The Emerald Handbook of Feminism, Criminology and Social Change

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(27 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xvii
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Part One: The Origins of Feminist Criminology

Abstract

In this opening chapter, the editors review the nature of different feminist perspectives and the impact that they have had on criminology and victimology. They will pay particular attention to the influence of diverse feminist voices in both past and present and the ongoing challenges posed by the emergence of southern criminology and the recourse to law as an avenue to securing change for women living with violence.

Abstract

This chapter focuses on the early history of feminist explorations in criminology in the UK in particular, but with reference to developments elsewhere. The chapter discusses the achievements of early feminist perspectives in criminology and assesses their impact in terms of ‘transforming and transgressing’ the criminological enterprise. In particular, the author focuses on the case for transformations in traditional research methodologies and looks at the different ways in which feminist writers in criminology grappled with the question of how to produce good quality knowledge. The chapter takes a chronological approach, identifying developments pre-1960s in a phase which might be described as an ‘awakening’ and then describing initiatives in the 1960s and 1970s. The discovery that ‘woman’ was a conceptual term which could be incorporated into the criminological framework really took off in the 1970s with the publication of Carol Smart’s pioneering work. Notwithstanding faster developments in other disciplines, slowly, mainstream criminology took stock of feminism’s early claims.

Abstract

Understanding the plight of victims has long been a focus of feminists in the field of criminology. Feminists have made a number of contributions to the study of victims, and here we highlight the contributions that coalesce around three central themes: (1) the gendered nature of criminal victimisation, (2) the relationship between women’s victimisation and offending and (3) violent victimisation of women (and threat of victimisation) as a means of informal social control. In this chapter, the authors trace the development of these themes, highlighting both early feminist work and modern instantiations, paying particular attention to how theoretical developments in the field of feminist victimology have contributed to the understanding of these themes. The authors conclude by discussing the contested nature of ‘feminist victimology’, examining whether such a thing can exist given the androcentric foundations on which the broader field of victimology is based.

Abstract

Gender-based abuses (GBAs; more frequently referred to as ‘violence against women’) have been a concern of current day feminists and their predecessors, dating back centuries, but only came under broader scrutiny in the latter half of the twentieth century. The goal of this chapter is to provide a historical overview of the emergence of feminist concerns and activism that led to a largely global identification and recognition of the prevalence and ramifications of GBA. The chapter includes a range of GBAs, such as sexual harassment, stalking, sex trafficking, and forced marriage, but focusses primarily on intimate partner abuse and rape. It is beyond the scope of one chapter, or even one book, to adequately address the efforts to respond to GBA across the world. Instead, the authors hope to describe the work by feminist activists and scholars to identify GBA as a serious and prevalent social problem, the various and often overlapping types of GBA, and the work to design and implement a range of responses to deter GBA, advocate for GBA survivors, hold gender-based abusers accountable, and provide safer communities. In addition to the early attempts to assess and respond to GBA, this chapter covers some of the most original and innovative documentations and responses to GBA from across the globe.

Abstract

One of the key contributions of feminist criminology has been to recognise the cultural significance of the concepts of sex and gender, bodies and social practices in order to conceptualise men’s engagement with crime, including the dominance of men as perpetrators of crimes of violence against women.

This chapter focusses on the #MeToo movement which has revealed the stark contrast between women’s experiences of sexual assault and sexual harassment, and the extent of men’s perceived entitlement to women’s bodies. By theorising the regulatory processes by which different bodies are ‘moralised’, it is possible to see how cultures are created by reference to the values ascribed to different bodies as well as what different bodies do. The author considers the applicability of moral regulation theory to show how processes of sexualisation, including sexual assault and harassment, constitute identity formation and considers whether resistance in the form of the #MeToo movement amounts to a powerful enough challenge to introduce cultural and structural changes.

Part Two: Research Beyond the Global North

Abstract

This chapter demonstrates how the reception, adaption and development of gender studies in Brazil and subsequent law reform have created a new theoretical field of feminist criminology with a Southern approach. During the 1980s, Brazilian literature discussed gender violence according to three theories: male domination (Chauí), patriarchal domination (Saffioti) and relational violence (Gregori). Gender theories were introduced and developed during the 1990s. Decolonial studies stressed the deeper intersection of gender with race, social class and other vectors of discrimination, which increases the vulnerability of minority women, particularly black and indigenous women. The increase in gender studies supported political feminist advocacy to promote law reform, such as the Maria da Penha Law, the criminalisation of femicide, reforms related to sexual violence and women in prison. Feminist criminology has both criticised law and used it to promote gender equality on society. Judicial practices indicate the conservative resistance of the juridical field to assimilating gender debates and feminist critical theories as a whole.

