Official statistics indicated men are more likely to commit serious offences than women. Although it is true that the majority of offenders are male – comprising about 80 per cent of all official statistics, it is surprising the other 20 per cent is ignored. Heidensohn criticised the male dominance of this subject know as malestream criminology. There are four reasons why it is so: male dominance of offenders, male domination of sociology, vicarious identification and sociological theorising. There are several feminist explanations as to why women are underrepresented in crime statistics.
An essential Feminist explanation to why women are underrepresented in crime statistic is due to women being less likely to be arrested, prosecuted or convicted than men. It is suggested that the police culture (which is overwhelmingly male) is ‘paternalistic’ and sexist. Women do not fit police stereotypes about ‘suspicious’ or criminal’ behaviour and consequently women are less likely to be stopped. Pollack suggested that the police, magistrates and courts treat women offenders more leniently meaning that fewer women appear in crime statistics. Pollack argued women are underrepresented in crime statistics because of this ‘chivalry’ factor has been lent support by the fact that the police are more likely to caution women than men. According to Ministry of Justice statistics, 49 per cent of women recorded as offending received a caution in 2007, whereas only 30 per cent of men received the same. Self-report studies too; most notably Graham and Bowling are often cited as evidence that women are committing more crime than recorded. However, such reports tend to focus on fairly trivial crimes.
However, the seriousness of the crime may be the reason why female offenders are underrepresented in crime statics is because they show more remorse than men or reported offences in self-report studies may not have been serious which could explain why they more likely to receive a caution instead of going to court or trial.
Interactionist feminists reject official crime statistics, seeing them as little more than a social construction. They point out that females are underrepresented in the statistics and therefore the statistics don’t present an accurate picture of the social distribution of criminality. Similarly, Pollack argued women that official statistics on women and crime were highly misleading. He claimed that the statistics underestimate the extent of female criminality. Pollack claimed many unreported crimes are committed by female offenders. A useful example Feminist explanation to why women are underrepresented in crime statistics because female crimes such as shoplifting and prostitution are less likely to be reported and shown in crime statistics when compared with the types of violent or sexual crimes committed by men. It is suggested that women commit these crimes because poverty has become feminised in the last 20 years, as women have become increasingly more likely than men to experience low pay. Consequently, Walklate notes these female crimes are often motivated by economic necessities.
Like Carlen, Heidensohn used the control theory to argue women are generally more conformist than men explaining why women are underrepresented in crime statistics. Heidensohn believed the patriarchal society imposes greater control over their behaviour. McRobbie notes that girls are more supervised by their parents (known as bedroom culture) therefore have less opportunity to engage in criminal activities and come into contact with the police. In contrast, males are more likely to spend their spare time with their peers in public places where opportunities for delinquency might arise.
Yet, Heidensohn does present a plausible explanation of…