Feminist Criminology in Women as Victims and Offenders


Feminism over the past decades has been a contemporary issue of concern. Feminist criminology seeks to enable women to understand behavior, crime, and associated replies engulfing the world (Chancer 2016). It received its motivation from the acknowledgment, which elevated gendered-based crime analysis as possessing great importance to the field since sexism was considered to influence individuals’ social lives (Cook 2016). Feminist criminologists’ advancement in understanding gender, justice, and crime is fulfilled by examining the link between inequality and misconduct. This is performed through an intersectional theoretical framework (Lazarus 2019). It is done across different genders and ages to obtain the appropriate results. It is essential to know criminalized behaviors among women within a sociopolitical context. This entails experiences such as violent victimizations, marginalization, and poverty (Willison and O’Brien 2016). Feminist criminology theory has been formulated to address and increase women’s understanding, specifically of society’s gender roles (Liles and Moak 2018). Feminist criminology will, therefore, be vital in exploring women as victims and offenders from this perspective.

The Space of Feminist Criminology

All genders commit crimes and offenses which are relevant in the field of criminology. Studies examined the perception to which the offender and the victim are exposed when there is an involvement of a non-consensual supply of images considered intimate. These studies displayed how the women (victims) were blamed, culpable of punishment rather than the offender (Zvi and Bitton 2020). This is blamed on the dominance exhibited by the criminal justice system, which focuses more on male offenders. Several theories can explicitly explain the occurrence, they provide a detailed description of male progression and behavior using experiences retrieved from the legal justice system (Posey et al. 2019). Full of realization of a restorative legal justice system for women requires incorporating female offenders’ circumstances and needs into social practices in the field of law (Österman and Masson 2017). Restoration of the legal justice system will create a conducive environment enabling equity for both the victim and the offender, avoiding women’s victimization in the corridors of this discipline.

The impact of feminist criminologists on this sphere is still questionable. Feminist criminologists are seen as availing insufficient evidence of opportunities missed (Gueta and Chen 2017). Not only by the mainstream discipline but also in other contributors’ tasks appearing at first glance to be natural associates (Rabe-Hemp and Miller 2018). This category of criminologists includes critical, critical realists, and cultural believers who, over a long time, have continued to be marginalized because of their perspectives (Cook 2016). These ideals are associated with the descriptive approach where women are victimized and ignored concerning their respect and rights compared to their male counterparts (Chancer 2016). These questions and doubts relating to the feminist contribution seem to be the reason for the existing inequity witnessed within the discipline.

Approaches such as the value-free tend to be bent towards a certain gender, therefore, failing to provide researchers with their own experiences, which will formulate and shape functional study designs. Women were given little attention since their treatment was considered unworthy of exploration (Posey et al. 2019). Women tend to be the offenders and the victims since most of their intimate videos and images were shared online more than those of men, exposing them to emotive injuries (Zvi and Bitton 2020). Since the men are considered for examination in the studies, the results have become unreflective to an extent to conclude for women.

Development of Feminist Criminology

Criminology focuses on performing analysis of criminals and victims to establish and know their desires, therefore, seeking ways to combat future crimes. It also examines the trend and the effects of crimes on the societal dwellings of humans. Feminist criminology was formulated in the 1940s since it arose from disciplines relating to political science, sociology, biology, psychology, and public administration (Posey, Kowalski, and Stohr 2019). Its formulation aims at assisting in analyzing, examining, and the inequity and unjust policies depicting women as both victims and offenders.

In the 1970s, feminist criminologists outlined gender-related biases in a broader perspective using the theories. The theories stated how women have continuously been sidelined in matters relating to legal criminal systems and crime research (Renzetti n.d). Furthermore, criminal studies have extended their examination to women exposed to green victimization since they are neglected (Lynch 2016). Criminology seeks to develop gender-specified theories to let women be in the criminal justice leading lane (Liles and Moak 2018). Criminology is essential in exploring and studying women’s welfare the entire theory has been ignored in the past (Raymen 2017). The adoption of feminist social employees who are justice-associated women will build a proper response demanding reforms and advocate for the restoration of a system that maintains equity among the discipline, but this will criminalize women (Willison and O’Brien 2016). This will also make the legal criminal justice system for women possess less chivalry and be harsher.

