Critical Criminology

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 287–304 | Cite as

Transformative Feminist Criminology: A Critical Re-thinking of a Discipline

  • Meda Chesney-Lind
  • Merry Morash


This essay makes the case for a transformative critical feminist criminology, one that explicitly theorizes gender, one that requires a commitment to social justice, and one that must increasingly be global in scope. Key to this re-thinking of a mature field is the need to expand beyond traditional positivist notions of “science,” to embrace core elements of a feminist approach to methodology, notably the epistemological insights gleaned from a new way of thinking about research, methods, and the relationship between the knower and the known. Other key features of contemporary feminist criminology include an explicit commitment to intersectionality, an understanding of the unique positionality of women in the male dominated fields of policing and corrections, a focus on masculinity and the gender gap in serious crime, a critical assessment of corporate media and the demonization of girls and women of color, and a recognition of the importance of girls’ studies as well as women’s studies to the development of a global, critical feminist criminology.


Justice System Intimate Partner Criminal Justice System Feminist Theory Gang Member 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Acker, J. (1990). Hierarchies, jobs, bodies: A theory of gendered organizations. Gender and Society, 4(2), 139–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson, K. L., & Umberson, D. (2001). Gendering violence: Masculinity and power in men's accounts of domestic violence. Gender and Society, 15(3), 358–380.Google Scholar
  3. Antunes, G. E., & Hurley, P. A. (1977). The representation of criminal events in Houston’s two daily newspapers. Journalism Quarterly, 54(4), 756–760.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Artz, S. (1998). Sex, power and the violent school. Toronto: Trifolium Books.Google Scholar
  5. Asian Human Rights Commission. (2010). Pakistan: Sharia Court launches major challenge to protection of women. December 23rd Post. Act Downloaded March 29, 2013.
  6. Belknap, J., & Holsinger, K. (1998). An overview of delinquent girls: How theory and practice have failed and the need for innovative changes. In R. T. Zaplin (Ed.), Female crime and delinquency: Critical perspectives and effective interventions. Gaithersberg, MD: Aspen.Google Scholar
  7. Bickle, G. S., & Peterson, R. D. (1991). The impact of gender-based family roles on criminal sentencing. Social Problems, 38(3), 372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bosworth, M., & Carrabine, E. (2001). Reassessing resistance: Race, gender, and sexuality in prison. Punishment and Society: The International Journal of Penology, 3(4), 501–515.Google Scholar
  9. Bowker, L. (1997). Masculinity and violence. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  10. Brennan, P., Chesney-Lind, M., Vandenberg, A., & Wulf-Ludden, T. The saved and the damned: Racial and ethnic differences in media constructions of female drug offenders. Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture (in press).Google Scholar
  11. Brownmiller, S. (1975). Against our will: Men, women, and rape. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  12. Brown, L., Chesney-Lind, M., & Stein, N. (2007). Patriarchy matters: Toward a gendered theory of teen violence and victimization. Violence Against Women, 13(12), 1249–1273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Browne, A., Miller, B., & Maguin, E. (1999). Prevalence and severity of lifetime physical and sexual victimization among incarcerated women. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 22(3–4), 301–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bui, H., & Morash, M. (2008). Immigration, masculinity, and intimate partner violence from the standpoint of domestic violence service providers and Vietnamese-origin women. Feminist Criminology, 3(3), 191–215.Google Scholar
  15. Burman, M. J., Batchelor, S. A., & Brown, J. A. (2001). Researching girls and violence: Facing the dilemmas of fieldwork. British Journal of Criminology, 41, 443–459.Google Scholar
  16. Cain, M. (1990). Towards transgression: New directions in feminist criminology. International Journal of the Sociology of Law, 18(1), 1–18.Google Scholar
  17. Campbell, R., Adams, A. E., & Wasco, S. M. (2009). Training interviewers for research on sexual violence: A qualitative study of rape survivors’ recommendations for interview practice. Violence Against Women, 15(5), 595–617.Google Scholar
