chapter  10
22 Pages

Reconciling Feminism and Rational Choice Theory: Women's Agency in Street Crime: Jady Miller

These explanations of women's behavior shift the frame of reference from individual maladjustment to structural gender inequalities and move beyond the early image of individual pathology. But they nonetheless keep women thoroughly and almost exclusively bound by gendered victimization. Here women are not victims of biology and maladjustment, but are victims of male oppression-victims whose actions always reflect resistance or response to that oppression. Women's agency is thus narrowly defined. While I do not wish to discount the significance of the "blurred boundaries" of women's victimization and offending (see Chesney-Lind 1997; Gilfus 1992; Richie 1996), and these accounts may be accurate in some situations, I nonetheless suggest that feminist theories must leave sufficient space to account for other facets of women's offending and women's lives. For example, in certain contexts situational norms favorable to women's use of violence may exist that are not simply about avoiding victimization but also result in economic gain, status, recognition, or emotional rewards such as alleviation of boredom, excitement or revenge (see also Simpson 1991; Simpson and Elis 1995). Taking such situational norm~, and motivations into account can be done, I suggest, withoUlt sacrificing a gendered inquiry. I further outline these ideas below.