chapter  6
19 Pages

Gendered pathways to crime: The relationship between victimization and offending

ByDana DeHart and Shannon M. Lynch

The focus has been on White males, then on African American boys, and girls of both races lose.

(Anonymous professional working with delinquent girls; Belknap, Holsinger and Dunn, 1997, p. 397)

Scholars began focusing on the link between victimization and offending in the context of feminist criminology, after the recognition by feminist theorists that – despite gender being predictive of both offending and sentencing – criminologists were excluding gender from discussions of pathways to crime. In reviewing the emergence of feminist criminology, BurgessProctor (2010) notes that existing criminological theories often focused on economic disparities without recognition of how socioeconomic status intersects with factors such as gender and race. Absence of women in derivation of criminological theories has frequently resulted in the presumed gender neutrality of such theories. However, Belknap and Holsinger (2006) posit that these “malestream” theories have questionable applicability to female offenders. Specifically, the authors note deficits in popular general strain theory and life-course perspectives on offending that fail to address victimization, sexism, racism, and other adversities that differentially impact women. Belknap and Holsinger (2006) advance the feminist pathways perspective as a theoretical framework with potential to contribute to the theoretical understanding of both male and female offending. Belknap, Holsinger and Dunn (1997) describe the pathways approach as “a one-thing-leads-to-another dynamic to explain how persons (usually youth) become offenders” (p. 382). This pathways perspective includes variables such as socialized gender roles, structural oppression, vulnerability to abuse, and institutional responses to domination as factors leading to problem behavior.