Anybody is able to commit a crime or become a victim to a criminal offence. Gender is a significant factors to consider when analysing crime and victimization. In order to critically understand the reasons behind crime and victimization you must be able to recognise and analyse the influencing factors. This essay will focus on a few of the central arguments which include criminal behaviour of men and women, feminist criminology, hegemonic masculinity and gender victimization of sexual abuse. The Home Office provides details of the known offending behaviours of men and women.
For example, a third of men born in 1953 were convicted of an offence before age 45, whereas only 9% of women were convicted before this age (Home Office 2001 as cited by Walklate 2004). Furthermore, Wilson and Herrnstein (1985) as cited by Walklate (2004) have reported that there is a regularity for males to be arrested more often than females in England and Wales; these findings have also been proven internationally (Harvey et al 1992 as cited by Walklate (2004). Additionally, crime statistics prove that in 2002 only 19% of the guilty offenders were women.
These figures have actually remained stable over the past 10 years suggesting that males are the greater offending sex (Home Office 2003). Moreover, Bonger (1916) as cited by Treadwell (2006) suggests that “the average woman of our time has less strength and courage than the average man and consequently commits fewer crimes” implying that women are the ‘weaker sex’. However, Pollak (1950) as cited by Treadwell (2006) claims that although crime statistics portray men as the greater offenders, this may be due to women’s ability to ‘mask’ their criminality and commit crimes by concealment meaning that a fair amount OF 4 of female crime goes unrecorded. But why is crime portrayed as a predominantly male activity? (Treadwell 2006). There is no correct answer to this however it could be suggested that masculinity is connected to ‘normative heterosexuality’ (Davies et al 2007) making men feel that crime enhances their ‘manliness’. It is noted by Messerschmitt (1993) as cited by Treadwell (2006) that “for many men, crime serves as a ‘resource’ for ‘doing gender”” (p. 97).
For example, explaining why male rape is predominantly perpetrated by men who regard themselves as heterosexual can be explained by hegemonic masculinity (Lees 1997 as cited in Davies 2010). Hegemonic masculinity is the “currently most honoured way” of being male in society (Donaldson 1993). However, Collier (1998) criticises hegemonic masculinity as ethnocentric arguing that “if hegemonic masculinity is a constant force which can explain criminality how does it explain that men grow out of crime? suggesting that Messerschmitt (1993) fails to explain why only some men express their masculinity through crime.
On the other hand, taking victimisation into consideration this leads to several questions, who are the victims of these perpetrators? Does gender influence victimisation? Are people at greater risk to specific types of crime because of their gender? The general stereotype in society as well as the claim of feminist criminologists is that “all men are violent and women are victims” (Treadwell 2006 p. 6) however men are also vulnerable to victimisation but the ideology of ‘manliness’ could explain why male victimisation commonly goes unreported because of issues such as the embarrassment of’weakness’ reducing its exposure (Stanko and Hobdell 1993 as cited by Newburn 2007). The British Crime Survey (BCS) provides evidence on victimisation experienced by men and women.
They have identified that men are at greater risk of victimisation than women, according to victim surveys, in 2004/5 the BCS reported that women aged 16-24 had a 6. % chance of becoming a victim of violence compared with a 14. 6% chance for men of the same age (Jansson 2007 as cited by Newburn 2007). However, it has been found that ‘domestic violence’ is the only category of violence that women are at a 0. 5% greater risk than men (Nicholas et al 2005 as cited by Newburn 2007). Although victims of ‘stranger violence’ were found to be 2. 3% of males in comparison to 0. 6% females, this range of statistics suggests that perhaps men and women fall victim to specific types of crimes based on the social stereotypes and characteristics of their gender.
Despite research suggesting that men are a at greater risk of victimisation, an important aspect of female victimisation to consider is that quite often this victimisation happens out of sight (Walker et al 2006 as cited by Newburn 2007). These victims would be afraid to report their abuse, consequently leading to victimisation going unreported meaning a loss of data and lack of awareness of female abuse. Therefore, although the BCS reports male victimisation to be a greater issue, this may not always be valid as female abuse is not always publicly displayed, similar to the reports of male sexual abuse.
Originally, women were characterised as victim-prone individuals with the ‘ideal victim status (Christie 1986 as cited by Davies 2010) whereas men were almost exempt from the victim status and often labelled as criminals as well as the common perpetrators of sexual abuse (Davies 2010). Furthermore, although the types of victimisation vary it has been found that rape is a highly gendered crime and common type of victimisation (Walklate 2007) with the stereotypical segregation of men as rapists and women as victims suggesting this (Javaid 2015).
However, men are not always the perpetrators in these circumstances as there is a lack of research into male rape in the UK to make valid comparisons (Javaid 2015). In self-report surveys, men report low levels of fear towards crime however this may not always be true as there are several barriers preventing men from exposing their experiences such as, the macho concealment of fear and socially desirable responses to prevent embarrassment (Sutton et al 2010 as cited by Davies 2010). Furthermore, hegemonic masculinities suggest that “men are not real victims; men and big boys do not cry” (Goodey 1997 as cited by Davies 2010 p. 21) making victims fear the humiliation of losing their ‘manliness’.
Overall it appears that gender stereotypes influence how we view perpetrators and victims; society assumes that all men are powerful and women on the other hand are weak and it is unacceptable for individuals to behave against these ‘norms’. Due to these societal opinions regarding gender and victimisation, it is difficult for people to express their feelings, leaving them secluded and unable to seek support. Moreover, men seem capable of externalizing blame, as opposed to women, who tend to internalize blame when victimized (Stanko and Hobdell 1993).