  18. Carlen, P. (2002). Controlling measures: The repackaging of common sense opposition to women’s imprisonment in England and Canada. Criminal Justice, 2(2), 155–172.Google Scholar
  19. Carlen, P., & Tombs, J. (2006). Reconfigurations of penalty: The ongoing case of the women's imprisonment and reintegration industries. Theoretical Criminology, 10(3), 337–360.Google Scholar
  20. Cecil, D. K. (2007). Looking beyond the caged heat: Media images of women in prison. Feminist Criminology, 2(4), 304–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Chaudhuri, S., Morash, M., & Yingling, J. Marriage migration, patriarchal bargains, and wife abuse: A study of South Asian women. Violence Against Women (in press).Google Scholar
  22. Chermak, S. (1994). Body count news: How crime is presented in the news media. Justice Quarterly, 11(4), 561–582.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Chesney-Lind, M. (1977). Judicial paternalism and the female status offender: Training women to know their place. Crime and Delinquency, 23(2), 121–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Chesney-Lind, M. (1989). Girls’ crime and woman’s place: Toward a feminist model of female delinquency. Crime and Delinquency, 35(1), 5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Chesney-Lind, M. (2006). Patriarchy, crime and justice: Feminist criminology in an era of backlash. Feminist Criminology, 1(1), 6–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Chesney-Lind, M., & Morash, M. (Eds.). (2011). Feminist theories of crime. Volume in theoretical criminology series. Surrey, UK: Ashgate Publishing Limited.Google Scholar
  27. Chesney-Lind, M., & Pasko, L. (2011). The female offender (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  28. Chiricos, T., & Eschholz, S. (2002). The racial and ethnic typification of crime and the criminal typification of race and ethnicity in local television news. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 39(4), 400–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Cohen, A. K. (1955). Delinquent boys. Glencoe, IL: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  30. Conway, M., Pizzamiglio, M. T., & Mount, L. (1996). Status, communality, and agency: Implications for stereotypes of genderand other groups. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71(1), 25–38.Google Scholar
  31. Daly, K. (1989). Gender and varieties of white-collar crime. Criminology, 27(4), 769–797.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Daly, K., & Stubbs, J. (2006). Feminist engagement with restorative justice. Theoretical Criminology, 10, 9–28.Google Scholar
  33. Danner, M. J. E., & CarmodyCyr, D. (2001). Missing gender in cases of infamous school violence: Investigating research and media explanations. Justice Quarterly, 18(1), 87–114.Google Scholar
  34. Davis, C. P. (2007). At-risk girls and delinquency. Crime and Delinquency, 53(3), 408–435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Deegan, M. J. (1990). Jane Addams and the men of the Chicago school. New Brunswick: Transaction Books.Google Scholar
  36. DeKeseredy, W. (2011). Violence against women: Myths, facts, and controversies. Toronto, ON, Canada: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  37. Dobash, R. P., & Dobash, R. E. (2004). Women’s violence to men in intimate relationships: Working on a puzzle. British Journal of Criminology, 44, 324–349.Google Scholar
  38. Dobash, R. P., Dobash, R. E., Wilson, M., & Daly, M. (1992). The myth of sexual symmetry in marital violence. Social Problems, 39(1), 71–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Faludi, S. (1989). Backlash: The undeclared war against American women. New York: Crown.Google Scholar
  40. Fiske, S. T., Cuddy, A. J. C., Glick, P., & Xu, J. (2002). A model of (often mixed) stereotype content: Competence and warmth respectively follow from perceived status and competition. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82(6), 878–902.Google Scholar
  41. Flavin, J. (2001). Feminism for the mainstream criminologist. Journal of Criminal Justice, 29(4), 271–285.Google Scholar
  42. Franklin, C. A. (2005). Male peer support and the police culture: Understanding the resistance and opposition of women in policing. Women & Criminal Justice, 16, 1–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Gallagher, S. K. (2007). Agency, resources, and identity: Lower-income women’s experiences in damascus. Gender and Society, 21(2), 227–249.Google Scholar
  44. Gerber, G. L. (2009). Status and the gender stereotyped personality traits: Toward an integration. Sex Roles, 61(5/6), 297–316.Google Scholar
