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The Darker Side of Equality? Article Review Example

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Article Review

Chapter Review

Criminologists spend much time researching to understand crime and criminal behavior and to develop theoretical concepts that explain the wide variations in how populations engage in criminal activity. One of the consistent variations in the nature of crime is that of gender. Multiple traditional and postmodern theories try to explain the gender gap that exists concerning crime. Snipes et al. (2019), in their book, “Vold’s Theoretical Criminology,” explain the gendered nature of the crime. The book analyses several theories that explain why the crime rate in women has consistently remained low as compared to that of men for centuries. According to them, crime is a gendered activity. Consequently, theorists and feminist criminologists need to shift from examining the social and economic impacts on crime and focus on explaining the gender ratio and gender gap that persists concerning the problem of crime. While traditional theories ignored the concept of women offending, feminist criminologists have explored theories that attribute women offending to various factors, including biology and economic and social control, patriarchal societies, and families, and justify the fact that the crime rate among women remains relatively lower than among men.

One of the questions that Snipes et al. (2019) ask is why men’s offending has remained constantly higher than women offending over the centuries. Although traditional criminology theorists were not gender-specific in their propositions, most of them explained that biological factors play a big role in establishing the gender gap between men and women concerning crime and offending. Men have a higher testosterone level as compared to women. While there is no direct correlation between testosterone levels and violence, studies state that the hormone influences the development of muscular characteristics such as increased muscles and larger bone mass. The features give men the notion of being more powerful and energetic as compared to their female counterparts. Their masculinity, therefore, influences them to engage in violent crime. A second biological factor that can help explain the constant gendered gap is the heart rate. The heart rate helps to elaborate the relationship between gender and crime. Males are said to have a lower and resting heart rate as compared to females. Such a heart rate is linked with a higher likelihood of engaging in crime. Therefore, when other factors such as social adversity, race, body mass index, and activity levels are kept constant, the variations in heart rate explain why the crime rate among men is higher than that in women. However, Snipes et al. (2019) explain that biological factors can only work in collaboration with other environmental and social factors.

While the theorists focus on explaining why the rate of male offending is higher than female offending, Snipes et al. (2019) believes that feminist criminologists must answer the question, “why are women’s crime rates low?” An elaboration of the question derives from multiple theories that focus on variations in socialization among men and women and their impact on gender roles. The theories propose that women socialize towards higher levels of conformity and take fewer risks than males. Furthermore, the power-control theory explains why females grow up becoming less violent and aggressive than males. The theory states that parents from patriarchal families enforce varying levels of control on their children. In such families, the parents place much control over girls than over boys. The boys, therefore, become more likely to engage in risky behaviors than girls. Moreover, strain-type theories argue that men and females experience different types of strain, and these types determine their capability to engage in criminal behavior. Males mostly face interpersonal and financial strains, while women face family, gender discrimination, and friend challenges. The former strains place men at higher positions to become delinquent than females. Differential association theory also explains why females engage in crime. The theory proposes that females will only become criminals if they associate themselves with relatives and friends who are criminals.

The Chapter also examines why the gender gap in crime has reduced in the recent past. Studies performed on the population in the U.S show evidence of the narrowing gender gap in terms of violent crime. However, an analysis of datasets between the years 1973 and 2005 reveals that the gender gap in violence remained constant over the three decades. The studies, therefore, conclude that the gender gap is still present and that any decrease in the gap is due to a reduction in male involvement in crime and violence. On the contrary, other theories argue that the gender gap in violence is narrowing due to an increase in female violence. Generally, Snipes et al. (2019) confirm that there is a gender gap in crime. They acknowledge that the gap may have been reduced, but the reduction is attributed to the decrease in male offending rather than to an increase in female offending. Snipes et al. (2019), in the Chapter, therefore confirm that crime is an extremely gendered phenomenon that needs to be studied from the perspectives of male and female offending. Nevertheless, they acknowledge the problem of gender in the field of criminology. The problem is, however, addressed either through the generalizability process or through the gender ratio method.

One issue of criminal offending in the United States is the link between early development challenges and later adolescent and adult crime and delinquency. A greater percentage of children in the country who have legal entitlement have lack access to safe shelter, basic healthcare, quality education, and sufficient preparation to transform themselves into economically viable adults. Inability to access the listed resources leads to abnormal development and social and economic marginalization. Such children are more likely to develop into socially and economically unstable adults. Populations that originate from low economic and social communities are more likely to engage in crime and delinquency due to high poverty levels. Snipes et al. (2019) support the fact that social and environmental factors contribute to high crime rates. While the concept of gender is used to explain why men and women engage in crime differently, the authors believe that other environmental and social factors also increase the likelihood of developing criminal behavior. Further, the impact of social factors on children’s development can also be explained in terms of the immediate family members that help the child to grow. Studies show that children who grow up in families with a history of crime are more likely to become criminals. Spines et al. (2019) use the theory of differential socialization to explain this concept. He explains that females who socialize with relatives who are criminals are more likely to engage in criminal behavior.