Abstract

This chapter aims to rethink how gender inequality is related to interpersonal and structural asymmetries of power displayed in our relationships with ecosystems, questioning the classical concept of ‘nature’ as something ‘out there’, as pointed out by dark ecology. First, with the aim of offering a joint North–South critical perspective on equality and sustainability, critical ecofeminism, through the work of A. Puleo, will be explained as a Spanish feminist line of thought and movement. This author, rejecting some essentialist visions of deep ecology, sets her ideas in relation to general critical social theory. Second, contrasting perspectives (critical feminism and ecology) will be combined to offer a rich cross-fertilisation between different perspectives and traditional themes in criminology. A common denominator can be found in the exercise of criticism through questioning binary categories, underlying assumptions and social injustice in relation to the visibility of harms. Third, the relevance of ecofeminism for current criminological debates will be highlighted beyond the obvious connections with green victimology. Finally, ecofeminism will be interpreted as a new critical standpoint and as a more inclusive language for fostering the criminological and victimological imagination in order to help to rethink the rules of the criminal justice system.

Abstract

This chapter sets out to explore whether the lineage of social change and social development has led to any change in public attitudes towards female rape victims. People campaigned for the amendments in the rape laws and raised their voices to support concern for the security and dignity of women but overlooked the reality of the attitudes that victims face when they seek help. Victims are continued to be seen as a scar on the fabric of society which bears strong cultural and social norms echoing patriarchal values. The research study collected data from a sample of 130 family members of female victims of rape and 100 people from areas where rapes were predominantly reported in Delhi City. The findings that follow are that: those sampled reacted insensitively to the victims of rape. In addition to this they increased control over their female family members fearing that they would be raped. For those in the study, rape continues to be viewed as bringing shame to victims and their families.

Abstract

Although this chapter situates all violence against women as a human rights issue, it emphasises ‘culturalised’ forms of this violence, such as honour-based violence/abuse, forced marriage and female genital mutilation. The authors draw upon their respective research to highlight how these forms of gendered violence have been subjected to a process of culturalisation. The chapter shows that while this process has raised awareness of previously under-researched forms of abuse and highlighted some of the contextual differences between women’s experiences of violence more broadly, its overemphasis on culture and cultural pathology has resulted in policy and legislative responses that do not always benefit victims. Ultimately, this chapter aims to problematise ‘culturalised’ understandings of violence in diverse communities and to show how current policy, legislative and support responses fail to adequately address the intersectional needs of black and minority ethnic victims/survivors.1

Part Three: Extending the Criminological Agenda

Abstract

This chapter provides a critical focus on the relationship between masculinities and widespread forms of interpersonal violence. The chapter begins by discussing the contribution of second wave feminist criminology in securing disciplinary attention to the study of gender and its relation to crime, and how the growth and maturation of theory and research on specific masculinities and crime followed logically from this feminist work. As part of this development, examination of masculine perpetrated violence initially commenced with Messerschmidt’s (1993) influential account of masculinities and crime in his book of the same name, and was further expanded through a range of historical and contemporary criminological studies on masculinities and interpersonal violence. The authors discuss the origins and history of critical masculinities theory, its relation to social understandings of interpersonal violence, and how these have shaped criminological research interest and findings. Masculinities are linked intricately with struggles for social power that occur between men and women and among different men, but they vary and intersect importantly with other dimensions of inequality. The authors utilise this conception of masculinities to discuss research on various forms of interpersonal violence, from men’s physical and sexual violence against girls and women, attacks on sexual minorities, violence between/among boys and men, and to the ambiguities of gender, sexualities, and violence by girls, women and men.