The argument for Gender Equality

The feminist criminology theory explores women’s roadmaps to criminalization and offense. Gender is considered a mechanism to organize and push the arising differences in life experiences essential for shaping issues common with either side (Jeffries et al. 2018). Feminist criminologists focus on inequalities which are the forces molding women’s experiences of injustices and punishment (Musto 2019). Therefore, the evolution in feminist criminology has witnessed varied perspectives considering inter-group differences exhibited in female groups within the society (Clark 2019). The consideration for the examination has assisted in the eradication of sexism which was earlier witnessed among feminist criminologists and was considered radical.

The Power of Critical Criminology

Criminologists have continued to be undermined greatly in terms of gender despite the advancement witnessed in the discipline. The analysis of crime and social injustices could only be overcome through the movement of feminist criminology using an intellectually complete and diverse discipline (Cook 2016). These inequalities are blamed on critical, critical realist, and cultural criminology (Renzetti 2016). Research studying racial and gender bias underlying criminology after conceptualizing the discipline revealed an unequal distribution of positions where men occupied the seats possessing higher amounts of power and prestige (Chesney-Lind and Chagnon 2016). This behavior is associated with the realist’s attitude toward feminist criminology, where despite both possessing reliable synergy between their perspectives, the latter is overlooked by the former (Renzetti 2016). The best-recommended solution for inequity is the call for dialogue between the two parties possessing different perspectives.

Women in recent days have been arrested over indulgence in crime. The official arrest statistics show a higher number of women being detained at a higher rate for particular crimes despite existing unclear reasons, whether it is due to the change in their behavior or policy (Clark 2019). Women victims are considered either harmful and blamed for circumstances they are in or good after gathering sympathy from toxic offenders’ portrayals. On the other hand, women offenders are viewed as evil and malicious. This is despite both the two categories being affected by social crime discourse which exposed them to violence (Collins 2014). The achievements of the reforms which try to ensure equity in the criminology feminist perspectives are embedded in the impact of the conducted assessment relating to transformation and transgression of the discipline (Henne 2017). Therefore, the exploration by the feminist perspectives uses the critical criminology theory, which tends to avoid unequal portrayal of women as both victims and offenders.

Feminist Criminology and Radical Feminism

Despite the effort utilized to bring reforms in the legal justice system to mitigate crime and ensure equity in feminist criminologists, women are still victimized. The male publicly displays their aggressiveness and violence, which befits the field of crime and rape. This has made it vital to understand female criminalized behavior within the sociopolitical domain, including their poverty, marginalization, and victimizations (Willison and O’Brien 2016). Passing laws and policies which outlawed and made the conduction of safe abortion difficult to design is an ideal that involves the legal justice system to criminalize women’s bodies (Chesney-Lind 2020). Feminist criminology, therefore, fails to establish equal scales of justice for both genders but victimizes the women as both the offender and victim.

Radical feminism weighs into situations that are essential in the creation of feminist criminology. Women were to be held guilty of averting victimization through precaution and avoidance when exposed to sexual assault, domestic abuse, and harassment (Zinkin 2016). They will be blamed if mitigating the risk fails, therefore bearing the consequences of the crime (Naegler and Salman 2016). Rape victims are blamed since the myth is highly debunked by the media (Philips and Chagnon 2018). This is the case since criminologists aimed to place the difference in gender in varying social experiences for men and women since they believe deep-gendered designs involve the offender and the victim (Kahle 2018). This is because feminist criminology is a discipline studying and explaining criminal victimization and crimes. Criminology is challenged by feminism to reject its androcentric view and be thoughtful and relevant (Cook 2016). Therefore, the discipline will likely lose a chance for sharper analysis of key social associations which encourage victimization and crime.

