Offending Women: Female Lawbreakers and the Criminal Justice System

Offending Women: Female Lawbreakers and the Criminal Justice System

Offending Women: Female Lawbreakers and the Criminal Justice System

Offending Women: Female Lawbreakers and the Criminal Justice System

Synopsis

A useful theoretical analysis of the discourse surrounding women's deviancy. Based on hundreds of interviews with magistrates, solicitors, psychiatrists, probabtion officers, and particularly female lawbreakers themselves this book is key for those studying criminology and women's studies as well as for practitioners.

Excerpt

It is no longer possible to introduce a book such as this with the assertion that there are virtually no studies of female law-breakers or of women and crime. Whether this is indicative of a desirable state of affairs is, however, debatable. There has grown up a veritable industry of texts on women and crime. Many are written from the stance of feminist empiricism, which seeks to increase the numbers of empirical studies of female offenders. Yet it remains questionable whether it is really adequate simply to render female offenders visible if the nature of that visibility is constructed through the parameters of a positivistic social science which seeks to control and remedy the women under investigation.

To a certain extent the study of women and crime seems to have found itself in a cul-de-sac. There is no feminist criminology; indeed it is arguable that this would be a contradiction in terms. Feminism seeks to deconstruct and liberate, while criminology seems inevitably to seek testable causes and feasible controls. This rejection of the ‘coupling’ of feminism with criminology may seem like mere pedantics, but there is a major theoretical crisis at the heart of much feminist work in the field of criminology.

This crisis is obscured and evaded by the empirical studies that simply seek to add to the quantum store of information. Others have avoided it by abandoning criminology for wider studies of regulation and analyses of other areas of law and policy. Yet others have addressed it indirectly by giving space to the expression of the subjectivity/ies of women law-breakers. This has allowed room for other kinds of knowledge to be disseminated. Perhaps most fruitful in recent years has been the study of women’s imprisonment, in which we can clearly see a rejection of the pathologizing

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