Abstract

In this chapter, the authors reflect on how the criminological agenda can move towards disrupting the boundaries that exist between the academe and sex work activism. The authors do so as academics who strive to affect social change outside of the academe, but do not attempt to offer a prescriptive ‘how to guide’. Indeed, they are themselves still grappling with the challenges of, and learning to be better at, ‘academic-activism’. The chapter begins by shining light on the activist underpinnings of the sex workers’ rights movement, before outlining some of the key scholarship in sex work studies, drawing particular attention to that which seeks to bring about social change. It then explores the utility of participatory action research (PAR) to sex work studies and reflects on how a PAR-inspired approach was used in the Beyond the Gaze research project. Here, the authors cast a critically reflexive eye over the unique realities, including the challenges, of integrating sex worker ‘peer researchers’ within the research team. The chapter concludes by considering how the criminological agenda must adapt if we truly want to bring truly want to bring about positive social change for sex workers, as well as how the current system of Higher Education ultimately stymies ‘academic-activist’ approaches to research.

Abstract

The inherent violence of the patriarchal spectacle is at times decried through mass social movements such as the #MeToo or black lives matter movements in response to overt political displays of power or policies reinforcing inequalities of gender, race and ethnicity. While critical criminologists and feminists have spent decades on topics such as these, what is, more often than not, ignored is the banal patriarchal oppression women across the globe endure during their everyday lives. Moreover, women, most notably in the Global North and the United States in particular, assent to their oppression through the willingness of allowing the innate violence of an unequal patriarchal system of harm and violence. Our specific focus is on the routinisation of everyday life women participate in reinforcing the status quo of the patriarchal carceral state. We also suggest that social change must be more than reactions and demands for processes of change within the social structure that maintain the overall patriarchal state and structure of society: rather resistance must equal revulsion and rejection for a revolutionary social change to the innate violent system.

Abstract

Women have been at the vanguard of transhistorical resistance against oppressive structures on the African continent. Targets of women’s struggles for social justice include colonial governments, neo-colonial states, transnational corporations and entrenched traditional institutions. These struggles have had a catalytic effect on dynamics of social change in multifarious contexts in Africa. This chapter deploys a select number of case studies to argue that the challenges posed to entrenched structures of oppression have historically put women in the crosshairs of power. Women have also sometimes pursued feminist goals using state machinery. ‘State feminism’, which is widespread on the continent, the chapter argues, enables and disenables women’s emancipation. The chapter reflects on women’s resistance movements in Africa and analyses seven major themes. These are obduracy of patriarchy, social divisions, prevalence of maternalist framing, elite women’s engagement, deferment of women’s issues and tactical divide. The contradictions immanent in women’s social positionality and challenges are explored.

Abstract

To better understand states’ technologies of violence, colonisation, and military occupation, this chapter shares Jerusalemite children’s written and spoken opposition to the mundane yet intimate governance of Israel’s ‘combat proven’ politics over their lives. ‘Combat proven’ politics are forms of surveillance, strategies of control, imprisonment, torture, murder, and techniques of managing colonised populations that are mobilised in service of the state. Combat proven politics turn children’s everyday spaces into a ‘show room’ – a living laboratory – for states, arms companies, and security agencies (both private and public) to market their technologies as ‘tested positively’. As sites of violence proliferate in these contexts, children are folded into the testing ground of ‘combat proven’ politics, intensifying and incentivising infrastructural warfare. Occupied East Jerusalem, where the children in this study live, acutely illustrates how combat proven politics is driven by a concentration of biopolitics, geopolitics (including the topography of settlement and colonial architecture), and necropolitics. At the same time, children’s language of life subverts the logic of the death machines.

Abstract

Some countries prohibit the imposition of life imprisonment on women but allow it for men for the same offence (e.g. Albania, Azerbaijan, Russia and Belarus). In Khamtokhu and Aksenchik v. Russia (2017) the European Court of Human Rights rejected the claim that it was discriminatory to punish two Russian men convicted of murder to life imprisonment. Other than a handful of legal commentaries there have been no in-depth analyses of the case, in particular on the dangers of using gender stereotyping to limit life imprisonment. To address this gap, this chapter draws on criminological works on the gendered experience of life imprisonment, legal analyses of perpetual incarceration under human rights law and ECHR case law on gender stereotyping and on life imprisonment. This study critically discusses the Court’s assessment of gender stereotypes in the context of life imprisonment and considers whether its approach constitutes any improvement for women. In so doing, it illuminates how well-intended efforts to curtail some extreme forms of penal practices such as perpetual incarceration may have unintended and perverse consequences for women specifically and the landscape of punishment more generally.

