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Traditional criminology is often called gender blinded. Women were excluded in criminological
thought like other discipline for a long time. Even the famous work of Young “the new
criminology” (1973). which is considered the most famous work of criminology has ignored

What is feminism???

Feminism refers to a set of theories about women’s oppression and a set of strategies for change
(Daly and Chesney-Lind, 1998)

What is the difference between gender and sex?

Gender is the sociocultural and psychological shaping, patterning and evaluating of female and
male behavior (Schur, 1984). Sex, on the other hand, refers to the biologically based categories
of “female” and “male” which are stable across history and cultures (Dragiewicz, 2000).

What is the position of women in a patriarchal society?

A patriarchal society refers to the society where everything is seen through the eyes of the man
and everything is done in favor of the man. In this system male remain in the center while female
in the periphery. In this kind of society female is usually considered as a production machine of
children. Male play the active role and female remain passive. For this reason women is
considered an inferior being to man.

Most feminist agree that the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and many other
countries as patriarchal societies.

According to Dobash and DObash (1979), Patriarchy consists of two elements: a structure and
an idology. Structurally patriarchy is a hierarchical organization where male have all the power
and privileges than females. For example, in 30 states of The USA a man receive conditional
exemptions if he rapes his wife.

The validity of male domination over women is given by the ideology. It is certainly a political
and social rationale. Both man and women come to believe that it is natural. The socialization
process make the path for such believe. To someone who believes completely in the ideology of
patriarchy thinks that women rights and liberation is unnatural. They think women are made for
the work of household. They think it is natural that every women will be beaten by their

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What is feminist criminology?

Feminist criminology responds to mainstream criminology’s biases. In particular, it reveals and

critiques criminology’s male-centric (or “androcentric”) predisposition—that is, its privileging of
men’s experiences and perspectives in relation to empirical and theoretical knowledge produced
about crime and deviance (Cain, 1990; Flavin, 2001; Simon, 1981). Criminology has historically
overlooked women’s experiences and perspectives, both as victims and as perpetrators of crime.
Accordingly, criminological theory is often inadequate for women, even at times overtly
misogynistic (Simpson, 1989). In response, feminist criminology aims to refocus the field from
its androcentric standpoint by highlighting how the study of crime, crime control, and social
control are gendered in ways often disregarded by mainstream criminology (Daly & Chesney-
Lind, 1988).

Feminist criminologist do extensive theoretical work on female gangs, violence against women,
women’s and girl’s pathways to crime, drugs and moral panics about female youth violence.

What are the causes of women victimization/offending according to the feminist


Although some feminists claim that patriarchy is the direct causes of women’s victimization,
offending or societal reactions to their behaviors there is a large feminist literature combining
both macro and micro level factors such as unemployment, globalization, deindustrialization,
life events stress, intimate relationship status, familial and societal patriarchy, substance use and
other factors. In fact feminists are among the most critical of single factor explanations of female
victimization or rule breaking.

Feminist theories offer an alternative way of thinking about crime (vold, Bernard and Snipes,

What are the theories of women’s criminality?

Before 1960s social and cultural theories of crime were developed to explain criminality in men,
individual and pathological theories were used to explain crime in women.

An apparent increase of female crime in the 1960s to 1970s forced to develop new theories
relating to women’s liberations and female criminality. There are three well known thesis in
explaining women criminality.

1. Masculinity thesis
2. Opportunity thesis
3. Economic marginalization thesis

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 Masculinity thesis: Female criminality was explained as a byproduct of the women’s
movement which had created a liberated, tougher class of female (adler, 1975)
 Opportunity thesis: According to simon, as women previously male occupations such as
banking and business, they got opportunities as man. This lead them to criminality.

Criticism to masculinity and opportunity thesis: these two theories did not get much
empirical support. Only weak relations have been found between women’s entry into the
work force and greater involvement in crime (Weisheit and Mahon 1988). Critics also claim
that, given the same structural opportunities, men and women will behave differently.

 Economic Marginalization thesis: this theory is probably the best alternative to

opportunity thesis. This thesis posits that it is the absence, rather than the availability, of
opportunity for women that seems to lead to increases in female crime. (Naffine, 1987).
Bulk of the female criminality are petty property crime, constitutes a rational response to
poverty and economic insecurity. Proponents of this theory suggest that the feminization of
poverty, not women’s liberation, is the social trend most relevant to female criminality.

To blame women’s movement for causing increased female crime is clearly misleading. As
Schur (1987) notes, it may in fact be the case that few females offenders have been
influenced by feminism.