  45. Gilligan, C. (1982). In a different voice: Psychological theory and women’ development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Grabe, M. E., Trager, K. D., Lear, M., & Rauch, J. (2006). Gender and crime news: A case study test of the chivalry hypothesis. Mass Communication & Society, 9, 137–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Hadi, S. T., & Chesney-Lind, M. (2013). Silence and the criminalization of victimization: On the need for an international feminist criminology. In B. Heather, & B. Arrigo (Eds.), Routledge handbook on international crime and justice studies. New York: Routledge (forthcoming).Google Scholar
  48. Hamilton, J. T. (1998). Channeling violence: The economic market for violent television programming. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Hausmann, R., Tyson, L. D., & Zahida, S. (2012). The global gender gap report 2012. Geneva, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  50. Haviland, M., Frye, V., & Rajah, V. (2008). Harnessing the power of advocacy research collaborations: Lessons from the field. Feminist Criminology, 3(4), 247–275.Google Scholar
  51. Heidensohn, F. (1992). Women in control?: The role of women in law enforcement. Oxford: Clarendon press.Google Scholar
  52. Holsinger, K. (2000). Feminist perspectives on female offending: Examining real girls’ lives. Women and Criminal Justice, 12(1), 23–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Hondagneu-Sotelo, P. (1994). Gendered transitions: Mexican experiences of immigration. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  54. Hughes, L. A. (2005). The representation of females in criminological research. Women and Criminal Justice, 16(1/2), 1–28.Google Scholar
  55. Humphries, D. (1999). Crack mothers: Pregnancy, drugs, and the media. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Hunt, J. (1984). The development of rapport through the negotiation of gender in field work among police. Human Organization, 43, 283–296.Google Scholar
  57. Hunnicutt, G. (2009). Varieties of patriarchy and violence against women: Resurrecting ‘patriarchy’ as a theoretical tool. Violence Against Women, 15(5), 553–573.Google Scholar
  58. Irwin, K., & Chesney-Lind, M. (2008). Girls violence: Beyond dangerous masculinity. Sociology Compass, 2/3, 837–855.Google Scholar
  59. Johnson, M. P. (2006). Apples and oranges in child custody disputes: Intimate terrorism vs. situational couple violence. Journal of Child Custody, 2(4), 43–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Johnson, M. P. (2011). Gender and types of intimate partner violence: A response to an anti-feminist literature review. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 16, 289–296.Google Scholar
  61. Johnson, M. P., & Ferraro, K. J. (2000). Research on domestic violence in the 1990s: Making distinctions. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 948–963.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Jones, N. (2010). Between good and ghetto: African American girls and inner city violence. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  63. Kelly, J. B., & Johnson, M. P. (2008). Differentiation among types of intimate partner violence: Research update and implications for interventions. Family Court Review, 46(3), 476–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Kelly, P., & Morgan-Kidd, J. (2001). Social influences on the sexual behaviors of adolescent girls in at-risk circumstances. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, 30(5), 481–489.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Kempadoo, K. (ed.). (2005). Trafficking and Prostitution Reconsidered: New Perspectives on Migration, Sex Work, and Human Rights. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers.Google Scholar
  66. Laidler, K.-J., & Hunt, G. (2001). Accomplishing femininity among the girls in the gang. British Journal of Criminology, 41, 656–678.Google Scholar
  67. Lee, M. (2007). Women’s imprisonment as a mechanism of migration control in Hong Kong. British Journal of Criminology, 47(6), 847–860.Google Scholar
  68. Lerner, E. (1986a). Immigrant and working class involvement in the New York City woman suffrage movement, 1905–1917. In J. Friedlander (Ed.), Women in culture and politics: A century of change (pp. 223–236). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  69. Lerner, G. (1986b). The creation of patriarchy. New York: Oxford.Google Scholar
  70. Livingston, J. (2013). Demographics and the future of the GOP. Sociological Images. Posted on March 19, 2013, at 11:30 a.m. March 27, 2013.