The Theories of Criminology from a Feminist Dimension

Today, the perspectives formulated to understand the feminist criminology perspectives utilize specific theories. These theories developed to understand female criminal behavior include opportunity, masculinity, chivalry, and economic marginalization (Liles and Moak 2018). Early formulated theories of deviancy, victimization, and crime failed to consider arising questions relating to gender together with the intersecting dimensions of sex, race, and class (Wodda and Panfil 2017). Feminist theories provide criminology with a vision of social justice insights where there is equity (Musto 2019). Therefore, the feminists’ theories challenge the ideals which advocated for gender-based inequity regarding punishment and crime, denying women justice. However, they are bent on relating how the two genders are linked to crime existing in society.

Masculinity Theory

Masculinity theory was linked to women’s liberation from inequality. It is believed setting women free created a masculine-offensive pattern. It was considered to provide women with the freedom to participate in various activities (Liles and Moak 2018). Men apply masculinity as an instrument in violence, whereas women utilize violent crime as a way of victimization (Scaptura and Boyle 2019). By stressing men using crime to justify it, this theory glorifies the elements of inequality witnessed in the justice system (Cook 2016). The revelation of placing male offenses on women has been received with some success. This success was drawn from the depiction of women in books (Chesney-Lind and Chagnon 2016). Masculinity justifies violence and inequity in women, which the feminist criminologists are working towards bringing reforms.

Opportunity Theory

Opportunity theory sees an increase in economic and social changes for the occurrence of criminal acts. The male has not been restricted and will indulge in crime, unlike their female counterparts, who have a limit. A change is believed to increase the number of criminal cases in women (Lilies and Moak 2018). There exists a missed chance in feminist criminology for analyzing crime and gender-based interaction between its exploration and epistemologies (Prando 2019). Similarly, the opportunity is neither reducible to crime nor deviance (Renzetti 2016). The call for women’s liberation has seen feminist criminologists combine their expertise and training to analyze issues raised. These issues include unequal opportunity, abortion, sexuality, affirmative action, love, and marriage institutions (Chancer 2016). Feminist criminologists seek to explore these gaps by providing an opportunity for women indulgence in crime and the meted violence on them by the men where they are later criminalized instead of being victimized.

Economic Marginalization Theory

This theory links the rise of crime among women to the low socioeconomic class women have been placed in. The restriction placed on women, such as the exercise of power, gender inequality, and economic disadvantages, is considered a result of male dominance and oppression (Liles and Moak 2018). This implies the indulgence of women in crime was because of the need for economic necessity and poverty. This theory incorporates the critical race dimension, which views women from their dominant and discriminated societal positions (Cook 2016). Women are affected by ‘multiple and double marginalizations’ since they are victimized by both the criminal justice system and crime (Chesney-Lind and Chagnon 2016). These factors, which result in marginalization and inequity in gender, interact greatly. Feminist criminologists seek to eradicate issues that lead to women’s marginalization in scales of violence and justice.

Chivalry theory

This theory associates low rates of women’s offenses with lenience meted on female perpetrators by men’s legal justice system. A change in practices and policies reflects many women arrested by the legal justice system (Liles and Moak 2018). Women’s criminalization is made of factors that compete and define a shift in female crimes. The criminalization of poor women of a particular race and those who fall victim to violence creates inequity among the genders (Willison and O’Brien 2016). Therefore, policies of punishment eradicating support for women and children exposed to poverty has led to feminist criminologist demand for equity in the justice system falling under the cultural dimensions.

Feminist Criminology Methodology

Feminist criminology explores a variety of topics and methodologies. For this research, it will be appropriate to utilize qualitative research. This research method will assist in the in-depth analysis of already performed research to assist in extracting the complexity of the association between offending and victimization. Feminist criminology studies require the researcher to consider a neutral stand to help him/her detach from the research subject matter. The feminist perspectives make this an impossibility since the freedom of one’s values and beliefs has not already been achieved personally.

Similarly, feminist criminology design advises on the need for a research method that needs to be participatory. The participatory action study method stresses the necessity of the research to be bent on creating a social impact. Therefore, feminist criminology works towards achieving change in the legal justice system in prisons, laws, and policies for women. Scholarship and activism are intertwined intrinsically in all feminist criminology studies.

