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Gender Blind?

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Emily Loftus

on 18 June 2015

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Transcript of Gender Blind?

Most crimes are gender unbiased, meaning that the offence can be committed by either male or female.
However, there are certain types of crimes that are believed to be gender specific:
Rape can only be committed by men.
Soliciting for prostitution can only be committed by women.
Theories of Gender
Legal definition of rape is defined in the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
The definition was extended to include the penetration by a penis of the vagina, mouth or anus of another person.
Consent is also now defined within the Act:
Consent is obtained if she/he agrees by choice and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice.
The Law also does NOT require the victim to have physically resisted in order to prove a lack of consent, it is in the hands of the jury to establish whether consent was given.
Although the legal definition requires penetration by a penis, there are cases in which women have been convicted of rape.
In March 2001, Claire Marsh became one of the youngest women ever convicted of rape.
She was a central figure in a gang rape; she held the victim down and actively encouraged the male attackers.
Section 16 of the Policing and Crime Act 2009 states that it is an offence for a person (whether male or female) to persistently loiter or solicit in a street or public place for the purposes of offering services as a prostitute.
This is a crime that is not gender specific, but the main offenders are women.
Men are just as capable of prostitution.
This theory argues that women are treated more leniently by the Criminal Justice System as a whole.
This is because of an inbuilt culture of politeness and gallantry toward women.
Studies have shown that women who have childcare responsibilities are likely to receive more lenient sentences (Koons-Witt, 2002).
Women are also slightly more likely to receive cautions than men, as shown in the national crime statistics.
Chivalry Theory/Hypothesis
This is the other side of the argument which suggests women are treated more harshly for their offending behaviour.
Women are not only breaking the law, but also going against gender roles that society has created for them.
Women are seen as the weaker sex and should not be capable of the crimes that they commit.
Women are judged as being 'sad, mad or bad' without any relevance being given to the crime that they committed.
"Since the courts are so unused to dealing with women offenders, those who do come before them are seen as both rule-breakers and role defiant - and they may be treated accordingly" (Carrabine et al, 2014).
Double Deviance
Edwards conducted a study of female defendants in Manchester City Magistrates Court.
"Female defendants are processed in accordance with the crimes which they have committed and the extent to which the commission of the act and its nature from appropriate female behaviour" (Edwards, 1984).
Many female offenders therefore feel they are punished twice; once for the crime that they have committed and again for the divergence from normal gender roles.
Edwards (1984)
Myra Hindley is an example of a female offender that is seen as doubly deviant.
The crimes that she committed were seen as even more horrendous because she appeared to have no remorse for her crimes.
She also had led a normal life apart from her crimes.
This meant that she fitted into the 'bad' category of female offenders, meaning she was seen as even more deviant by the courts and the general public.
Myra Hindley
Marsh and Melville (2009) argue that the attention of the public is always on the female when looking at male and female co-offending, not matter how small a part the female played in the crime.
Carr is a prime example of this.
She was convicted of perverting the course of justice in relation to the actions of Huntley.
Even though she had nothing to do with the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, the negative media attention, "had been and continues to be relentless" (Marsh and Melville, 2009).
Maxine Carr
Gender Blind?
Pollak (1950)
Pollak was the first to suggest the chivalry theory.
Argues that the real level of female crime was under reported because their crimes were harder to detect and the police were less likely to pursue charges against women.
Pollak attributed lower visibility and detection of crime to female's cunning and deceitful ways.
He thought that women's willingness to fake an orgasm, hide their periods and have 'sexual frenzies' showed that women were inherently deceitful.
He also argued that women are more subject to emotional, physiological and psychological imbalances due to having experienced menstruation, pregnancy and menopause.
However, many now argue that the opposite it true when it comes to women and leniency in the courts.
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