Steffensmeir and Streifel (1992) contend that women’s involvement in property crimes is
related to two variables. 1) increased economic marginality of women in American society
and 2) increased formal social control.

What are different perspectives on explaining female criminality?

Marxist feminist: gender inequality is produced from the unequal power distribution in the
capitalist society. According to Marxist feminists gender differences are originated from the
development of private property and male dominancy over the laws of inheritance. In capitalism
men controlwomen both economically and biologically and this ‘double marginality’ explains
why females in a capitalist society commit fewer crimes.

Radical feminist: view the cause of female crime as originating with the onset of male
supremacy, or patriarchy, the subsequent subordination of women, male aggression and the
efforts of male to control female sexually. They focus on the social forces that shape women’s
lives and experiences in order to explain women criminality. Exploitation of women by men acts
as a trigger for behavior by female victims, causing them to runaway or to begin abusing drugs at
an early age.

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Socialist feminist perspectives: Power (in terms of gender and class) is central for
understanding serious forms of criminality. According to Messerschmidt (1986), the notion of
‘gendered power’ is central to understanding why men commit more crimes than women.

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Modern thought is based on assumptions about social structure, subjectivity, causation, change
and visions for an alternative society. Post-modernist argue that this is not acceptable. Lacan
argue that individual the centered subject incorporated into Cogito, Ergo Sum (I think, therefore I
am) is a bankrupt. Rather, for Lacan, the person is more decenterd. The subject is constituted
through various discourses. Post-modernist celebrate diversity, multiplicity, the unexpected,
irony, chance events and generally non-linear developments.

Famous post-modernist: Louis Althusser, Michael Foucault, Julia Kristeva, Jacques Derrida,
Lucia Irigary.

What is postmodern feminism?

Postmodern feminism is an approach to feminist theory that incorporates postmodern and post-
structuralist theory, seeing itself as moving beyond the modernist polarities of liberal
feminism and radical feminism

Postmodern feminism is rooted in post structuralism, postmodern philosophy and French

feminist theory.

The philosophical perspectives of the French feminists such as Cixous (1981), Irigary (1985),
and Kristeva (1982), share some common ground with poststructuralist writers such as Derridsa
(1978) and Foucault (1965), as well as Lacan (1977). Although Foucault was remiss (িশিথল)in
his exclusion (বজন) of women, French feminist find his reconstruction of history and his view of
the relationship among language, power and knowledge stimulating.

Feminism and Foucault debate

1. Overview of Foucault’s work:

Foucault’s work is usually divided into three phases: archaeological, genealogical and ethical.
These three approaches roughly correspond to a chronological order of early (archaeological),
middle (genealogical) and late (ethical).

 Archaeological: The birth of the clinic, the order of things and the Archaeology of

Archeology refers to the method that Foucault used in these early works. By archaeology
Foucault did the following things-

a. Attempts to reveal the unconscious limits of thought and knowledge;

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b. It investigates the structures that underlie the thought and make particular types of
knowledge possible at specific historical moments
c. The formation of this underlie thought is discursive (Epistemes called by Foucault)
d. Archaeology examines how new discipline emerge and how shift in understanding
occur.*** For example in The birth of the Clinic Foucault traces the shift of medical
understanding of diseases from Nosological- categories and essences to Pathologica
anatomy-specific, local signs and visible effect of the disease
***Nosology: the branch of medical science dealing with the classification of
e. Archaeology is static because it just uncover the structures of a rationality for
understanding the shift of knowledge one by another.

” ***** the primary objective of archaeological work is “Knowledge


"[In Michel Foucault's The Order of Things] the archaeological method

attempts to uncover a positive unconscious of knowledge. This term
denotes a set of 'rules of formation' which are constitutive of the diverse
and heterogeneous discourses of a given period and which elude the
consciousness of the practioners of these different discourses.

This positive unconscious of knowledge is also captured in the

term episteme. The episteme is the condition of possibility of discourse in
a given period; it is an a prioriset of rules of formation that allow
discourses to function, that allow different objects and different themes to
be spoken at one time but not at another."

 Genealogical: Discipline and Punish (নজরদাির এবং শাি ), The history of sexuality
volume one.
***** the primary objective of archaeological work is Power
I. It is dynamic
II. It is oriented toward practice as well as discourses (িনব )।
III. ***It introduces a dimension of ‘Power’
IV. ***Genealogies are local and specific histories. Unlike traditional
histories, genealogies focus on discontinuities and raptures rather than

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V. ***Because its discontinuities Foucault’s genealogy challenge the notion of
VI. The genealogical method raises questions about how current practices,
institutions, and categories come to the way they are.
VII. ***Foucault’s conception of power is different from the traditional notion of
power. For Foucault, Power is not Unilateral (). It is not negative. It is
positive. Power is not possessed by and individual or group of individuals.
Power can be productive and positive; it is a relation not a thing.