Scholarship for Feminist Criminology

The feminist criminology discipline focuses on the violence against women from all social perspectives. This discipline has identified the gap that fails to differentiate between the offender and the victim since no clear framework exists to distinguish the two aspects (Willison and O’Brien 2016). Fantastical exploration applicable to illustrate violence underpinned under politics fails to provide a clear explanation in instances the involved was a male (Naegler and Salman 2016). Similarly, a parent’s role needs to be considered to allow feminists to explore the impacts of women and children’s incarceration (Willison and O’Brien 2016). Therefore, feminist criminology fights for the restoration and incarceration of women’s justice involvement in the system.

Feminist criminology studies have explored the offense meted out on women. The fight against substance abuse has witnessed the convictions of women. The changes in the sentencing laws for drug-related crimes have seen a higher proportion of women being admitted to prisons and jails faster than men (Willison and O’Brien 2016). These culprits are denied reproductive legal justice because of the discrimination meted on them based on their justice (Chesney-Lind 2020). Therefore, feminist criminology will advocate for women’s ideals to be incorporated into cultural crime-related research.

Theories evoking women’s victimization and experiences help explain criminal behavior, which has not been explored. Consideration must be performed to ensure relevant frameworks are useful in understanding issues that face women and assist in closing the existing gap, therefore, providing a safer environment for females coexisting (Kahle 2018). Feminist criminology has procured innovative techniques skewed towards analyzing crime concerning gender (Cook 2016). Adherence to this will foresee the enforcement of feminist criminology as a complete and diverse discipline.

It is a political and intellectual committed movement seeking justice for women and putting a stop to different sexism forms. Feminism draws its attention from the pursuit of social justice, and therefore, its inquiries offer a wide variety of cultural, social, political, and economic phenomenal perspectives (Chancer 2018). The interventions of feminists in criminology have explored punishment and crime theories in force which have ignored justice for women at large (Musto 2019). The ideals formulated by the feminists are applicable in underwriting an expansion of a framework that will resist the ignorance meted on women in matters relating to justice. Feminist study on women formulated a criminology perspective directed toward women’s criminality aspect (Liles and Moak 2018). These studies by feminists have improved women’s welfare resulting in avoiding inhumane behavior meted on the females when facing scales of justice. Therefore, feminists have the guilt to eradicate, making them the victim and the offender simultaneously.

Significance of Feminist Criminology

Feminist criminology possesses a variety of essential importance to women. The development of theories that form a varying criminal offense pathway has seen the outlining of prevention and intervention gender-specific strategies (Liles and Moak 2018). Similarly, there is the provision of daily security and the effects feminists have on criminology security concerns (Walklate et al. 2017). Similarly, designing a three-criminology dimension entails a full realization of the discipline’s anticipations, therefore hugely facilitating the broad research’s social and analytical transformative attributes (Yeomans 2018). This discipline will help explore the perception in which female victims are portrayed. Furthermore, it shows how victimization was normalized by describing the unconducive environment considered in their dwelling (Slakoff and Brennan 2017). Therefore, feminist criminology necessity is vital in ensuring equity is achieved within the legal justice system’s scales.


In conclusion, the paper addresses the scales of justice where women were considered offenders and victims. Feminist criminology gained its eminence in the 1970s era of politicking. Initially, the scholarly research was skewed towards establishing the inequity women face within the legal justice system. The discipline’s growth has seen its focus shift to explore other areas such as violence that incorporates sexual assault, domestic abuse, and harassment against women (Summers and Johnson 2016). Similarly, feminist criminology theories’ development and designing methods of approaching the existing dimensions have attracted keen attention. Reformists who arise from the women liberator’s movement have seen the application of radical feminism and critical theory. Therefore, feminist criminology is essential in eradicating inequity witnessed among the genders where the female is discriminated against, marginalized, victimized, and criminalized by the legal justice system. Lastly, feminist criminology contains a variety of importance to the marginalized, discriminated, and sidelined women.


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