  71. Lown, J. (1983). Not so much a factory, more a form of patriarchy: Gender and class during industrialization. In E. Gamarnikow, D. Morgan, J. Purvis, & D. Taylorson (Eds.), Gender, class and work (pp. 28–35). London: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  72. MacLeod, A. (1991). Accommodating protest: Working women, the new veiling, and change in Cairo. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  73. Mann, C. R., & Zatz, M. S. (1996). Images of color, images of crime. Los Angeles: Roxbury Press.Google Scholar
  74. Martin, S. E., & Jurik, N. C. (2007). Doing justice, doing gender. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  75. Martin, K., Vieraitis, L. M., & Britto, S. (2006). Gender equality and women’s absolute status – A test of the feminist models of rape. Violence Against Women, 12(4), 321–339.Google Scholar
  76. Mauer, M. (1999). Race to incarcerate. New York: The New Press.Google Scholar
  77. McManus, J. H. (1994). Market driven journalism: Let the citizen beware. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.Google Scholar
  78. Melton, H. C., & Belknap, J. (2003). He hits, she hits: Assessing gender differences and similarities in officially reported intimate partner violence. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 30(3), 328–348.Google Scholar
  79. Merriam-Webster (2009). Dictonary.
  80. Messerschmidt, J. W. (1993). Masculinities and crime: Critique and reconceptualization of theory. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
  81. Millet, K. (1970). Sexual politics. Garden City, New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  82. Miller, S. (2005). Victims as offenders: The paradox of womens violence in relationships (critical issues in crime and society). New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  83. Moe, A. M. (2004). Bluring the boundaries: Women’s criminality in the context of abuse. Women’s Studies Quarterly, 32(3–4), 116–138.Google Scholar
  84. Morash, M. (2006). Understanding gender, crime, and justice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  85. Morash, M. (2010). Women on Probation and Parole: A feminist critique of community programs and services. Boston, MA: Northeastern University Press.Google Scholar
  86. Morash, M., & Haarr, R. N. (2012). Doing, redoing, and undoing gender: Variation in gender identities of women working as police officers. Feminist Criminology, 7, 3–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Naylor, B. (2001). Reporting violence in the British print media: Gendered stories. Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 40, 180–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Odem, M. E. (1995). Delinquent daughters: Protecting and policing adolescent female sexuality in the United States, 1885–1920. Chappell Hill: The University of North Carolina Press.Google Scholar
  89. Ogle, R. S., & Batton, C. (2009). Revisiting patriarchy: Its conceptualization and operationalization in criminology. Critical Criminology, 17(3), 159–182.Google Scholar
  90. Pateman, C. (1988). The sexual contract. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  91. Pateman, C. (1989). The disorder of women: Democracy, feminism, and political theory. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  92. Peterson, J., Zong, X., & Jones-DeWeever, A. (2002). Life after welfare reform: Low-income single parent families, pre- and post-TANF (IWPR Publication no. D446). Washington, DC: Institute for Women’s Policy Research.Google Scholar
  93. Piper, N. (2003). Feminization of labor migration as violence against women: International, regional, and local nongovernmental organization responses in Asia. Violence Against Women, 9(6), 723–745.Google Scholar
  94. Pokharel, K., & Rana, P. (2013). Friend of India rape victim criticizes police. Wall Street Journal. March 29, 2013.
  95. Potter, H. (2006). An argument for black feminist criminology: Understanding African American women’s experiences with intimate partner abuse using an integrated approach. Feminist Criminology, 1, 106–124.Google Scholar
  96. Prokos, A., & Padavic, I. (2002). “There oughtta be a law against bitches”: Masculinity lessons in police academy training. Gender, Work & Organization, 9, 439–459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. Rafter, N. H. (1990). Partial justice: Women, prisons, and social control. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.Google Scholar
