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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 76140 Find in a Library
Title: Marxist Feminism - Implications for Criminal Justice
Journal: Crime and Delinquency  Volume:27  Issue:1  Dated:(January 1981)  Pages:81-98
Author(s): N H Rafter; E M Natalizia
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 18
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Following an analysis of sexist bias in criminal justice from the Marxist perspective, this paper discusses problems encountered by female victims, offenders, and criminal justice personnel and proposes short-term practical solutions.
Abstract: Capitalism dictates that men shall be the chief producers of goods while women function primarily as nurturers of the next generation of producers. Freedom for women theoretically cannot be realized until a classless society emerges from the revolution, but contemporary feminists can further their cause by exploiting certain contradictions in capitalism. The legal apparatus within capitalist society oppresses women through paternalism and almost total failure to respond to issues which concern women. This legal system, however, could be used to advance women's equality through passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, affirmative action in law related professions, and removal of status offenses from juvenile court jurisdiction. Criminologists have either ignored women or viewed female crime from class-based stereotypes. A new approach would collect needed data on female offenders, research the social context of crime by women and punishment of female criminals, and examine attitudes of criminal justice personnel toward women. Types of victimization which are exclusively the domain of women and are rooted in the patriarchal concept of women as sexual chattel include rape, incest, wife abuse, sexual harassment on the job, and prostitution. An alternative equalitarian system would provide better support for female victims and demythologize the nuclear family. The female offender usually engages in petty property crimes or crime that violates the traditional idea of the female role. Despite the widespread opinion that females fare better than males in the criminal justice system, evidence indicates that chivalrous treatment is only extended to affluent white women who rarely violate the law. Both juvenile and adult female offenders have been subjected to discriminatory sentencing practices. The concept of rehabilitation is class-based, sexist, and paternalistic. From the Marxist viewpoint, rehabilitation should help the offender to increase control over her life without questioning her value systems. Jails and prisons oppress female inmates by encouraging passivity, promoting conformity to sex role stereotypes, and severing their ties with the outside world. Community-based facilities could remedy many problems, and sexism should be eliminated from all forms of treatment. When more education and employment opportunities are available in criminal justice for women, it is important that many positions be opened mainly to working class women to guard against class-based, sex role prejudices. The article is accompanied by 60 footnotes. (Author abstract modified)
Index Term(s): Capitalism; Female inmates; Female offenders; Feminism; Marxism; Personnel selection; Radical criminology; Sex discrimination; Sexual assault victims
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