***** Foucault’s new conception of power has drawn criticism from

feminists yet has been useful for other feminist analysis. Most feminist
engagement of Foucault focuses on his “genealogical work”*****

Power By Foucault:

Foucault challenges the idea that power is wielded by people

or groups by way of ‘episodic’ or ‘sovereign’ acts of
domination or coercion, seeing it instead as dispersed and
pervasive. ‘Power is everywhere’ and ‘comes from
everywhere’ so in this sense is neither an agency nor a
structure (Foucault 1998: 63). Instead it is a kind of
‘metapower’ or ‘regime of truth’ that pervades society, and
which is in constant flux and negotiation. Foucault uses the
term ‘power/knowledge’ to signify that power is constituted
through accepted forms of knowledge, scientific
understanding and ‘truth’:

 Ehical: second and third volume of the history of sexuality series, some significant
essays and interviews, notably, “On Genealogy of Ethics: An Overview of a Work in
Progress”“ The Ethic of Care for the Self as a practice of freedom”, and “Technologies of
the Self”, “The subject and Power”,

a. Ethical works deals with “subjectivity”

b. Elaborates the notion of power. Made distinction between Power and

Archaeolgy: Knowlede

Genealogy: Power

Ethical : The subject

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Foucault and Feminism

Some feminist reject Foucault and some feminists advocates Foucault’s postmodern and post
structuralist thinking for feminism.

The question about whether or not Foucault’s work is useful for feminism is situated within the
larger debate about compatibility of a postmodern approach with an emancipatory, Progressive

Critics to postmodern and Foucault’s thinking in Feminism

Postmodern proponents claim that traditional notions of political unity, rights, and freedom carry
normative implications that foreclose certain questions about who is in the political process and
this may result in systematic exclusion. Proponents of progressive politics claim that
postmodernism undermines the possibility of a progressive, emancipatory politics mainly
because of its rejection of normative concepts.

For Example:

 Barbara Epstein claims the underlying assumptions of post structuralism conflict with the
assumption for radical politics.
 Somer Brodipp claims that post modernism has no model for the acquisition of
knowledge, for making connections, for communications or for global which feminism has
done will continue to do.
 Toril Moi attacks Foucault and said the price for giving into Foucault’s powerful discourse
is nothing less than the depoliticisation of feminism.

In general, feminist critics of Foucault fear that his rejection of norms undermines the possibility
for feminism as an emancipatory political movement.

 Which works/thoughts of Foucault are antithetical for feminism claimed by the

I. Rejection of norms
II. Combined view that truth and knowledge are always produced within a network of power
III. Foucault’s accounts of subjectivity does not allow for agency and resistance
IV. His rejection of a unified subject and his view that subjectivity is produced by power
relations result in a concept of the subject wholly determined by social force
V. Foucault’s conception of Power. The conception of “Power in everywhere “leaves no
way to distinguish the difference in power between the dominator and dominated.

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Advocates of Foucault Feminism

It is an irony that, for which Foucault is rejected by some feminists, is also accepted by others
feminist. It’s really a paradox.

In their introduction to the anthology feminism and Foucault, Irene Diamond and Lee Quinby
identify four convergence between the theoretical projects of feminism and Foucault.

I. Both identify the body as a site of power;

II. Both view power as local;
III. Both emphasize discourse;
IV. Both criticize western humanism’s privileging of the masculine and its proclamation of

Some feminist supporters of Foucault see his anti-humanism, his rejection of metanarratives and
universal norms and his challenges to the notion of a unified subjectivity as necessary steps
toward a politics of diversity and inclusions.

Many feminist find Foucault’s conception of power as a network and as operating through
discourses, institutions and practices beneficial for understanding the ways that power operates
locally, on the body, and through particular practices.

Foucault’s body, power and subjectivity can provide important theoretical resources for

Knowledge, power and subjectivity is the underlying theme of Foucault’s work. His
archaeological works challenge the subject of humanism. He shows that rational unified subject
cannot be presupposed, but that instead this of particular linguistic practices and discursive

Foucault’s Genealogical works develop his notion of power in relation to subjectivity. He

articulates the way that power operates on individual through social norms, practices and

And in Faucault’s Ethical works his preoccupation with subjectivity is quite explicit; he is
concerned with self’s active self-construction.

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