  98. Ramazanoglu, C. (1989). Improving on sociology: The problems of taking a feminist standpoint. Sociology, 23, 427–442.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  99. Reinharz, S. (1992). Feminist methods in social research. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  100. Richie, B. E. (1996). Compelled to crime: The gender entrapment of battered black women. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  101. Richie, B. E. (2012). Arrested justice: Black women, violence, and America’s prison nation. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  102. Romer, D., Jamieson, K. H., & Aday, S. (2003). Television news and the cultivation of fear of crime. Journal of Communication, 53(1), 88–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  103. Romer, D., Jamieson, K. H., & DeCoteau, N. (1998). The treatment of persons of color in local television news: Ethnic blame discourse or realistic group conflict. Communications Research, 25(3), 286–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  104. Schlesinger, P., Tumber, H., & Murdock, G. (1991). The media politics of crime and criminal justice. British Journal of Sociology, 42, 397–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  105. Schlossman, S., & Wallach, S. (1978). The crime of precocious sexuality: Female juvenile delinquency in the progressive era. Harvard Educational Review, 48(1), 65–93.Google Scholar
  106. Schwartz, M. D., & DeKesseredy, W. S. (1997). Sexual assault on the college campus: The role of male peer support. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  107. Schwartz, J., & Rookey, B. D. (2008). The narrowing gender in arrests: Assessing competing explanations using self-report, traffic fatality, and official data on drunk driving, 1980–2004. Criminology, 46, 637–671.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  108. Schwartz, J., Steffensmeier, D. J., & Feldmeyer, B. (2009). Assessing trends in women’s violence via data triangulation: Arrests, convictions, incarcerations, and victim reports. Social Problems, 56, 494–525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  109. Simon, J. (2007). Governing through crime. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  110. Snyder, H. N., & Sickmund, M. (2006). Juvenile offenders and victims: 2006 national report. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.Google Scholar
  111. Sprague, J. (2005). Feminist methods for critical researchers: Bridging differences. Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press.Google Scholar
  112. Stankuniene, V., & Maslauskaite, E. (2008). Family transformations in the post-communist countries: Attitudes toward changes and the ideational shift. In C. Höhn, D. Avramov, & I. E. Kotowska (Eds.), People, population change and policies: Lessons from the population policy acceptance study (pp. 113–140). The Hague, The Netherlands: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  113. Steffensmeier, D., & Streifel, C. (1992). Time series analysis of the female percentage of arrests for property crimes, 1960–1985: A test of alternative explanations. Justice Quarterly, 9(1), 77–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  114. Steffensmeier, D., Schwartz, J., Zhong, H., & Ackerman, J. (2005). An assessment of recent trends in girls’ violence using diverse longitudinal sources: Is the gender gap closing? Criminology, 43(2), 355–405.Google Scholar
  115. Sudbury, J. (2002). Celling black bodies: Black women in the global prison industrial complex. Feminist Review, 70, 57–74.Google Scholar
  116. Thrasher, F. M. (1927). The gang: A study of 1,313 gangs in Chicago. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  117. Van Voorhis, P., Wright, E. M., Salisbury, E., & Bauman, A. (2010). Women’s risk factors and their contributions to existing risk/needs assessment: The current status of a gender-responsive supplement. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 37(3), 261–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  118. Wahab, S. (2003). Creating knowledge collaboratively with female sex workers: Insights from a qualitative, feminist, and participatory study. Qualitative Inquiry, 9(4), 625–642.Google Scholar
  119. Walby, S. (1990). Theorizing Patriarchy. Oxford: UK.Google Scholar
  120. Websdale, N. S. (1996). Predators: The social construction of “strangerdanger” in Washington State as a form of patriarchal ideology. Women and Criminal Justice, 7(2), 43–68.Google Scholar
  121. Websdale, N., & Alvarez, A. (1998). Forensic journalism patriarchal ideology: The newspaper construction of homicide–suicide. Popular Culture, Crime and Justice, 126, 128–130.Google Scholar
  122. West, C., & Fenstermaker, S.(1995). Doing difference. Gender and Society, 9(1), 8–37.Google Scholar
  123. West, R., & Marcus, J. (1982). The Young Rebecca: Writings of Rebecca West, 1911–17. In: J. Marcus (Ed.), London: Macmillan in association with Virago Press.Google Scholar
  124. West, C., & Zimmerman, D. H. (1987). Doing gender. Gender and Society, 1(2), 125–151.Google Scholar
  125. Whaley, R. B. (2001). The paradoxical relationship between gender inequality and rape. Gender and Society, 15(4), 531–555.Google Scholar
  126. Winthrop, R. (2012). Malala’s attack and the fight for girls’ education mark international day of the girl child. Brookings Up Front.
  127. Yodanis, C. L. (2004). Gender inequality, violence against women, and fear: A cross-national test of the feminist theory of violence against women. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 19(6), 655–675.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Women’s StudiesUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluUSA
  2. 2.School of Criminal JusticeMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

Personalised recommendations