Part Four: Looking to the Future

Abstract

Despite the burgeoning research on mass incarceration, women are rarely its focus. Racialised women, whose rates of incarceration have increased more rapidly than other groups, are at the best marginal within much of this literature. Within juvenile justice systems, racialised girls and young women are also disproportionately criminalised and remain markedly over-represented but are often overlooked. The absence of racialised women and girls from dominant accounts of punishment and incarceration is a matter of epistemological, ethical and political concern. Intersectionality offers one means to treat racialised women and girls as focal points for research and advocacy directed towards a reduction in criminalisation and incarceration. While intersectionality does not determine how the knowledge produced is deployed, recognising those who have been unrecognised is a necessary first step in striving to bring about positive change through praxis. Flawed mainstream accounts are unlikely to generate strategies that are well-aligned with the needs and interests of those who remain largely invisible.

Abstract

As the role and uptake of digital media, devices and other technologies increases, so has their presence in our lives. Technology has revolutionised the speed, type and extent of communication and contact between individuals and groups, transforming temporal, geographic and personal boundaries. There have undoubtedly been benefits associated with such shifts, but technologies have also exacerbated existing patterns of gendered violence and introduced new forms of intrusion, abuse and surveillance. In order to understand and combat harm and, protect and empower women, criminologists must investigate these practices. This chapter discusses how technology has transformed the enactment of violence against women.

Typically, studies have focussed on particular types of technology-facilitated violence as isolated phenomenon. Here, the author examines, more holistically, a range of digital perpetration: by persons unknown, who may be known and are known to female targets. These digital harms should, the author contends, be viewed as part of what Kelly (1988) conceptualised as a ‘continuum of violence’ (and Stanko, 1985 as ‘continuums of unsafety’) to which women are exposed, throughout the course of our lives. These behaviours do not occur in a vacuum. Violence is the cause and effect of inequalities and social control, which manifests structurally and institutionally, offline and online. Technologies are shaped by these forces, and investigating the creation, governance and use of technologies provides insight how violence is enacted, fostered and normalised.

Abstract

The key purpose of this chapter is to identify some ways of enhancing feminist conceptual, empirical, and theoretical work on violence against women. Much attention is given to addressing the harms caused by new electronic forms of woman abuse, including the role of adult Internet pornography and sex robots. This chapter also emphasises the importance of revisiting some major feminist contributions from the past.

Abstract

Feminist criminologists are well acquainted with how their research on sexual harms and gendered forms of victimisation may serve as powerful levers for punitive agendas. In recent years, culturalist interpretations of sexual violence have become key themes in debates on migration and integration in liberal welfare democracies, such as Denmark, Norway and Sweden. In this, complex issues of gender, ethnicity and power are involved, and the balancing of these, both analytically and ethically, poses a challenge to feminists in their attempts to contribute to social change. This chapter will, based on examples from debates in Sweden, present and discuss how argumentation about sexual freedom and integrity is enlisted in attempts to reinforce borders and ideas about dangerous Others, and outline how a fruitful meeting between criminology and feminism can advance the scholarship on sexual violence.

Abstract

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is a global policy issue with significant social, economic and personal consequences. The burden of VAWGs is distributed unequally, with rates of gender violence significantly higher in low- to middle-income countries of the Global South. Yet the bulk of global research on gender violence is based on the experiences of urban communities in high-income English-speaking countries mainly from the Global North. This body of research typically takes the experience of women from Anglophone countries as the norm from which to theorise and frame theories and research of gender-based violence. This chapter problematises theories that the privilege women in the Global North as the empirical referents of ‘everyday violence’ (Carrington et al., 2016). At the same time, however, it is important to resist homogenising the violence experienced by women across diverse societies in the Global South as oppressed subaltern Southern. This binary discourse exaggerates the differences and obfuscates the similarities of VAWG across Northern and Southern borders and reproduces images of women in the Global South as unfortunate victims of ‘other’ cultures (Durham, 2015; Narayan, 1997). This chapter contrasts three examples, the policing of family violence in Indigenous communities in Australia; Image-based Abuse in Singapore; and the policing of gender violence in the Pacific as a way of concretising the argument.

Abstract

This postscript highlights some of the most important feminist criminological contributions featured in this volume and considers their implications for future activism and social change efforts within the field of criminology – and beyond.

Index

Pages 401-410
Content available
Cover of The Emerald Handbook of Feminism, Criminology and Social Change
DOI
10.1108/9781787699557
Publication date
2020-07-02
Book series
Emerald Studies in Criminology, Feminism and Social Change
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald
ISBN
978-1-78769-956-4
eISBN
978-1-78769-955-7