A second issue that raises concerns in criminal offending is why there has been an increase in the number of female suspects and criminals in the justice system. Just like Snipes et al. (2019), several other studies have been carried out to find answers to reducing the gender gap in the criminal justice system. Such data could help develop measures to solve cases relating to women offending. Estrada, Bäckman & Nilsson (2016) suggest that the reduction in the gender gap could be due to emancipation and increased gender equality in society. As women occupy positions that were previously occupied by men, they become exposed to more opportunities of engaging in crime. Further, the authors associate the decrease in the gender gap with the reduced level of control over women as compared to earlier days. Today, there is less control over girls and women as compared to females in the historical days. Also, women in the present day are more likely to leave their marriages to live by themselves. The reduced level of control makes them more vulnerable to engage in crime. Snipes et al. (2019) support the fact that women’s offending has increased over the past years. However, the authors believe that women have become more engaged in violent crimes as compared to the other crimes. Therefore, they believe that the gender gap is reducing violent crimes and not other crimes.

Moreover, the Chapter explains that violence against women is partly due to their biological factors. One of the issues in criminal offending is the increase in violence rates against women. The National Institute of Justice shows that more than one million women in the United States experience domestic violence every year. Additionally, the United Nations (2021) shows that about one in every three across the globe have been physically or sexually abused. The organization also explains that such violent crimes against women are the most under-reported. Also, victims of violent crimes face obstacles in seeking justice due to gaps in the criminal justice system. The Chapter supports the fact that the gender gap also applies to women’s victimization in violent crimes. Women are more likely than men to be abused. Snipes et al. (2019) attribute the high rate of women victimization to their inability to control their bodies. Social feminists believe that the natural reproductive differences between men and women place the latter at the mercy of the former. Before the invention of birth control, women’s biological processes, including childbirth, menstruation, pregnancy, and child nursing, made them have no control over their lives and bodies. Therefore, in the current society, women who are unable to control their reproductive functions are more likely to experience sexual and physical violence. The Chapter, therefore, acknowledges that women experience high levels of violence as compared to men.

The Christ perspective about female offending provides explanations for why there exists a gender gap in crime in the present world. The Chapter attributes the constant gender gap partially to patriarchal societies and families. Such societies grant more power to the male gender than to the females. They also expose men to more economic and social opportunities than women. Consequently, men become more likely to engage in crime. Similarly, the Christ-centered perspective of crime associates the gender gap in crime with the position that Christianity has placed women and men in society. In the book of Ephesians 5:22-23, the Bible mandates wives to submit to their husbands and the Lord. It also emphasizes that the husband is the head of the house. Similar sentiments are expressed by the first book of Timothy 2: 11-12. The verse requires all women to be submissive to their husbands, to remain silent, and to have no authority over men. Just like some patriarchal societies today, the society described in the Bible requires men to be the head while women act as their subjects. The gender roles place women in vulnerable situations, which reduces their ability to engage in aggressive and violent behaviors. The fact that women are advised to remain silent and develop no authority over men makes them less likely to develop criminal behavior. On the contrary, since men are given the authority to be leaders, they become more powerful and have a higher likelihood of engaging in criminal activities.

The Bible also describes several incidences of men’s offending as compared to female offending. The statistics reveal that the gender gap between female and male offending existed even during the Biblical periods. Among the most recorded crimes in the Bible include murder, rape, sexual assault, human sacrifice, war, and genocide. Among the people who engaged in sin in the Bible include King David, Apostle Peter, Rahab, Paul, the prodigal son, Samson, Eve, Tamar, among others. Among the people described to have sinned in the Bible, the number of men surpasses that of women. The Biblical statistics reflect the statistics and trends recorded in Spines et al. (2019). The Chapter confirms that, indeed, crime is a gendered phenomenon that can not assume the role of each gender. It also extends the findings from the Bible that men are more likely to commit crimes than women.

Further, Christ’s perspective about crime holds everyone accountable for their doings irrespective of their gender.  Similarly, feminist criminology in Snipes et al. (2019) acknowledges the significance of developing theories that explain both male and female offending. The book of Romans 13:1-4 explains the responsibility of every person to obey the governing authorities. Paul instructs the Romans to always obey the law, for it is given by God. Any person who resists the authorities goes against God’s will and will therefore face judgment. Therefore, the fact that traditional theories eliminated the gender issue in their propositions signifies the limitations in their theories. Modern theorists and criminologists must acknowledge that everyone can be an offender.

The Chapter gives a viewpoint of feminist criminology regarding crime trends in the contemporary world. It reveals that gender plays a major role in the description of crime rates in the U.S. Statistics reveal the existence of an almost constant gender gap in crime both in the U.S and across the world. For many centuries, the number of men engaging in crime has always exceeded that of women. Different theories try to explain the variations in crime trends. The theories attribute such differences to patriarchal societies and families, biological factors, parenting, and social factors. However, some studies in the recent past reveal a decrease in the gender gap, citing causes such as decreases in male offending and emancipation of the female gender.

References

Estrada, F., Bäckman, O., & Nilsson, A. (2016). The darker side of equality? The declining gender gap in crime: Historical trends and an enhanced analysis of staggered birth cohorts. British Journal of Criminology56(6), 1272-1290. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjc/azv114

Snipes, J. B., Bernard, T. J., & Gerould, A. L. (2019). Vold’s theoretical criminology.

United Nations. (2021). Gender-based violence against women. https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/justice-and-prison-reform/new-gender-in-the-justice-system-vaw.html

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