Traditionally the criminological discourse has been dominated by male academics and has focused on the explanation of male criminality, as being both victims and perpetrators of crime (Hall and Winlow, 2008). Across all regions of the world, men commit more crime than women (Evans and Jamieson, 2008). Our prison population is dominated by males (The Howard League for Penal Reform, 2014). Because not all men commit crime, early explanations said that crime emerged from individual genetic characteristics and psychology (Evans and Jamieson, 2008). In the 1920s, the perspective of crime shifted to sociological conceptualisations. This perspective originated from the University of Chicago and focused on social and cultural experiences (Heidensohn, 1996). Androcentrism were male views and behaviour is used to explain both female and male crime has still remained pivotal to the discourse (Chesney-lind and Pasko, 2004).
In the 1970s, second-wave feminist analysis suggested that gender role socialisation (the tendency for boys and girls to be socialised differently) was important when looking at why people commit crime. Universalism, which was a gendered neutral theory of crime, eventually faded out (Carrera, 2002). One of the focuses was the Social Psychology and the Sex role theory, which were built on earlier work on gender differences and biological assumptions of what constitutes being a male or female (Sutherland,1964). Sutherland (1964) analysed sex differences and focused on the masculinity of criminal behaviour. He argued criminal behaviour is a result of learnt behaviour, for example girls being feminised and boys rejecting feminist qualities in favour of being powerful and tough. These qualities were fundamental to the concept of hegemonic masculinity. Taking risks and committing crime was seen as an outlet of expression for unresolved issues in the home. Ultimately males were trying to achieve the ideal masculinity (Westlake, 2004). The 1980s liberal and post structural feminists joined with pro feminist men to suggest that masculinity was about cultural identity (Hall and Winlow, 2008). This postmodernist re-examination of male crime was due to the concern to give a voice to a diversity of people (Carrera, 2002).
Connell then coined the term “Hegemonic Masculinity”, which developed from the concept of cultural hegemony, advanced by Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci (Connell and Messerschmitt, 2005). This theory examined the power relations among the social classes of society (Donaldson, 1993). Connell’s hegemonic masculinity was a set of ideas based on behaviour and culture, approved by Western society, associated with being a male and power. Including being a good provider (Donaldson, 1993). Hegemonic masculinity is a social construct which varies with class and ethnicity (Donaldson, 1993).The concept became fundamental to the re-examination of why men commit crime (Connell, 1995 cited in Hendrie, 2008). For James Messerschmidt (2005), male experiences differ according to age class race and sexuality. The hegemonic masculinity ideal is dominated by white middle class males (Donaldson, 1993). Connell argues that capitalism creates an ideology whereby masculinity is so valuable and reflects success; men will go to any length to express dominance. Connell and Messerschmitt (2005) suggested this was through subordination of women, employment and crime. The economic framework in the 1980’s had an important part to play, a shift from industrialisation occurred (Hendrie, 2008). Thatcherism and the introduction of Neoliberal ideology created marketization and a decline in the manufacturing industry in the UK. As a consequence, the industrial man lost his sense of identity and financial security, which ultimately led to frustration, crime and violence, as an outlet of expression (Messerschmitt, 2008).
In ‘Why Do So Many Young American…