover, there has been a paradigm shift in addressing war crimes like rape as an aspect of gender-lensed notion, including masculinity and other sexual victimizations. Chesney‐Lind (2020) asserts that some of the main courses which ensured the development of a dynamic approach to feminist criminology are the history of gender, race, and political dimensions of human life (p 414). In essence, the understanding and generation of legislative pieces on reproductive justice and principles around human rights have enabled authors to engage females in research. In essence, it is important to understand that cultures are created from values ascribed to the beliefs and behaviors of people in their daily routines. Some of the common offenses perpetrated against women in society because of male dominance include sexual assault and harassment (Chesney‐Lind, 2020). Such practices formed the foundation upon which many feminists sought to liberate the females and develop mechanisms through which they could make their voices heard in a patriarchal society.

There have been critics as well as an appraisal to help generate policies that harmonize the disparities in gender and sexuality theories. Nonetheless, there exist multiple challenges in convicting women too as offenders or handling their dynamism in legal execution (Cain, 1990). Females can be offenders and victims as provided in legal constitutions. Thus, the prevailing gender privileging alongside racial concerns needs to be addressed in the current generation and the future. In an ideal world, gender-lensed perceptions in criminology tend to limit the realization of real-time justice in many societies (Gelsthorpe, 2003 p 9). Consequently, there is a critical need to explore the boundaries between gender gaps and the application of the law.

The current wave of feminist criminology is envisaged in the comprehensive application of law and societal norms. Fundamentally, the surge in technology and the use of the internet have made learning and research a bit simpler and easier to accomplish. However, the complexity of digital communication and social networking seems to propel toxic feminism, which may hinder the sustainability of the achievements of the other waves of feminism. Currently, there are countless legislative movements to promote gender equality in politics and corporate societies. However, these movements may not remain tenable where the prevailing circumstances are not conducive.

What can be done?

The notion of feminist criminology is a broad sector that requires continuous research and development. Notably, there are countless gaps in the implications of gender-based biases in addressing the concerns around feminist criminology. As a result, all interested parties, individuals, and government agencies should focus on promoting awareness and behavior change. There is a need to debate the concept of criminology as a neutral application of law rather than a facet of gender-based concepts. Cossins (2020) postulates that the #MeToo movement has been a major development in the struggle to liberate women from patriarchy in the modern world. Such prospects in law implicate feminist criminology as a fundamental notion of social organization. At the same time, the inclusion of sexual constructs such as the practice of gays, lesbians, and trans-gender in this debate may help to broaden the implications of criminology in law (Marganski, 2020). As a result, governments around the world should design policies that consider the development realized in feminist criminology as a crucial aspect of humanity. Couper (2016) considers the inefficiency in female gang crime engagement as a major concern in European countries. Contextually, understanding the engagement of girls in criminal offenses may become paramount in understanding comprehensive criminology philosophy.

At the same time, national agencies should offer strategies to create more opportunities for feminist research. Such a move will help unearth some of the existing challenges faced in criminology and the study of feminism. Primarily, implementing policies that tackle the inclusion and persecution of women in law without prejudice and privilege will help in creating a new era of humanity and application of the law. Funding scholarships for feminist criminology will open many doors in the study of law and human rights worldwide. In essence, much of the previous studies pointed at the injustice and other inequality perspectives petted against women. Therefore, there is a need to shift the focus to feminist criminology and the deviance of men in modern society. The issues of gender empowerment should be considered a determinant of social justice and not just the right of females in their community setup.


To conclude, gender parity issues and sexuality concerns against women have greatly contributed to the development of feministic criminology. Overly, all the waves of feminism seem to have focused on inequality challenges that women faced in different parts of the world as a result of male dominance. Based on the theorists’ perspectives, men construed multiple offenses against women either consciously or unawares. Therefore, there was a need to advocate for equal human rights, which would include females’ to access equality in social, economic, and social opportunities without facing discrimination. All the waves in feminist criminology movements were a result of the pressing desire among women to play a role in shaping the growth of their economies and policies. As a result, the contributions of all feminist theories will become beneficial if there is value for equality and human in criminology studies. The legal framework of the studies about women has a central position in the quest for the development of a just society where every sexual orientation is valuable. Succinctly, understanding the values of the feminist perspective revolution in criminology presents a chance to comprehend the place of culture and heritage in legal constitutions and governance.

Reference List

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